Part Two - My "New" Rhodes
Since I knew I didn't have the money to spend on a really clean vintage model, I figured I would get an old beater and try to fix it up myself. I felt lucky to live in the L.A. area knowing that I would probably have a better chance at finding parts as well as experienced technicians, if it came to that point. Also, the internet bolstered my confidence with the Rhodes Super Site and by alerting me to the existence of companies like Major Key.

In January 2000, I stumbled upon a classified ad at the Recycler web site for a Stage 88, in need of TLC, for $250. I dropped the seller a note immediately and talked to him on the phone the next morning. So what did TLC mean? According to him, there were three missing tines, the pickups were out of alignment, and the tolex was torn and peeling. Also, there were no legs or sustain pedal. No big deal; I called Major Key, which is only 30 minutes from my house, and they said they had tines, pedals, etc. So I went on Sunday to pick it up. But what I found shocked me.

He had removed the cover and the first thing I noticed was that the entire harp assembly was sitting crooked on its supports. All of the mounting screws were missing and the harp was literally laying loose on top of the piano. Then I saw that the high "D" key was missing; that's right, key 78 was gone. Next, I turned my attention to the faceplate. I was quite puzzled to find that it was in fact the faceplate from a Suitcase 88. All of the Suitcase controls had been removed and the Stage controls were force-fitted in. There was also a hammer tip missing and the keys looked like they all sitting at various heights and angles. And, lest I forget, the thing was filthy.

I thought about it for a few minutes then decided, what the hell? I figured at least I could sell the parts if nothing else. I got him to drop $25 for the missing key, then we put the cover and the lid on, locked the latches, and loaded it in my pickup. I was headed home with my $225 disaster.

Here's how it looked when I first set it on my garage workbench:

Part Three - Disassembly

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Pat Terrell