Tag Archive for Custom Shop

Custom Shop: Baby Blue Wurlitzer 206A *RE-Run*

Here’s the latest custom Wurlitzer from our workshop: The Baby Blue Wurli 206A!

IMG_1433

RE-Run Alert! We’re in the process of moving 50+ instruments and all of our tech/finishing equipment between buildings. It’s a fustrating process. Rather than boring you with pictures from our move we thought you would enjoy a blog post from the “vault.” Here it is:

Here’s the latest Custom Shop Wurlitzer restoration from our workshop. This Wurlitzer was restored from a very mint Classroom 206A set and finished in baby blue with white accents.

One of the subtle details for this restoration was using a 203W speaker baffle that allowed us to remove the 206A’s shelf. The 203W’s speaker baffle also gave a nice accent across the bottom of the speaker base. The aluminum pedal and feet were also polished and buffed to give this beauty as much shine as possible.

As you have come to expect from our restorations this beauty sounds and plays as good as it looks! We completely leveled the key bed, replaced all springs and action felts, regulated the action and key travel, and dialed in the amplifier to bring out the best of the classic Wurlitzer tone that we all know and love!

If you are interested in a piece like this we have more Wurlitzer 206A’s that are in need of a good home or studio. These models are usually picked up in near-mint condition since they spend most of their life in a University or school. Many of them come out of storage spaces where they have sat untouched for decades. They may be more cumbersome than a 200A for gigging, but in the studio or for home use the speaker base a 206A blows the internal speakers of a 200A out of the water!

–Please contact max@chicagoelectricpiano.com or (312)476-9528 for inventory availability and customization options.

IMG_1456

IMG_1461

IMG_1483

IMG_1476

IMG_1504

IMG_1470

IMG_1520

IMG_1527

IMG_1524

IMG_1508

IMG_1490

IMG_1506

IMG_1542

 

…Don’t to check out our Custom “Blue Sky” Sparkle Rhodes that is currently for sale! They made a hell of a pair at the workshop–along with a custom baby blue Fender Jazz Bass by our friends at Chicago Fret Works!

IMG_1563

IMG_1568

IMG_1589

IMG_1580

A Rhodes Reborn! *RE-Run*

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

IMG_3800

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!

 

IMG_3777

IMG_3781

IMG_3783

IMG_3782

IMG_3778

IMG_3788

IMG_3793

IMG_3790

IMG_3801

IMG_3785

IMG_3809

IMG_3806

IMG_3791

Custom Shop: The Black and Brown Suitcase

There goes another stunning custom Rhodes!

Have a look at the “Black and Brown” Rhodes Suitcase:

img_4174

img_4167

img_4164

img_4165

img_4170

img_4171

img_4172

img_4173

img_4176

img_4179

img_4177

img_4183

img_4184

img_4169

img_4181

FOR SALE: Custom “Sea Foam” Rhodes Stage 73

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

IMG_3056

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:

IMG_3057

IMG_3039 - Copy

IMG_3032

IMG_3033

IMG_3615

IMG_3612

IMG_3035

IMG_3043 - Copy

IMG_3031

IMG_3054

IMG_3042 - Copy

IMG_3046

IMG_3048

IMG_3029

 

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: Custom “Blue Sky Sparkle” Rhodes Suitcase 73

Here’s the latest Custom Shop Rhodes from our workshop. This one was upgraded to eleven!

IMG_2979

[Update: This piano has sold. If you are interested in a similar piano we can restore one for you! Please contact max@chicagoelectricpiano.com for more information]

For sale by The Chicago Electric Piano Company is this completely restored and customized Rhodes. It features Carolina Blue tolex, Cane Grill Clothe, a custom fiberglass Sparkle Blue top by Vintage Vibe, our signature handmade wooden cheek blocks, and four new Eminence speakers.

As you’ve come to expect with any CEPCo restoration, this piano has been rebuilt internally to make it sound even better than it looks. New tonebar grommets, fresh graduated hammer tips, dynamic action setup, and a complete keybed level ensure that this Rhodes will keep its mojo for years to come.

