Multitimbral Rhodes


Hey everyone!

Years ago a friend saw a beat up old Rhodes in the window of a curtain shop as he was walking down the street. I went immediately and bought it. I had to do a fairly thorough restoration job: rebuilding the electronics (recapping, changing the transistors, a lot of work with the psu and power amps), re-felting, changing out the hammer rubbers, fixing the action, stuck keys, re-aligning, etc.

I’m finally at the point where I need to tune it up, but I had an idea.
If you look at the service manual here:
You can see that by adjusting how the tine aligns with the pickup you can adjust the relative levels of the fundamental and the harmonics.

I’d like to sample the Rhodes with round robins, velocity layers, and changing timbres. Obviously since this is a pretty big job I wanted to ask the community if y’all have any suggestions of anything I’m not thinking of.

I’ll describe my process:

  1. I’m going to use take the pickups straight into a tube preamp I built rather than using the instrument’s electronics. I think it sounds good, but this seems like a quieter and more bullet proof approach, and I can’t figure out how to practically include the use of the the vibrato.
  2. I plan to record each velocity layer 3 times and try to get a range from a finger nail barely pressing the key to really hammering it. This process would repeat for each position of the tine relative to the magnet. I was thinking of trying to get 4-5 positions: pure fundamental, pure harmonics, with two or three intermediate positions.

Should I record key by key? Recording the round robins and velocity layers for each magnet position and then move on to the next key?

Is there anything I’m not thinking of?

Thanks for any advice, and I look forward to being able to share this instrument with the community!

J Starx


Key by key would certainly be a luxury, but if you’re planning on doing a ton of different timbres it would be much easier to do something like whole steps or thirds


If we may start at the end, it depends on your purpose.

For those of us like me who have nothing to sample, which I consider of interest to anyone else, if I may be really honest, many of the sample sets on piano book have been underwhelming. Nice experiments, but nothing that compares with commercial libraries, and I am unlikely to use them.

It takes a while to invest time and effort and interest to download, unzip and test each of these sample libraries. I tried out one recently which was over 1GB in size, and was really expecting something interesting, but was quite let down by what I heard.

At the heart of any published work is the unwritten relationship between you and the end user, either commercial or otherwise.

I think you should consider the quality of the end result as probably the most important.

Regard sample sets as an investment in your time, at the very least you’d like to invest in something that will be good enough to stand comparison with what is available out there - free or commercial.

I therefore suggest doing this in two stages.

Stage 1 is experimentation, so you can refine your workflow - i.e how you go from sampling to an instrument and all the intermediate steps in between. What’s important is to share with those who will use this, is the intention, so those who use it understand that this is clearly a work in progress.

Stage 2. is the final product, where you can be far more focussed on quality - higher sample rates, and bit depth, and velocity levels…You decide if you want to sell or keep this free.

I think the most important element is time. Your time and the time of your “customers”…

The most valuable use of time, is an instrument that will be used, a lot, and give the user a lot of pleasure, as a musically or sonically relevant virtual replacement for the real thing.


Thanks for your replies!

Obviously I want to do the best possible job, so I’m not in a hurry and have been playing with how to best approach the process.

I sat down to figure out how many velocity layers I could get. I’m not a keys player really, so it’s going to take me a while to learn to be consistent. Also, I forgot I detuned every tine when cleaning them, so I need to go through and tune it first.