A Rare Breed Indeed: The Rhodes Electronic Piano

You sure don’t see a rare breed like this every day! Here’s a “Rhodes Electronic Piano” from the ARP Synthesizer era circa 1983. Along with the Rhodes Chroma, also designed by ARP, this era of production was a huge departure from the electro-mechanical Rhodes pianos of the 60’s and 70’s that most people associate with the Rhodes name.

In fact, Harold Rhodes himself was reportedly furious when a Rhodes advertisement suggested that the synthesizer captured the essence of the piano that bears his name.

To Harold Rhodes’ defense, the “electric piano” emulator doesn’t come close to the sound of a piano. In fact, nearly twenty years later there still is no synthesizer or digital piano does the Rhodes or Wurlitzer sound any justice until you account for the convenience of carrying your Nord to a gig. Regardless, it has its own charm–especially its dated 80’s vibrato circuitry.

The Electronic Piano’s final design was a curious hybrid of the Rhodes piano’s action and synthesizer technologies of the early 1980’s. As you will see in the pictures below, the keys of hte piano were wood and extend through the piano giving it a much more expressive feel than the ‘sawtooth’ keys of a Moog or other synths of the same time frame. \

Take a look:

Most of the issues with the Rhodes Electronic Piano were solved by cleaning the contact points of the terminal strips that connect the patches with the amplification and trigger switches. Also, some of the switches themselves were in need of better alignment.

 

26 comments

  1. Steve Coscia says:

    I used to own the ARP 4 Voice Piano. I believe the list price was about $1,600, but when ARP ran into financial trouble the retail music stores were blowing them out for about $1,200 – that was all the incentive I needed.

    For the era (1981)it was one of the better sounding electric pianos. I toured extensively with the ARP 4 Voice and rarely had any trouble with it (the ARP 4 Voice traveled in a heavy-duty road case).

    In 1988, I donated the ARP 4 Voice to local community college and the college kids ruined it within a year. What a shame. It had served me so well for many years. Many fond memories of playing that piano.

  2. Andrew Oloffson says:

    I bought this model from Midwest Music Exchange about 4 years ago. Sure is a “unique” device to play, especially when you hook up some effects.

  3. Larry Lanigan says:

    I picked up a 3363 a few years ago and even though it doesn’t have the classic Rhodes sound, it’s a beautiful instrument. Sounds more like a piano. Haven’t been able to locate a service manual or schematics for this model, any hlp would be appreciated.

    • mbrink says:

      There is a very comprehensive Rhodes manual that you should be able to find on a google search that includes service instructions for ’60’s era sparkle top models. Because of their felt hammer tips, they take a lot of skill and care to perform voicing services properly and these models are not the best models for a first time DIY restoration.

      • Larry Lanigan says:

        All the Rhodes Service Manuals that I have found online cover only tine models up through the late 1970’s. The 3363 is a completely different animal, and the technical info seems to be successfully hidden.

        • mbrink says:

          There is information on the felt hammer tips throughout the Rhodes manual. See 7-1 and 8-1 and especially 9-1 of the Rhodes manual for specific instructions for the felt tips. Most of the components will be very similar to the mark I after the felt tip itself. Once again, we recommend extreme care when servicing 60’s sparkle-top models and would love to give you an estimate for work in our shop.

          • Larry Lanigan says:

            If this instrument had hammers, the information for the sparkle top might be of some assistance. The technical electronic info for this unique model is out there somewhere.

          • mbrink says:

            Sorry for the misunderstanding, Larry. I thought this was on response to another post of ours about dating a Rhodes and that you were claiming to own a very early ’60’s model. (I only see the back end of the comments and overlooked the post source thinking this was posted on one of our more recent blog posts).

            We were unable to find any service manuals for the Electronic Piano as well and we mostly just had to clean and service the contact points so that they can function properly. We also would suggest checking the power supply to make sure that it is supplying proper voltages to the board. Those two focal points should cover 90% of any issues that you are having with the electronics.

