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date: 16 September 2019

Rhodes, Harold locked

  • Hugh Davies

Extract

(b Los Angeles, 1910; d Los Angeles, Dec 17, 2000). American piano teacher and designer of the Rhodes electric piano . The son of a baker, his grounding was in the sciences and he took an architectural degree at Los Angeles Polytechnic High School. Around 1930 he established the Harold Rhodes School of Popular Piano. During World War II he taught the piano to fellow servicemen, and then to hospital patients. For this he built his 29-note Air Corps Piano (1942), which could be played in bed and resembled a large toy piano; it used scrap parts from aeroplanes, including lengths of flattened aluminium tubing, mounted like xylophone bars, instead of strings. Thousands were built for Air Corps Hospitals. By 1947, working in California, Rhodes had developed the idea in the three-octave Pre-Piano, with electrostatic pickups, which was marketed for two years.

While in partnership with guitar builder Leo Fender, the only direct result of which was the Rhodes Piano Bass (marketed ...

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