All aging electronic components have been replaced and properly biased. This Rhodes also features four new Eminence Legend speakers modeled after the Jensen C12N Speakers used in the original 60’s Rhodes’ Suitcase Cabinet. The new speakers are higher efficiency resulting in a louder and deeper cabinet response. The stereo tremolo is gorgeous! –-Have a listen for yourself:

Demo:

Additional Vibrato Demo:

IMG_2986

IMG_2989

IMG_2984

IMG_2981

IMG_2983

IMG_2991

IMG_2978

 

This Rhodes can be yours for $5,299. Worldwide shipping is available. Please contact Max Brink at (312)476-9528 or max@chicagoelectricpiano.com for ordering information.

FOR SALE: Custom White Wurlitzer 214A

Here’s the latest from our Custom Shop: The White Wurlitzer 214A–upgraded to eleven!

img_20161011_124121

Here’s the latest stunning White Wurlitzer with our complete Custom Shop and “Rebirth” restoration services. This Custom White Wurlitzer is based off of the cosmetic design that was chosen by Jeff Tweedy for his custom 206A at the Wilco Loft. The design received such a great response that we decided to repeat it with this 214A along with a few other cosmetic and electronic upgrades.

Video of the piano via Reverb.com:

As you’ve come to expect from our custom restorations, this piano sounds and plays even better than it looks! The key bed was completely leveled with all the sharps set to the proper height. And all action assembly springs and felts were replaced before regulation in order to get this thing playing at full dynamic potential!

We also upgraded the electronics in this piano with a Retro Linear EP200A amplifier and its deep variable vibrato. These amplifiers really bring out the best of the Wurlitzer’s tone with a lower noise floor and much more clarity in the lows and mids. The lows sound tremendous through the 214A speaker base! –And you are going to love the deep range of the tremolo along with speed control on the third knob! (Sound samples coming soon)

New key tops always look stunning on a cosmetic restoration and especially when you’re working with white. In order to make the white really pop on this custom restoration we replaced all of the white key tops and sharps. You can see a preview of the before-and-after here:

2013-01-26 11.33.08

 

Sound samples coming soon! Until then have a closer look at this stunning restoration:

img_4192

img_4195

img_4196

img_4200

img_4201

img_4202

img_4203

img_4207

img_4205

img_4204

img_4209

img_4211

img_4210

img_4191

$4,999 plus shipping. Worldwide shipping is available. Please contact max@chicagoelectricpiano.com for ordering information.

Custom Shop: White Wurltizer 200A*

I’m Dreaming of a White (Wurli) Christmas…

2015-12-14 17.56.36

Here’s the latest custom Wurlitzer from our custom shop: The White Wurlitzer 200A.

This Wurlitzer 200A was a conversion from a Classroom Wurlitzer 206A piano set that we acquired earlier this year. The classroom pianos make great candidates for customization because they are usually in excellent condition internally due to lighter use (although that may not always be the case). We added the classic 200A vibrato circuitry and a reproduction 200A face plate to finish it all off. Have a look here:

2015-12-14 17.57.17

2015-12-14 18.01.52

2015-12-14 18.03.26

2015-12-14 18.06.07

2015-12-14 18.02.29

2015-12-14 18.01.32

2015-12-14 18.05.03

2015-12-14 18.07.06

2015-12-14 17.59.49

 

2015-12-14 17.56.49

 

 

Custom Shop: The Tweed Copper Top Rhodes

Chicago Electric Piano Company Custom Tweed Rhodes

Here’s the latest from our custom shop: The “Tweed Copper Top” Rhodes. This was a late 1971 Rhodes Mark I Stage Piano that we refinished in tweed with a few other cosmetic customizations. The replacement copper fiberglass lid was contracted through Vintage Vibe in New Jersey with similar construction to the Sparkletop Fender Rhodes of the 1960’s. Once again we finished off the restoration with a pair of satin cheek blocks using oak and giving it a deep honey stain.

The Piano itself is full restored with new rubber tone bar grommets and hammer tips developed by Retro Linear that restored the harp and hammers while maintaining the early 1970’s sound characteristics. The key bed was fully leveled and regulated and plays wonderfully.

This Rhodes has the classic “Return to Forever” sparkle in the treble and deep warm bass characteristic of pianos from the early 1970’s. Have a listen here:

This Rhodes is currently for sale and if you are interested please contact Max Brink at max@chicagoelectricpiano.com for ordering information.

