Archive for Uncategorized

MIDI Rhodes: Custom Glam-Sparkletop

Here’s a custom Rhodes that we’re not going to forget! Inspired by their “Grape Sparkle” Gretsch Penguin guitar, we were tasked with matching the sparkle on their Rhodes–and we were even more thrilled when it was paired with the ivory sparkle tolex. This thing is 1,011% Glam and we’re in love with it!

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Grape Sparkle with Gretsch

 

Along with the complete restoration service of the instrument and amplifier we also upgraded the Rhodes with an optical MIDI system! –This thing is a total spaceship!

The MIDI system that we use is an all-optical sensor system developed by QRS Music Technologies. The system was originally designed for installation inside an acoustic piano, and with a little extra modification to the Rhodes’ key bed it is an amazing upgrade for your instrument. With the MIDI output you can control any variety of synthesizers, or MIDI triggered devices running a 100% independent signal from the Rhodes’ output. This allows the two systems to be used independently, or–better yet–blended together to create all new sounds of your own!

It’s an incredible upgrade for your Rhodes that is sure to inspire a whole new world of creativity from the instrument! Here’s our Reverb.com video featuring the system on another recent MIDI Rhodes restoration:

 

And do we need to say that this MIDI system works on Wurlitzers too?!

The QRS PNOScan can also be installed on Wurlitzer Electric Pianos–and we love the feel of Wurlitzer action assemblies with the MIDI output! Just like with the Rhodes Suitcase we customize the power supply so that the system fires up as soon as the instrument is switched on.

Anyways…

What were we talking about? ? ?

…Oh, yeah–The GLAM SPARKLETOP! I don’t think I need to say much more… Have a look:

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Custom Shop: Wurlitzer 106P — Studious Amplifiers Collaboration *RE-Run*

Have a look–and listen–to the latest Wurlitzer 106P Restoration from our Custom Shop:

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RE-Run Alert! We’re uploading a previous blog post published in March of 2016 that featured our collaboration with our dear friend Bryant at Studious Amplifiers. This piano was one of our favorite custom pianos that we ever built and now is home to Marco Benevento, where we hope that it continues to inspire! We are still settling into our new location on Cicero and will have new posts for you as soon as things are back to normal. Until then, enjoy another look–and listen–to this beautiful customization:

We are excited to announce that this is our first completed collaboration with Studious Amplifiers working on a custom design for an all-tube Wurlitzer amplifier. Our past amplifier designs were based loosely off of a Fender Princeton amplifier design with a push-pull 6V6 power amplifier. The latest design, designed from scratch by Bryant Howe of Studious Amplifiers, makes use of a single ended EL84 power amp and a design and is most closely derived from a more Hi-Fi tube amplifier setups.

Our goal for the amplifier was to make it more versatile than the stock Wurlitzer amplifiers by giving the player a greater range of vibrato and a larger range of tonal variations for the player. The outcome is an amplifier that has great warm and mellow tones, vibrato with variable speed and a deep range of dynamic intensity, and also to drive the amplifier with some wonderful tube grit when cranked up to its limit. It’s very warm and has great clean and gritty tones that we hope players will find inspirational.

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We hope you will enjoy the sound samples below through your favorite set of headphones or monitors: 

1a) Clean & Warm DI:

1b) Clean & Warm Amplified:

 

2a) Clean with Light Vibrato DI:

2b) Clean with Light Vibrato Amplified:

 

3a) Clean with Heavy Vibrato DI:

3b) Clean with Heavy Vibrato Amplified:

 

4a) Heavy Overdrive DI:

4b) Heavy Overdrive Amplified: 

 

Signal “DI:” Wurlitzer 106P > Studious 200T Amp > DI Box > Zoom H6N

Signal “Amplified:” Wurlitzer 106P > Studious 200T Amp > DI Box > Fender Twin Reverb RI > Zoom H6N

Please share your feedback in the comment section below with feedback of these samples. 

…Looking for more Wurlitzer sound samples? You can compare this amplifier with our past push-pull 6V6 design on this previous Wurlitzer 106P restoration.

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The 106 requires a level of customization that makes each one a near one-of-a-kind. The main reason for this is because the on board amplification of a stock 106 uses a power supply shared between eight units mounted together. Once they are removed they require a custom solution to bring the individual instruments back to life.

