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Latest Updates:

November 4, 2010:
New information has been added to the Prepiano II article in the History section!

October 31st, 2010:
A series of articles and picture galleries of the Rhodes Prepiano have been added to the history section and will continue to be updated soon, so stay tuned!


When the factory closed in 1985, Harold Rhodes continued his commitment to supporting Rhodes players around the world. John was very fortunate enough to have obtained all the remaining parts left over from the Fullerton factory parts department, as well as some tooling, from then-Fender President Bill Schultz. Harold would request parts as needed from John R. McLaren (son of John C. McLaren, former president of CBS Musical Instruments*), who would ship them out free of charge to Harold's "clients" (as he called them). This developed into a part-time business for John over the years, and as the supply of original parts began to run out, the need for new ones increased. John's industry connections gave him an avenue for replenishing the stock, in many cases remanufacturing the parts to the original factory specifications.

Major Key's parts are either brand new or "new/old stock" (i.e. leftovers from the factory). Our focus is on the components that have a tendency to wear out after you've been playing your piano for a while: tines, pickups, hammer tips, damper felts, etc. We are also involved in developing enhancements for the Rhodes, the first being the MKHC-1 Harmonic Clarifier. You can expect more new products like these from us in the future.

* CBS Musical Instruments included the Fender and Rhodes brands, as well as Steinway pianos, ARP synthesizers, Rogers drums & church organs, Gulbransen organs, Gemeinhardt flutes, and Lyon & Healy harps. If you've ever wondered why the Stage Piano's sustain pedal rod looks like a part from a hi-hat stand, that's because it is!




THE TEAM

Paul Gagon Paul Gagon is the Vice President of Engineering at BBE Sound Inc. He has spent over 28 years in the music and sound industry designing products for companies such as Fender Musical Instruments, Jackson/Charvel, International Music Incorporated (IMC) and during the last 15 years, BBE. Paul has designed products in the areas of sonic enhancement, magnetic pickups, recording consoles, vacuum tube and solid state amplifiers, instrument preamps, and a host of other products in the MI market. As well as being a gifted musician, he has played a key role in the design of the BBE Process, as well as the development of the BBE IC chips used by the company's numerous licensees.

Paul's contribution to Rhodes history is well remembered by his contemporaries from the CBS era. He designed the last, most successful suitcase preamp and is the Developmental Head Designer for the Harmonic Clarifier, as well as the new SC-73 Electric Piano Preamp based on the BBE Process and the original vibrato "ping-pong" circuit. His sense of humor is well known, a friend and inspiration to all.




Gary Drake Gary Drake has had an interesting and diversified career. He worked as:
  • Amplifier Division Lead Technician under Paul Gagon at CBS Musical Instruments (late 70's & early 80's)
  • Reliability Technician at Beckman Industrial for the DOD (1980's)
  • Quality Technician at Hughes Aircraft
  • Supervisor of Cabinets and Amplifier Quality Auditing for Fender Instruments (late 80's)
  • Quality Engineer for several upstart companies in Missouri
  • Formerly a Controller for a Major Guitar Factory
And has been Special Projects Engineer for Major Key! Paul and Gary have both been around the world, and somehow they have been brought back together to supplement each other's contribution to new products for the Electric Piano World. In the music business, you can never leave (think "Hotel California"...). Gary has worked with and has contact with some of music's finest artists, has refined his technical, writing  & music skills, and has applied his production engineering skills to help improve and speed up the production of all Major Key products.


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