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A list of known electric pianos

NameMechanismKnown ModelsDatesOther Notes

(Fender) Rhodes
(1959 - 1985)

Major Key
(2001)

Rhodes Music Corporation
(2009 - )

(USA)

Struck tuning forks, simplified piano action,
electromagnetic pickups

Piano Bass

Celeste

Suitcase Piano 73 and  88,

Student Piano

Mk I Stage Piano (73, 88)

Mk II Stage Piano (73, 88, 54)

"Flat-top" Suitcase Piano (73, 88)

Home Piano

Mk III EK-10

Mk V Stage Piano

Major Key 54 (prototype)

Mk 7 (61, 73, 88) in Stage, Active and Active plus MIDI models

1959 - 1985,
2009 - present

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Invented in 1950s by music teacher, songwriter and inventor Harold Rhodes (1910 -2000).
Also earlier Pre-Piano (electric and acoustic models), educational instrument, 3 octaves, marketed in late 1940s by Rhodes himself;
1959; 2 1/2--octave Piano Bass was first model produced (and the only pre-CBS Fender Rhodes instrument). Early models have controls mounted directly on front of lid; later ones have separate panel. Some early models covered in beige "Fender tweed" instead of black Tolex. Top available in in sparkle silver or gold, or Fender "Fiesta Red". Celeste was 3- or 4-octave "treble" version.
1965; Suitcase Piano introduced , amplifier/speaker cabinet with built-in sustain pedal doubled as stand for keyboard; 73 notes, 61-note model announced but never put into production; curved top available in various colours as Piano Bass above, some cases covered in "Fender tweed" as above. Later models had stereo tremolo.
1971; 88-note Suitcase Piano introduced; same amp/speaker/stand as 73. All tops and cases now available in black only. Mk I Stage Piano introduced at this time; 73 or 88 notes, no amp/speakers; four steel tube legs, sustain pedal attached via metal rod.
1978; Suitcase has revised controls, amp and speakers
1979; Mk II Stage and "Flat-top" Suitcase models; All models now have flat ridged top and improved action.
1980; 54-note Mk II Stage Piano introduced; flat top, slider controls.
1982; short-lived Mk III EK-10 combined electromechanical Rhodes mechanism with electronic oscillators and filters.
1984; The Mk V* was the last electromechanical Rhodes instrument for over 15 years, and 3 examples were equipped with MIDI outputs. Completely new case design made from lightweight plastic.
Despite the Rhodes name being bought by Roland, who built a range of Rhodes-branded digital pianos, organs and synths during the 1990s, no new electromechanical Rhodes pianos were built until:
2001; A few months after the death of Harold Rhodes, Major Key (a company dedicated to the upgrading and maintenance of Rhodes pianos) exhibited a brand-new 54-note Stage Piano at the winter NAMM show, made using over 60% new parts and featuring an active preamp, beige Tolex covering and silver sparkle flat top. This appears to have been a one-off instrument; a promised limited-production model never appeared.
2009;
After a gap of nearly 25 years, a completely new Rhodes Music Corporation began commercial production of the newly-designed Mk 7, first seen in prototype form at the 2007 Winter NAMM show.

The Mk 7 range features an improved Mk V-style action, a lightweight fibreglass case and an overall improved build quality compared to vintage models. 88-, 73- and (for the first time commercially) 61-note models are advertised, along with optional "speaker platforms" similar to the old Suitcase base. All three sizes are available in three options; "S" (passive, equivalent to the old Stage model), A (active preamp with stereo tremolo, similar to the old Suitcase keyboard unit but usable without a dedicated amp and speakers, and "AM", as model A but with full MIDI controller capabilities including polyphonic aftertouch, split zones, pitch and modulation wheels. Initially, three standard colours are available; black, white and red, all available in gloss automotive paint or a rubberised "RoadTouch" matt finish. According to a Keyboard Magazine video, custom colours may become available in future.