A stock 106 piano also lacks sustain pedal function, which we always insist on installing because it brings out even more of the resonance of the 106’s thin reed bar rail. This requires a deal of detailed work but is well worth all of the extra effort.

–In the end, each 106 comes out with it’s own unique setup and once again this one is currently a one-of-a-kind! 

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For this restoration we used Ken Rich Sound Services reproduction chrome legs and sustain pedals. The pair have proven to be the most durable and best looking reproduction Wurlitzer legs and pedal currently available. These are one of the last of Ken’s set and we are anxiously awaiting his next production with a new manufacturer!

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Thanks again to all of the extra design work by Bryant Howe with Studious Amplifiers. We hope that you’ll check out his hand wired guitar amplifiers!

 

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A Rhodes Reborn! *RE-Run*

Here’s the latest beauty from our workshop: 1975 Rhodes Mark I Suitcase 73.

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Re-Run Alert–We usually don’t do this, but this episode of “CEPCo” will feature a re-run from 2016. These services are some of what we do every day, but fail to feature as often as our custom Rhodes restorations because they sometimes seem less interesting than something that would be considered a one-of-a-kind… This is a great look at our rebirth restoration services and I only wish we had the before/after photos to really showcase our work on this instrument… We are in the middle of a move between buildings and it has been hard to keep up with posting to our blog while we move 50+ EP’s to our new location on Cicero. We hope to welcome you by there soon! Until things get back to normal, here is a wonderful restoration of a 1975 Rhodes Mark I Suitcase. (We are removing the former posts so that there isn’t a double entry). Enjoy:

This beauty could have been yours but someone fell in love with it before we even had a chance to apply its new tolex! It’s not too surprising since this Rhodes is from one of our favorite eras of Rhodes production. This Rhodes originally came from a school and besides the tolex being torn up it was in incredible condition internally when it came in. (And the good news is we have a few more Rhodes from this classroom set if you are interested…)

As you have come to expect from our fully restored pianos we started with a complete leveling of the key bed and action setup. From there, all aging rubber and felt components were replaced or treated in order to make sure that this piano plays and sounds just like new. We source only the top quality parts for our restorations from a variety of parts suppliers as well as our collection of vintage parts. In the end, our pianos get a detailed restoration process that leaves them playing and sounding better than when they left the Rhodes factory–and ready for another 40 musical years. 

If you are interested in a completely restored Fender Rhodes piano please contact max@chicagoelectricpiano.com. We have a large inventory of pianos that are in the restoration process and would love to help you find just the sound that you are looking for!

 

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Custom Shop: Surf Green Rhodes Mark I Stage 73

The tide is coming back in! …Or is it going out? What’s best for riding that dream wave anyways? ? ?

I can’t say we get much surf off the shores of Lake Michigan here in Chicago, but I’m sure this beauty will be closer to the surf down in its new home in Australia… Anyways, here is a glimpse of the custom (1974/1975) Surf Green Rhodes Mark I Stage 73:

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And here’s an even deeper look at the instrument, thanks to our good friends at Reverb.com:

 

Following on the heals of our last Sea Foam Green Rhodes, this Rhodes was distinguished with a slightly more glossy lid, which I think played really well. The hardware just seems to work best with a little rust and patina against the surf green tolex, so once again we kept that as relic’d as possible in order to maintain the vintage surf vibe.
Super important noteworthy noting: In reaction to some wonderfully gear-nerdy facebook comments, we’ve decided to refer to this one as “Surf Green,” since it is closer to what Fender referred to as “Surf,” as opposed to the last one that some thought was inappropriately referred to as “Sea Foam…” Sure, fellas, this might be accurate to a Fender color guide from the 1960’s, but if you ask any painter or designer to distinguish between “Surf” and “Sea Foam” and they are going to roll their eyes at you… Just saying… Let’s enjoy this beauty without splitting hairs on color names!

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One of my favorite features of this Rhodes was the custom “tiger oak” cheek blocks, that give a somewhat ripple affect to the wood that plays well with the surf theme!

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^Looks even better in person… Sorry for the cell phone camera quality!

