The Rhodes piano is an electro-mechanical piano, invented by Harold Rhodes during the fifties and later manufactured in a number of models, first in collaboration with Fender and after 1965 by CBS.
As a member of the electrophone sub-group of percussion instruments, it employs a piano-like keyboard with hammers that hit small metal tines, amplified by electromagnetic pickups. A 2001 New York Times article described the instrument as "a pianistic counterpart to the electric guitar" having a "shimmering, ethereal sound." Artist D'Angelo described it has having a "thick, almost gooey sound."
The Rhodes piano enjoyed a resurgence of popularity beginning in the 1990s — with contemporary artists highlighting the instrument, including Portishead, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Chick Corea, Jamiroquai, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder.
In the late 1960s, along with other electric pianos from Wurlitzer and Baldwin, the Rhodes piano had allowed music classes for the first time' to incorporate the piano — with earphones enabling multiple students in the same room to effectively learn the instrument without disturbing each other.
The last model, the MkV, was released in 1984, when the factory in Fullerton was closed down. Rhodes Music Corporation re-introduced the instrument in 2007.
WWII: The Army Air Corps piano was an acoustic instrument invented by Harold Rhodes during World War II in an effort to create a piano that injured soldiers could play while lying in a hospital bed. Rhodes built the first model in 1942, a 29-note keyboard using aluminum tubing from a B-17 bomber aircraft.
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