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JD73 Rhodes Mk III EK-10 demo


MAJUSCULE
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Woke up this morning and had my mind blown. Who has played one of these before? Essentially a Mark II with an analogue synth and split/layer capabilities. I don't think I've ever heard of a Mark III ever. I guess I figured Marks III, IV, and VI never saw the light of day due to business woes. Serious bucketlist collector's item.

 

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That is very neat! Good player too helps of course. Now imagine that with independent outboard effects separately on the synth section and the Rhodes section.

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For those of you with Dyno Eq modifications to their Rhodes keyboard it very important to know two things to maintaining original sound of your instrument.

1. Correct 'tone and volume' adjustment i.e. the position of the tynes with respect to the dual lobed magnetic field of the pickup.

2. Maintaining the correct bias adjustment of the Dyno Eq's field effect transistors, as they have a tendency to drift.

Each of these subjects require extensive discussion so I can guide any keyboard technicians if interest develops.

Thanks

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Hey guys, sorry its been a long while since I've logged in here but I still read the forums almost every day and keep up with what's going on. I'll do my best to take a more active role as I do love this community and have learnt so much here over the years I've been a member.

 

Thanks for your interest and kind comments on my MK3 video; it's a strange and wonderful beast that's for sure! Largely hated by many 'Rhodents', but mainly because the misconception is they are rubbish! What you essentially have is a plastic key Rhodes Mk2 (unlike any other Rhodes, there is no keybed as such and just plastic rails with plastic pins and keys screwed directly to the case in metal channels) with a divide down analogue synth section bolted to it. Sure there were major issues with production of these models and they left the factory often not in the best condition, however they can be fixed and sound unique when working. I'm lucky to work with a genius electronics tech over here in the UK that always likes a challenge- he basically rebuilt the whole synth part and the power supply as when it came to me it was unable to pass any audio.

 

In terms of the Rhodes part, I replaced all the neoprene hammer tips, changed all the tonebar screws and grommets (to improve sustain and tone and stop left to right movement or 'creep' of the tone bars causing the tines to go off centre of the pickups), we repaired several pickups that weren't passing audio and then I tuned and voiced it and left it on for a week for burn in to make sure it still behaved itself before shipping 200 miles back to London from my workshop. I also added some extra supports under the harp cover to raise the cover up an inch or so- as the synth electronics are contained in a hinged tray above the Rhodes harp, the electronics come very close to the inside of the harp cover which means if you place anything heavy on the top, it causes the electronics tray to flex and short out parts of the electronics, plus any transformer that gets close will cause interference. Anyway, we got this one back to full health so I thought I better capture it, especially as there are hardly any direct audio videos around of these. Glad it was of some use!

 

PS- the preamp on these was unique too- way more output compared to any other Rhodes preamp with a much wider ranging eq that could easily get into 'dyno' territory too, I guess they changed the headroom and eq design to accommodate the Rhodes + synth together.

 

All the best

Dan

Chief Product Officer at Rhodes. Project leader and designer of the Rhodes MK8 piano. 

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Yeah I noticed the preamp in those EK-10s sound much better. While I can't say I'm a fan of the "synth" extensions, the one redeeming feature of the EK-10 is the piano preamp. Raising the harp does improve the tone at the expense of tine breakage (I did that to my 1967 sparkletop piano but I don't slam it like a piano). Sometime in the 1970s the factory actually lowered the harp to reduce warranty repairs due to broken tines.

 

Calling it a "synth" shoehorned into a Rhodes is a stretch. The "synth" being a divide-down TOS system is actually a crude organ with square wave outputs, which are gated using independent envelope followers wired to each pickup. That meant only one envelope profile - that produced by the Rhodes itself! This was because each key's synth volume followed the amplitude of the tine, so you were stuck with an instant attack and slow decay, with no variations available. A simple pair of controls for attack and decay time would have made it far more versatile. The filters are static with no dynamic modulation available, not even from the envelope follower. With only square waveshapes from the TOS system, that severely limits the timbre variety. Sounds more like an electronic piano than a synth.

 

Just because you can BUILD something doesn't mean you SHOULD - the EK-10 electronics were very parts-intensive with little gain in timbre variety. Add those electronics and an internal power supply with heavy transformer to an already heavy piano and not many players liked to haul them to gigs. I think a more comprehensive "synth" could be shoehorned under the hood with today's SMT technology, which consumes 1/4 of the space (and weight) that 1980s components did.

 

The EK-10 had a serious problem in Japan in that the EMI generated by the electronics interfered with Japanese television reception. "Interfered" meaning it caused television sets to explode (!) Legend is that all the Rhodes EK-10s imported into Japan were dumped in the ocean, forming an "artificial reef".

 

Info on the Mark IV is here. It wasn't produced because it had design defects. Only one prototype was made. Some of the successful MK IV features (such as the lightweight plastic/aluminum shell) were used in the Mark V. Digital keyboards like the DX7 and K250 killed the Rhodes market before it was possible to correct the Mark IV defects.

 

Great playing, Dan!

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