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Microphone Month

Tine Piano

Electric pianos fall into one of three basic categories (not counting sampled pianos): Struck string (as in the Helpinstill and Yamaha CP70), struck reed (as in the Wurlitzer), and struck “tuning fork” as in the classic Rhodes electric piano, in which the struck portion of the “fork” is actually a piece of stiff steel wire that is called a “tine.” The other part of the fork, which is parallel and adjacent to the tine is the tonebar, a steel bar that acts as a resonator. The venerable Fender Rhodes is the quintessential tine piano and it ruled in studios all through the 1960s and 1970s before eventually being replaced (for the most part) by the plethora of “tine piano” sounds produced by FM synthesis on the Yamaha DX7 during the 1980s. Because the sound was synthesized, it could be made to sound brighter and more chime-like than the real thing, with more or less percussive attack. You’d be hard pressed to find many ballads recorded in the 1980s that didn’t make use of the DX7’s “tine piano” presets. More recently, the Rhodes electric piano seems to be making a comeback, as evidenced by new models shown at Winter NAMM.

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