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   » Wiki: Electric Piano
Tag Wiki 'Electric Piano'.

An electric piano is an electric musical instrument which produces sounds when a performer presses the keys of the -style . Pressing keys causes mechanical hammers to strike metal strings, metal reeds or wire tines, leading to vibrations which are converted into electrical signals by magnetic pickups, which are then connected to an instrument amplifier and to make a sound loud enough for the performer and audience to hear. Unlike a , the electric piano is not an electronic instrument. Instead, it is an electro-mechanical instrument. Some early electric pianos used lengths of wire to produce the tone, like a traditional piano. Smaller electric pianos used short slivers of steel to produce the tone. The earliest electric pianos were invented in the late 1920s; the 1929 Neo-Bechstein electric grand piano was among the first. Probably the earliest stringless model was 's Clavier. A few other noteworthy producers of electric pianos include Baldwin Piano and Organ Company and the Wurlitzer Company.

Early electric piano recordings include 's in 1955 and 's India as well as other tracks from the 1956 sessions included on his second album Super Sonic Jazz (a.k.a. Super Sonic Sounds). The popularity of the electric piano began to grow in the late 1950s after 's 1959 hit record "What'd I Say", reaching its height during the 1970s, after which they were progressively displaced by more lightweight electronic pianos capable of piano-like sounds without the disadvantages of electric pianos' heavy weight and . Another factor driving their development and acceptance was the progressive electrification of popular music and the need for a portable keyboard instrument capable of high-volume amplification. Musicians adopted a number of types of domestic electric pianos for rock and pop use. This encouraged their manufacturers to modify them for stage use and then develop models primarily intended for stage use.

Digital electronic that provide an emulated electric piano sound have largely supplanted the actual electro-mechanical instruments in the 2010s, due to the small size, low weight and versatility of digital instruments, which can produce a huge range of tones besides piano tones (e.g., emulations of sounds, sounds, etc.). However, some performers still perform and record with vintage electric pianos. In 2009, produced a new line of electro-mechanical pianos, known as the Rhodes Mark 7 followed by an offering from .


The electric piano was built in 1929. The Vierlang-Forster electric piano was introduced in 1937. The RCA Storytone electric piano was built in 1939 in a joint venture between Story & Clark and RCA. The case was designed by , the American industrial designer. It debuted at the 1939 World's Fair. The piano has normal strings and hammer action but no soundboard. The sound is amplified through electromagnetic pickups, circuitry and a speaker system, making it the world's first commercially available electric piano.

Many types were initially designed as a less-expensive alternative to an acoustic piano for home or school use. Some electric pianos were designed with multiple keyboards for use in school or college piano labs, so that teachers could simultaneously instruct a group of students using headphones.

"Electric piano" is a heterogeneous category encompassing several different instruments which vary in their sound-producing mechanisms and consequent timbral characters.

Struck strings
, Baldwin, and 's electric pianos are actual grand or upright pianos with strings and hammers. The Helpinstill models have a traditional soundboard; the others have none, and are more akin to a solid-body . On Yamaha, Baldwin and Kawai's pianos, the vibration of the strings is converted to an electrical signal by pickups under the bridge. Helpinstill's instruments use a set of pickups attached to the instrument's frame. All these instruments have a tonal character similar to that of an acoustic piano.

Struck reeds
Wurlitzer electric pianos (sometimes called "Wurli" as a nickname) use flat steel reeds struck by felt hammers. The reeds fit within a comb-like metal plate, and the reeds and plate together form an electrostatic or capacitive pickup system, using a DC voltage of 170v. This system produces a very distinctive tone – sweet and -like when played gently, and developing a hollow resonance as the keys are played harder. The reeds are tuned by adding or removing mass from a lump of solder at the free end of the reed. Replacement reeds are furnished with a slight excess of solder, and thus tuned "flat"; the user is required – by repeated trial and error – to gradually file off the excess solder until the correct tuning is achieved. The Columbia Elepian (also branded as Maestro and Suette) and the Electra-Piano use a reed system similar to the Wurlitzer but with electromagnetic pickups similar to the Rhodes piano.

