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Buying a real Wurlie vs. Nord Electro


jook

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I have a dilemma. I am faced with either getting a real Wurlitzer 200A, in good condition ... or getting a Nord Electro (new, at double or more of the price).

 

Now I am aware of the merits of each, but I can't decide. Just how much maintenance is there in keeping a Wurly in shape? How often and easy do the reeds break? How often does it require tuning? Having played it, I can definitely say that nothing beats the real thing, and I love having the internal speakers for a good bit of "when the inspiration strikes" playing. The vibe and the feel of the keys, and the delicateness of it all is just .. really inspiring.

 

The Electro however, will also give me several excellent Rhodes. Clavi too. And possibly more sounds in the future? (what with Clavia's nice update habits). It is also incredibly portable... although I do not plan to gig much with either boards, mostly be using it for home recording, and writing. But being portable does make it easier to take out to jam sessions.

 

Add to this, the Electro does not require tuning or reed-fixing and all that... but it is a hell of alot more expensive. And the action is a compromised organ keyboard...

 

Note that i will not be using the organs (much) on the Electro... I plan to stick with my CX-3 for that.

 

I know I'm going around in circles. Just wondering if others have made this decision (or have both and have a better perspective to make this judgement) and can give me some advice.

 

Does the real Wurly justify the maintenance? Is the maintenance required an exaggeration? If i don't move it around too much, can I expect it to be fairly minimal?

 

Will I buy an Electro, and still want the real thing later on? Is the keyboard difference significant in how you play it? Will it really satisfy, and is it really worth twice or more of the money I would spend on the Wurly?

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I'd go for the Wurly if it is in good condition, the sound is truly great, it plays you, the action is really really good, the best I have played on anything bar a good piano. Light but very precise. Tuning is a PITA but once in tune , holds it very well unless you are a hard hitter, same for breaking tines, it'll happen very occasionally.

 

My 2p...

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Well given you've already got the CX-3 I'd go for the Wurli. I get to use one in a friend's rehearsal studio every week and, like a real rhodes, it's just a whole different vibe to a digital keyboard of whatever quality. Not sure about maintenance issues if you're playing out though. I think if you're not moving it much maintenance will be negligible. That's our experience so far.

Gig keys: Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Crumar Mojo 61, Crumar Mojo Pedals

 

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Do you own a soldering iron, a couple of files, and have too much time on your hands? Then by all means buy the Wurly.

 

In my humble opinion, the only reason for still owning any vintage instruments is for use in sampling sessions to make new instruments.

 

I expect to be pummelled by dissenting opinions.

"Doing things is how things get done"
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Frostbyte, you won't be pummelled by me.

 

Jook, I constantly gigged with a 200A back in the early 70s and my top ten hates included ... (5) the way the mechanical pedal mechanism complicated stacking it on my Hammond (I gave up and played it without a sustain pedal, harpsichord style), (4)the too short keyboard, (3) breaking reeds, (2) the funky tone and tuning you got from reeds that were about to break any day (i.e. the notes you played and needed the most), and (drum roll)... (1) tuning it.

 

I REALLY hated tuning it.

 

Larry.

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Originally posted by jook:

I do not plan to gig much with either boards, mostly be using it for home recording, and writing.

Then I'd go with the real thing. Reed problems happen more frequently onstage in the heat of the moment when you're pounding away. Plus... it's a classic vintage piece, which means that the price won't go down if it's not for you and you decide to sell it later. In fact, it will probably go up if you hang on to it awhile. Can't say that about an Electro.
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IMHO, if you have the chance to own a vintage instrument, in great shape, for a decent price, then go for it! You can get an Electro anytime you want. Vintage gear for a decent price is hard to find.

 

I was in the same dilemma last year. I was so hard up for a 200A, but there wasn't one to be found locally and I didn't want to risk having one shipped from Ebay or other online sale considering the prices were very high ($800 and up plus shipping) for an instrument that I had no idea how to maintain nor knew of anyone within a 100 mile radius that knew how to maintain.

 

I decided on the Electro, because I'm gigging. I'm very happy with it. I have a Suitcase 73 that I love to play at home and use for recording, but have no intention of loading up for gigs. If I get lucky and run into a 200A, I'll probably get it, just to have in my collection.

