What is the difference between a Wurlitzer 200 and 200A?

What is the difference between a Wurlitzer 200 and 200A?
January 10, 2013 Max Brink
Max Brink
In Wurlitzer

Is my Wurlitzer a 200 or a 200A?

The Wurlitzer 200 and 200A are two of the most common Wurlitzer models, and were produced from 1968 through around 1982. For most practical applications all of the “200 series” instruments (200, 203, 206, 214A, etc) are nearly identical instruments, but taking a closer look at these models there are changes throughout the years that differentiates them from one another.

The tonal differences between a 200 and 200A are pretty subtle, but for the tone-chaser these subtle differences may just give player that little extra bit of vibe or inspiration that they desire. Because of their similar cosmetic design, it is common for people to mistake a 200 for a 200A and vise versa. Even when taking a closer look under the hood, their action assemblies and the reeds that produce their sound are identical, leaving only a few distinguishing characteristics to look and listen for.

Quick Identifiers: Even though the cosmetics of each instrument can be differentiated from one another in some cases noted below. There were a few color options that were only available on the 200 or 200A that can quickly identify the exact model. Both 200 and 200A pianos were available in Black and Beige, but only the 200 was available in Red or Forest Green, and Avocado Green was only offered on the 200A period. Another quick distinguishing cosmetic note is that the Wurlitzer emblem on the back of the keyboard from the player was only on the last few years of the 200A.

When the 200 was first introduced in 1968 its amplifier was an early transistor circuit with a straightforward design. Within just a few years, the amplifier would be redesigned a few times with a series of minor improvements that attempt to reduce noise and distortion in the amplifier. However, these 200 amplifiers are still very prone to noise and distortion that is less present in the later 200A design.

The colour or vibe of the 200 is slightly darker and some what swampier than the later 200A, which has a brighter and more articulate tone (particularly in the later years). These tonal difference happen because of a few changes in the reed construction, amplifier, and the speakers used.

A large part of the 200’s vibe comes from the Alnico speakers, which tend to have smoother treble response, which some players prefer to mic instead of running through a guitar amplifier or direct. This tends to give a more “vintage” sounding tone than the more articulate/barkier tone of running it through the aux. output.

200 Amplifier

200 Amplifier

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200A Amplifier

The transition from 200 to 200A happened in late 1974 or early 1975 and at that time the only change was the amplifier. The alnico speakers were still used for a brief period before another brief period of square ceramic magnet speakers, followed by the most common round ceramic magnets. With the introduction of the square magnet speakers, Wurlitzer moved the mounting of the speakers to the plastic lid of the piano.

Quick 200A Identifier: The mounting pins on the lid of the Wurlitzer are one of the fastest ways to identify most 200A’s. This marks the transition from the early Alnico speakers that happened very early in 200A production. 

 

Mounting Pins of the 200A

Mounting Pins for the 200A’s Speakers

The most notable improvement of the 200A amplifier is that it is naturally less susceptible to noise and interference the former 200 amplifier due to three new factors. First, there was an additional ground shield placed much closer to the Wurltizer’s electrostatic pickup–which is a must have upgrade for all 200’s! Next, the preamplifier of the Wurltzer was seperated onto its own PCB and mounted on the reed bar, increasing the distance between the preamp and the amplifier to reduce interference from the power amp’s electromagnetic field. Last, the AC wiring from the power source to the transformer was placed within a strip aluminum tubing that shielded the amplifier from the electromagnetic field produced by the AC current running to the power transformer behind the amplifier. (Though the placement of the AC power switch still requires the PT mains to run extremely close to the amplifier… And they didn’t twist their AC runs, which is another technical flaw that went overlooked…)

From a tone-chasing standpoint, the difference in the amplifier is pretty subtle. The amplifier was a little more clear, with a lower noise floor than the 200, but it was still a pretty noisy amplifier on its own. We credit majority of the tonal differences arise from changes in the speakers and subtle changes in the reed construction that happened throughout the following years.

Which one is better???

The preference of a Wurlitzer 200 to 200A is very subjective and depends on the player. There are excellent examples of all 200-series pianos and in the end we would always suggest evaluating the instrument first on it’s own condition rather than on the year/model-name itself. If you are considering an unserviced “stock” model then there may be some advantages of the improvements of the 200A that are worth considering. On the other hand, if you are purchasing one of our fully restored electric pianos, we restore all 200 with noise reducing techniques that will make the electronic differences negligible between the two models.

 

Final Note on “Muddy” Tone: Servicing an amplifier properly can go a long way to increase the clarity of the amplifier. However, it is also common for muddy tone to be the result of poor action regulation. Getting the action setup in a Wurlitzer is the best way to make sure that it is playing to it’s full dynamic and articulate range, which will bring out a lot more of the Wurli tone that we all know and love!

Comments (26)

  1. Avatar
    zach 6 years ago

    Which is more valuable a Wurlitzer 200 or a 200A?

