The Electric Piano remains one of the most distinctive and timeless sounds in recorded music history. We’ve selected some of the best stage pianos available for recreating classic Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds both in studio and on stage.
A marvel of post-war engineering, the electric piano’s original designs used a system in which hammers strike thin metal rods called tines which are connected to tone bars and amplified with pickups that perpetuate sound in a similar way to the electric guitar.
Where the Rhodes and the Wurlitzer differ is the fact that the Wurlitzer uses metal reeds as opposed to rods. This, of course, produces a different sound, and while the Wurlitzer has a unique midrange bite, the Rhodes has a longer sustain.
Choosing the Best Stage Pianos
Although many collectors and enthusiasts as well as members of our Gearnews team have vintage Rhodes or Wurlitzer pianos, they aren’t always the most practical for life on the road.
Another aspect is that the evolution of digital sampling has provided the technology to design keyboards that can mimic all the sonic characteristics of classic electric pianos, as well as instruments like organs, clavinets, and even the famous mellotron.
The electric piano sound really took off in the 1970s and has since become synonymous with a range of musical styles, including Jazz, RnB, Soul, Disco, Rock, Hip-Hop, and House.
The Crumar Seventeen is a classic-style stage piano with a range of sound engines, including Tine Electric Piano, Reed Electric Piano, Electric Grand, Clavi, DX Digital E.P., MKS Digital E.P., Japanese Acoustic Grand, German 274 Acoustic Grand, synth piano, piano-string, and combi sounds.
In addition, the two effects slots give you access to Tremolo, Vibrato, Wah Wah, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Reverb, Delay, 3-band EQ, and AMP simulation.
Viscount Legend `70s Compact
The Legend `70s Compact is a modular stage piano equipped with the physical modeling electric piano and high-definition sampling sound collection module which features 100 sounds including Pad, Strings, Choir, Brass, Keyboard, Organ, Bass, Guitar, Bells, and Marimba.
The effects and tone-shaping capabilities are extensive with two equalization stages and Tremolo, Vibrato, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Wah-wah, Amp, Rotary, Delay, Compressor, and Reverb. You can also add additional modules to expand the Legend keyboard even further.
Viscount Legend `70s Compact
If you’re a stage musician, the Yamaha CP73 is optimized for live performance in every way. The extensive sound library features seamless sound switching and gives you access to a wide range of vintage and modern tine and reed electric pianos.
In addition, you get grand and upright pianos, FM pianos, organs, and clavinets, as well as synths, strings, brass, and more. The authentic virtual circuitry modeling effects also mimic the character of vintage effects and studio processors,
It may not be vintage-style, or even a stage piano per se, but the Kurzweil PC4 has some of the best electric piano, organ, and clavinet sounds available and excellent sound shaping capabilities too.
The PC4 also provides incredible value as a workstation keyboard, as its advanced onboard sequencer allows you to create and perform entire productions with real-time control of the instruments and effects parameters.
With the Korg SV-2 stage piano, you get a selection of 72 sounds, ranging from vintage electric pianos, organs, and clavinets to pianos, string, brass, choir, and synth sounds.
The EDS-X engine gives you 128 voices of polyphony, with the ability to layer and split 3 different timbres. What’s more, the effects section includes real tube circuitry, as well as speaker modeling and a range of other classic effects.
Korg SV-2 88
More about the Best Electric Pianos:
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- Crumar Seventeen: Crumar
- Viscount Legend `70s Compact: Viscount
- Yamaha CP73: Yamaha
- Kurzweil PC4: Kurzweil
- Korg SV-2: Korg