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WURLY!!!! i wouldn't think twice! RAPPA29 is right + with "real" instrument like a wurly you get MUCH more expression and inspiration than with the clones... go for it! i hvae a mark200a and i'd say it keeps it tuning better than my rhodes! sure it's a drag to tune a wutly, but you don't need to do it so often, so...
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Electro - simply for the reduced headache factor. Sure, vintage instruments are nice to have, but, they come with a price that you pay over and over again. With the electro, you pay once.

 

Size, tuning, maintenance, money (even though the Electro may cost more, the Wurli will nickle and dime you) and reliability issues all point towards the Electro. Not to mention that, if you use multiple keyboards, have you ever tried to put a wurli on the upper tier of a keyboard stand???

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If you're a vintage instrument collector, get the Wurlie. If you're a practical musician, get the Nord.

 

The above sounds more value-laden than I mean to. Vintage instruments are way cool. I'm not selling my Rhodes, for example, even though I don't really have a good argument for keeping it.

 

If you get the Wurlie and love it, chances are you'll keep it forever (unless you run out of room or move often or etc.) Chances of keeping the Nord forever are slim.

 

On the practical side, though, a Wurlie is a one-trick pony. It's a REALLY good trick and way fun to play. But unless you like lots of work, you probably won't gig with it. The Nord's other sounds are excellent -- you'll hear folks who are dissatisfied with aspects of it, but that's comparing it with other of the very best keyboards avaliable today (or else comparing it with the vintage instruments it imitates, and being pretty picky).

 

Nord might not be the best companion for a CX3, though, since you're double-covering the hammond sound. Now, you might use that to advantage, some dual-manual playing (I assume the CX3 is single-manual) or playing one with slow leslie and the other with fast, which could be way oool for some stuff. But there might be a stage piano that doesn't have organ that's a better mate for the CX3.

 

Unless, of course, you want a keyboard that's easy to cart around for practice or jams, when you don't want to drag your whole rig. Then the Nord is ideal. Can't do that with a Wurlie!

 

It's not really a question of what's best, but more a question of who you are and what you want.

 

I'd go with the Nord and never look back. But that's just me. And I really do like vintage instruments -- I'm just not willing to pay the price required to host a keyboard museum.

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To me it's as simple as choosing a real piano over a digital imitation, the difference is that great.

 

I admit to being fooled often by HEARING digital clones of keyboards, but when it comes to PLAYING, the difference is vast. More enjoyable, more expressive, more inspirational, more connected etc etc....

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Originally posted by learjeff:

It's not really a question of what's best, but more a question of who you are and what you want.

 

Bingo :thu::P
"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Originally posted by Is There Gas in the Car?:

Originally posted by learjeff:

It's not really a question of what's best, but more a question of who you are and what you want.

 

Bingo :thu::P
Actually, this is close, but not quite right. It's not a question of who you are and what you want, but a question of who you are and what I want. :P
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Originally posted by Hobo:

Of course that's the same for everything in life, but this guy asked a question and wanted opinions.....

OK. Fair enough. :)

 

The point is that if the instrument was meant to live in a recording studio and you must have "that sound", then go with the Wurlitzer.

 

I've owned three. All of the issues that have been pointed out already are relevant.

 

I love the instrument. It's got a great vibe and easily makes you like it when you play it. So I certainly won't disagree that playing a clone just isn't the same.

 

However, from a practical point of view, a gigging musician has other needs; as stated above. I've been performing since I was about ten years old. Forty years of it and I've come to the conclusion that most folks in the audience don't really care whether you're using the real thing or a clone at a gig. Sure, us musicians do. But I just don't think that consumer-Joe gives a damn.

 

Therefore, a $300 Radio Shack / Casio 88-key instrument that sounds decent and has a good action makes a lot of sense to a lot of folks here on the forum.

 

If you're gigging a lot, for many of us (no, not ALL of us), it comes down to what equipment will give the best bang for the buck. What's the lightest weight board that'll do what you need? What's the smallest amp that will still give you a big enough sound? What can you carry on the subway (tube) to your rehearsal without breaking your back?

 

Bless those of us who used to haul around a Wurlitzer EP, or a Fender Rhodes, and a Hammond B3 with a Leslie or two. Those were the good/bad ol' days.

 

But today, I don't want to have to haul all that stuff. Because if the audience doesn't know the difference, or simply doesn't care, then my priorities, as described above, are the factors that I use to make a buying decision.

