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1977 Rhodes Suitcase 73 Mk I Vintage Electric Piano Janus Preamp, Fender Stage


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Up for sale, a 1977 Rhodes Suitcase 73 Mk I electric piano in excellent condition and good working order. Produced near the end of the Mk I's production run, this piano is one of the first to feature the more powerful stereo Janus preamp and power amp (first seen in '77).

The tone and feel of this piano is exceptional, and it has been well cared for over the past 45 years. Professionally tuned and voiced, the piano takes full advantage of the power and clarity of the Janus preamp to deliver smooth transitions from the lower, growly bass octaves to the bell-like notes in the highest registers. The middle octaves are voiced slightly favoring the harmonic overtones, which keeps complex chord voicings clear and balanced. The low end ranges from mellow, round bass notes with a soft touch to the famous Rhodes growl when you really dig in.

The Janus preamp works as intended with brand new Bass/Treble sliders from Vintage Vibe, 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. More percussive and punchy than earlier Rhodes vibratos, the Janus vibrato can go from slow and swampy to machine gun fast with the turn of a knob. The power amp has a strong and even response from both sides of the stereo unit, and the original Schumacher power transformer is intact. This Rhodes also has a very low noise floor, ideal for studio situations, and the cabinet retains a quad of original 12" speakers (two facing the performer and two facing the audience). The speakers were manufactured by Pyle, retaining their original Fender blue foil stickers on the ceramic magnets, with date stamps from the 22nd week of '77.

The action is extremely smooth, consistent and springy, with a fast attack that isn't sloppy at all and original key bushings that are in excellent shape. It's safe to say that his piano has seen limited use over the decades and the original hammer tips and damper felts show little wear. 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 quite clean overall, with original pickups, tines, and tonebars and only modest oxidation on the components. The Rhodes stamp on the harp is nice and bold, and the date stamp from the 23rd week of '77 is clearly visible in the upper right corner. The original knobs are intact on the preamp, and the small "Rhodes" logo on the namerail, "Seventy Three" badge on the curved harp cover, and large "Rhodes" bage on the back are intact.

Cosmetically, this piano shows minimal wear, with original smooth black tolex and black grillcloth, and only modest scuffing and marks on the edges of the cabinets. The original latching lid is also present. Overall this is a well-kept and professionally-voiced piano with smooth and responsive action and a clean harp.