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Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

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Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Arpangel » Sun May 31, 2020 8:17 am

I’m still on that never ending search, for a good Rhodes sound, constantly putting off the fact that I may have to get the real thing.
I’ve watched tons of videos, and played a real Rhodes a few times, but when I did it was.....sort of disappointing, did it sound like a Steely Dan record...no, did it sound like my hero Chick Corea.....no, did it sound like that heavenly floaty sound on countless 70’s Jazz albums....no.
Trouble is, forget my playing for a moment, I’m not any of those people, true, but, a lot of this sound in my head is all down to production, what amp was being used, effects, it’s a major part of the overall sound, also, what Rhodes? there are a few types, and they all have their uses.
My personal fave is the suitcase 88, that would be very cool, and I’ve got to get this sorted out ASAP, I need it for my own music, and for my collaborations when things get back to normal, it would get used a lot.
I’m using a Yamaha Reface EP, it’s "OK" if you look at it sideways, in fact, it’s not very good at all in reality, but it’ll do for the time being. I’m also looking at a Vintage Vibe, but I’m not sure.
Also, I know I’ll be adding lots of effects, so is a real Rhodes really necessary? as I can tweak a good simulation using effects etc, the final decision isn’t clear cut.
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby The Elf » Sun May 31, 2020 9:48 am

I played a real Rhodes for a few years. I always hated it. It sounded weedy, it weighed a ton, and it broke my fingers trying to get any punch out of it. At the end of a gig I usually had blood all over the keys from my split fingernails. Really.

So I have no love for those old monsters.

The reface CP is close enough for me, and I don't require medical attention after using it.

For some people only the real thing will do, no matter what that item is - Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond, Mellotron, Taurus pedals... whatever your particular fetish may be. And it is in these instances where I would say - stop mucking around and go get the real thing, if you possibly can. You've clearly not spent much time with the real thing, so you don't have a basis for how close an emulation is. If nothing else you will find this out.

Until you've lived with it you won't know if a simulation is acceptable to you - and what compromises you may be prepared to accept.
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Dave B » Sun May 31, 2020 11:00 am

I often wonder about old keyboard sounds like the Rhodes. How much of the sound we hear and love is the raw instrument and how much is everything else. I mean - what amps were used? Effects? Mics?

I've mentioned before that I'd really love it if SOS did an article (or a few) talking to those great old players, and the engineers who recorded them, to get an insight into what they used to do / use. Either that, or do an article based on any of that knowledge out there already to do some examples of how to get some of those tones. Now that we can hear the various breakdowns of the tone (raw, amped, effected, eq'd/compressed, etc) it would be fascinating stuff for those of us who pick up these instruments and want to get the most out of them..
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun May 31, 2020 12:23 pm

Arpangel wrote:I’m still on that never ending search, for a good Rhodes sound, constantly putting off the fact that I may have to get the real thing.

There is no single Rhodes sound. Not only is the sound altered by the pedals and amps through which it is played, the age/mark of the keyboard build and the way it has been set up alter the sound radically, and different players have their pianos set up very differently.

There are companies that specialise in setting up and voicing Rhodes, and it's a fairly involved and skilled job, taking in all the mechanicals of the escapement and action, the hammer tips, the way the tines are supported and their tuning (which also adjusts their harmonic content), and the positions and height of the pickups.

Together these things affect the responsiveness of the piano, the sustain (especially atthe high end), the tone and the body of sound as a whole.

So, if you were to find a nice real Rhodes piano, you would not only have that up-front cost, but you would also have the potential cost of having it set up to your specific requirements and, let's be honest, your requirements are likely to change with your moods and current inspirations so this could be a major ongoing expense... And then you have the weight and space issues of it. Not a problem for studio work, but it won't fit in the boot of a Griffith for gigging! :-D
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby zenguitar » Sun May 31, 2020 12:59 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:. And then you have the weight and space issues of it. Not a problem for studio work, but it won't fit in the boot of a Griffith for gigging! :-D

The trees did... just saying' :bouncy:

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Arpangel » Sun May 31, 2020 1:39 pm

zenguitar wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:. And then you have the weight and space issues of it. Not a problem for studio work, but it won't fit in the boot of a Griffith for gigging! :-D

The trees did... just saying' :bouncy:

Andy :beamup:

Yes, I may have to invest in a trailer... :D
I have an ideal Rhodes sound in my head, it’s on Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, by Chick Corea. Rick Wakeman got some cool sounds too, and I know he used a Fender Twin Reverb on his Rhodes sometimes, and a Binson Echo, not an inexpensive part of the chain.
I like the Rhodes selection in the Yamaha Montage, thats the one that’s grabbed me so far.
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby James Perrett » Sun May 31, 2020 1:49 pm

I'm not really a keyboard player but I like having a plonk on the Wurlitzer from time to time. It lives in the house rather than the studio and, like you, I was having a hard time finding something for the studio that was as satisfying to play. That was until I realised that it was the keyboard action that I missed rather than the sound. I bought a Fatar weighted keyboard installed the GSi Mr Ray software and now I'm pretty happy.
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby ben howes » Sun May 31, 2020 2:36 pm

I had a Rhodes once, it was great fun to tinker with for a while but I was always searching for a sound that seemed to be out of reach.
I did it and bought a Wurli which was much easier to live with.
I think the sound and expression in the Nord keyboards is better than my real Rhodes ever was, I'm afraid to say.