 

So, as I said before, I agree with LearJeff on all counts. I abolutely adore the Wurlitzer 200A and the Fender Rhodes and all the others. But I don't have room in my house for them. I'm not running a museum or a public recording studio. I'm a gigging musician. And for gigging, I'd go with the Nord Electro over the Wurlitzer 200A.

 

Thanks for asking.

 

Tom

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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If you're basically an at-home-guy, I don't understand your choice of the Electro. It makes sense for giggers or for a reheasrsal board because of its weight and size. But you can get better emulations of the clav, Rhodes, Wurly and B3 for that matter in software for less money.

 

I own a B3, D6 clav and a Mark V Rhodes (plus two other Rhodes). I also own a number of digital boards, including the Electro, that come and go in my collection. As digital keyboards improve, I dump the old ones. But outside of a few odd beasts, like the VL1, I am not endeared to any of the digitals. The real things, on the other hand, are a joy to play and their sound is unmatched. One of the bands that I play in is a horn/funk/disco band. About half the time the keyboard part is a clav. I bring the real D6 because it's a blast to play. It makes playing this utterly stupid, repetitive music fun for me. If I didn't have the real clav, I'd rather be home. My drummer, in a different band, found a great upright bass player and wants to put together a more straight-up jazz thing with our singer. He asked me if I'd be willing to use the real Rhodes instead of a digital piano. HELL YES I would. The Mark V weighs a few pounds more than a typical stage piano in a road case. Big deal. Its sound is big and fat and warm, and will blend better musically and conceptually with the band than a digital piano.

 

As keyboard players we live in an interesting time. The Hammond organ came out in 1935. The other electro-mechanicals a few decades later. At a certain point in time the people who know how to service these Hammonds will be gone. The Rhodes, Wurly and Clav are simpler instruments, but they can't last forever. So in the entire history of mankind, there is this maybe 100 year period of time where these instruments can be had and played. I think that's cool and it's one reason I'm passionate about them.

 

All real instruments require tuning and maintenance. So what. It's part of being a musician.

 

Busch.

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Interesting thought.

 

50 years from now, the "new B3" will be vintage. And the vintage B3s of today will be.....well, they probably will have disintegrated by then. :)

 

Your point is well taken, Burningbusch, but it seems like the instrumentation in the bands you play in is more focused. D6 for one band, and Rhodes for another band. In situations like that I absolutely would use the real thing just like you do. But many of us play in bands that use the whole variety of vintage sounds. If you were playing in a band that required organ, rhodes, wurlitzer, and clavinet, would you bring your B3/Leslie, Rhodes, Wurly, and D6 to the gig? If yes, then best of luck to you. I'm sure you'll be putting your chiropracter's kids through college. :)

 

But like you say, if one specific sound (Wurlitzer) is what you're after, go for the real thing.

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Most of my playing situations do require covering many sounds. That's where I'm hoping Receptor is going to be my saving grace. For one type of gig I can call up a completely different selection of soft synths than the next one. It adapts to my needs and what I use as a keyboard to control it is less important.

 

Busch.

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Gas thanks for the reply.

 

It's funny you mention the Casio as that is what I use live, to drive a Fantom XR. I would call myself sound obsessed though and have spent many hours editing and sampling these old keyboards to make it as authentic to MYSELF as possible. I have to use the Casio because as a touring musician on a budget it's the lightest one which saves £s on excess baggage.

 

However , given the choice I would take the vintage gear out, as I have many times in the past. I also admire players who can get through a gig using 'just' a Rhodes etc, for them it IS their instrument. Too many players ( for my liking ) try to cover too many bases , strings , brass etc, I just like to hear players, playing.

So to players I will always reccommend getting the 'real thing' and learning how it works , warts & all. To me in the long term it will make for a better player.

As an example, i often hear paino players playing an organ patch, like a piano. Till you know the instrument as it is meant to be, you'll be less likely to sound convincing or inspired.

 

Of course, all my humble opinion!

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Thanks for the great responses and opinions from everybody. I do appreciate them greatly.

 

Originally posted by burningbusch:

If you're basically an at-home-guy, I don't understand your choice of the Electro. It makes sense for giggers or for a reheasrsal board because of its weight and size. But you can get better emulations of the clav, Rhodes, Wurly and B3 for that matter in software for less money.

That's true. I really like MrRay and MrTramp for example, and both of which are free. But... I don't know if I can explain this reasonably- I just can't seem to play software instruments much. Music isn't my full-time occupation, although it is my full-time passion, and finding the time (and inspiration) to play and write is hard enough as it is.

