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Vintage Vibe®

Fender Rhodes Stereo Vibe Preamplifier

$350.00

The Stereo Vibe is available as a drop-in replacement for existing suitcase preamplifiers or as a full conversion kit for stage piano models.

Description

Updated version of the legendary 4-Pin Fender Rhodes Peterson Preamp design. The Stereo Vibe is available as a drop-in replacement for existing suitcase preamplifiers or as a full conversion kit for stage piano models.

After nearly two decades of repairing countless Peterson preamplifiers exhibiting noise, hum and faulty vibrato associated with the age and quality of the original components, it became clear that replacement amps were a necessity.  And thus, the Stereo Vibe was born.

We were well aware that electric piano players have discerning ears and therefore it was necessary to design a preamp that nailed down the sound of the iconic Peterson preamplifier while providing all the benefits and reliability of modern components.

In this undertaking, matching the classic Fender Rhodes stereo vibrato was crucial and the original incandescent bulbs that controlled the rise and fall time were becoming obsolete.  Our solution was to utilize optocouplers.  However, we weren’t about to do so in the same manner Rhodes had done with their Janus preamp.  Instead of sterile, square-wave vibrato, we designed a circuit in which the optocouplers perfectly mimic the cat’s eye waveform produced by the incandescent bulbs and thereby match the classic Peterson vibrato.

For potentiometers, we commissioned the manufacturer of the original Fender Rhodes pots, CTS.  As an ergonomic improvement, we changed the vibrato On/Off from a push-pull switch on the vibrato potentiometer to a push-button center which is easier to achieve while playing.  And, as an added feature, the tone potentiometer also includes a push-button center that allows the vibrato speed to be cut in half.  This permits the player to switch into a much slower vibrato range than a Peterson ever could.

In addition to running the Stereo Vibe in its stock Peterson mode, an onboard switch allows the player to engage an FET mode.  The FET mode takes advantage of the discrete Field Effect Transistor which has a high input impedance and operates in a manner very similar to that of a vacuum tube.  The resulting sound can be described as having greater definition and added warmth; some would even argue that it imparts a tube-like quality.  Engaging the FET mode also creates a small, yet noticeable, volume boost.

The Stereo Vibe outputs are Line Level. As the stereo vibe is installed into the piano the piano outputs are therefore Line Level.

As the Stereo Vibe is a drop-in replacement, installation is quite simple.  In most cases all that is required is a 3/8″ nut driver and approximately ten minutes of time.

Note: Do NOT plug the ac adapter into the cheekblock while the piano is plugged into the suitcase amplifier.  Doing so may cause damage to the preamplifier or power supplies and be considered improper usage for which we are not responsible.

The Stereo Vibe is to be powered by a 24Vdc power supply with positive tip only! (2.1mm ID / 5.5mm OD) Attempting to power the unit with an incorrect supply may cause damage and would be considered improper usage for which we are not responsible.

The Stereo Vibe preamp is a drop-in replacement for the 4-Pin (Peterson) Preamplifier unit found in Fender Rhodes and early Rhodes suitcase pianos. Most MK I rails were pre-drilled with the holes necessary to accommodate the DIN socket and effects loop jacks. The earliest of MK1 stage rails may not have the necessary holes; ensure that your piano's rail has the necessary holes in order to mount the Stereo Vibe or that you are willing and able to modify your rail to accept the preamplifier prior to ordering. 

MK II rails will not accommodate the Stereo-Vibe as-is and will require modification.  Please contact the shop regarding possible compatibility.

Whats Included

Suitcase Replacement Model includes:

1) Stereo Vibe Preamplifier PCB
pre-wired with Effects Loop, Female 4-Pin DIN Connector and 4-Pin Molex Connector*
2) Concentric Knob Set

Stage Conversion Model includes:

1) Stereo Vibe Preamplifier PCB
pre-wired with Effects Loop, Female 4-Pin DIN Connector and 4-Pin Molex Connector* (Built-in Stereo Headphone Amplifier**
2) Concentric Knob Set
3) Rhodes Suitcase Rail Faceplate
4) Cheek Block Power Supply with Stereo Left & Right Outputs, Stereo Headphone Output and internal 6-Pin Molex Connector

* Stereo Vibe preamps are pre-wired with a Female 4-Pin DIN connector and a 6-Pin Molex connector.  The DIN connector allows the preamplifier to be interfaced with a 4-Pin Suitcase Amplifier.  The Molex connector allows for interfacing with Vintage Vibe’s 4-Pin Cheek Block Power Supply, which can be easily installed at a later time if desired.

** The Stereo Vibe’s built in Headphone Amplifier is accessible via the Conversion Style Cheek Block Power Supply only.  It cannot be interfaced via the vintage 4-Pin DIN style connector.