  4. Ezraz says:

    Bernie Worrell playing my 4-voice on stage:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cou2rwRk8h0&sns=em

  5. John Dickey says:

    I just bought a 3363, and the volume is all over the place, along with some dead keys and a constant hum. It has some interesting points, but I cannot even figure out how to “raise the hood”…. any help would be appreciated.

    • Larry Lanigan says:

      Hope your 3363 comes back to normal for you. The hood should just lift up from the front, hinges in the back. Be careful that you don’t raise it too far, the ribbon cable that connects the electronics from the lid to the keyboard might pull out and damage the connectors. Cleaning the volume pot and the key contacts with DeOxit might be all you need. Good luck. If you ever come across a repair manual or scematics, please let me know.

      • John Dickey says:

        Thanks so much for the answer, I’ll keep trying to raise the hood, and get it cleaned up in there. Never seen a schematic anywhere online!!!

        • David says:

          I have one . i got the manual and surprisingly a schematics sheet with it when i got mine from someone local who had inherited it from her grandmother. Her granny bought it when it first came out to play at home and for her bridge group so she says but hardly played it because she was bedridden most of the time she had it.. i got it for 200.00 in perfect condition and was hardly ever played..

          • Larry Lanigan says:

            Would you consider sharing the schematics? I’ve been looking for about 5 years now.
            Thanks

          • mbrink says:

            Larry, we do not have a copy of a schematic for this instrument. If you come across one we would love to get a copy of it as well. We have studied the circuit and work on these without the use of a schematic.

          • Shane Greer says:

            hi there David.I just came into possesssion of a 3363 in suprisingly great shape.($100.00 at Goodwill)it does have an occasional VCO/electronic issue and schematics would be darned helpful.I’ve had the same bad luck finding schematics as everybody else and your post has been my only lead.If you could foreward a copy it would be greatly appreciated.Any resonable compensation for your trouble could be provided.
            thx/rgds
            spgreer@nicoproductions.com

          • mbrink says:

            You should be able to find them on a quick google search of “fender Rhodes schematics” or “fender rhodes service manual” which is available by pdf.

          • Shane Greer says:

            hi there David.I just came into possesssion of a 3363 in suprisingly great shape.($100.00 at Goodwill)it does have an occasional VCO/electronic issue and schematics would be darned helpful.I’ve had the same bad luck finding schematics as everybody else and your post has been my only lead.If you could foreward a copy it would be greatly appreciated.Any resonable compensation for your trouble could be provided.
            thx/rgds

        • Noe Gonzalez says:

          where you able to fix your 3363, i just bought one from an ezpawn i am trying to fix some keys that are not working…any help i would really appreciated…thank-you.

    • Mike Sherrod says:

      There are two screws on the bottom front near the corners. Remove these and the top will lift up with no problem … there should be a rod on the inside right that will hold up the top.

  6. Benji says:

    I have been playing one of these for 3-4 years now and I love it, even though the sound is by all objective standards kind of crappy. As mbrink writes, the feel of the keys are the magic. I was playing a Korg Triton LE and becoming more and more frustrated with the way the keys felt as I played them. I saw a 4-voice at a music store and traded the Korg for it immediately. Have never regretted it but I do wish I knew enough about electronics to mod it. mbrink, any idea how one could go about changing or replacing sounds on this keyboard? The “harpsichord” and “vibes” sounds on it are so bad I have never had a use for them.

  7. Noe says:

    I also have Rhodes Electronic Piano (Model 3363) there are some keys that are not woking is there any tutorial or recommendations on how to make them work. thank you. this page has been very helpful.

    • mbrink says:

      I am not familiar with any tutorials and we were unable to locate a service manual for this model. Luckily the issues were simple enough for us to solve them with a little intuition.

  8. Noe says:

    http://chicagoelectricpiano.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2012-11-13-16.09.09.jpg

    are this the contact points of the terminal strips that connect the patches with the amplification?

  9. Stephen hulme says:

    Hi does anyone have the service manual or schematics for an arp 4 voice? Have two and hoping to get one working

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