 

And it's not because I'm a techno-phobe, because I actually work as a Software Engineer and write code for a living. I guess, when you work with computers and software all day, the last thing you feel like is sitting in front of another computer to make music. I'd be more than likely sitting there, tweaking, trying to further reduce latency, mucking around with this or that, wondering about swap space and what not, than actually making music. I also don't have my music gear setup near my computer, which is probably the other issue... it's a task for me to rig them up just for a quick play sometimes.

 

So alot of it is about... having something that is convenient enough for me to play often. Like I do with the upright piano these days, because its sitting within metres from my bed... I play it every day, and it helps me write alot of stuff. That's kinda what I'm hoping for with the Wurlie.

 

Alot of the negative opinions above on the Wurlie were from the perspective of gigging. But as I noted... I'm not taking it out, I intend to keep it at home. So I'm still wondering... how often will I need to look into tuning or replacing reeds if it sits at home but I'll be playing it everyday? Hunting down replacement parts is difficult where I am, and I'm bound to pay a premium to get them. I also don't know of any Wurlie technicians within reach. And tuning... well if it stays tune like an acoustic piano, that's alright... I go a couple years between tunings. But you hear stories about how people need to retune their Wurlie every day, and if that was the case, that would be more of a task.

 

All real instruments require tuning and maintenance. So what. It's part of being a musician.
I dig that (I play guitar as well, and yknow how it is with strings and re-tuning all the time), but there is a difference when it's a vintage instrument, with very few technicians available (to help when you mess up) and with very scarce parts and resources.

 

So to re-iterate my needs - I don't plan to gig with it. But i do plan to play it everyday and write with it. I want something that would be inspiring to play (which is where the Wurlie trumps) but yet something that won't drag me down with so much maintenance issues that i'd be too bummed to play (this is where the Electro has the advantage.. in addition to all the other things mentioned above).

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Originally posted by Hobo:

As an example, i often hear paino players playing an organ patch, like a piano. Till you know the instrument as it is meant to be, you'll be less likely to sound convincing or inspired.

That's something I've noticed as well and agree that it makes a difference to how you play it. It was one of the more deciding factors to go against the Electro at the time, since the keyboard was 'semi-weighted'.

 

But then I played a real wurlie for the first time, and I realized that its actually a very light action. The Electro (while not the same obviously), was not all that far off (or so it seemed... it has been months since I played one). Do others think that the Electro's action and sensitivity comes close to the real Wurlie? It has been a while for me, and I never had them side to side.

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Originally posted by learjeff:

See what you started, jook?

Good for you. ;)

Cheers :) It's been a real entertaining read, and I really do appreciate all the opinions (despite how conflicting they may be) ;) I'm still sitting on the fence at the moment.
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All I got to say is....

Aint nothin like the real thing

Marvin & Tammy

 

Get the Wurly (and phone numbers for Moorlock Organ in Rienzi Mississippi) Forget solder, just buy reeds from Moorlock as you need them. They come just a shade flat and you gently file them to pitch.

Years from now, that Nord will be nothin but a doorstop. The Wurly has stayed cool for more than 50 years. :)

Steve Nathan

P.S. If you're anywhere near Nashville, Darryl Combs is the best Wurly tech I've ever known.

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Quote from Jook: "I actually work as a Software Engineer and write code for a living."

 

Advice from Tom:

 

But them both. You can afford it. :thu::D

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Ok, seeing as the Casio's been mentioned, I use the Wurli in rehearsal and a Casio PX-310 for live. Jook, if you have the money for an electro, given that you already have the hammond stuff covered with the CX-3, in your shoes I'd buy the Wurli and get the Casio for playing out. My set-up for playing out (jazz and funk) is the Casio with an EMU VK-6 on top for hammond and clav. I use the rhodes sound in the Casio and run it through a few pedals. YMMV but it works for me.

Gig keys: Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Crumar Mojo 61, Crumar Mojo Pedals

 

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Good advice...

I do actually have an old E-mu Vintage Keys rack as well, which I can rig up to a decent MIDI controller for playing out... not that i have a decent MIDI controller at the moment, but I could fill that gap. I find the wurlie on the E-mu VK really dodge though (hence my craving for a real one!)... i'd even say that the one onboard the Casio is better. The E-mu Rhodes is alright with a bit of fiddling.

 

And... thanks for the tips Steve, but I'm in Australia. It's so hard to find techs and servicing for this stuff down here...

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