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652938 Posts in 26089 Topics by 3718 Members - Latest Member: CarlWilsonfan101 December 13, 2019, 04:00:28 PM
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Author Topic: Beach Boys Orchestration Web Series  (Read 4550 times)
aeijtzsche
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« Reply #50 on: November 12, 2019, 03:00:30 PM »

It would be cool if you did videos on "Be With Me", "Mona Kana", and "Tune X" and talked about how they do or don't compare to Brian's style/approach.

A Very Special Dennis Episode is a great idea.
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« Reply #51 on: November 12, 2019, 03:01:47 PM »

I've filmed another sort of filler program,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UeP0dXHS14

It's about figuring out what is playing on records, with a short example.

Be sure to like and subscribe so I don't have to bug you every time I post a video!



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JK
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« Reply #52 on: November 12, 2019, 11:36:15 PM »

I've filmed another sort of filler program,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UeP0dXHS14

It's about figuring out what is playing on records, with a short example.

Be sure to like and subscribe so I don't have to bug you every time I post a video!

I'm so sorry, JH, but I left YouTube when Google + muscled in on the act. But I have your channel bookmarked (and in my signature at Hoffman).

Really looking forward to watching this. "IWFTD" is one of my top three BB tracks. Such a joyous, uplifting song!

[A few hours later]

So much for the complaint that there's nothing left to say about The Beach Boys!!! This topic--and this project of yours--would seem to refute that. Wink

I'd say these videos have a very broad appeal, from folks who just enjoy what their ears tell them to those who want to pick these wonderful sounds apart. And this one is a revelation!
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 01:36:12 AM by JK » Logged

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I'm Grass and You're a Power Mower: A Beach Boys Orchestration Web Series
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« Reply #53 on: November 13, 2019, 09:28:09 AM »

I've filmed another sort of filler program,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UeP0dXHS14

It's about figuring out what is playing on records, with a short example.

Be sure to like and subscribe so I don't have to bug you every time I post a video!





Great job!
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« Reply #54 on: November 13, 2019, 11:29:39 AM »

Here's another idea - the keyboards on "Help Me, Rhonda" (the single/Summer Days version)...

The track sheet includes notations for "elect piano" and "Hohner”, indicating two different electric keyboards were used, in addition to an acoustic piano. The most commonly used types of electric piano in those days were the Wurlitzer and two models of Hohner - the Pianet and the Cembalet. Since "elect piano" is designated as such, I'm guessing that would have been a Wurlitzer (and I do hear a "whirring" kind of keyboard sound in there, which to me is indicitive of the Wurly). But which model of Hohner do we think was employed? Electric piano really wasn't used much on Beach Boys recordings at the time, and in fact, this might be the earliest example. The tonal difference of the Cembalet and the Pianet (they were introduced by Hohner in that order, however they were both produced and sold into the '70s) may be slight, but possibly a finely-tuned ear could discern the identity used here? I'm not suggesting you buy or rent either or both, 'cause there are demo recordings out there on the 'net that may aid in the discernment, and I'm sure there are patches or plugins available for download/installation and playing of the actual parts!

The two electric keyboards were recorded together on one track, and the acoustic piano on another, so we have a bit of separation on the basic track recording, but since the two electrics are locked together on one track (with, I might add, the saxophones and Billy Strange's electric guitar), ID'ing the specific kinds might be a bit of a challenge.





« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 12:22:03 PM by c-man » Logged
aeijtzsche
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« Reply #55 on: November 13, 2019, 06:25:40 PM »

Quote
I'm not suggesting you buy or rent either or both, 'cause there are demo recordings out there on the 'net that may aid in the discernment, and I'm sure there are patches or plugins available for download/installation and playing of the actual parts!

I'd be all too happy to own all kinds of these keyboards, but ultimately the dream (and most realistic scenario) would be to find people willing to let me come in and play around on (and film) them.  I think there's a cool narrative I could tell about electric pianos.  I'm trying to think of what the first use of electric piano on a Beach Boys record would be?  But I could start there, and tell the story all the way through up to the DX7 years or whatever.

