Up for sale, a 1974 Fender Rhodes Suitcase 88 Mk I electric piano in exceptional condition and perfect working order, complete with the original manual and replacement tine kit. Introduced in 1972 and only offered with Fender branding from 1972-74, the 1974 Fender Rhodes Suitcase 88 is arguably the absolute pinnacle of Rhodes design, performance and collectibility, with the highly desirable flat key caps introduced in this year.
Extremely original and also exhaustively serviced, this piano benefits from all new grommets, screws, and washers, in addition to a complete set of new hammer tips and a Vintage Vibe "Miracle Mod" pedestal bump. Both the preamp and power amp have been fully recapped, with new and more reliable transistors in the stereo power amp modules. The speakers have also been professionally reconed.
The tone and feel of the Fender Rhodes Mk I pianos is unlike anything that came before or after, and the piano's best qualities are on full display given the new components and complete servicing this Rhodes has received. The sound is warm, dynamic, and very balanced across all registers. The piano action has been fully regulated, and this Rhodes has been tuned and voiced to emphasize harmonic overtones and sparkle (further top end chime and attack can be dialed in via the onboard active EQ). The low end ranges from mellow, round bass notes with a soft touch to the famous Rhodes growl when digging in.
The Peterson preamp works as intended with stacked Bass/Treble controls, a Volume knob, and Speed/Intensity controls for the famed stereo vibrato. The effect is lush and smooth, with a wide range of depths and speeds that fully take advantage of the stereo field. Widely considered to be the best of the three Rhodes designs, the Peterson preamp boasts gain and EQ controls which add additional tonal flexibility, while the tonal color of the preamp really helps to bring out that classic Rhodes Mk I sound. The power amp has a low noise floor, ideal for studio situations, and the cabinet retaints the four original alnico magnet 12" speakers (two facing the performer and two facing the audience). These speakers all have clean black frames, manufactured by CTS with date stamps from the 29th week of '74.
The action is extremely smooth, consistent and positively springy, with a fast attack thanks to the Vintage Vibe pedestal bump mod, and original key bushings that are in excellent shape. The new springs, grommets, and washers ensure maximum resonance from the tonebars, and the new hammer tips strike with authority. The flat key caps that replaced the rounded caps in '74 also have a feel that is much more akin to an acoustic piano, and it's one of the smaller tweaks made by Rhodes that's virtually universally praised by players.
The harp itself is in great shape, with original pickups, tines, and tonebars. The gold Rhodes label is clean and intact on the harp (noting the transitional period between Fender Rhodes and Rhodes branding), and the green inked date stamp from the 48th week of '74 is visible in the upper right corner. The original knobs are intact on the preamp, and the "Eighty Eight" raised text on the rounded plastic harp cover is present. The large Fender Rhodes label on the back of the cabinet is original, and the smaller badge on the namerail is a modern replacement furnished by Vintage Vibe.
The piano retains its original smooth black tolex and silver sparkle grillcloth with orange stripe. The outer speaker baffle is original, while the baffle facing the player is a modern replacement, fitted with the original grillcloth which was painstakingly preserved. All of the original handles and corners are intact, and the latches for the lid are modern, vintage-spec replacements.
You'd be hard pressed to find another Rhodes this thoroughly serviced, and the 88 key Suitcase model was the flagship of the Fender Rhodes line in '74. The original manual and replacement tine kit are included.