Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!?

Posted by: WurliFan

Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/13/13 06:09 PM

I'm about to start 'fangirling' over here pretty soon, guys. grin
The King Himself.....And Johnny Cash........And Carl Perkins....And Jerry Lee Lewis.
All gathered around......A Wurlitzer Spinet. (Not sure of what Model, but I've seen that sheet music rack design before on a Wurlitzer.) Which, in turn, would mean that Sun Records had bought this Piano to use for their sessions....which would mean that this piano could most likely be heard on dozens of recordings made up until about 1957. Look.
http://sadmanstonguerockabillybar.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/million-dollar-quartet.jpg
And The Wurlitzer Spinet Sheet Music Rack: http://www.chicagopianos.com/11212010_update/Wurlitzer-577934.jpg
And, they released an entire Album....that Spinet's actually on that Album. I find that pretty amazing. Honestly....if it's good enough for the King, it's good enough for me. laugh Of course, there are pianos out there that sound better.....but when the King of Rock and Roll is playing the type of piano you have, That right there is pretty amazing. wink
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/13/13 06:20 PM

Wurli - Get a grip!
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/13/13 06:56 PM

Buh....my Spinet's touch isn't that good....I don't think I can 'get a grip.' frown
All jokes aside, I might be over-reacting a little bit.......but hey, it's ELVIS.
Posted by: bebopsam

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/13/13 07:25 PM

Spinets are amazing, upright pianos are amazing, and rock n' roll/blues is amazing. I saw that thread you linked before about ray charles playing a spinet on atlantic. Some of my absolute favorite records/dudes jammed these budget pianos! I got one myself a couple months ago, and have honestly fallen back in love with piano (always have to play digital pianos/keyboards for gigs...blegh!)
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/13/13 08:33 PM

wurlifan isn't this a spinet too? smile the King (thank you very mush)

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/36/49/d6/3649d62ad092625ab5fe0f70889a4ff1.jpg
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/13/13 10:28 PM

I played an old Kohler & Campbell spinet at a nursing home this evening. It was wayyyy out of tune, but actually sounded and played pretty good. Thing is, those elderly residents actually think I can play pretty well; at least it put a smile on their face. smile

Rick
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 07:33 AM

Wurli,

That quartet pic. looks like a rehearsal/promo photo to me.

No offense, but I am finding it hard to believe that they didn't have a better piano to record with - again, no offense meant.
Posted by: Jolly

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 08:01 AM

Commonly known as the Million Dollar Quartet.

And yeah, that's probably the piano that was used.

Check out the Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Dollar_Quartet
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 08:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Jolly
Commonly known as the Million Dollar Quartet.

And yeah, that's probably the piano that was used.

Check out the Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Dollar_Quartet


Well there you go. It looks like it could be the piano that was used.

Anyone know where we could find some of those recordings online?
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 10:53 AM

Just hit 'play song.' http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Crazy+Arms/4Klw32?src=5 You can find a whole bunch of good music on there.
Such a Tinny Sound....yet so awesome at the same time.
And......pardon me, but why do you find it so Shocking that a Spinet was actually used? These instruments were in their prime back in the 50s. People didn't care about the tone, as long as they had a piano in the recording studio for people to work with, they were making money. No offense, but they weren't considered bad instruments back then.....they were considered professional studio worthy. crazy
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 10:55 AM

Jolly, don't you have a Gulbransen Spinet? They made some good spinets. Very nice design from the ones I've seen. smile
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 10:56 AM

Ah haw haw haw, a yus sir, that's a Spinet. crazy Might be a console.
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 10:58 AM

I got the opportunity to play a Kohler and Campbell Grand. Very nice, 1940s american made piano. I played a Baldwin Spinet the other day with a good tone....but it was so out of tune that If I played an F in the left hand, it sounded like something completely different in the right.
Posted by: bkw58

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 12:57 PM

There's still a Wurlitzer spinet on a dolly at Sun Records Memphis minus the music rack. It's old enough to be the original. Only Sam knows for sure and he ain't talking. In the day, rock and roll musicians used whatever piano happened to be in the studio - and were often out of tune as many of the recordings reveal.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 02:13 PM

Wurli,

I love your enthusiasm!

But, I just gotta ask - Do you know the difference between a spinet and a console?
Posted by: rxd

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 04:38 PM

There were many independent studios sprang up in the '50's. I tuned the pianos of some of them that survived into the '60's. The pianos were always more of an afterthought, to put it nicely.

We must remember the sounds of those days. I just listened to some older country recordings. Some of them very well in tune and well voiced but still a small upright sound. They only used the treble half of the keyboard anyway.

Abbey Rd. still keeps the uprights used by the Beatles in the '60's. They are still used occasionally, even though there has always been an excellent Concert piano available in the same studio since it opened as an orchestral recording studio.
One upright was put in there originally a few years before by a well known singalong and ragtime pianist for her recordings. It was kept very bright and slightly out of tune for her. Although people ask to see this as the Beatles piano, it is still affectionately known to the staff as the "Mrs. Mills" piano.