That, and the custom Sustain Pedal to match the harp cover…

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FOR SALE: Custom MIDI Rhodes Suitcase 88

 

Up for sale is this Customized MIDI Rhodes Mark I Suitcase 88, restored by The Chicago Electric Piano Company. This piano is upgraded to 11 with all new tolex, hardware, premium white and ebony key caps, upgraded hifi op-amps, custom black sparkletop, and MIDI output. The piano is from the later part of Mark I production just before the crossover to the Mark II.

As you have come to expect with our expert restorations, this Rhodes plays and sounds as good as it looks! Our goal was to restore this Rhodes true to the sound and look of the classic Mark I production period with a few modern upgrades. With the MIDI system installed, this Rhodes makes a bridge between vintage and modern keyboards.

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The MIDI system used in this piano is the PNOScan by QRS Technologies. The system was originally designed for acoustic pianos and utilizes optical sensors positioned beneath the keys on the key bed to translate the motion of the keys (and sustain pedal) into a MIDI signal.  From the motions “seen” by the optical sensors the MIDI signal can then control whatever device you would like. Its signal is independent from the Rhodes’ output so the two signals can be used separately or blended together. The optical sensors have an unbelievable dynamic range and the best part is that they do not interfere with the Rhodes’ action to generate the MIDI signal. The sonic capabilities of this combination are endless! 

The action of this piano was restored with all new key caps that look stunning and feel terrific. A detailed key bed leveling and action assembly regulation is a key factor of our restoration process and this Rhodes plays with an optimized dynamic range. The tone bar grommets were replaced with Retro Linear Grommets which stabilize the notes’ voicing and sustain. We also replaced the hammer tips of this Rhodes with Vintage Vibe graduated hammer tips which were used in the late Mark I and Mark II production periods.

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FOR SALE: 1975 Rhodes Mark I *Stereophonic Satellite* 88

Here’s the latest custom amplifier from our workshop! After a series of custom Wurlitzer amplifiers we finally decided to dream up something for the Rhodes! We’re calling this one the “Stereophonic Satellite!”

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This particular first edition of the amplifier is paired with one of my favorite pianos that we restored from 1975. The piano is upgraded with all new ivory tolex, hardware, premium white and ebony key caps, black walnut cheek blocks. The piano is from one of our favorite periods of Rhodes production for it’s warm bass and smooth high end. As you have come to expect with our expert restorations, this Rhodes plays and sounds as good as it looks!

The “Stereophonic Satellite” Amplifier: Our custom built amplifier was designed to showcase the classic Rhodes stereo vibrato of the Suitcase models in a more mobile cabinet. We housed this amplifier in an original Rhodes Satellite cabinet and instead of using two separate cabinets for the stereo signal we designed the amplifier to use its two 12″ speakers in stereo. Inside is a brand new amplifier that uses a toroidal power transformer and eminence speakers that are powered by two ultra linear power amplifier channels custom designed by Mike Borish. This cabinet powers a vintage restored Rhodes Peterson preamplifier with volume, EQ, and stereo vibrato controls mounted on the front of the Rhodes. Did we mention its on wheels?! 

The action of this piano is restored with all new key caps that look stunning and feel terrific. A detailed key bed leveling and action assembly regulation is a key factor of our restoration process and this Rhodes plays with an optimized dynamic range. The tone bar grommets were replaced with Retro Linear Grommets which stabilize the notes’ voicing and sustain.

This post features the first stereophonic cabinet in ivory tolex to match the custom Rhodes that it is paired with. If you are interested in a Stereophonic Satellite upgrade to your Rhodes we can tolex it in classic finish or any other custom look that you prefer!

In addition to the Reverb.com video above here is another listen:

Mono Demo (Comparison):

Stereo Demo (Comparison):

Stereo Vibrato Demo:

 

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Custom Shop: Tweed & Walnut Special!

There goes another one of my favorites! Tweed and Walnut Special!

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If you look closely this one might look familiar… And not just because of the obvious we customized a gorgeous Tweed Sparkletop last year… LOOK CLOSER…

Still don’t see it??? It’s the Sea Foam Rhodes in new skin!

Look again:

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Now you see it, don’t you  ? ? ?

…Ok, cosmetically the only thing cosmetically the same between these two pictures would be the keys. The client fell in love with the former sea foam Rhodes’ tone and action but had their own vision how the Rhodes should sound. Not long after, another Rhodes fell in love with a Rhodes that needed cosmetic rehab and was thrilled to transplant their instrument into the Sea Foam — Win-Win!