Here's another question that would be interesting to explore:  Who owned these instruments?  I'm sure the major studios all owned an acoustic piano or two, and an organ or two, but how many had the space/budget to own all kind of auxiliary stuff?  Did the Beach Boys buy various keyboards and pianos to have?  Certainly the session players couldn't be expected to deal with all that.  There were likely rental places: when did S.I.R. start up?

In any case...the paperwork is probably long gone, but it would be interesting to implement the "How" these keyboards got to be on a session.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 06:26:08 PM by aeijtzsche » Logged
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« Reply #56 on: November 13, 2019, 07:04:44 PM »

Brief reply before going back to answer some others.

Maybe it would be helpful to list the best available version of Rhonda so others can hear the electric piano examples being discussed? Just which release and track/disc has it where the EQ and mix allows a better way to hear it.

My experience which is still pretty modern up to the current day is that the *studios* would have this kind of gear available in-house. It's part of the selling points and marketing of the studios in general to have well-maintained, excellent-sounding, and above all working and available keyboards such as these available for clients. That has not changed since the golden years...for proof, just check any gear list advertised by a working studio and you'll see many vintage keyboards if they're a bigger budget studio. Same with guitars and amps.

Jan Berry's brothers got SIR up and renting/delivering by the later 60's, but in the case of Brian's productions and others in LA, a lot of the studios already had a stable of keyboards available. The engineers knew how they sounded, how to mic them best, etc. It was around '67 the way it seems when musicians - like Brian - would bring their own 'boards in because they could afford to do so.

I think a lot of bands who had a budget behind them would rather have used (or had been told to use) the studio's collection of keyboards and such, namely because touring and travel could make the road instruments pretty unreliable and even out of tune. Buzzes, loose connections, broken parts, etc. Again I believe the better option was to use what was on hand as it was better kept and maintained.

SIR doing what they did pretty much changed the game, I'd say. But still, some studios would still have certain pianos or organs that got reputations as being the best around. Like the legendary Rhodes used throughout the studios in the 70's which seems to have popped up on perhaps thousands of hit records.


Re: The Hohner Pianet, etc. It takes a very discerning ear to pick those out, if it's even possible short of actual info on which model was used. If it's buried in a mix, good luck. Portability was the big draw on those, like the Farfisa and Continental in the organ world. But they became more celebrated for their own quirky sounds versus trying to mimic a full theater organ or with the Cembalet/Pianet, a piano.

Main difference in the Pianet models was that one used suction cups to create the strike from the keys, and the other used a strip of adhesive tape. So instead of being struck like a piano, or plucked like a harpsichord, the pianet's keys would activate this suction which created the sound. There are some fanatics who know the Pianet inside and out who can tell, but good luck if it's buried.

The Cembalet has more of a plucking motion to activate the steel sound reeds, so yes they will sound different. But I'm thinking the benchmark for one example of a Pianet sound as of 1965 can be heard on the Beatles' "Help" soundtrack, tracks like The Night Before, etc. But still, short of photos and a person who is a Hohner expert, it's hard to tell them apart. And even with photos, Cembalets and Pianets shared almost the same if not the same cabinet housing. The difference was the range of the keyboard.

Not an answer but hope that adds some info.
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« Reply #57 on: November 13, 2019, 07:26:04 PM »

Now here's a pretty cool comparison: Vintage clips of Manfred Mann miming "Do Wah Diddy", but it shows the keyboardist's rig as it was heard on the track. And this is one confirmed use of the Cembalet versus the Pianet.

Clip 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1_kionQlLY

Clip 2:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc0x7xOap4I

Note he has the Cembalet perched atop the Vox Continental organ, so he can blend both the main organ riff and the neo-classical sounding bridge riffs using both 'boards simultaneously.

But looking at that clip, not seeing the Hohner's keys close up, the cabinet is the same as the Pianet, so who could tell without knowing Manfred Mann used the Cembalet? I think the Cembalet had more of a piano sound due to the keys being plucked versus "sucked"...but it was used far less often (or famously) than the Pianet. The only major use of it that I can think of is someone confirmed it was used on Herman's Hermits "I'm Into Something Good".


