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Rhodes Mark I Stage 73 keybed


jejefunkyman
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Hi All, so yesterday I had the chance to put my hands on a Mark I Stage 73 in a studio where I will (hopefully) soon record some tracks.

I really liked how it sounded and would like to use it for the tracks I will record, but man the keybed is really difficult to play 😬 It is completely uneven in term of key weight and for me very difficult to handle, as I'm used to Korg's RH3 keybed from my SV1 and now SV2. So I'm now really hesitating to use it, and it's a bit of a pity as it sounds so good 😞

My question to the experts here is: is it normal to have such a keybed on this piano, or is it just specific to this unit due to the effect of time slowly damaging the mechanics inside?

I don't know if I'll be able to adapt my playing in such a short time, and I'm also a bit scared to hurt my hands and fingers.

 

Rhodes Mark I Stage 73.jpg

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It's not that unlike a piano. It needs to be maintained... Tuned, regulated & whatever else. So every one is different and they can vary from incredible to awful. I had a Rhodes 100 years ago and it sure didn't sound or play as well as my A-88 triggering Keyscape's Rhodes. 

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4 hours ago, jejefunkyman said:

Hi All, so yesterday I had the chance to put my hands on a Mark I Stage 73 in a studio where I will (hopefully) soon record some tracks.

I really liked how it sounded and would like to use it for the tracks I will record, but man the keybed is really difficult to play 😬 It is completely uneven in term of key weight and for me very difficult to handle, as I'm used to Korg's RH3 keybed from my SV1 and now SV2. So I'm now really hesitating to use it, and it's a bit of a pity as it sounds so good 😞

My question to the experts here is: is it normal to have such a keybed on this piano, or is it just specific to this unit due to the effect of time slowly damaging the mechanics inside?

I don't know if I'll be able to adapt my playing in such a short time, and I'm also a bit scared to hurt my hands and fingers.

 

Rhodes Mark I Stage 73.jpg

My MkI 88 from the early 70’s sounds beautiful.  But it plays like shit.  Not a rarity, just luck of the draw.  There is a bump mod you can do or have done to it.  But even then I’m told it may not be worth the hassle.  Better to find another.  There are models, and I’ve played them, that play much much better.   

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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This one is not mine actually, it belongs to the recording studio. So I'll not bring another one there. I'm just asking myself if I will use it or not because of the shitty keybed. I think in the end, I'll just give it a try and if it's not working, then I'll just use the SV2, which I'll bring anyway to the session.

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Every Rhodes I've played has had a different feeling action.  A few good...a lot not so good.  Give it a try - if it sounds right for the recording and you can put up with the action, go for it.  But, if it will impact your playing, then I'd use something you are more comfortable.  There are a lot of good ways to get that sound without the real thing.

 

I did a session years back and there was an old grand piano mic'd up and ready to go, but the pianist didn't like the action or the sound, so he opted for his Motif piano on a non-weighted keybed.  Hey, whatever works.

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Yes for sure, as I said I will bring anyway the SV2 to the session so I'm fully covered if I can't get along with the action of the real one. However, I like its sound so much, but I think I can't really exactly reproduce it with the SV2.

There is a tone in the SV2 called Mark I Stage, but it sounds quite different than the one in the studio. I've already tried to use different amp simulations to get close, but I'm still not fully satisfied.

Korg doesn't really give an exact description of the models they have sampled for the SV2, and it makes things sometimes a bit difficult when one tries to emulate or reproduce a certain type of sound. It's more clear to me what they did for the Nautilus with the EP-1 engine.

But anyway, I'll surely find a good solution in the end 😅

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36 minutes ago, jejefunkyman said:

Yes for sure, as I said I will bring anyway the SV2 to the session so I'm fully covered if I can't get along with the action of the real one. However, I like its sound so much, but I think I can't really exactly reproduce it with the SV2.

There is a tone in the SV2 called Mark I Stage, but it sounds quite different than the one in the studio. I've already tried to use different amp simulations to get close, but I'm still not fully satisfied.

Korg doesn't really give an exact description of the models they have sampled for the SV2, and it makes things sometimes a bit difficult when one tries to emulate or reproduce a certain type of sound. It's more clear to me what they did for the Nautilus with the EP-1 engine.

But anyway, I'll surely find a good solution in the end 😅

If they simultaneously record midi and audio from the SV2 - there is no shortage of AU/VST rhodes sample libraries to choose from to get the exact vibe you are looking for.  Just swap it out for the audio track if it's not what you wanted.  

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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56 minutes ago, Morrissey said:

 

OP obviously isn't going to get the bump mod for this in-studio Rhodes... but this Mark 1 probably is a candidate for it, and it does improve the action quite a bit.

I have thought about doing it and been advised by several people on this forum that it is not a magic fix and I'd be better off picking another.  But, if you have a MkI and have done the bump mod, I would love to hear how it turned out for you! 

 

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Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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I haven't performed the bump mod myself but I've played older Rhodes with and without the bump mod, and I think the mod helps.  There are so many strong personal opinions about Rhodes action.  I'm not suggesting the bump mod will turn a Rhodes-action hater into a Rhodes-action lover.  Just that it helps.     