 

Instructions

Suitcase Replacement MOdel Installation:

Remove the Peterson model preamplifier from your rail and install the Stereo Vibe. The preamplifier interfaces with the suitcase via the classic 4-Pin DIN sockets an cable.  If you require a cable they are available for sale Square Connector, Round Connector.

Stage Conversion Model Installation:

Fender Rhodes rails produced after 1974 and all Mark I Rhodes rails  had the necessary holes to accommodate the Stereo Vibe pre-drilled at the factory*.  Remove the passive electronics, peel off the stage model faceplate, insert the Stereo Vibe and effects loop into the corresponding rail holes, adhere our replacement Rhodes Suitcase Faceplate and tighten the nuts onto the pot shafts and jacks.  The preamplifier interfaces with the Cheek Block Power Supply via an internal molex connection.

* If your Mark I does not have the holes required to mount the Stereo Vibe, the included faceplate can be used as a drill guide to modify the rail to accept the preamp.

Ensure that your piano's rail has the necessary holes in order to mount the Stereo Vibe or that you are willing and able to modify your rail to accept the preamplifier prior to ordering.

We do not offer instructions or technical support for this item other than what is listed here.  We are not responsible for damage to the preamplifier or your piano during installation.  Please review the installation video in the Video Tab to ensure that you are confident in your abilities to complete the installation prior to purchasing the amplifier.  If you are not confident in your abilities to perform this type of installation you may send the unit to us for service

Video


FAQ

I can hear hum/noise coming from my Stereo Vibe when its on but not in use. What gives?

First off, without being able to listen to the unit being used in your set up, it would be very difficult to determine if anything were out of the ordinary.

Every preamplifier is tested for function, sound and performance before they ever ship out of our shop, so with that in mind, we tend to suspect something other than the preamplifier itself when a situation where excess noise can be confirmed.

There are a number of variables that could contribute to excess noise:

The instrument itself
The power supply being utilized
The cable connecting the preamp to the power supply
The amplifier which the preamplifier is being plugged into - - suitcase amplifier, keyboard amplifier, guitar amplifier, etc. (in the case of the later, ground loops are not excluded from possibility)

With respect to self noise, the preamplifier does fairly well with signal to noise. When we voice pianos in the shop there is very little self noise. Whether hum or hiss. It is not something that is generally noticeable at the volumes we are playing at.

To the specific question of noise that is modulated at the speed of the tremolo when not playing: The tremolo modulates the preamplifier’s output volume. So, when you are playing the instrument you will hear the note being played at the desired output level, then on the downswing of the tremolo you hear “nothing”. Then on the upswing you hear the note again, etc. Now, when you are not playing any notes, there is of course some noise still present, the preamplifier is still amplifying what is being seen at its input. In this case the pickups which are not “sending” any signal to the preamp as they are idle. The tremolo is still working though, modulating the output level. So you go from that small amount of self noise to “nothing” then back to that small amount of self noise, etc. It would be somewhat similar to if you, with the tremolo OFF, you turned the volume all the way up and then turned it all the way down and then turned it all the way up and then turned it all the way down. You will hear the variation.

However, if you are playing the instrument the output level of the piano signal is much higher than that of the self noise and therefore the self noise is no longer noticeable.

If you unplug the RCAfrom the harp you will notice that the amount of idle noise decreases, as the harp is the source to the preamp, and the source of most of the idle noise. If you were to go one step further and shunt the input to the preamp you would notice it pretty much go away entirely. 

Is it possible to hook up a Fender Rhodes suitcase to a stage model? In other words is is possible to make a stage into a suitcase?

The only way to mate a Fender Rhodes Suitcase cabinet to a stage piano is:

1. Change the sustain dowel to a longer pin and remove the sustain guide cup.

2. Install a Vintage Vibe Stereo Vibe preamp and add 4 pin cable to cart.

3. Place piano on top of speaker cabinet, mark where guide cups are located, then add glides to the underside of top piano to hold in place better.

4. You may or may not want to remove your leg plates.

A Rhodes speaker cabinet needs a preamp to drive it whether it be 4/5 pin depends on the speaker cabinet. It will not work with a passive piano alone. If you happen to have a later 5 pin Stereo suitcase cabinet, you will need our Match Maker to work with our Stereo Vibe preamp.

Will the Stereo Vibe work with my MKII piano?

Yes, but not without  modifying the face plate, meaning you will need to  drill two holes for effects loop, The Stereo Vibe was designed to mate perfectly with any MKI piano , except for pre 1974 which also need holes drilled for effects loop.

How do I activate FET mode?

At the left side of the board, sort of between the DIN socket and the volume pot, there is a pushbutton switch. Button Down = FET, Button Up = No FET

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