Spring reverb is in the air.
A customer with discerning taste was rather adamant about adding true spring reverb to a Rhodes suitcase amplifier. Our electronics tech, James, was truly put to the test as he worked his magic and fulfilled our customers wish. On top of restoring this 1972 Fender Rhodes Suitcase, we also installed a true stereo spring reverb system within the piano.
About the Piano
This piano comes from the golden era of Fender Rhodes. A 1972 suitcase model is considered the vanguard of Fender Rhodes pianos. The tone and quality that came from that year is unmatched as you can hear and see in these recordings.
This piano came into our shop in desperate need of restoration. Here's a list of adjustments made:
• Harp restoration
• Pickup polishing
• Tine replacements
• Tone bar clips
• Heavy springs in bass
• Complete tuning/voicing
• Custom hammer tip configuration
• New dampers with felts
• Miracle Mod action
• Full escapement improvement
• Strike line improved
• Black Sparkle Lid
• Tone bar screws, grommets and washers
• Custom designed reverb circuit
• Black powder coated hardware
• New Eminence speakers
• Electronics rebuilt
• New Name Rail Felt
• Key bed modification
• Key bed squared and leveled
• Key Dip improved
• Tolex and Grill Cloth replaced
About the Reverb
The reverb is comprised of drive and recovery circuits for both the left and right channels, a 3-spring, medium decay pan for each channel, depth control and bypass switching and supporting circuitry.
What complications did you face when installing the reverb?
As with any new idea and custom project there are always complications. That is inherent to anything “new”. You’ve got to hash out the idea, prototype the circuitry and mechanics, make tweaks as necessary and repeat until you are satisfied. In the case of modifications and not new product design, there are some criteria and restraints built in. For instance, in this case: power supply voltage, signal level, impedances, etc. Fortunately, in this case, these requirements actually helped guide the process rather than impede it.
How does the reverb fit in the signal path of the piano?
The reverb circuit was added to the suitcase so it sits after the preamplifier and before the power amps in the signal path. This was done partially for logistical reasons: shorter wire runs, easy access to the amplifier power supply rails, etc. It also allows the suitcase to be used as a stand-alone stereo amplifier with reverb.
What speakers are installed in the piano?
The cabinet is loaded with 12” Eminence speakers that really enhance the overall sound. Going back a few years we performed some speaker shoot-outs to find a replacement that provided the articulation, clarity and bark we were looking for and these particular models fit the bill quite well.
Why opt for a knob by the keys instead of installing it onto the rail?
The rail of a Rhodes is very familiar aesthetically speaking, some might even say “iconic”; we didn’t want to mar the rail by adding another knob or drill out the piano’s base to add a connector for the necessary wiring. Most of the time, when people see modifications like that down the road, they wish they hadn’t been done.
Watch Secret Weapon Fred demo the Stereo Spring Reverb