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1 hour ago, jejefunkyman said:

Yes, they have Keyscape in the studio. I might give it go 😉

As I understand, the Keyscape rhodes is sampled from one modified by a tech named Eddy Reynolds. He also did the one sampled for the Orange Tree "Famous E." These rhodes exemplify the "LA" sound of the 80s and can be heard on lots of records from that era that the LA session heavyweights played on. I own the Famous E and can say two things about it: 1) it's easily one of the best sampled rhodes ever made, and 2) it doesn't work for 90% of the music I play. Of course YMMV but if you're gonna go with a plugin, I would definitely try the Scarbee guys, as they're more "stock" or "old school", imo. That's the beauty of recording midi, you can try a few different guys to see what works best. You can also record with the real rhodes, then take the tracks home and mess around with replacing it with a sampled one to see what sounds best; no sense running the clock at the studio for that.

 

There's a tendency to look at these old instruments through rose-colored glasses - a tendency I have no problem resisting, but everyone is different. If you feel a vibe from that rhodes that makes the music you produce with it better, that's great and I would go with it. Right now, from your description it doesn't sound like you're feeling it. Too bad it's the action, not the sound, that's responsible. What's the likelyhood the studio will invest in a knowledgeable tech to come in and tweak the action before your session? Let me guess: zero!

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Yes thanks for you hints on Keyscape. Based on what you describe I’d say it might not fit to the kind of sound I have in mind. But let’s see. 
And you’re right, there’s no way the studio owner would hire a technician to improve the action for me 😂

So right now, I have 2 candidates for this session: the SV2 MK V emulation which I find pretty good, and this MK I Stage unit, provided I’m brave enough to support its action. 
Backup plan would be then Scarbee or Keyscape if I can find a tone which fits. The good news is that the studio owner will let us rehearse in the studio prior to the recording session, so I can play a bit then to make a final decision (hopefully 😂)

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That looks like the same model, and perhaps even same year, of the Mark I Stage 73 that I used to have. Yes, they have notoriously sluggish action just as "normal". But, of course, after so many years of playing (and how road-gigged they are), one unit's action will differ from another's quite significantly. In my case I was lucky, it was lightly gigged before I bought it, the action was sluggish as usual, but all keys were even and felt the same throughout the keybed. It sounds like the one in the studio that you want to play was gigged pretty heavily in the past, and is in need of service. 

 

I concur with Reezekeys, some people have a tendency to be "romantic" about these vintage instruments, particularly those who didn't grow up playing one. With today's romplers and VST technology, you'll get just about ANY Rhodes sound you want (effected or dry), and it'll sound good. And the key action won't suck. But make of it what you will... if you just have that feeling about playing the real thing, then go for it.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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1 hour ago, Reezekeys said:

Of course YMMV but if you're gonna go with a plugin, I would definitely try the Scarbee guys, as they're more "stock" or "old school", imo.

 

Scarbee used to be my go-to, but its age shows. It sounds smaller and less detailed than Keyscape, which has not only the "LA" Rhodes but also classic and VV models. I mean, I still love Scarbee just as I love VILabs Ravenscroft, but sonically Keyscape is on another level, IMO.

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I wasn't aware Keyscape had more than one sampled rhodes, so thanks for that info. I look forward to finding someone with Keyscape so I can experience this software in the flesh. I can't see investing in a an expensive product like that when I really only need acoustic piano, rhodes, wurly, and clav. I wish they made a "Keyscape Lite" without all those other instruments.

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OP. You are correct to be worried about the possibility of injuring your hands if you are not accustomed to the Rhodes action. The unconscious tendency is to try to speed up the crappy response which puts unusual stress on your fingers. Speaking from personal experience here, not hypothetically. 

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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I mean, it does depend on what you're playing, if you're playing lots of long tones and you maybe have a couple cool stompboxes, I would still play the real thing if it sounds good, regardless of the action. But if you're soloing/playing lots of melodies or syncopation, you obviously need to be able to get your ideas out unhindered.

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3 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

I wasn't aware Keyscape had more than one sampled rhodes, so thanks for that info. I look forward to finding someone with Keyscape so I can experience this software in the flesh. I can't see investing in a an expensive product like that when I really only need acoustic piano, rhodes, wurly, and clav. I wish they made a "Keyscape Lite" without all those other instruments.


 

There is a “lite” version, but it’s not sold separately, just a space saving option of the full version for people who don’t need all the toy stuff. That’s what I have on my laptop, just the core library (full version resides on my desktop).
 

it’s not cheap, but I don’t think it’s overpriced for what it is. And it sounds like it is exactly what you need: piano, rhodes, wurly, clav and assorted vintage digital keys. I really love the MKS-20 in there.

 

Here's a list of all the models they included: https://www.spectrasonics.net/products/keyscape/keyscape-models.php

 

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My 1967 sparkletop is a mutt but it is a keeper after going through three MK1 pianos with soggy action.  Sparkletop era keyset with green coiled pickups, square resonators, Raymac tines, factory bump on the pedestal; MK1 era wood/plastic/damper hammerset (they were interchangeable), missing the original (crap non-Peterson) electronics so the only way to get signal is straight off the harp.  

 

Hear it here; piano is going through a 1963 Selmer TruVoice Twin-Thirty which is the UK version of the Fender Twin Reverb.  Post processing stereo effect is an ADA STD-1.

 

The pedestal bump (aka bump mod) is THE KEY to great action.  It was omitted on Rhodes either 1968 or 1969, and not brought back until early 1980s.

 

Very lucky find in a store.  Played some chords and I was sold.  Great action, great sound.  Then the store put the price tag on it, and I told them to pack it up I'm buying it.  They said the seller was literally leaving the store as I was walking in.  Right place at the right time.

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