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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby innerchord » Sun May 31, 2020 8:52 pm

I'm of the opinion that there are many great Rhodes sounds available. I've been able to get excellent results ever since discovering AAS Lounge Lizard over a decade ago (I think?). I use a handful more. I love the range of tones I can get.

The Rhodes was one of the most variable instruments I've ever dealt with. Some were unplayable but sounded good, and some played wonderfully and sounded like... :shh:
I've booked studios for sessions simply because they had a good Rhodes. Corea's pianos were always well-serviced and quite modified, I believe. The one I played was very nice indeed!! ;)

Then you need to consider the amp. Amp emulation is so good now you can get all the grit and drive you need, in a thousand flavours. It may even be built right into the software.

Another option is some of the stage pianos. Try playing these and see how you get on:
Korg Grandstage
Yamaha CP73/88
Nord Electro

Even the Kawai piano I played had a lovely Rhodes. EP8, possibly?
Your Rhodes destiny is out there somewhere. :beamup:
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby BillB » Sun May 31, 2020 10:56 pm

Might you be better informed, and entertained, having read this?

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/bo ... rock-music

:geek:
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun May 31, 2020 11:17 pm

It really is a wonderful book! :thumbup:
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby MOF » Sun May 31, 2020 11:27 pm

Try Native Instruments' Scarbee Mk1 £59 https://www.native-instruments.com/en/p ... ee-mark-1/ or directly from Scarbee Classic EP-88s €99 https://scarbee.com/collections/vintage-keyboards
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Agharta » Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:30 am

I was listening to Weather Report earlier this evening on YT and I wondered how much of Zawinul's EP sound was from pedals etc.
After reading this I realise how much more there is to it than that.
I learn so much here even from casual chats in the lounge. :thumbup:

Growing up listening to a lot of Fusion in my late teens I was immersed in Rhodes and other EP sounds.
George Duke played a mean EP also.
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:55 am

This has all those fusion Rhodes sounds in it. Love it!

Air Music Velvet

https://www.airmusictech.com/product/ve ... tQ_yzpKiUk

A lot of the expressiveness from a real Rhodes comes from the key action. Whenever I get a chance to play a real one I always note that it is the way it feels that strikes me, but you can coax the same sounds out of Velvet.

Velvet has a very sophisticated way to tweak the velocity curve. If you spend a little time with that to customize it to your own keyboard, you can get all the cool sounds out of the samples.
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Re: Rhodes sound, it’s all in the production.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jun 01, 2020 8:59 am

innerchord wrote:I'm of the opinion that there are many great Rhodes sounds available. I've been able to get excellent results ever since discovering AAS Lounge Lizard over a decade ago (I think?). I use a handful more. I love the range of tones I can get.

The Rhodes was one of the most variable instruments I've ever dealt with. Some were unplayable but sounded good, and some played wonderfully and sounded like... :shh:
I've booked studios for sessions simply because they had a good Rhodes. Corea's pianos were always well-serviced and quite modified, I believe. The one I played was very nice indeed!! ;)

Then you need to consider the amp. Amp emulation is so good now you can get all the grit and drive you need, in a thousand flavours. It may even be built right into the software.

Another option is some of the stage pianos. Try playing these and see how you get on:
Korg Grandstage
Yamaha CP73/88
Nord Electro

Even the Kawai piano I played had a lovely Rhodes. EP8, possibly?
Your Rhodes destiny is out there somewhere. :beamup:

So many options it’s bewildering.
I watched a video of the Nord, a note for note comparison with an original. It sounded identical to me, but when I tried it in the shop it didn’t inspire me at all.
OK, I’ll try and be as brief as possible, it’s like, the whole package has to work, the feel, the piano sound, the amp, and maybe vibrato/phaser, it all has to work together, if it doesn’t, the result to me is primarily flat, lifeless, and uninspiring.
An example, I have a Reface CP which I play from my Behringer master keyboard, at best, it’s sort of "OK" sometimes flat and lifeless.
I play the Behinger into the computer playing one of the stock Kontakt Rhodes sounds, always sounds very good, not ideal, but it’s better than the Reface, don’t forget, I’m still using the same keyboard, but the sound is king here, and it all works together.
I had Mr Ray, fantastic, didn’t matter what keyboard I used for that it always hit the spot, but it’s for PC and I’m on Mac, plus, more importantly, I don’t want to use software, I want a good keyboard for gigging.
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