Here is one of the most ambitious –and definitely the nerdiest– custom restorations that we have ever from The Chicago Electric Piano Co: A custom 54 key Mark I with all period-correct Mark I components.
And why not give it a little extra flare with some tweed and a gold sparkletop??? Maybe Accent it with some walnut end blocks and western tolex lining the case???
The 54 key Rhodes was originally only offered during the Mark II Rhodes era circa 1980-1983. It’s key set was the mid range of the Rhodes with a few less base notes and treble notes from the 73/88 key models. It’s size makes it great for gigging musicians and can fairly easily be lifted by a single person (though it is still not preferable to carry it alone for long distances).
Our goal was not only to get the aesthetic look of the early Mark I’s rounded lid, but also to capture its signature tone. For this we sourced parts hand selected from our inventory from the early Mark I production period. Wooden supports and hammer rails were sourced from an early Stage piano. Tines were sourced from the late Torrington period. Pickups were sourced from circa 1974, and wired in series/parallel (unlike the series wiring of the 80’s era 54). Most importantly we hand selected vintage cube hammer tips from our inventory. In the end, the case, keys, and the harp frame were the only 1980’s parts used. Everything else was purely Mark I.
The end result was a wonderfully warm tone with the quintessential bark of the early Mark I.
For the custom 54 key lid a Mark I 88 lid was cut, glued, and strongly reinforced before refinishing with automotive grade flake paint for a sparkletop finish. It worked remarkably well and it was impossible to find the seam when completed.
The “Fifty Four” script logo was custom 3D printed. The future is here!
Along with the Custom Rhodes finish, our client requested matching tweed cabinets. Rather than building them ourselves we sourced them from Mojotone.com and finished them to match. It’s a great looking set!
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:
Here’s the latest from our custom shop: The Tweed Two-Tone Rhodes Suitcase.
—And another emergence of our signature wooden cheek blocks to top it off!
This Rhodes Suitcase 73 is from the “Golden Tine” era of late ’74 through early ’75 and we knew right away that the tone was going to be absolutely gorgeous even before the restoration process began. These “Golden Tine” pianos are some of our very favorite but are from a very short lived period of Rhodes production that spanned less than a full year. For those who are unfamiliar, changes in Rhodes tines happened almost every other year and noticeably alter the timbre of the Rhodes’ voice from year to year. These changes are analogous to the differences in tone from various gauges and metallurgical makeups of guitar strings or acoustic piano strings. Aside from a pretty straight forward restoration of the Rhodes piano itself we just needed to make sure that this Rhodes looked as good as it sounds!
Have a look for yourself and share what you think on our facebook page. Here’s a look at the Tweed Two-Tone Rhodes:
…There are more custom Rhodes currently in the works so stay tuned!
If you are interested in restoration services or custom refinishing your Rhodes piano please contact Max at (312)476-9528 or email@example.com.
Category: Custom Shop
, Mark I
/ Tags: Custom Rhodes
, Fender Rhodes
, Fender Two Tone
, Golden Tines
, Rhodes 73
, Rhodes Suitcase
, The Chicago Electric Piano Company
, Tweed Rhodes
, Tweed Two Tone