Rare Gem: the Musser AmpliCeleste

Rare Gem: the Musser AmpliCeleste
July 10, 2024 Mike Novak
In Custom Shop

Celeste meets electric piano in this unique mashup of 1960s ingenuity.

The late 60s were a special time for innovation in the world of music. Not just in the boundary pushing music that was being recorded, but also in the development of new instruments. Musser, a company known for mallet instruments, was no exception to that trend. Enter the AmpliCeleste.

Little is actually known on the development of this unique keyboard instrument. From what we can gather, it appears to be a collaboration between Musser, Electrovoice and Pratt Reed. It features celeste style tone bars and a hammer action built by Pratt Reed (the same company that produced key beds for Fender Rhodes and other prominent instrument manufacturers of the era). There are pickups under the bars that are sent through a preamplifier circuit with tone controls and tremolo. Finally, this signal is fed into a giant speaker that projects out the back of the instrument.


When this unit arrived to our shop, it had been pulled from a flooded basement. We fabricated a new bottom panel for the shell and reinforced the case. Also, we had to drill and tap out new mounts for the cast aluminum feet. Once the instrument was reassembled, we could begin our restoration. We gave the instrument a sweeping electronics overhaul, adding a new auxiliary amplifier output and speaker cut switch. We also made action adjustments, rebuilt the sustain mechanism and lubricated the key bed.

With few of these instruments known to exist (we’ve only encountered two others), it was a great opportunity to bring this one back to life and also document the process! Please enjoy the video demonstration and photos.


Matt Blocher performs a Chopin Nocturne on the AmpliCeleste


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