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Little is known about the Student Piano; mid 1960s - early 1970s; A late 60s model looks virtually identical to the 1969 "Home Piano" described below, but with no volume pedal and with the controls mounted under the keyboard. There were at least two earlier models - the single pedestal "fishtail" version and a "double pedestal" design. Built-in metronome. Controls mounted on pod under keyboard. Colours included avocado green and mustard yellow! (this information was told to me in 1980 by Harold Rhodes at the Fender factory in California).
The Home Piano is even rarer. Three different designs are known. In 1969 there was a Home Piano, with wood-grain panelled sides, black curved top, a music rack and a built-in cassette recorder. This model featured a unique spring-action volume pedal. In the late 70s a new model was produced, with a completely wooden cabinet and again a cassette recorder. In the early 1980s I saw a completely different Home Piano in London. This was a UK-built black piano-style cabinet housing the mechanism of a Suitcase Piano.

* The reason that the model numbers appear to jump from Mk III to Mk V is that the "missing" Mk IV was a new design concept which never made it to production. Around this time there was also an ELECTRONIC piano made under the Rhodes name by ARP.

Vntage Vibe Tine Piano
(USA)
Struck tuning forks, simplified piano action, electromagnetic pickupsVV44
VV64
VV73
2011 Jump menu:
A new design from vintage keyboard renovation experts Vintage Vibe, using newly-designed action parts in a lightweight wood-and-fibreglass case similar to that of a Wurlitzer 200. 64- and 73-key models were introduced at the Winter 2011 NAMM show, in passive, active and active stereo versions. The fibreglass top is available in a wide range of plain and sparkle colours to order.
Vntage Vibe Vibanet
(USA)
Clavichord action; strings struck by hard rubber tangents; electromagnetic pickupsVibanet2013 Jump menu:
Another new design from Vintage Vibe, this is the first new Clavinet-type instrument since Hohner stopped producing the E7 in the early 1980s. The Vibanet features onboard active EQ and auto-wah, plus improved tuning and damping mechanisms.
Vivi-Tone Clavier
(USA)
Struck tone-bars; electromagnetic pickupsClavier
Late 1920s - early 1930s? Jump menu:
Designed by Gibson Guitar's chief R&D engineer Lloyd Loar for his own short-lived Vivi-Tone company, which also produced electric guitars, basses, mandolins and fiddles. An earlier Loar design using sticky pads and electrostatic pickups was later adapted by Hohner for the Pianet.
Hohner Pianet
(West Germany)

Plucked reeds, sticky pads; electrostatic pickups, later
electromagnetic

Pianet L

Pianet C

Pianet N

Combo Pianet

Pianet M

Pianet T

1962 - 1982?

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Based on 1920s patent by Lloyd Loar, ex Gibson Guitars (see Vivi-Tone). 
No sustain pedal.
May have been introduced as more touch-responsive successor to Cembalet.
N had tremolo; M had phaser and speakers. Models L, C, N and Combo Pianet used electrostatic pickups; reeds were plucked by leather and foam pads impregnated with a permanently sticky compound and these doubled as dampers when a key was released. It would appear, however that SOME Pianet Ns were fitted with the same plectrum and damper mechanisms used by the Cembalet (see below). This may have been a strategy to use leftover Cembalet parts when the Pianet was introduced.
T
and M were last of series; used electromagnetic pickups, silicone rubber sticky pads and more mellow-sounding reeds.
All except T had wood-veneered cases; L was simple rectangular case, no lid, mounted on metal rod legs, built-in speaker, no tremolo. N was classic 1960s electric piano with folding lid/music rack and "boomerang" inverted-V-shaped legs. Optional amplifier fitted underneath. C was similar to N but mounted on "coffee-table" legs. Combo Pianet was stage model without folding lid; no tremolo or speakers. M was domestic console model from 1970s with fabric-covered speakers above keyboard ends and flat-topped "piano-style" black keys.T had black leather-cloth covering and rubber-padded end-blocks. Early examples may also have been available in orange!
See also Clavinet Pianet Duo.

Hohner Cembalet
(West Germany)
Plucked reeds, plectrum action; electrostatic pickups

Cembalet (I?)

Cembalet II

1961 - ?

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Cembalet N visually similar to Pianet N, but different keyboard range (C-C as opposed to F-F or F-E) )and brighter tone. Mechanism comprised rubber plectrum and separate damper. Optional amplifier fitted underneath. Cembalet II is console model with vibrato, valve amp and speakers and built-in volume pedal.

Selmer Pianotron
(UK, East Germany)

Original version; Struck strings; traditional piano action with soundboard (?); 
electrostatic pickups

1960s version as Weltmeister Claviset

Pianotron

a) 1938 - ?

b) Early - mid 1960s

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Two unrelated instruments sharing the same name.