Here are some closer looks at the instrument:

Custom Fender Rhodes Case Top by CEPCo

Fender Rhodes Tweed Top Case

Custom Fender Rhodes Front

Custom Fender Rhodes by Chicago Electric Piano Company

Fender Rhodes Knobs 1971 Tweed Sparkle

Rhodes Seventy Three Script Logo on Tweed Sparkle Top

Vintage Vibe Fiberglass Sparkle

 

Oak Wood Cheek Blocks with Knobs on Fender Rhodes

Honey Oak Cheek Blocks

Fender Rhodes 1971 Tone Bars

Fender Rhodes Tweed Sparkle Top

Chicago Electric Piano Company Custom Tweed Rhodes

Custom Shop: Tweed Rhodes Suitcase

2014-09-20 13.10.17

Many people were so blown away from our Tweed Two Tone Rhodes earlier this year that we were quickly contacted to tweed amplifiers and another two Rhodes in the custom finish. This one in particular has the shellac’d finish for the amber shine that we know and love from the classic Fender amps. This gives the tweed a classic aesthetic look and also prevents the tweed from getting stained or from fraying.

This is a 1975 Rhodes Suitcase from the late ’75 period with all plastic hammers. Although this period of production usually takes a little more work to regulate properly the Rhodes can sound and feel just as good as the earlier true Fender Rhodes period. The key to maintaining their classic tone is restoring them with the original cube shaped hammer tips that give them the signature Fender Rhodes attack.

When restoring a Rhodes cosmetically it’s always a tough decision whether or not to use the aging original hardware (corners, handles, logos, etc.) or whether or not to use shiny new hardware. The original hardware maintains the vintage vibes and mojo of the instrument while the new hardware completes the cosmetic overhaul for those that want a brand new finish. In this case the decision was a no brainer… The original Rhodes hardware’s patina and light rust looked way too good with the tweed and amber shellac.

 

Here’s a look at the Custom Tweed Rhodes:

2014-09-20 13.04.01

2014-09-20 13.05.55

2014-09-20 13.11.09

2014-09-20 13.11.40

2014-09-20 13.11.40 2014-09-20 13.11.09

2014-09-20 13.06.25

Custom Shop: The Navy Blue Rhodes Suitcase

Here’s a look at the latest Rhodes from our Custom Shop: The a Navy and Tan Suitcase from 1976.

2014-10-09 11.23.26

The 1972-1975 period is something that I consider the best era of Rhodes production but 1976 pianos have really grown on me over the course of the past year. Although it takes a little more labor to regulate their action properly the feel and tone of the early 1976 pianos is just as solid as ’74-75 pianos. This is especially true in early 1976 when the neoprene rubber hammer tips used were still the cubed tips that were used in the true Fender Rhodes period of production.

My mother raised me not to wear navy with black but sometimes rules are meant to be broken. And the blue strands in the tan grill cloth really ties the entire look together! Have a look:

2014-10-09 11.18.01

2014-10-09 11.19.04

2014-10-09 11.19.42

2014-10-09 11.20.56

2014-10-09 11.21.22

2014-10-09 11.24.29

2014-10-09 11.23.26

Custom Shop: The Orange Rhodes

Custom Rhodes Orange

Here’s the latest Rhodes to leave our Custom Shop: The Orange Mark II. This Rhodes was inspired by the orange 44 note Wurlitzer 106 and a few vintage guitars with an orange finish. The piano was completely restored by our workshop and as always we promise she sounds even better than she looks!

This beauty is now back at Wilco’s recording loft where we will hopefully hear from it soon!

–Until then, here’s a glimpse of the custom finish:

Wilco Orange Rhodes

Custom Rhodes Mark II

Orange Custom Rhodes Colors

Orange Wilco Rhodes

Rhodes Lid in Orange

2014-01-21 09.12.50

Rhodes Logo Orange Rhodes

Rhodes Logo and Back

Custom Rhodes 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:

2013-08-05 12.56.23

2013-08-05 12.56.31

2013-08-05 12.51.19

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.

