Wurlitzer Electric Piano

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wurlitzer Electric Piano

Wurlitzer 200a.png

Counter strike diophone ( electrophone )
keyboard instrument
Related instruments
Fender Rhodes , Hohner Pianet , Hohner Clavinet , Yamaha CP-70 / CP-80
Category: keyboard player

The Wurlitzer Electric Piano is an electromechanical keyboard instrument manufactured between 1955 and 1982 by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company and invented by Benjamin Meissner . The most popular variant, the Wurlitzer 200A, was used a lot in jazz , funk , country and soul music , especially in the 1970s . Since then, the Wurlitzer piano has been used again and again in different styles of music, later more and more in sample form. The sound is very different from the sound of the Fender Rhodes and varies between a comparatively hard, hollow, assertive sound when playing aggressively and a sweet, vibraphone-like , warm sound when playing calmly .


The Wurlitzer piano is a keyboard instrument with 64 keys. The range corresponds to an 88-key grand piano without the upper and lower octave. The typical sound is produced by striking a metal tongue (reed) with a felted hammer head. In contrast to the Fender Rhodes, which only has a bounce mechanism, a wing-like system is built into the Wurlitzer, which also has a release. The sound is picked up via capacitor plates that create an electric field . The Wurlitzer also has a mechanical sustain , the pedal of which works via a Bowden cable . Some models are also equipped with a tremolo that can only be adjusted in intensity, but not in speed.


The inventor Benjamin Meissner had developed an ordinary, amplified piano in the 1930s. Wurlitzer used the electrostatic pickups used for amplification, but replaced the strings with metal tongues.


Most Wurlitzer Electric Pianos are portable and have removable legs; However, console models were also sold that had a more powerful amplifier on which they stood (comparable to the Fender Rhodes Suitcase). These "Console" and "Spinett" models had, in contrast to the portable version, a permanently installed sustain pedal.

Portable series

A Wurlitzer 112 (1955)

The first models were from the 100 series, they had a housing made of colored fiberboard or wood, and a single loudspeaker in the housing. All pianos except the very first models have a tremolo effect, in which the speed was fixed and the intensity could be regulated. Until the early 1960s, all models had a tube reinforcement ; the 140B was the first model with a transistor amplifier . The next model (145) was replaced in 1969 by the Wurlitzer 200 model, which had a plastic cover. This model was much lighter and had two speakers pointing at the player. The model was optionally available in black, forest green, red or beige. The 200A model, on the other hand, was always only available in black. All models except the very rare, battery-operated model 200B had at least one (early models), but mostly two speakers.

Console series

A Wurlitzer 207 teacher's console
A Wurlitzer 200 console with tremolo

An important role for the Wurlitzer piano was that of a practice instrument in schools and universities. The practically immobile console models were intended for this purpose. These usually beige or light green 200 models have a loudspeaker, an output for headphones and a sustain pedal; some of these models do not have a tremolo effect. In Europe there was still a 300 model on the market, which was intended as a living room instrument. Many old console models are recently simply converted to be used as a portable version. There was also the teacher model, which is rare today, with which the individual student models can be monitored or muted.

Spinet series

A small number of spinet models have also been built since production began. These models, which are intended for home use, have a wooden paneling, similar to a piano, a damping pedal (which in reality simply electronically made the signal quieter) and a sustain pedal. Otherwise these models were identical to the usual portable pianos.

Butterfly Baby Grand Series

A Wurlitzer student butterfly (1930s).
Its shape is similar to that of the Butterfly-Baby-Grand (1980), but the Baby-Grand has internal speakers.

The model 200 had a unique house model as a twin sister, the "Butterfly Baby Grand", a semicircular piano in a wooden case with two cube-shaped speakers.


A Wurlitzer 106 (buttons added later).

This particularly rare model is the only known version that has only 44 keys instead of 64. The model was intended for the classroom, had a plastic housing, no buttons for adjustment, only a loudspeaker and no sustain pedal. The piano was only available as a set of eight pianos to equip entire classes with it. It comes from the early 1960s and was available in orange and beige.

Audio samples

Pieces of music with Wurlitzer use:

See also

Related instruments

Web links

Commons : Wurlitzer Electric Piano  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files