Original British-made instrument as depicted in 1939 UK patent is conventional upright piano fitted with electrostatic pickups.

1960s instrument appears to be imported and re-branded Weltmeister Claviset (see below)

Weltmeister Claviset
(East Germany)
Plucked reeds, plectrum action; electromagnetic pickups

Version with folding lid/music rest

Version with wire music rest

Basset (bass keyboard)

2-keyboard version with "Matador" combo organ on top keyboard.

1963? - ?

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Made by long-established accordion and harmonica manufacturer in Klingenthal, formerly East Germany. Appears to be an approximate copy of the Hohner Cembalet, and is the only known Eastern European electric piano. Unlike Hohner instruments of the time, uses electromagnetic pickups. Later models somehow acquired a sustain pedal!
Also a 2-keyboard version with "Matador" combo organ on top keyboard. The piano-and-organ version has no known equivalent in Hohner's range. There was also an electromechanical strap-on bass keyboard, called the Basset, closer in principle to the Rhodes Piano Bass than Hohner's electronic bass keyboard of the same name.
There is also a (later) Claviset with a range of tabs for different sounds and 2 pedals
Hohner Clavinet
(West Germany)
Clavichord action; strings struck by hard rubber tangents; electromagnetic pickups

Clavinet I

Clavinet II

Clavinet L

Clavinet C

Clavinet D6

Clavinet E7

Clavinet Pianet Duo

1965 - 1980?Jump menu:
Invented by Ernst Zacharias. Essentially an electric clavichord. A unique early prototype exists with 54-note keyboard, traditional clavichord action and four filter controls; now in Keyboard Museum, Austria
Clavinets I and II were domestic models with tone switches (II), rectangular veneered case, wooden legs and speaker (I). Clavinet L had reverse-coloured keys, "triangular" case, speaker and three "coffee-table" legs. Clavinet C was the late-60s "Stevie Wonder" model - red and white case, mechanically identical to Clavinet II. Clavinet D6 was classic wood-veneered 1970s model.
D6 and later E7 had two pickups and various tone switches, plus variable damper. Duo combined Clavinet and Pianet actions in one keyboard. E7 was like D6 in a more roadworthy case. First E7s were actually labelled D6. Later E7s had angled damper slot.
Hohner Electra-Piano
(West Germany)
Struck tuning forks,
electromagnetic pickups
Electra-Piano (1970?) looks like upright piano complete with two pedals

Electra-Piano T (1977?) is portable "stage" model
Late 60s - early 80s?Jump menu:
Similar mechanism to Fender Rhodes design. 72-note keyboard. Console model has wooden upright-piano-style case with 4 speakers and 20-watt solid-state amplifier. Sustain and soft pedals fitted; soft pedal is actually electronic attenuator.
Electra-Piano T is late-70s "stage" model; looks like somewhat home-made copy of Fender Rhodes with white top; folding legs; no "soft" pedal, amp or speakers (although matching amp was available). Different mechanism from console model. Very rare.
Maestro
(Japan)
As Columbia ElepianMaestro
Late 1960s? Jump menu:
Imported and re-branded console-model Columbia Elepian. Could Gibson have had something to do with it? (Maestro was a name used for Gibson's amplification and effects lines in the '60s).
Columbia Elepian
(Japan)
Struck metal reeds, traditional piano action, electrostatic pickupsVarious portable and console models
1962 - 1980?Jump menu:
At least two models; portable "stage" model similar to Rhodes or Wurlitzer 200 and domestic model in lightweight wooden console case; looks like small upright piano. Similar mechanical design to Wurlitzer. 61 notes, sustain pedal, no tremolo. Elepian name still used for Denon's digital pianos.
Wurlitzer
(USA, West Germany)
Struck metal reeds, traditional piano action, electrostatic pickups.

100 series (1954 - 1968)

700 series

200 series, most popular EP-200/200A (1969 - early 1980s)

300

 

1954 - 1982?