2013-08-19 15.53.31

2013-08-19 16.02.51

(–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:

2013-08-20 18.00.35

Lunar Rhodes Cheek Block

2013-08-20 19.56.54

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

2013-08-20 15.52.26

2013-08-20 19.58.25

2013-08-20 19.59.31

2013-08-20 19.59.16

2013-08-20 19.58.00

Lunar Rhodes with Lid

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

Custom Shop: The Wurlitzer 106P

Check out this little orange beauty from the Wilco Loft! This is the 44 note Wurlitzer 106P Student Piano. Have a look:

Wurlitzer 106 Orange Front Faceplate

 

The 106P’s were produced around the same time as the 200 era pianos and were sold to classrooms in a set of eight pianos mounted onto a single folding frame that allowed them to be stored without taking up too much floor space. All of the controls were mounted in the middle of the folding frame where a single “mother” amplifier that distributed the power and other controls for the individual pianos. On their own, the pianos cannot be simply removed from the set without expert modification to make them work properly.

Wurlitzer 106P Full Set

 

Once unfolded the pianos only sit a few feet off of the ground and must have been intended for elementary school use.

A side mounted panel the instructor can control various basic functions of the classroom set.

Wurlitzer 106 Instructor Controls

 

Under the orange hood of the 106 the action assembly is nearly identical to the 200 series pianos with a few minor differences due to the 44 note reed bar that is unique to the 106. And not just because it is the only Wurlitzer model without 64 notes. Each of the reeds are mounted to a single reed bar that spans the entire piano which is also much lighter than any other Wurlitzer reed bar. The 200 series, and the previous 140/145 series, pianos have two 32 note reed bars split down the middle which severely limits the resonance transferred from one sustaining reed to another located on the other on the other reed bar. Having all of the reeds mounted on the same reed bar allows for more harmonics to be transferred between sustained notes which is one of the most wonderful sonic aspects of this instrument.

Wurlitzer 106 Reed Bar Angle

 

The other difference is that without serious modification these pianos have no sustain pedal function, which if implemented would only enhance the harmonic characteristics of the reed bar! Because of this, we designed a custom shop sustain pedal that allows this 106 piano to be played with a 200 series sustain pedal to bring the instrument to its absolute fullest musical potential.

Wurlitzer 106P Full Orange

 

In addition to our custom sustain pedal design the piano needed a replacement amplifier to power its internal speaker which is normally powered by the power supply mounted in the original folding frame… So here is a sneak peek of our soon to be released custom Wurlitzer tube amplifier: 

Wurlitzer Custom Tube Amplifier

 

There are a few replacement amplifiers currently available for the Wurlitzer and ours is designed to be a breed of its own. Instead of simply trying to improve upon the original Wurlitzer design, which has already been attempted with various degrees of success, we set out to design an amplifier from scratch and emphasize the characteristics that are normally desired from classic vintage amplifiers. This meant designing an amp with tubes, grit, vintage vibrato, and just that certain color and charm. Our goal was to design an amplifier with the inspirational qualities that guitar players find when playing classic vintage amps like a ’50’s Fender Deluxe or early Princetons or bass guitarists plugging into a vintage SVT or Motown’s B-15N.

So began the quest for the cosmic Wurlitzer amp.

106 Wurlitzer Switches

106 Wurlitzer Amp Knobs Variable Vibrato

 

One of the other unique aspects of our amplifier was that it supplies the reed bar with nearly 300V instead of the typical 75-150V supplied by the other stock and other replacement Wurlitzer amplifiers available. The result is more responsiveness in the reed bar which also delivers higher fidelity.

Wurlitzer Reed Bar Voltage

 

After experimenting over a year with various circuits implementing different tubes including working with 12AT7’s and 12AU7’s in the preamplifier before the finally fine tuning the 12AX7 to give just the right range of control over the grit and sparkle of the amplifier’s output. And boy does this amplifier have grit and sparkle! It brings the internal Wurlitzer speakers alive in ways that you have never heard! –Truly an inspiration!

The vibrato circuit also uses a 12AX7 and is modeled after the classic Fender Brown Face tremolo circuit. Unlike the original Wurlitzer amplifiers, this gives the tremolo both intensity and speed controls. We also added a tremolo foot-switch on/off switch which allows you to turn the effect on and off without the need to raise a hand or sweep down the intensity control.

