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An interesting historic fact about the Rhodes piano is that in 1959, when Leo Fender, the highly successful guitar builder, teamed up with Harold Rhodes, the at the time struggling inventor of the Rhodes piano, Leo Fender actually hated the now ubiquitous mid- and top-range of the instrument.He thought that only the bass register could make a marketable instrument.In 1965, CBS bought the Fender company, and this paved the way for a Fender Rhodes full-range 73-note piano with built-in speaker. The Fender name was eventually dropped from the instrument in 1974.It’s interesting how the in so many other ways visionary Leo Fender missed realising the full potential of the instrument.However, the Piano Bass is a fantastic instrument in its own right; and many of the features later found on the full-range Rhodes pianos were inherited from the Piano Bass – the tolex, the fiberglass top, and the basic structure of the instrument.And the Piano Bass made its own mark on music history, mainly as a fundamental part of the Doors’ innovative sound; the band had no bass player (except on a few studio recordings) – it was keyboardist Ray Manzarek’s left hand that played the band’s bass parts on the Piano Bass.Fortunately, this approach works really well with Keren’s repertoire, as everything is based around her songs, guitar and voice.The core material is so strong than it doesn’t really matter whether she’s playing with a full band or just a trumpet player, and the shows stay fresh that way, to say the least.
Rhodes continued to teach the piano through his lifetime, and the piano method continues to be taught today by a team led by Joseph Brandsetter.The whole "tone generator assembly" acts as a tuning fork, the tone bar reinforcing and extending the vibrations of the tine.A pickup sits opposite the tine, picking up its vibrations and inducing an electric current in a similar manner to an electric guitar.The instrument's sound has been frequently compared with the Wurlitzer electric piano, which uses a similar technology, but with the hammers striking metal reeds.The Rhodes has a better sustain, while the Wurlitzer produces significant harmonics when the keys are played hard, giving it a "bite" the Rhodes does not have. He dropped out of studying at the University of Southern California in 1929 to support his family through the Great Depression by full-time teaching.