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Designed by Ben Miessner. Early models had valve pre-amps; later ones had tremolo circuit. All had built-in speakers except battery-powered EP-200B.
100 series (up to late '60s) had painted wood or fibreboard cases; 140B was first solid-state model; EP-200 onwards had plastic cases. 700 series were wooden-cased console models. 300 appears to have been a wooden-cased console model built around a 200, and made in Germany for the local market. Except as noted, all models had 64 keys. EP-200 available in various colours. EP-200A only available in black.
In addition to various educational models based on the EP-200, there is also a very rare 44-note music lab model (Model 106-P) available in beige or orange, which came as a set of eight (Model 106) in a portable folding frame, almost like a fairground ride! ("Roll up, roll up for the thrills and spills of the Mighty Wurlitzer!")
Baby Butterfly Grand was NOT electric grand but same mechanism as model 200 in semi-circular wooden cabinet with twin angled lids above upwards-facing speakers. (Wurlitzer had made acoustic pianos in this style since the 1920s).

Musser Electric Celeste
(USA)
Traditional celesta action; hammers striking metal plates; electrostatic pickups (?)Electric Celeste
Late 1960sJump menu:
Designed by orchestral percussionist and composer Clair Omar Musser (1900 - 1998) and manufactured by his own company. 61-note keyboard. Has controls for bass, treble and tremolo - Musser was a vibraphone virtuoso.
Neo-Bechstein (Siemens-Bechstein)
(Germany)
Struck strings; modified piano action; 
electromagnetic pickups
Neo-Bechstein1929Jump menu:
Designed by Prussian Nobel Laureate Professor Nernst, in conjunction with Bechstein and Siemens. An early electric grand. I don't know how many were made or who they were aimed at, but at least one survives in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany.
Baldwin ElectroPiano
(USA)
Struck strings; traditional piano action; 
piezoelectric pickups

ElectroPiano

ElectroPro,
Electric grand?

Early 1960s -early 1970sJump menu:
An electric upright piano, originally developed (like the Rhodes and Wurlitzer) for school and college piano labs but, unlike them, rarely seen beyond that environment, largely due to weight and tuning needs. However, in the early 1970s, a portable and roadworthy stage model, the ElectroPro was produced. I believe that an electric grand was also made.
Baldwin Combo Harpsichord
(USA)
Harpsichord action: plucked strings; electromagnetic pickups.Combo Harpsichord
Mid - late 1960sJump menu:
The world's first and only solid-body electric harpsichord, with an extruded aluminium frame/body, bright red dummy "soundboard", and clear perspex lid and music rack. Looks like something out of the Jetsons, but was used on dozens of TV and movie scores, the Beatles used one ("Because" on Abbey Road) and the Beach Boys even took one on tour (along with a professional tuner).
Yamaha
(Japan)
Struck strings; traditional piano action; piezo-electric pickups

CP-70,
CP70B,
CP-80,
CP70M
CP80M,
CP-60M

1977 -1985?Jump menu:
Electric grands except CP-60M; electric upright. "M" models incorporated MIDI output. CP-70 had 73-note keyboard, CP-60M had 76. CP-10, CP-20, CP-30 are unrelated ELECTRONIC pianos.
Lawrence
(Netherlands/Ireland)
Struck strings; traditional piano action with soundboard; 
electromagnetic pickups
Lawrence Audio-Piano
Late 1960s-1970s?

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Small (73-note) electric upright; tubular steel frame, folding keyboard. Built by Lindner in Shannon, Ireland under license from Dutch manufacturer Rippen. The Lawrence was built alongside Lindner-branded acoustics using the same novel lightweight construction and action.

The piano's action is mostly made from plastic, making damaged instruments difficult to repair. Nonetheless, Stevie Wonder recorded with one and appeared in advertising.

LeSage
(Canada)
Struck strings; traditional piano action; electromagnetic pickupsLeSage
Late 1960s-1970s?Jump menu:
Small (73-note) electric upright; no soundboard.
Helpinstill
(USA)
Struck strings; traditional piano action with soundboard; 
electromagnetic pickups

Roadmaster 88

Roadmaster 64

Portable Grand

Mid-1970s - early 1980sJump menu:
Acoustic pianos (made by Kimball) designed to fold up for transport and fitted with Helpinstill's acclaimed pickups. Roadmaster 64 had shorter (64-note) keyboard.
Kawai
(Japan)
Struck strings; traditional piano action; piezo-electric cable pickupsVarious grand and upright models, some with MIDI.

Early to mid-1980sJump menu:
Similar to Yamaha's designs, but sounded more acoustic. Some had MIDI output.

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