Struck tuning-forks
The here refers to the struck element having two vibrating parts – physically it bears little resemblance to a traditional type. In instruments, the struck portion of the "fork" is a tine of stiff steel wire. The other part of the fork, parallel and adjacent to the tine, is the tonebar, a sturdy steel bar which acts as a resonator and adds sustain to the sound. The tine is fitted with a spring which can be moved along its length to allow the pitch to be varied for . The tine is struck by the small (originally felt) tip of a hammer activated by a greatly simplified piano action (each key has only three including the damper). Each tine has an electromagnetic pickup placed just beyond its tip (see also ). The Rhodes piano has a distinctive bell-like tone, fuller than the Wurlitzer, with longer sustain and with a "growl" when played hard.

Plucked reeds
Hohner's original uses adhesive pads made from an undressed leather surface cushioned by a backing. The leather is saturated with a viscous silicone oil to adhere to and pluck metal reeds. When the key is released, the pad acts as a damper. An electrostatic pickup system similar to Wurlitzer's is used. The tone produced resembles that of the Wurlitzer but brighter and with less sustain, largely owing to the design having no sustain pedal mechanism. The same firm's "" uses rubber plectra and separate urethane foam dampers but is otherwise almost identical. Hohner's later "Pianet T" uses suction pads rather than adhesive pads and replaces the electrostatic system with passive electromagnetic pickups similar to those of the Rhodes, the reeds themselves however being magnetized. The Pianet T has a far mellower sound not unlike that of the Rhodes instruments. None of the above instruments have the facility for a .

A close copy of the Cembalet is the "Weltmeister Claviset," also marketed as the "Selmer Pianotron." This has electromagnetic pickups with a battery-powered preamplifier, and later models have multiple tone filters and a sustain pedal.

Other electric keyboard instruments
Although not technically pianos, the following are electric harpsichords and clavichords.

Baldwin's "Solid-Body Electric Harpsichord" or "Combo Harpsichord" is an aluminum-framed instrument of fairly traditional form, with no soundboard and with two sets of electromagnetic pickups, one near the plectra and the other at the strings' midpoint. The instrument's sound has something of the character of an electric guitar, and has occasionally been used to stand in for one in modern . of Bermuda Triangle Band worked on the design and development of the original instrument for the Cannon Guild Company, a premier harpsichord maker located in Cambridge Massachusetts. This instrument had an aluminium bar frame, a spruce wood soundboard, bar magnetic pickups, and a Plexiglas (clear plastic) openable lid. The prototypes and design were sold to Baldwin who made some modifications, and then manufactured the instrument under their own name.

Hohner's "" is essentially an electric clavichord. A rubber pad under each key presses the string onto a metal anvil, causing the "fretted" portion of the string to vibrate. When the key is released, the whole string is theoretically free to vibrate but is immediately damped by yarn woven across the tuning machine-head end. Two electromagnetic single-coil pickups, one under and one over the strings, detect the vibrations which are then pre-amplified and filtered in preparation for amplification by a guitar amp.

Playing technique and styles
As with electric vs. acoustic guitars, the sound of most electric pianos differs considerably from that of an acoustic instrument, and the electric piano has thus acquired a musical identity of its own, far beyond that of simply being a portable, amplified piano. There are several reasons that performers were able to develop a distinctive sound for the instrument. Electric pianos are amplified through keyboard amplifiers, which enables a keyboard to have a loud sound needed for a large club or stadium concert. As well, as an electric instrument, electronic , such as distortion, phasers, or reverb could be used to alter the tone.

In particular, the lends itself to long, sustained "floating" chords in a way which would be impossible on an acoustic instrument, while the , often processed through electronic effects, has an instantly recognizable vocabulary of percussive riffs and figures which owe less to conventional keyboard styles than to and slap bass.

Early Wurlitzer models had vacuum tube amplifiers, which could be overdriven to create a distinctive distortion. Later transistorized models, while sharing a similar mechanical approach to sound generation, did not replicate the "fat" sound of the tube-based models, but instead had a soulful tremolo effect.