Best way to do an A/B comparison in 2019 with the least investment and travel? Kurzweil and their various sound packs and libraries. They nail the vintage sounds, hands down.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 07:29:16 PM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: November 14, 2019, 05:33:00 AM »

Rhonda sounds more like a Pianet than a Cambalet to me in the very brief clips between takes where an electric piano can be heard that isn't a Wurlitzer. Both electric pianos on the takes themselves have that thick low end 'whomp', while the Cembalet seemed to have an all round thinner, brighter tone.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 05:34:23 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #59 on: November 14, 2019, 05:49:23 AM »

Quote
I'm not suggesting you buy or rent either or both, 'cause there are demo recordings out there on the 'net that may aid in the discernment, and I'm sure there are patches or plugins available for download/installation and playing of the actual parts!


Here's another question that would be interesting to explore:  Who owned these instruments?  I'm sure the major studios all owned an acoustic piano or two, and an organ or two, but how many had the space/budget to own all kind of auxiliary stuff?  Did the Beach Boys buy various keyboards and pianos to have?  Certainly the session players couldn't be expected to deal with all that.  There were likely rental places: when did S.I.R. start up?

In any case...the paperwork is probably long gone, but it would be interesting to implement the "How" these keyboards got to be on a session.

Western had at least a Yamaha grand piano, a Steinway upright piano, and an old Wegman tack piano that seemed to be permanent fixtures, along with the Hammond B3 and probably the acoustic harpsichord. I think other keyboards that showed up on sessions there likely would've been brought in from outside.

Bruce Botnick at Sunset had a particular honky-tonk tack piano that Brian apparently liked to use and showed up on I Just Wasn't Made for These Times and Good Vibrations at outside studios, so that's an interesting example of one being borrowed around a bit.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 05:53:08 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #60 on: November 14, 2019, 06:28:43 AM »


Western had at least a Yamaha grand piano, a Steinway upright piano, and an old Wegman tack piano that seemed to be permanent fixtures, along with the Hammond B3 and probably the acoustic harpsichord. I think other keyboards that showed up on sessions there likely would've been brought in from outside.

Bruce Botnick at Sunset had a particular honky-tonk tack piano that Brian apparently liked to use and showed up on I Just Wasn't Made for These Times and Good Vibrations at outside studios, so that's an interesting example of one being borrowed around a bit.

You don't think the major studios in LA had a Wurlitzer or even a Pianet available in house by 1965/66?
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« Reply #61 on: November 14, 2019, 06:37:14 AM »


Western had at least a Yamaha grand piano, a Steinway upright piano, and an old Wegman tack piano that seemed to be permanent fixtures, along with the Hammond B3 and probably the acoustic harpsichord. I think other keyboards that showed up on sessions there likely would've been brought in from outside.

Bruce Botnick at Sunset had a particular honky-tonk tack piano that Brian apparently liked to use and showed up on I Just Wasn't Made for These Times and Good Vibrations at outside studios, so that's an interesting example of one being borrowed around a bit.

You don't think the major studios in LA had a Wurlitzer or even a Pianet available in house by 1965/66?

I didn't say that, but Brian only ever used an electric piano of any kind at Western a couple of times in 1965. Those other keyboards all show up on dozens of recordings there spanning years.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 06:38:24 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #62 on: November 14, 2019, 06:46:38 AM »


Western had at least a Yamaha grand piano, a Steinway upright piano, and an old Wegman tack piano that seemed to be permanent fixtures, along with the Hammond B3 and probably the acoustic harpsichord. I think other keyboards that showed up on sessions there likely would've been brought in from outside.

Bruce Botnick at Sunset had a particular honky-tonk tack piano that Brian apparently liked to use and showed up on I Just Wasn't Made for These Times and Good Vibrations at outside studios, so that's an interesting example of one being borrowed around a bit.

You don't think the major studios in LA had a Wurlitzer or even a Pianet available in house by 1965/66?

