4/10/2006

The Workings of th' 1979 Rhodes 88-key Stage Piano involve very little plastic.

What a god damn stage monster this is.

You really want to play two synths on one of those gay-ass Star Trek stands and look like Mr. Mr., hey, be my guest.

You want to have something onstage to play that looks as cool as a '65 P-bass or a cherry-red Gibson SG it's either this or th' mighty Wurlitzer, my friends. Those are your only choices. A Pianet or a Clavinova, maybe. But they don't lend themselves to piano technique like th' Rhodes. And no one's going to carry your Yamaha CP70 or yer B-3 and Leslie, fuck knows.

I took the tone/volume pots offline on this and run straight off the pickup to an MXR Dynacomp squishing pedal. THAT'S the ticket. Into the board or into a Twin, man. Bypassing the pots is supposedly a classic '70's mod that buys you brilliance and level.

But this isn't some weak tech article, man. We know what is at issue here is attitude and appearance. You put those under musical brilliance on your priority list you in th' wrong business. And when you're dealing with an instrument that is chrome and shiny black and white you've got an edge out of the box. The Rhodes looks like a chromed-out black '65 Dodge Prince Valiant and shrieks '70's in the best soul/funk/fusion sort of way.

And you have to realize, droogs, that the Rhodes is a passive instrument. I mean that only electronically. It's like an electric guitar; this keyboard does not plug in to the wall. You run a 1/4" cable right off it, man. And that means things have to physically hit things to make a sound. And that means you're playing an instrument, not an emulation of one. And if you carress it it will sound like the bells of Winchester Cathedral playing a G9#13 and if you brings your fingers down on it as hard as you can it will bark like a dismayed whale and it will give you command of the room. And it's very, very important to have command of the room. This is because otherwise you run the risk of someone else on stage achieving it and they are probably drunk or maybe even on white drugs if you're in LA and fuck knows what will happen then?

Command of the room can be achieved with the Rhodes. And you can ride big waves of ringing chords and hand-over-hand arpeggios and drop bass notes that the bass player dreams of. Lower than low B. It's 88 keys, man. It's a piano.

This keyboard is like a guitar.

5 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

I hear you loud and clear. Me, I just got a Rhodes a few weeks ago. The thing weighs as much as me and the action gives it all the playability of an oboe, but the sound it makes almost makes me reconsider my atheism. Almost. The most amazing thing about a Rhodes is it makes everything you play sound deliberate. And cool.

"Bobby, hit me with that Fender Rhodes..."

8:56 AM  
Anonymous roxtar said...

The Fender Rhodes has yet another ability; it can induce nausea, at least in me. I refer specifically to the intro of "Babe", by Sytx. No kidding. I couldn't even play it on the radio in my diz jockey days, because that tremelo would start trembling and my breakfast would hit the express key to the top floor.

If that wasn't a Fender Rhodes, please set me straight, so that I can stop leaving the room whenever I see one.....

(Parenthetically, I once got into a debate as to whether the organ used on "Western Union" by the 5 Americans was or wasn't a cheesy Farfisa. I took the cheesy Farfisa position. I went all the way to the guy who wrote the damn song, only to find out that it was a Vox Continental.....)

9:12 AM  
Blogger Soundsurfr said...

Roxtar, that was a Behringer Rhodes.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Ben- congrats, baby. Getting laid CONSTANTLY will ameliorate th' carpal tunnel.

roxtar- I hear you, dog. I feel you. Here's what you do- go to your stereo and put on "Don't Let Me Down" and "Get Back" immediately. Billy Preston on Rhodes is th' anti-"Babe".

When I'm writing on the thing I do every now and then hit a "Babe"-like cadence and I have to perform the "What'd I Say" exorcism immediately.

5:32 PM  
Blogger roxtar said...

Viva Billy Preston. I've always found that Rick Davies of Supertramp clears the Babe-swill from my palate. Especially after I've enjoyed a big ol' gjomt of hydroponic weed.....

6:44 AM  

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