One of my favorite things about estate sales is that everyone seems to be looking for something. Everyone has their own niche or their own special interests. That special interest for me is used musical instruments. I love all things gear related. I’m the guy that scours sale photographs looking for that gem I hope no one else knows about. The guy that would lug a 250lb organ up two flights of stairs into his 500 sqft apartment because it was a “good deal.” In this article, I’m going to share with you the four electric pianos you should be searching for when you’re out estate sale shopping. These instruments would definitely make any living room or music room look awesome, but they just might bring you profit on the resale market.
Fender Rhodes or Rhodes electric piano:
One of the icons of the electric piano community is the Fender Rhodes. This piano is a legend and can be heard on countless records. The Rhodes has been making a comeback in popular music recently, which contributes to why they’re currently commanding top dollar. You’ll find the early pianos badged with “Fender Rhodes.” After Leo Fender sold the company to CBS, the pianos were re-badged with just “Rhodes.” You can check the date of the piano by sliding off the lid and looking in the top right-hand corner of the soundboard. There you’ll find a four digit number: the first two digits are the week in which the piano was manufactured, and the last two digits are its year of production. The “Fender Rhodes” pianos tend to be a little more sought after than the CBS era versions, which are simply branded as “Rhodes.”
Image By Cameron Parkins from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Wurlitzer electric piano:
Wurlitzer produced many different kinds of electric pianos over the years. This iconic piano can be heard on a great number of albums just like the Rhodes. Due to the difference in construction, they sound different from the Rhodes, which makes them a standout addition to any collector's must-have list. The early Wurlitzers, like the 120 and 140 models, were built with wood cases. This is the piano you hear in the Ray charles hit “What’d I Say.” The newer 1970s to 1980s Wurlitzer 200s are also highly sought after among musicians. For a few years in the late 50s and early 60s, Wurlitzer created a home console piano - the model 700 - that used all the internals from a Wurlitzer 140 but was in a console piano case. This is a hidden gem that can usually be picked up very inexpensively since most sellers don’t know what they are.
By Ann Larie Valentine from San Francisco, CA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Yamaha CP70 and CP80 electric pianos:
These pianos are large, heavy, and look like miniature grand pianos. Unlike the Rhodes and the Wurlitzer, the Yamahas used real strings just like a real piano. Far fewer of these models were produced, which makes them quite a bit more rare than their contemporaries. If you can stumble across one, buy it.
By Michael Müller-Hillebrand (privat) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kawai Ep-608 and Ep-308:
TThese Kawai pianos were very similar to the construction of the Yamahas. Like the Yamaha models mentioned above, they also used real strings and were meant to be portable versions of their acoustic big brothers. These are much more rare, but this list wouldn’t be complete without them.