    • mbrink
      mbrink 6 years ago

      The 200A has a slightly better amplifier design and additional shielding that makes it slightly more desirable but not enough to significantly impact the value of the instrument. The pianos themselves are practically identical although they did update a few minor things between the 200’s introduction and the last 200A. In the end, though, neither amplifier is worth writing home about…

  2. Avatar
    sam 6 years ago

    The speakers are blown on the one I own and the power cord is dangerously frayed. How easily can it be replaced?

  3. Avatar
    Sean 4 years ago

    I have a Wurlitzer 203. I don’t know the years it was in production but I am curious to know if it’s like the 200 vs 200A? what I’m asking is the 203 a earlier model of the 203W? The 203 is like a 200 or 200A on a console instead of legs, with two 8″ speakers. It’s got the beautiful Wurlitzer tone, and has all the crappy noise and vibrato hum too:)

    • mbrink
      mbrink 4 years ago

      The 203 has the 200 amplifier in it. They are great sounding pianos and from around 1970 give or take. There is a lot that can be done to remove noise and hum from the 200 amplifier.

      • Avatar
        Simon 3 years ago

        What can be done to remove noise and hum on a 200 amp?

        Kind regards

        • mbrink
          mbrink 3 years ago

          It’s hard to say without sitting down with your particular amplifier in person. Shielding of pickups and AC mains, proper grounding, proper biasing, and healthy transistors & electrolytic caps are all factors that we would inspect while servicing a 200 amplifier.

  4. Avatar
    David 4 years ago

    I have a green Wurlitzer model 214. It is in great cosmetic shape. It has the vibrato function but mine is not working for some reason. Everything else is fine though so I’m not sure what the problem is. Is it a console version more similar to the 200a or model 200?

  5. Avatar
    Jorge 4 years ago

    HEllo,my wurli is pretty quiet but when I turn the vibrato on, in a 200A, the “hum” and a little the volume increases. IS that normal? How I can resolve that issue? Thanks so much for your help and sorry my english.

    • mbrink
      mbrink 4 years ago

      It sounds like the amp could use service. The 200A can be a very quiet amp and the vibrato should not increase the volume when the amplifier is dialed in and setup to perform at its best.

      • Avatar
        Jorge 4 years ago

        Thanks so much. Anyone else having this problem?

  6. Avatar
    BenSijo 3 years ago

    Hello,
    You wrote “After a year or so of 200A production the alnico driven speakers were now driven by ceramic magnets and were mounted directly on the vinyl lid “.
    Does 200A exists with the speakers mounted on the amplifier rail inside of the instrument?
    Thank you.

    • mbrink
      mbrink 3 years ago

      For a very short period of time they were still using the alnico speakers mounted on the amplifier rail.

  7. Avatar
    Morgan Fisher 3 years ago

    I have a 200 in good shape except the covering on the sustain pedal cable is worn away just where it meets the pedal, so you can see the woven metal cable inside. Is there any way to replace the covering or the cable? Also for cosmetic reasons I’d like to replace some other parts that have gotten rusty (hinges, etc) – do you have any such parts for sale?

    Thanks.

    • mbrink
      mbrink 3 years ago

      We should have just about any part you are looking for. Please shoot Max an email at max@electricpiano.xyz.

  8. Avatar
    th 3 years ago

    I have wurlitzer 200B

  9. Avatar
    Brent Hahn 2 years ago

    I have a 200, and it seems pretty clear that the AC was brought in on the left because the on/off switch is mounted behind the volume pot. I’m considering re-routing the AC along the bottom/rear with mu-metal-shielded wire (it’s only $1.75 a foot). This seems like it would be easier that routing out a cavity for a new IEC on the right side, plus another cavity on the bottom for a recessed on/off switch. Any downsides you can see?

    Also, what’s function of the capacitor wired in parallel with the fuse?

    Thanks so much,

    b.

    • mbrink
      mbrink 2 years ago

      Sounds like a lot of extra work without much benefit. The normal placement (rear left route) for an IEC is what we would suggest.There is not normally a capacitor in parallel with the fuse so I assume that you are referring to the capacitor that is in parallel with the transformer mains, which are there to reduce fluctuations from the AC source.

  10. Avatar
    Brent Hahn 2 years ago

    Yep – you’re right about the capacitor. Another dumb question — why don’t the top five notes have dampers?

    Thanks,

    b.

    • mbrink
      mbrink 2 years ago

      To let harmonics ring out while playing the instrument to give a more rich sound. This is similar to what you find on acoustic pianos. On earlier models, as in the early 140 series and prior, more than just five notes were left without dampers.

  11. Avatar
    Lee 2 years ago

    I think Wurlitzer was just doing what they did on their acoustic pianos- the last notes never had dampers

  12. Avatar
    HB 2 years ago

    I’ve never seen a beige Wurlitzer 200A. Are you sure about this?

    • mbrink
      mbrink 2 years ago

      Yes. They are far less common than the black but the 200A was offered in Beige and “Avocado” Green at least for several years. The 206A continued to be produced in beige through the late 200A production years.

  13. Avatar
    John 1 year ago

    Are you sure they made a Beige 200A? I’ve never seen one!

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