There are still studios where the house piano is a small upright. They rent a fine concert piano only when required. Space is often a consideration.

Often recording engineers can make a piano sound better than it has any right to. But the old upright sound is still needed and valued.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 07:33 PM

Originally Posted By: rxd
There were many independent studios sprang up in the '50's. I tuned the pianos of some of them that survived into the '60's. The pianos were always more of an afterthought, to put it nicely.

We must remember the sounds of those days. I just listened to some older country recordings. Some of them very well in tune and well voiced but still a small upright sound. They only used the treble half of the keyboard anyway.

Abbey Rd. still keeps the uprights used by the Beatles in the '60's. They are still used occasionally, even though there has always been an excellent Concert piano available in the same studio since it opened as an orchestral recording studio.
One upright was put in there originally a few years before by a well known singalong and ragtime pianist for her recordings. It was kept very bright and slightly out of tune for her. Although people ask to see this Beatles piano, it is still affectionately known to the staff as the "Mrs. Mills" piano.

There are still studios where the house piano is a small upright. They rent a fine concert piano only when required. Space is often a consideration.

Often recording engineers can make a piano sound better than it has any right to. But the old upright sound is still needed and valued.

Interesting post…

Just goes to show that a fine concert grand ain’t the only game in town. smile

Rick
Posted by: bebopsam

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/14/13 07:52 PM

Concert grands sound too clean for rock and blues. They are far more at home in classical and jazz
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 08:34 AM

the million dollar quartet..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygPShCglZgM
Posted by: Jolly

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 12:01 PM

Originally Posted By: WurliFan
Jolly, don't you have a Gulbransen Spinet? They made some good spinets. Very nice design from the ones I've seen. smile


No, I've got a big 'un. I need to measure it, but it's either a 52" or a 54".

Was a little concerned about it, as it's sitting in a big (20x30) room with a wood heater and we don't always turn the A/C on in that room, but my tech assured me the piano was rock solid and built for a day when homes did not have climate control...in fact, I think his actual words were something about the cracks in the walls of some of those old homes being big enough to throw a cat through...piano has done well...
Posted by: Jolly

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 12:16 PM

And just a bit more background...one of the reasons for so many gospel songs is the background of the people singing. All of these guys would have cut their singing teeth on old time Southern Gospel.

Especially Elvis...IIRC, Memphis used to have big gospel shows every Friday night. After the show was over, the guys would continue to hang out and jam until the wee hours of the morning. Folks who were not in the show would drop by, to play and sing with the different performers...one of the regulars was a kid by the name of Elvis Presley.

Elvis was an extremely frustrated bass singer - he just didn't have the voice. Many people say that's why he hired Richard Sterben and J.D. Sumner, who were the best bass gospel singers of their generation.
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 01:43 PM

Thanks! I'm pretty OCD over pianos....especially Spinets.......
Yep! It can sometimes be hard to tell. Usually Spinets are below 38 inches in height. I always look inside to see if it's a drop action or not. Then I know for sure if it's a Spinet.
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 01:46 PM

A Big 'un? wow I love the older Uprights. I played one at a Garage sale a little while ago.....A Henning Upright. Never heard of the name, but they were selling it for 25 dollars. And the price was for the bench. It still sounded good, just a little warped! And I'm not a Big Elvis fan m'self.....he's decent, I suppose. But he's still 'The King.' wink
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 03:45 PM

Originally Posted By: WurliFan
And I'm not a Big Elvis fan m'self.....he's decent, I suppose. But he's still 'The King.' wink


No, that would be Conway Twitty.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 04:13 PM

Seems to me, in the world of “rock-stardom/pop-stardom/country-stardom”, you don’t have to be all that good musically, just likable. smile

I don't know that Johnny Cash ever sang a note that was not flat or sharp, but he had his own style, his own songs and his fans loved him! And, there were lots and lots of them; still are.

Rick
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 04:33 PM

Rick,

It's well documented. Mr. Cash sang one note, precisely on pitch, on November 19, 1973 at a friend's home at exactly 9:36 p.m. June swooned. His guitar was out of tune, however.

Actually, I enjoy his work very much. There's something that draws you in to that thick gravelly voice.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 04:42 PM

Wurli,

You might like to check out some of the recordings from Cinnamonbear over in the Pianist Corner. He has a Lester 'Betsy Ross' spinet that he has sounding great. He's learning to tune and become a technician and he is mentored by Bill Bremmer. Bill is major league in the tuner/tech realm.