…Stay tuned for sound samples and a special offer on our limited addition first run of our new amplifier…

 

In addition to the Custom Shop work we also restored the piano from the key bed up and voiced each individual note of the piano to bring this electric piano to better than new condition. And ‘amplified’ by the fact that our new tube amp does not have the muddy EQ found in most Wurlitzer amplifiers, which covers up the irregular noises and voicing irregularities, we also spent a considerable amount of our expertise getting the reed’s solder shape just right to avoid any unwanted ghost notes, hissing, or irregular wave forms.

Wurlitzer Reed Pyramid Shape Voicing 200, 106, 145

 

The importance of forming the proper shape to the solder tip of the Wurlitzer reed is an art form that cannot be overstated. The smallest irregularity, solder tab, or asymmetric imbalance can cause the reed to produce tones that are severely unpleasant. Even from the factory–particularly in the later years of 200A production, but also a commonly overlooked issue with throughout all production years–the quality control of the solder pyramid is not up to par with what is required of a Wurlitzer that is intended for live performance or studio use.

This Wurlitzer was refurbished with the proper craftsmanship and love to bring it to better-than-new condition. In addition to voicing each of the 44 individual reeds, every individual felt and spring was replaced with felts of the perfect thickness to ensure that the instrument can be regulated properly for a buttery-smooth feel and reliable dynamic play. You will have to play one for yourself to believe just how good our Wurlitzers sound and feel!

Wurlitzer Whip Fly Felts

Wurlitzer 106 Whip Fly Felts

 

The key bed was completely leveled while lowering the black keys and regulated for a uniform 13/32″ across every black and white key.

Wurlitzer Key Bed Shims

Wurlitzer Key Bed

Wurlitzer 106 Key Bed

Wurlitzer 106 Key Bed with Keys Only

Wurlitzer Lost Motion

Wurlitzer Keys and Reed Bar

Wurlitzer Leveled Key Bed 106

Wurlitzer White Key Dip 106

Wurlitzer Black Key Height

Wurlitzer 106 Key Dip

 

From this foundation, once we built up, leveled, and regulated the key bed from scratch we can begin to perform the same tasks on the action assembly. After carefully selecting the proper thickness felts and springs to refurbish the aging action components we then regulate it for lost motion and let-off to insure that the instrument plays with a reliable and expressive dynamic range.

2013-07-30 10.23.29

2013-07-30 10.24.36

Wurlitzer let off regulation lost motion

 

This is as close as you can get to a brand new Wurlitzer in 2013. In fact we have taken the craft to a level on this piano where we can confidently say that this Wurlitzer is in better condition than the day that it was born right here in Dekalb, IL in November 1972.

Wurlitzer 106 Date Stamp 1972

Wurlitzer 106P Serial Plate

Wurlitzer 106 Front Orange

Wurlitzer 106 Full Angle View

 

This one already turned a lot of heads at the warehouse and it will hopefully catch more attention now that it is back home at Wilco’s Loft along with good company. Hopefully we will be hearing from this one again soon!

…One down, seven more to go!

Custom Shop: Wilco’s White Wurlitzer

Here’s a glimpse of Wilco’s new Wurlitzer 206A from our Custom Shop. Hopefully we will be hearing from this beauty soon!

WILCO White Wurli 206

Wilco Wurli - Side

Wilco Custom Wurli

2013-01-26 11.33.08

Decisions. Decisions…

It was a tough decision whether or not to re-cap the white keys to match the bright white tolex and lid. Luckily, the Wurlitzer’s keys were all equally faded and the two shades of white were enough to contrast one another. Have another look at the complete job:

WILCO White Wurli 206

Wilco White Wurli Back

And here she is. Home sweet home–and in good company! From the Wilco loft:

Wilco Loft

Custom Shop: The Burgundy Rhodes

Another gorgeous Rhodes receives The Chicago Electric Piano Company’s Custom Shop treatment this week. Have a look at the Burgundy Rhodes and let us know what you think:

Read more

Custom Shop: White Top Rhodes

Custom White Rhodes

Custom White Rhodes

This Rhodes is the story of “if you’re going to do something, do it right”–the first time.  Read more