"I'm looking into buying a used Rhodes. Am I correct in looking for a stage or suitcase model from 1972 to 1975? I almost bought a 1976 model but read somewhere this was a transitional year. Should I consider a1978? Any input would be much appreciated." - Mike, NYC
Ultimately the decision upon the year / era of rhodes you purchase is of course up to you and your individual taste. The earlier 1970 pianos have Raymac tines (aren't easily come by for replacement), possible felt hammer tips and different pickup wiring. These pianos have a distinctly different sound than later models. Pianos with wooden hammers and wooden side supports ran from 1971 to early 1975.
1970 - early 1972 pianos employed a curve marcel pedestal action. This provides a snappier, more responsive action. Later 1972-1978 does not have this. For these later pianos, we can install a "miracle mod" to provide this.
Aluminum action rails, side supports and one piece plastic hammers arrived in 1975 and ran through the end of production. The visual aesthetic of the piano varied as well. 1970-1971 suitcases didn't have effects loops and the stage models did not have a faceplate until 1973.
The earlier pianos, because of the wooden action components have better harmonic response and overtones. Later models with the aluminum and plastic keys are thinner and less responsive. We strongly prefer the earlier pianos: 1971-1975 wooden models.