I didn't say that, but Brian only ever used an electric piano of any kind at Western a couple of times in 1965. Those other keyboards all show up on dozens of recordings there spanning years.

I guess the wording was confusing, because you said other keyboards that showed up on sessions at Western likely would have been brought in from outside. If you're talking strictly Brian Wilson productions, that's different especially by 1967, but still the studios would have had a collection of the few other electric keyboards that existed as of the mid-60's, and there weren't many choices anyway.

After Ray Charles had a massive hit with What I'd Say, I reckon many studios who were cutting records on any professional level would have had a Wurli in their collection, for one example. As soon as a new sound appeared on a smash hit, everyone would usually get whatever it was that created that sound so they could draw clients and have it available. I'd bet even today we could walk into 4 out of 5 studios of any consequence and find a Wurli, a Clavinet, a Rhodes, etc even though they've become a niche retro/vintage item.
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« Reply #63 on: November 14, 2019, 07:42:51 AM »


Western had at least a Yamaha grand piano, a Steinway upright piano, and an old Wegman tack piano that seemed to be permanent fixtures, along with the Hammond B3 and probably the acoustic harpsichord. I think other keyboards that showed up on sessions there likely would've been brought in from outside.

Bruce Botnick at Sunset had a particular honky-tonk tack piano that Brian apparently liked to use and showed up on I Just Wasn't Made for These Times and Good Vibrations at outside studios, so that's an interesting example of one being borrowed around a bit.

You don't think the major studios in LA had a Wurlitzer or even a Pianet available in house by 1965/66?

I didn't say that, but Brian only ever used an electric piano of any kind at Western a couple of times in 1965. Those other keyboards all show up on dozens of recordings there spanning years.

I guess the wording was confusing, because you said other keyboards that showed up on sessions at Western likely would have been brought in from outside. If you're talking strictly Brian Wilson productions, that's different especially by 1967, but still the studios would have had a collection of the few other electric keyboards that existed as of the mid-60's, and there weren't many choices anyway.

After Ray Charles had a massive hit with What I'd Say, I reckon many studios who were cutting records on any professional level would have had a Wurli in their collection, for one example. As soon as a new sound appeared on a smash hit, everyone would usually get whatever it was that created that sound so they could draw clients and have it available. I'd bet even today we could walk into 4 out of 5 studios of any consequence and find a Wurli, a Clavinet, a Rhodes, etc even though they've become a niche retro/vintage item.

I just meant Western specifically for using outside electric pianos but you're probably right. Still though, even including 1967 that regular keyboard lineup on Brian's sessions at Western of the same three pianos, organ and harpsichord doesn't change, outside of a handful of one-off instruments that didn't make an appearance again (Sunset's tack piano, a Hohner keyboard bass on a GV outtake etc). A celeste was used on both Girl Don't Tell Me and Great Shape so they might've owned that too.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 07:55:42 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #64 on: November 14, 2019, 03:48:31 PM »

So two thoughts:

1.  I wonder if anyone has tried (or could try) to track some of these instruments.  I'm fairly certain that, for instance, a vibraphone at Vox is known to have links to Pet Sounds (https://dt7v1i9vyp3mf.cloudfront.net/styles/news_large/s3/imagelibrary/s/sf061708-7Txsh3CFOt6oruAqJ4lNZC8sPmUvgRSC.jpg)

Studios that have had a stable chain of custody, your Sunsets Sound, etc, what are the chances their Hammond is the one used on Here Today?

2.  Later...
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« Reply #65 on: November 14, 2019, 05:37:26 PM »

And 2,

What I'm interested in touches on Salty's point that, despite a multitude of potential choices, Brian stopped experiment much with keyboards after starting to get into it on stuff like Rhonda or LHRW, to the point where Pet Sounds is a pretty acoustic piano heavy record, with only some Hammond and a bit of harpsichord here and there.    So, you know, what was it about the "Rhondaness" of an electric piano that Made Brian choose two of them?  He's always said and the musicians have backed up that he really didn't have exact sounds in mind ahead of time (thus Jim Horn having to bring the entire sax, clarinet, and flute family; or Jerry Cole bringing 15-20 guitar family instruments.) . We hear this happen on session tape all the time, an instrument that starts out maybe isn't there for the last take.  (Sadly either Winston Wong stopped that tape for a lot of these moments of transition, or the SOT people edited them out, usually...)

