The E Rhodes Sampling Project
George Mamalakis has been the proud owner of the E Rhodes since 1985. Jay Graydon is the producer and recording engineer who made the E Rhodes famous in countless albums during the early 1980s. George and Jay have been in touch over the years owing to their mutual love of the E Rhodes. They have often discussed that it would be important to sample this rare gem to share it with the music world.
In late 2015, George and Jay made the decision to collaborate to preserve forever the incomparable sound and dynamic range of the Leeds Rentals “E” Rhodes by sampling this one-of-a-kind instrument to the highest degree of perfection.
The mechanical, electrical, and technical preparation of the E Rhodes began in early 2016. Actual sampling began later that same year. George conducted the sampling in his climate-controlled studio in Santa Barbara where the E Rhodes resides. Jay, with years of sampling experience, oversaw and mentored the process from his home in the Los Angeles area.
Sampling, truncating and structuring the basic framework of a playable instrument took a full year. To assure uniformity of the sample layers across the entire keyboard, George conceived of and built a device that can actuate finite/multiple layers of velocity dynamics. The device mimics the human motion but with indexed precision. He sampled 18 velocity levels for each of the 73 notes at 96k/24. The entire natural decay of each sample was recorded, thus requiring no looping. Every note on the E Rhodes was tuned and voiced to perfection immediately prior to sampling and truncating. George also devised a sample velocity table that ensures exact allocation of each sample by its dB level to its corresponding MIDI split point, resulting in a seamless and fluid playing response. Each note took several full days to complete to George’s satisfaction. Finally, a side-by-side comparison with the actual E Rhodes verified the “success” of each note.
Since November of 2017, George and Jay have been working with Greg Schlaepfer, owner/developer of Orange Tree Samples with the goal of creating the ultimate software clone of the E Rhodes. George and Jay interface directly with Greg, who is a brilliant programmer and script writer, as well as an accomplished Jazz pianist. His skills and contribution are remarkable and the 'trio' works exceptionally well together to refine every step of producing the final working product. That final product should hopefully be ready for market by late June 2020.
As a preview of what is soon to come, we are pleased to unveil a few demos recorded with the final version of our virtual instrument. We are privileged that the first artist to play and record these demos is the incomparable Terry Trotter. Terry is one of the finest Jazz pianists of our time and he was gracious enough to allow George to bring the virtual instrument into his home in January 2019 where Terry played 5 single-take, on-the-spot compositions that were inspired by the rich sounds he was hearing as he was playing The Famous E Electric Piano. Enjoy!
George Mamalakis at work constructing the instrument
Meticulous notes and data
documenting the project
Jay Graydon in his studio
photo copyright Kerstin Olofsson
The device that George designed and built to actuate finite velocities and mimic human motion. He calls it VERA, for Velocity E Rhodes Actuator.
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