Which is better – eye candy or ear candy?
Lucky for NY-based musician Dr. Len, he doesn’t have to choose after taking delivery of a restored 1979 Rhodes 88-key stage piano that’s meant to be museum quality: Accoutrements include a completely custom natural wood walnut case, white top, and unique accents for a mid-century modern look.
The epic Rhodes restoration was executed by New Jersey-based Vintage Vibe, which specializes in restoration and repair for Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and Clavinet electro-mechanical pianos, and also stands as a prolific manufacturer of aftermarket parts for these keyboard classics. Vintage Vibe founder/master technician Chris Carroll led the charge to breathe new life into the “Walnut Rhodes 88.”
Dr. Len and Carroll aimed high, matching the Rhodes to its home room, a modern, minimalistic space furnished with mid-century pieces: the ultimate goal was to create a keyboard worthy of display at a place like Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
The Walnut Rhodes 88 was crafted from hand-selected walnut slabs, the front, back and sides of the Rhodes 88 restoration were grain and book-matched in sequence, and assembled using dovetail joints for a true furniture-quality appearance. The keyboard’s legs were lathe-turned from solid walnut and feature nickel-plated feet, while he name rail and standalone preamplifier case were finished with matching burled walnut veneer. The lid and sustain pedal were refinished in antique ivory white to complete the look.
Playability and sound were also accounted for at every stage, with care taken by Vintage Vibe to fully restore the functionality and improved the instrument’s performance.
The company also designs and manufactures its own instruments, the Vintage Vibe Piano and the Vibanet – modern takes on Rhodes and Clavinet pianos with improved performance, reduced weight, and sleek new looks.