Popular songs

Fender Rhodes
  • : "", both on record and on the roof concert, "Don't Let Me Down", "One After 909", "The Long and Winding Road" (played by )
  • Traffic: "Empty Pages"
  • : "In the Air Tonight"; "If Leaving Me Is Easy"
  • : "Spain", "La Fiesta"
  • : "Forever Came Today", "Some Things You Never Get Used To", "Love Child"
  • : "A Beautiful Morning"
  • : "L.A. Woman", "Riders on the Storm"
  • Dr. John: "Rain"
  • Grover Washington Jr.: "Just the Two of Us" (played by )
  • Dave Matthews Band: "Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives)"
  • : "Just the Way You Are"
  • : "The Greatest Love of All", "Saving All My Love for You", "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "I Will Always Love You", "I Have Nothing", "Run to You"
  • : "Baby, I Love Your Way"
  • : "Love Boat Captain"
  • : "A Moment Like This"
  • : "Chameleon"
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: "Apologies", "Tiny Light"
  • : "Daniel"; "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"; ""
  • : "C'est La Vie"
  • : "Breathe", "Dogs", "Hey You", "Sheep", "Louder than Words"
  • The Allman Brothers Band: "Blue Sky", "Jessica", "Come and Go Blues"
  • One Day as a Lion: "Wild International"
  • The Marshall Tucker Band: "Can't You See"
  • : "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", "Isn't She Lovely", "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)", "For Once in My Life"
  • The Rolling Stones: "Fool to Cry", "", "She Was Hot", "Mixed Emotions"
  • : ""
  • Eagles: "New Kid in Town", "I Can't Tell You Why", "Hole in the World", "Busy Being Fabulous"
  • : "Something So Right", "Still Crazy After All These Years", "Slip Slidin' Away"
  • : "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight", "", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)", "Shower the People"
  • and : "Somewhere Out There"
  • : "Dreams"
  • : "Woman"
  • Paul McCartney and Wings: "My Love"
  • : "Only You (And You Alone)"
  • : "Peg", "The Fez" (played by Paul Griffin)
  • Bruce Springsteen: "Born to Run", "Thunder Road"
  • Styx: "Babe", "Why Me", "Don't Let It End"
  • The Jackson 5: "All I Do Is Think of You"
  • : "", "", "Thriller"
  • : "Superwoman"
  • : "Here and Now"
  • : "One Last Cry"

Hohner Cembalet
  • Ronny & the Daytonas: "G.T.O."
  • : "Veronica"
  • The Beach Boys: "Surfer Girl", "Fun, Fun, Fun"
  • : "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"
  • The Isley Brothers: "Twist and Shout"
  • The Four Seasons: "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry"
  • : "No More Heroes"
  • Herman's Hermits: "I'm into Something Good"

Hohner Clavinet
  • Sam & Dave: "I Thank You"
  • : "Up on Cripple Creek", "", "Acadian Driftwood", "The Shape I'm In", "This Wheel's on Fire"
  • : "Cogs in Cogs", "Experience", "So Sincere"
  • Jefferson Starship: ""
  • : "", "Trampled Under Foot", "In the Light"
  • Eagles: "Life in the Fast Lane"
  • : "Pigs (Three Different Ones)", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9)", "Have a Cigar"
  • Foreigner: "Long, Long Way from Home"
  • : ""
  • The Jackson 5: "I'll Be There", ""
  • The Isley Brothers: "Live It Up"
  • : "Best of My Love"
  • Van der Graaf Generator: "The Undercover Man", "Scorched Earth", "Arrow"
  • : "I Feel the Earth Move"
  • The Four Seasons: "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)", "Who Loves You", "Silver Star"
  • : "Superstition", "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day", "I Don't Know Why", "Higher Ground", "You Haven't Done Nothin'", "We Can Work It Out", "All Day Sucker"
  • : "Free as a Bird"
  • : "Whatever Gets You thru the Night", "#9 Dream", "Steel and Glass", "I'm Stepping Out"
  • : "", "Bye Bye Love", "Ding Dong, Ding Dong"
  • : "(It's All Down to) Goodnight Vienna"
  • : "I Don't Care"
  • : "Man in the Middle"
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer: ""
  • Dr. John: "Street Side"
  • The Rolling Stones: "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)", "100 Years Ago", "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (played by )
  • : "Living in America"
  • : "You Make Loving Fun"
  • The Greg Kihn Band: "Jeopardy"
  • : "Bad Medicine"
  • : "We Didn't Start the Fire"
  • : "Too Little Too Late"
  • : "Underneath It All"
  • : "Grow Up"
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: "Show Me Your Soul", ""
  • : "Could I Be You?"
  • Them Crooked Vultures: "Scumbag Blues"
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: "Never Go Back"

Hohner Electra-Piano
  • : "Stairway to Heaven", "Misty Mountain Hop", "No Quarter", "Down by the Seaside" (studio recordings only, when played live these songs were played on a Fender Rhodes)