We also “transitioned” the logo since the piano was from 1974 and the best back facing logo for the tweed finish was the black worn-out one you see here:

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The worn logos and aged hardware just seems to work great with the aged tweed finish!

 

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FOR SALE: Custom “Sea Foam” Rhodes Stage 73

Here’s another beautiful Custom Rhodes from our Custom Shop! Surfs Up!

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Another Custom Shop Rhodes restoration up for sale! This 1975 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73 was restored with custom Sea Foam Green tolex, cream lid and sustain pedal, and our signature wooden cheek blocks in natural oak. The Rhodes is from early 1975, which is one of our favorite periods of production, and has wonderfully warm bass, smooth mids, and sparkly treble. This period is great for that quintessential Rhodes bark that we all know and love!

As you have come to expect with our custom restorations, this Rhodes sounds even better than it looks! Action and voice have been overhauled featuring new tonebar grommets, pedestal bump action setup, and a complete key bed leveling and regulation. The hammer tips are original vintage cubed tips, and have been replaced or rotated as needed to ensure even tone across the keyboard. The tone bars and harp frame were re-plated in Zinc Chromate for a shiny mint finish under the hood. The piano has “Fender” era wooden harp supports and plastic-wood hybrid hammers.

Another fun note on this piano is that it comes from the crossover period when Fender dropped it’s name from the Rhodes brand. The harp has “Fender Rhodes” logos but all exterior logos are “Rhodes” logos. All the parts were still the same as the “Fender Rhodes” production period for the next several years but the crossover logos are only found for a small window of production in late ’74 through early ’75.

Have a look and a listen to this one-of-a-kind:

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This custom Rhodes can be yours for $4,499. Worldwide shipping is available. Contact Max Brink at (312)476-9528 or max@chicagoelectricpiano.com for ordering information.

FOR SALE: Rhodes “Silver Satellite” Janus I

[Update: This Rhodes is sold]

Here is the latest from our Custom Shop: The Rhodes Mark I “Silver Satellite” 73

Rhodes Janus I For Sale at CEPCo

FOR SALE: $4,799 and ships worldwide. Contact us for ordering information and financing options.

Here is a truly rare breed! This is the Janus I speaker system custom designed for the Rhodes Janus preamplifier. It features a stereo 2×12″ ported speaker cabinet that takes full advantage of the Rhodes’ signature stereo tremolo circuitry. The ported cabinet design has wonderful bass response and you sure don’t see too many of these special speaker cabinets around!

This Custom Shop Rhodes and Janus I cabinet was refinished in Silver tolex in addition to a never-owned NOS Mark I flat top lid that was sold as an upgrade for the Mark I after the Mark II was introduced. We used Marshall style piping as an accent around the speaker baffle and a tight weave black grill cloth that accented the modern stylings of the Rhodes.

Given the Janus I, custom cosmetics, and especially the NOS Flat Top for the Mark I (that was only sold by Rhodes for a few years) this Rhodes is going to be a one of a kind from our shop.

Have a listen to these two sound samples as you enjoy the pictures below!

Sample 1: Janus I Tremolo

Sample 2: Soft/Normal

Sample 3: Forte

Rhodes Janus I Silver

Rhodes Janus I Silver

Rhodes Janus I Back Silver

Rhodes Mark I Silver Back Logo

The Janus I system is a 100W stereo speaker cabinet that brings out the Rhodes’ signature stereo vibrato through a vertically mounted 2×12″ speaker cabinet. It features a ported cabinet that has great bass response and was tailored for the Rhodes piano and Janus Preamplifier. They were sold individually 2×12″ or as pairs which can be used in stereo master/slave sets in a 200W 4×12″ setting.

This Rhodes is for sale directly by contacting us or through our store on Reverb.com. Shipping is available worldwide. We are also happy to announce that financing payment plans are available through Reverb.com purchases. Please contact us for more information!

Rhodes Janus I For Sale at CEPCo

Original Pricing for Hohner Clavinet and Pianet

Suggested Retail Pricing List for Hohner Musical Instruments 1971 & 1973

We recently acquired a copy of the original pricing lists for Hohner Musical instruments which included the suggested retail pricing lists for their electric pianos plus some fun marketing materials used to promote them. The pricing included the original list price for the Clavinet D6, C, and Pianet N.

