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Advice needed on buying a Wurlitzer


cheezeejazz

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Hi guys

 

I'm thinking of purchasing a wurly and wondered if theres anythings to watch out for?

 

i've used the sound loads on keyboards but I know nothing about them, unlike rhodes which I have a lot of experience with.

 

Main thing is, is there much difference in sound/specification/weight between different models? Which models are common and which are rare finds?

 

How heavy is an average one? And how much is a fair price for one in reasonable condition in the UK?

 

So many questions - hope someone can help!

 

Thanks, Pete

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Go look at it and play it before you buy. All are not equal. They're not that hard to maintain and a blast to play. I've got a 200 and a fender rhodes. The wurli is lighter than the rhodes, as far as moving, but the rhodes is a bit sturdier than the wurli. Go get one. You'll be sounding like "Donny Hathaway-Live" by the weekend.
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I don't know that there's a lot to watch out for that you wouldn't ordinarily expect from a vintage EP. The electronics are the only thing qualitatively different than a Rhodes -- the rest is mechnical.

 

There are plenty of places online where you can go see what the different models are -- I somehow doubt anyone's going to make a complete list with commentary, given how extremely available this info is.

 

I think they're a bitch to maintain, personally, but I play mine all the time.

 

You won't find one for cheap anywhere in the UK, most likely.

 

Do you have any more interesting questions (meaning questions that can't just be looked up on the web, like weight [blah, blah, blah])?

 

I didn't see too many other questions in your post, but if you have some, it would be fun to talk about Wurlitzer EPs here.

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Get the 200 model. It is the most modern and is somewhat better shielded against hum than the old tube models in the heavy masonite cases.

 

Play all the notes to make sure there are no broken hammers or escapement parts. If a reed is broken, that's OK it can be replaced.

 

Check for excessive hum (preamp rebuild) or blown speakers. Make sure the sustain pedal and legs are included.

 

There are student models floating around with extra intercom junk and a larger cabinet with more speakers. These are not very portable.

Moe

---

 

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Hi Guys thanks for the replies

 

J_Tour - i;m not being lazy, I found plenty on google that answer those questions, but articles don't put an instrument into a real world situation as much as someone who owns one can ie) I have a list of models, but no concept of which isa good one or a bad one, only owners can help in that area.

 

Thanks again, i will look round the usual second hand haunts!

 

Pete

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Make sure you play it to make sure everything works. Weight should be around 50 pounds if memory serves me. I would order a couple of reeds for each note from the A below middle C to one octave above middle C. Get a very small good quality file, a soldering iron, some good rosin core solder and a couple of good phillips screwdrivers that fit the screws on the reed cover assembly. You also need a nut driver to loosen the reeds. .

 

When a note starts going out of tune, the reed will break in short order. Replace it as soon as possible.

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Sorry, cheezeejazz -- I was being a bit persnickety for no good reason.

 

One thing to consider is that a 200 or 200A model is likely to have been used (or abused) a bit more on the road. However, just as Stubb pointed out, the transistor amp on the 200A and the better shielding might make for a more sturdy/electronically "mature" instrument than some of the earlier models.

 

That said, I don't take my 200A out anymore (it needs some TLC and I never have time to get around to it). I do, however, play my 720 (a big-ass wood version of one of the 140 models [the kind with the tube amp] all the time at home -- the longer throw of the keys seems a tad bit more thick and satisfying than the 200A. It's also perfectly (to my standards) in tune, which is the #1 problem with all these pianos. Tuning a Rhodes is child's play compared with dealing with the Wurlitzer (however, it should stay in tune very well once you get it right). It's genuinely a pain in the keister to get these properly in tune if you should be so unfortunate to find one second-hand which has been around the block.

 

I think the 206 (?) student model Mate Stubb was talking can be had for cheaper -- but I've also heard they're difficult to "chop" (i.e., get rid of the speakers underneath and end up with a "stage" piano like the 140 or 200 models). I thought about chopping my 720 just because I like the tone and fresh condition of it, but I realized it's a much bigger job than I have time for, really. There are step-by-step instructions for doing it, though, which can be found pretty easily on one of the Wurli groups. Supposedly grueling, but to each his own.

 

There's a good Yahoo group called wurlitzer_elec_piano with some UK-ers and a bunch of techs -- used stuff occasionally surfaces, and there's all kinds of stuff in the archives about how to do your own repairs. You can make your own pedal, for example, pretty easily -- I wouldn't let the absence of a pedal alone break an otherwise sweet deal.

 

I completely agree with Bobsk8 that you should play it ahead of time if at all possible (it may not be possible) -- barring that, you should consider buying from a pro musician on one of the forums who can tell you in musical terms what the action is like, any tuning issues, electrical issues, etc.

 

I would think you could have one shipped from the US or Canada to the UK *fairly* cheaply, as long as the packer really knows how to take care of the somewhat rickety little bits of the action inside (lots of foam, stuffed everywhere possible, is how I've done it, with good results).

 

As for price -- I think a 200A in good, playing condition with pedal and legs runs about $800 in the US. Perhaps as far up to 1200 USD in Western Europe? It might be worth getting a "beater" and fixing it yourself if price is an issue -- they don't seem to be as "unique" as a Rhodes (as in every instrument is a little different -- I think the Wurlitzers were a little more standard and even a bad one could be brought up to good condition with a little elbow grease if you're at all handy/willing to wait for some extra parts via mail-order/trade with other musicians).

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Originally posted by mate_stubb:

Get the 200 model. It is the most modern and is somewhat better shielded against hum than the old tube models in the heavy masonite cases.

I recently followed an auction of a wurly 200 (in excellent condition) being sold for 2000 on ebay... I think you have to bring some money
The Dromb Bopper
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I don't know about local to Liverpool-area, but you could probably find someone willing to ship a dog from the US (say 200 USD for the piano) and fix it up yourself.

 

It's scary how much these pianos are going for, especially in Western Europe. Honestly, I'm not sure it would be worth more than about 500-600 USD (for me personally) to have the "real deal," given the really great samples out there.

 

(And to be really cruel, I'll say my 200A was salvaged from the sidewalk, gratis, and my 720 cost 100 USD at a pawn shop). But I could see paying up to 600 USD for a working, in-tune Wurlitzer just to get that unique action and tone and "vintage vibe." Troll the mailing lists -- one will turn up, eventually.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Originally posted by Calumet:

Any suggestions for what chorus pedal to use with a Wurly?

This one:

 

http://namm.harmony-central.com/WNAMM05/Content/Universal_Audio/PR/Chorus-Ensemble-sm.jpg

 

CLONK HERE

 

I haven't used this plug in, but the old original Boss Chorus Ensemble was da bomb - particularly with a Fender Rhodes. :thu:

 

The MXR Phase 90 is also a very cool phase shift effect.

 

http://www.activemusician.com/images/store/full/MC_MXR-101.jpg

 

A certain guy I know likes to use this unit with his Rhodes. :thu:

 

Tom

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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