Rhodes PianoBass electric keyboard 1960

Fender Rhodes bass

Fender Rhodes bass

The standard Fender Rhodes was a staple of 60s and 70s jazz, funk, and pop recordings, but this little brother was much more obscure and is rarely seen or heard of.

This is a wonderfully made little miniature 32-note keyboard, including all the design features of the full length Rhodes, with the same case shape, controls, logo, and input jack. It’s like a toy version, very appealing — and very expensive.

Pre-CBS cream top tolex models are advertised in the $5K range.

The most famous Rhodes bass player was the late Ray Manzarek. He is of course responsible for one of the most famous Rhodes solos in popular music — the one that features in Riders on the Storm, the last song ever recorded by The Doors.

Manzarek placed it in typical stage position, i.e. on top of another keyboard (in his case the Vox Continental) and used it as a substitute for a bass player.

I call it the little brother, but of course the piano bass is in fact the father of the entire Rhodes electric piano line. It was the only thing that the company produced between 1960 and 1965, when the 73-key suitcase model appeared.

Inside you’ll find a tone bar of metal tines which are struck by felt tipped hammers. There’s a pickup under each tine and the sound is then amplified electronically. It delivers a bell-like chiming tone which was meant to mimic a piano, but ended up producing such a unique signature tone that it became a new instrument in its own right.

Inside the Rhodes bass

Inside the Rhodes bass