 

Note: Adjusted for inflation (using the bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Calculator) in terms of purchasing power the 1973 Clavinet D6 sold for a suggested retail rate approximately $4,552 in today’s dollars!

 

Here are the Suggested Retail Price Lists for the Hohner which include the Clavinet and Pianet in 1971 and 1973:

(Click images to Enlarge)
Clavinet Pricing 1

 

Clavinet Pricing 2

 

Click here for a related article where we explore How the Clavinet Tone Controls Work.

Custom Shop: 106P Restoration Comparison

We recently finished a restoration on another pair of Wurlitzer 106P pianos for Jeff Tweedy. Each one of the three so far is a near one of a kind with custom sustain installations and custom amplifiers. For an in depth look of our previous restoration check out the first 106P tube “high gain” 106P here.

In this second round of restoration we dialed back the high gain 12ax7 preamp design in favor of a lower gain 12au7. This allowed for a more balanced output at all volume levels and we were very pleased. The power amplifier is still the same push-pull 6V6 design with bias based tube tremolo. We restored the third with a Warneck Research EP200 amplifier which is solid state amplifier designed by Tim Warneck at Retro Linear. His amplifier provides amazing tone with an incredibly low noise floor and a deep variable tremolo unit. –Have a listen to both as you check out the pictures below!

106P with Custom Hand-Wired CEPCo Tube Amplifier:

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106P with Warneck Research:

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Zeshan Bagewadi @ CEPCo Warehouse

Friend of the workshop Zeshan Bagewadi stopped by the workshop this past month to record a music video for his song “If Only.” While the track doesn’t feature Zeshan’s restored Wurlitzer 200 I hope you will enjoy his voice and a glimpse of our workshop.

Another one of Zeshan’s videos, “Border Anthems,” a song which juxtaposes the national anthems of India and Pakistan, also features scenes cut in our warehouse space.

 

Wurlitzer 214A Classroom Pianos for Sale

You don’t see too many classrooms like this one anymore! Here’s a classroom of Wurlitzer 214A pianos, their flagship classroom piano, in a high school in Michigan:

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The school updated their classroom setup with modern digital pianos so that they wouldn’t need to concern themselves with maintenance costs of the vintage mechanical pianos. These 214A high school dropouts are now waiting restoration by The Chicago Electric Piano Company as they are released out into the world to live the rock and roll dream.

Wurlitzer’s 214A electric piano was their flagship classroom piano and featured what I believe is their best built-in speaker compliment to any of their models. The two most common models of student piano are the black 214A (although sometimes it’s green) and the tan 206 or 206A. The main advantages to the 214A is that it has the classic vibrato built into the circuitry, casters so that it can be wheeled around for recording or performing, and the speaker base is larger than the 206 since it does not have a built in shelf or cubby area for headphones. (Click here for our previous 206 Classroom post).

Another huge advantage of classroom model Wurlitzers is that they have seen less moving and handling and are usually kept in temperature controlled classrooms, practice rooms or storage closets. With this foundation they are ideal candidates for restoration and along with the Hammond M3 probably one of the most undervalued instruments that you can pick up on the used market. These are identical pianos mechanically to what you find in the 200A pianos and can even be converted with chrome legs to make them just as gig-worthy. If you don’t need to haul them to a gig, however, these speaker bases sound great and the style is pretty cool too. These are really the ideal Wurlitzer piano for home use or a professional recording studio.

For Sale

*For ordering information please contact Max Brink at (312)476-9528.

The first of the dozen pianos that will be restored is “Lucky No. 7” (nicknamed for the “7” stenciled onto the back of the piano) which was selected for being in the best condition of the group. It is in near mint condition and we have restored it from the key bed up in order to give it our full seal of approval. In this case, we fitted with the Warneck Preamp developed by Tim Warneck of Retro Linear. These amplifiers have an incredibly low noise floor and Tim spent a great deal of time getting the EQ and attach of the amplifier to bring out everything that we know and love about the Wurlitzer’s tone. It features a third knob for the speed control of the vibrato which has a great musical charm with no distortion at slow or fast speeds. These amplifiers are a must have for the studio or professional musician.