Hohner Pianet

Wurlitzer Electric Piano
  • Cannonball Adderley Quintet: "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" Only first studio recording, all subsequent live versions are .
  • : "What'd I Say"
  • : "Where It's At"
  • R.E.M.: ""
  • Sam & Dave: "Hold On, I'm Comin'", "Soul Man"
  • : "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)"
  • Martha and the Vandellas: "I'll Have to Let Him Go", "Come and Get These Memories", "Heat Wave", "Nowhere to Run"
  • : "Do You Love Me"
  • Junior Walker & The All-Stars: "Shotgun"
  • : "Take Me Back"
  • : ""
  • : "Dancing in the Moonlight"
  • : "Revolution" (played by )
  • : "Time", "Money", "Have a Cigar", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9)"
  • The Beach Boys: "Help Me, Rhonda", "In the Back of My Mind", "", "Let Him Run Wild", "That's Why God Made the Radio"
  • Queen: "You're My Best Friend"
  • : "Come See About Me", "Stop! In the Name of Love", "Reflections", "In and Out of Love"
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips: "Midnight Train to Georgia"
  • : "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", "That's the Way Love Is"
  • : "Do It Again", "Dallas", "Pretzel Logic"
  • : "It's Too Late", "Where You Lead", "Smackwater Jack"
  • : "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"
  • : "Forever", "Dreamer", "Bloody Well Right", "The Logical Song", ""
  • Dusty Springfield: "Son of a Preacher Man"
  • : "Ride the Wind"
  • : "How Do You Sleep?", "Going Down on Love"
  • : "Life Is a Carnival", "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)", "Time to Kill"
  • Three Dog Night: "Mama Told Me Not to Come", "One"
  • : "Congratulations", "Kodachrome", "Take Me to the Mardi Gras"
  • The Rolling Stones: "Miss You", "Emotional Rescue", "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)", "Love Is Strong"
  • : "And the Cradle Will Rock..."
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: "The Midnight Special", "Long as I Can See the Light", "Someday Never Comes"
  • : "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me", "", "Worse Comes to Worst"
  • Electric Light Orchestra: ""
  • Eagles: ""
  • Faces: "Stay with Me"
  • : "", "Crawling King Snake"
  • : "You Don't Know How It Feels"
  • : "Feelin' the Same Way", "What Am I to You?", "In the Morning", "Above Ground"
  • : ""
  • : "Other Side of the World"
  • : "Say It Isn't So", "Misunderstood", "Who Says You Can't Go Home", "Welcome to Wherever You Are", "What Do You Got?"
  • : "Don't Tell Me", "Nobody's Home", "Fall to Pieces"
  • : "Everywhere", "All You Wanted", "Goodbye to You"
  • : "8th World Wonder", "Change"
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: "Treat Me Right"

Baldwin Combo Harpsichord
  • : "Dream On"
  • The Beach Boys: "I Get Around", "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)"
  • : "Along Comes Mary"
  • : "My World Is Empty Without You"
  • : "Love Me Two Times", "Touch Me"
  • : "Because", "Real Love"
  • The Partridge Family: "I Think I Love You"
  • : "Hold on Girl", "I'll Be Back Up on My Feet"
  • The Mamas & the Papas: "California Dreamin'", "Monday, Monday"
  • : "MacArthur Park"
  • Jefferson Airplane: "Two Heads"
  • : "See Emily Play"
  • The Rolling Stones: "Take It or Leave It"
  • Queen: ""

Yamaha CP-70/CP-80 Electric Grand Piano
  • : "Gut Feeling"
  • : "A Groovy Kind of Love", "Two Hearts", "Do You Remember"
  • : "Sledgehammer", "Red Rain", "In Your Eyes"
  • Genesis: "Undertow", "Duchess", "That's All", "Taking It All Too Hard", "In Too Deep"
  • : "Two Rooms at the End of the World", "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)", "Circle of Life"
  • The Go-Go's: "Head over Heels"
  • Bruce Springsteen: "", "Born in the U.S.A."
  • Toto: "Hold the Line"
  • T.S.O.L.: "Darker My Love"
  • : "My Life", "All for Leyna", "Pressure"
  • U2: "New Year's Day", "Elevation", "Walk On", "City of Blinding Lights"
  • Joe Jackson: "Steppin' Out"
  • Howard Jones: "No One Is to Blame"
  • Queen: ""
  • Hall & Oates: "Private Eyes", "Kiss on My List", "Did It in a Minute"
  • : "Runaway", "She Don't Know Me", "You Give Love a Bad Name", "Born to Be My Baby"
  • Keane: "Somewhere Only We Know"
  • Visage: "Visage"
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: "Stars"

See also

External links

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