FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Updated January 2011

 

My Wurlitzer says "Electronic Piano" on the panel! Does this mean itís no good?

 

My Hohner Pianet T doesnít sound anything like the Pianet on (insert name of favourite Ď60s recording here). How can I get THAT sound?

 

Iíve just bought/found/inherited an electric piano. Itís made in Italy and it has switches that say "Piano", "Honky-tonk" and "Clavichord". What can you tell me about it?

 

Where can I get spares for my Clavinet/Pianet/Rhodes/Wurlitzer?

 

Why are old electric pianos going for silly prices at the moment? A year ago you couldnít GIVE a Hohner Pianet away!

 

I have a (insert name of instrument here), but I looked for it on your site and I can't see any reference to it. Why not?

 

How can I tell if what I have really IS an electric piano? (not a stupid question at all!)

 

What electric pianos do you actually own?

 

Is there a REAL Hall of Electric Pianos?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Wurlitzer says "Electronic Piano" on the panel! Does this mean itís no good?

No. The name "Electronic Piano" was a Wurlitzer trademark used on their ELECTRIC pianos years before purely electronic pianos were available. All pre-digital Wurlitzers are true electric pianos.

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My Hohner Pianet T doesnít sound anything like the Pianet on (insert name of favourite Ď60s recording here). How can I get THAT sound?

Difficult one, this. The problem is that the 1970s Pianet T uses completely different reeds, "pluckers", electronics and pickups from the 1960s Pianet N and Combo Pianet. You could try using an acoustic guitar preamp and a valve (US: tube) amplifier, plus adding some upper mid to the EQ on the amp.

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Iíve just bought/found/inherited an electric piano. Itís made in Italy and it has switches that say "Piano", "Honky-tonk" and "Clavichord". What can you tell me about it?

What you have there is a typical 1970s Italian ELECTRONIC (not electric) piano. These were made in their thousands by a handful of companies and marketed worldwide under their own (Crumar, Elka, Siel) and various assumed names (Vox, Eurotec, Armon, Cordovox). Some were adequate, most were dismal. The Japanese (Roland, Korg, Yamaha) made similar but higher-quality instruments at this time. With a few exceptions, none of these are worth very much. The only sought-after ELECTRONIC pianos today are Yamahaís CP-20, 25, 30 and 35, and the American-built RMI Electrapiano. Both were widely used by professional musicians at the time and both have unique sounds which are still in demand today.

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Where can I get spares for my Clavinet/Pianet/Rhodes/Wurlitzer?

(updated October 2003) Due to their renewed popularity, most of the more common electric pianos now have spares readily available, either brand-new, used or NOS (New Old Stock). Here is a brief (and by no means complete) list:
www.clavinet.com (USA):
New humbucking pickups, strings and hammer tips for Clavinets
New silicone rubber "Sticky Hammers" for Pianets other than T and M
Assorted NOS (and occasionally used) spares for most vintage Hohner keyboards.
Melbourne Music Centre
(Australia):
Lots of spares available, mostly used and NOS.
Vintage Vibe (USA):
New Wurlitzer 200 series reeds made to the original specifications
Used and NOS reeds for all Wurlitzer pianos
Major Key (USA):
New replacement parts for Rhodes pianos, including new tines and all hardware.
Harmonic Clarifier unit
Rhodes maintenance kits
Speakeasy Vintage Music (USA):
New parts for Wurlitzer and Rhodes instruments, including range of basic but functional "Ugly Parts" Stereo tube preamp for Rhodes

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Why are old electric pianos going for silly prices at the moment? A couple of years ago you couldnít GIVE a Hohner Pianet away!

People have realised that old electro-mechanical instruments have a certain something to their sound, look and feel that digital electronics and boring rectangular cases canít reproduce. In particular, the Trip-Hop, Acid Jazz and Lo-Fi movements in music have re-popularised the Clavinet, Wurlitzer and Rhodes. Since there were no NEW electric pianos between 1985 and 2008, the quantity out there has been absolutely limited, and the market could set its own prices. If you had a Wurlitzer 200A in your bedroom for the past 20 years (when nobody would touch it with a 2m (US: 6-ft.) pole), you could make a small fortune now. But if you sold it in the early 1980s to buy a new Kustom 88 electronic piano (it happened to a friend of mine) and you regret it now, a small fortuneís what youíll pay to get your Wurly back. What goes around, comes around...

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I have a (insert name of instrument here), but I looked for it on your site and I can't see any reference to it. Why not?

There are several possible reasons:

1. What you have might not actually BE an electric piano. It may be an electronic piano (see "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" at the Hall), a digital piano, an organ with piano sounds or even a synthesiser or home keyboard. Recently I've had to tell several people that what they thought was a Hohner Pianet was actually a reed organ. Apart from electronic pianos, the Hall doesn't cover any of these.

2. What you have just MIGHT be a rarity; either one of the ones which I've heard of but never seen, one of the ones which I've seen but know little about, or even something that I never knew existed. E-mail me and tell me about it! You could even get a free copy of my Vintage Keyboards Screensaver (Full Version)!

3. In the case of some manufacturers (e.g. Wurlitzer and Kawai) there are too many individual models for me to catalogue each one. In other cases, I have had difficulty finding photos or information. In all cases, the "carrot" of the free Screensaver applies, if I deem the information or pics useful. Several people have already received their screensavers and are, as you read this, gazing happily at the sight of twelve full-colour hand-drawn plan views of vintage keyboards (Hammond B3, Clavinet D6, Vox Continental, Minimoog, Baldwin Combo Harpsichord etc.) moving gently around their screens. Unless they're Macintosh users.

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How can I tell if what I have really IS an electric piano? (not a stupid question at all!)

First, look at it. Does it have switches or buttons labelled with the names of instruments? There ARE exceptions (Hohner Clavinets, Kawai pianos, certain Weltmeister Clavisets) but almost all instruments with selectable sounds are ELECTRONIC pianos. OK. So it doesn't have sound selectors? Try playing the keyboard with the instrument UNPLUGGED from both the mains (if applicable) and any amplification. If it makes a musical sound (however faint) it IS an electric piano. If it DOESN'T it could be anything from a reed organ to a synthesiser, but NOT an electric piano.

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What electric pianos do you actually own?

None at all. In 1980, at the age of 18 and having taught myself to play the piano at school, I bought myself a brand-new Hohner Pianet T, which was my main keyboard until 1988 when it was stolen. Since then I have only owned digital keyboards. Since late 2009 I have been playing a vintage Wurlitzer 200 which belongs jointly to my current band The Skanx. I guess I own one-ninth of it...

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Is there a REAL Hall of Electric Pianos?

No, the virtual one here is the only one I know of. There ARE several real Keyboard Museums around the place - I know of one in Florida, one in Austria and a Synthesiser Museum in the UK. But the Hall of Electric Pianos is my own invention, and as far as I know is the only one of its kind.

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