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You can find “Lucky No. 7” listed on Reverb.com or you can request any of the other 11 Wurlitzers to be restored to order by contacting Max Brink at (312)476-9528 or max@chicagoelectricpiano.com.

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Tweedy “Low Key” (Official Video)

Tweedy just released their latest music video for “Low Key” Directed by Nick Offerman featuring Jon Hodgeman, Mavis Staples, Conan Obrian, and many more–and hey look, there is our Orange Wurlitzer 106P Restoration!

Enjoy!

 

Custom Shop: The Ivory Fender Rhodes Piano Bass

It doesn’t get much cooler than a Rhodes Piano bass!
Fender Rhodes Piano Bass

 

Here’s the latest custom built Rhodes in our inventory: The Ivory Fender Rhodes Piano Bass.

This Rhodes is a true one of a kind and was hand assembled by our workshop using the best vintage components. It is a 1969 Fender Rhodes Piano bass lid, body, pickups and harp with 1975 hammers and tines. We selected all of the parts in order to give this piano bass the best warm Rhodes bass tone possible.

This completely restored piano bass is for sale for $2,699 and we promise that it plays and sounds even better than it looks! Just give Max a call at (312)476-9528 for more information.

Rhodes Bass

Fender Rhodes Piano Key Bass

Sparkle Top Rhodes Piano Bass

Rhodes Piano Bass Tines

Rhodes Piano Key Bass

Fender Rhodes Piano Bass Case

 

Custom Shop: The Lunar Rhodes

Here’s the latest from our Custom Shop: The Lunar Rhodes. Inspired by the white washed look of his Moog Voyager from the limited edition Lunar series, our client wished to recreate the look on his 1972 Fender Rhodes by replacing the cheek blocks and a new ivory tolex finish.

…Here you have it! The Lunar Rhodes:

Lunar Rhodes with Lid

Before we take a closer look at the woodwork let’s take a look at the MiniMoog Lunar Voyager that inspired it all:

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The original plastic cheek blocks are one of our least favorite cosmetic parts of the instrument so we were excited to venture into new territory and replace them with gorgeous new pieces of oak to match the Lunar Moog. Plastic just seems to take away from the more organic nature of a Rhodes and somewhat undermine the craftsmanship that goes into an electro-mechanical instrument. In our opinion, plastic should be used as sparingly as possible on any musical instrument.

In order to achieve the lunar effect we used white washed oak in order to match the pronounced grain and color of the lunar Moog. The wood was then cut down to the exact dimensions of the plastic cheek block then routed with the appropriate edge.

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(–We were lucky enough to work outside on our warehouse’s rear patio on this gorgeous August afternoon.)

And after receiving their white wash finish they were ready to be dropped into the Rhodes:

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Lunar Rhodes Cheek Block

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And we almost forgot to mention the gorgeous ivory tolex that was paired with the lunar cheek blocks…

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Lunar Rhodes with Lid

–More customization on the lid will be done on a future date so stay tuned!

CEPCo. Finds a New Home!

Moving Day!

This past week The Chicago Electric Piano Company began its move to a new home in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.The new space has more than ten times as much space for us by square foot at 4,000 square feet and many more that that by volume with 30 ft tall ceilings! Finally we can manage tolexing, woodworking, and all of our workshop needs under the same roof.

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Live From The Chicago Electric Piano Company: Dan Patrevito

We’re in the process of setting up a YouTube channel for showcasing our fully serviced pianos and some of the more interesting restorations performed by our workshop. Here’s a short clip of our close friend Dan Patrevito, sitting down with his ‘new’ fully serviced 200 conversion that left our workshop yesterday:

In the future we hope to share with you videos of our fully serviced electric pianos for sale as well as other interesting highlights from out shop. –And we promise to have better audio quality moving forward!

For more of Dan Patrevito’s music, please visit www.danpatrevito.com

Thank you and stay tuned!

The Birth of The Rhodes Piano

If you live in Chicago, then you already know that it’s hard to escape the sound of the jets screaming by overheard in formation for the Chicago Air and Water Show that is going on this weekend. But did you know that cousins of these giant metal birds gave birth to the very first Rhodes pianos?

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