Andy (C-B) has done a great series of comedy productions played on "The Mighty Lester" as well as some classical performances. His stuff is worth checking out.
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 04:46 PM

True, Conway was Indeed a far better singer. ....Great, now I'm gonna have "It's only Make Believe" stuck in my head again......... frown
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 04:46 PM

Thanks, Marty! Sounds cool; I'll take a lookie!
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 04:56 PM

And I'm stuck in "A Ring of Fire!"
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 05:20 PM

And I'm stuck in "Folsom Prison Blues" smile

Johnny Cash left hand piano style…

Rick
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 05:28 PM

I always wondered how those guys managed those rapid-fire repeated triads in triplets up in the high treble. Maybe the spinet's insubstantial feel, or shallow key travel, or something, contributed to their ability to play them so fast?
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 06:36 PM

None of those things; It's funny you mention the action of Spinets, Especially those with a better drop action design like the Wurlitzer. Do you think the touch is going to feel the same 60 years later? Example: The Henning Upright I played last week. Large Upright Piano. Almost all of the feel in the keys was gone, wasn't very responsive. 90 years ago, however, the piano probably had all of it's touch. I estimate that only about 30 percent of the population of piano owners actually regulate their piano; hence, after so many years, the touch starts to wear down as the action continually gets neglected. The Bass notes in my spinet are very responsive and have almost as much control as a Newer upright piano. The treble notes.....not so much. They were played far more often.
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 07:33 PM

Whoops, I keep on missing your posts! I do try and reply to everyone that takes the time to comment on my topics. Sorry 'bout that! I agree with you, though; Uprights are more suited for certain kinds of music. Imagine a Spinet with Tack Hammers.....that would be extremely tinny and amazing for Ragtime and Honky Tonk! You need a 'dirty' sounding piano for the blues! Speaking of Atlantic, the same spinet piano heard in 'Mess Around' Can be heard in the background on Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll!"
Posted by: bebopsam

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 08:00 PM

Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
I always wondered how those guys managed those rapid-fire repeated triads in triplets up in the high treble. Maybe the spinet's insubstantial feel, or shallow key travel, or something, contributed to their ability to play them so fast?

Oh come on now, the repetition isn't THAT poor on an upright. I just tried some triplets on my spinet in the middle range and then higher up, started off medium (fats domino speed!) then faster (little richard) and then some speedy stuff (jerry lee lewis). I didn't have trouble with either
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 08:18 PM

Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
I always wondered how those guys managed those rapid-fire repeated triads in triplets up in the high treble. Maybe the spinet's insubstantial feel, or shallow key travel, or something, contributed to their ability to play them so fast?


Those triplets are a common figure in Blues and Boogie-Woogie piano, both styles that are the genesis of early Rock and Roll.

Many of those original Rock and Roll players learned by listening to Blues players.

Jerry Lee Lewis and his cousins as youngsters hung around the outside of Blues juke joints to listen to the piano players. And they very likely practiced the triplets.

But you are on to something...such fast notes are easier on a looser piano.
Posted by: bebopsam

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 08:59 PM

rocket88 - perfect display name for this thread, hahaha. I love the dirty piano sound on that jam

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbfnh1oVTk0
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 10:36 PM

Originally Posted By: bebopsam
Oh come on now, the repetition isn't THAT poor on an upright. I just tried some triplets on my spinet in the middle range and then higher up, started off medium (fats domino speed!) then faster (little richard) and then some speedy stuff (jerry lee lewis). I didn't have trouble with either


My home piano, as a youngster back in the late 1950s, was a spinet, and the action seemed very light to me, so that's why I brought it up.
Posted by: bebopsam

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 10:58 PM

Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
Originally Posted By: bebopsam
Oh come on now, the repetition isn't THAT poor on an upright. I just tried some triplets on my spinet in the middle range and then higher up, started off medium (fats domino speed!) then faster (little richard) and then some speedy stuff (jerry lee lewis). I didn't have trouble with either


My home piano, as a youngster back in the late 1950s, was a spinet, and the action seemed very light to me, so that's why I brought it up.

Hmmmmm...maybe! I'm gonna try the triplet test on a full sized upright next time I play one!
Posted by: rxd

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/15/13 11:49 PM

A good pianist can play on a good upright, anything they can play on a grand.

An upright will, with a skilful player, repeat faster than a grand. The only difference is that there isn't the precise degree of control.

Much is written in these pages comparing grand and upright actions. while it is true in theory, in practice it is a whole different experience.

Spinets, even only in reasonable condition will respond adequately to the demands of any and all of the pianists mentioned.
Posted by: bebopsam

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/16/13 12:10 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd
A good pianist can play on a good upright, anything they can play on a grand.

An upright will, with a skilful player, repeat faster than a grand. The only difference is that there isn't the precise degree of control.

Much is written in these pages comparing grand and upright actions. while it is true in theory, in practice it is a whole different experience.

Spinets, even only in reasonable condition will respond adequately to the demands of any and all of the pianists mentioned.

That's how I feel!
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/16/13 08:40 AM

Hehe, that was actually recorded at Sun Studio; that's the Wurlitzer Spinet right there! wink
Posted by: WurliFan

Re: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis Played a Wurlitzer Spinet!?!?!? - 10/16/13 08:43 AM

I'm glad mine's in good condition. My grandmother's almost has no touch left at all, and it's very hard to control. It needs some serious regulation.