Anyway, that's part of the story I want to tell.  While I will get into what these things sound like, and indeed, try to emulate it sometimes, it's less about "getting that sound" and more about the instruments as characters in the drama.
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« Reply #66 on: November 15, 2019, 08:47:58 AM »

Does anyone know when Brian's first use of taped strings on a piano was? That's a really important sound in the Pet Sounds and Smile era. It sounds to me like it was almost always applied to an upright (and a tacked upright once or twice), but there are a couple of later examples on Aren't You Glad and Cool Cool Water where it's clear he did the same thing with his Chickering grand. The Fender Rhodes and Baldwin electric harpsichord at Columbia and Sound Recorders are worth noting for experiments at other studios.

The keyboard selection explodes in the home studio era, which is imo one of the most interesting aspects of the production style in those years. Baldwin, Hammond and Farfisa organs, electric harpsichord, Clavinet, Roxichord, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, detuned grand piano, tack piano, keyboard glockenspiel, toy piano, harmonium, Chamberlin, Moog, pipe organ... and probably 200 others I forgot.
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« Reply #67 on: November 15, 2019, 09:45:12 AM »

Does anyone know when Brian's first use of taped strings on a piano was? That's a really important sound in the Pet Sounds and Smile era. It sounds to me like it was almost always applied to an upright (and a tacked upright once or twice), but there are a couple of later examples on Aren't You Glad and Cool Cool Water where it's clear he did the same thing with his Chickering grand. The Fender Rhodes and Baldwin electric harpsichord at Columbia and Sound Recorders are worth noting for experiments at other studios.

The keyboard selection explodes in the home studio era, which is imo one of the most interesting aspects of the production style in those years. Baldwin, Hammond and Farfisa organs, electric harpsichord, Clavinet, Roxichord, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, detuned grand piano, tack piano, keyboard glockenspiel, toy piano, harmonium, Chamberlin, Moog, pipe organ... and probably 200 others I forgot.

What do you make of the piano sound on "Trombone Dixie"? Could that be the honky-tonk tuned tack piano borrowed from Sunset Sound? And/or does it sound like its strings are taped? Otherwise, I would say "I'm Waiting For The Day" and "God Only Knows" (cut within four days of one another) would be Brian's first uses of the taped piano string sound, and to me it sounds like it's a tack piano that's been treated with tape - you hear the "clicky" attack of tacks, but the decay is choked off and the sound overall is softer, so I don't think it's just a case of using the damper pedal.

Jumping ahead a few years to the house studio era, it seems that on "All This Is That", Carl used an RMI Electra-piano for those single-line electric piano parts, while using a Wurly for the main chord vamping part. So that's another instrument to add to that later list!
« Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 10:15:49 AM by c-man » Logged
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« Reply #68 on: November 15, 2019, 10:18:53 AM »


What do you make of the piano sound on "Trombone Dixie"? Could that be the honky-tonk tuned tack piano borrowed from Sunset Sound? And/or does it sound like its strings are taped? Otherwise, I would say "I'm Waiting For The Day" and "God Only Knows" (cut within four days of one another) would be Brian's first uses of the taped piano string sound.

Jumping ahead a few years to the house studio era, it seems that on "All This Is That", Carl used an RMI Electra-piano for those single-line electric piano parts, while using a Wurly for the main chord vamping part. So that's another instrument to add to that later list!

Honestly, that one just sounds like a regular upright piano to me without any special treatment. IWFTD is probably a safe bet.

Too many pianos! Do you know if they ever had a full Rhodes or was it only the Celeste model?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 10:22:03 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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« Reply #69 on: November 15, 2019, 11:10:28 AM »

How about the piano on "Sloop John B."? Not saying at all that it might be taped, but that one's so distant (probably not close-mic'd) and swamped in room ambience, that I've gone back-and-forth as to whether it's an upright tack or a normal baby grand.
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« Reply #70 on: November 15, 2019, 11:50:23 AM »

It's not as pronounced because it's being drowned out in the mix by the mallets hitting the same quarter notes, but Let Him Run Wild sounds like the precursor to the more famous muted piano tracks to come. Whether it's being muted or not. But it sometimes sounds like it is to my ears.
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« Reply #71 on: November 15, 2019, 12:55:17 PM »

How about the piano on "Sloop John B."? Not saying at all that it might be taped, but that one's so distant (probably not close-mic'd) and swamped in room ambience, that I've gone back-and-forth as to whether it's an upright tack or a normal baby grand.

It does seem likely that it is either not miked or that fader is so low that it is effectively unmiked (and Al Casey's Rhythm Guitar seems pretty much the same).  I think that's an inheritance from Spector.  The piano on LHRW is not unlike that, in that it's definitely not real present.  I don't think it's taped, but it doesn't sound quite like the Una Corda pedal either.  The piano on IJWMFTT is more present in the Horn Mic than on its own.
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« Reply #72 on: November 16, 2019, 09:42:58 AM »

For reference, I've edited together all the electric piano noodles on the Rhonda session and looped it three times since it's so short.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1xEKGWW9Sav
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« Reply #73 on: November 16, 2019, 11:51:47 AM »

For reference, I've edited together all the electric piano noodles on the Rhonda session and looped it three times since it's so short.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1xEKGWW9Sav

Great clip, thanks for that! Now here's the conundrum. The session sheet says "Hohner", and yes that sound of the noodling between takes does sound like a Pianet. I'm deliberately saying Pianet because the Cembalet was just not as common in the US in the mid-60's, and if you look at whatever threadbare credits there are for confirmed Cembalet parts on hit records, most if not all were recorded in Europe by European bands. The Pianet was much more common, even though it was still an import to the US at the time of Rhonda, but there were still more Pianets than Cembalets in America as of 1965.

Back to the conundrum. The Pianet and the Wurlitzer "EP" model sound very, very similar depending on how they are played. Both have a "growl" which happens mostly in the lower end when they're struck hard and distort the amp. But the Wurlitzer has more of a growl. Both have a similar chime, the Wurlitzer *can* sound a little more smooth low-to-mid frequency wise than the Pianet which has more high end "bite". But, both can sound alike.

Difference above all: The Wurlitzer has sustain with a traditional sustain pedal, the Pianet did not. Once you released the keys of a Pianet, the sound stopped. The Wurli had a "loud pedal" which only brought out more growl.

Sonic examples to further muddy the waters? Here are two of the most highly regarded studio recordings of these respective keyboards. For fun, without looking up the answers, try to identify the keyboard being played...Wurlitzer EP200 or Hohner Pianet. Please post answers. This may give an example alongside the Rhonda studio noodling of how difficult an ID can be with these vintage tracks. Because they sound the same.

Example #1, one of the most pure recordings of this keyboard ever done: https://youtu.be/-YAMbLHcS-8

Example #2, same description as above, same keyboardist and group: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fdAFmtq-o8

Example #3, one of the most famous recordings of this keyboard playing a solo: https://youtu.be/3f33ZUM1RjM?t=97

Example #4, one of the most famous rock intros of all time, what's the keyboard being played? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKt75jUuKJY

Example #5, bonus question. What is this keyboard? No cheating, ears only. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIj7iwG8IkE


Some of these are so similar, the type of keyboard used was misidentified for years. That's the conundrum even ID'ing the "Rhonda" sound. Curious to see the answers, and again no cheating by looking it up!
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #74 on: November 16, 2019, 02:03:44 PM »

How about the piano on "Sloop John B."? Not saying at all that it might be taped, but that one's so distant (probably not close-mic'd) and swamped in room ambience, that I've gone back-and-forth as to whether it's an upright tack or a normal baby grand.
I would say normal upright for that too, sounds harsher than a grand but I don't hear a particularly tack-y quality to it.
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