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Museum : ARP Room : 16-Voice Electric Piano

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ARP 16-Voice Electric Piano

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16-Voice Electric Piano

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- ARP Piano brochure (courtesy of Kevin Lightner)

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ARP 16-Voice Electric Piano

image courtesy of Kevin Lightner

This was Arp's ill-fated electric piano, which was introduced in 1979. Because of its poor design (the heat-sensitive Mylar insulation in its membrane switches and its noisy output), its after-sale repair costs pushed ARP furthur into debt. It features 16 preset tones, called voices, (hence the name 16-Voice) such as acoustic piano, vibes, harpsichord, harp, and electric piano. According to literature, "A 73-note standard wooden keyboard, with a specially designed and weighted maple action, faithfully reproduces the feel and response of traditional grand pianos." Velocity, however, only controls volume and not timbre. The 16-Voice consists of two separate tone generators which can be detuned to fatten up the sound, up to a quarter of a semitone. The ARP Piano also contains a six-stage stereo phase shifter, vibrato, and two solid brass piano pedals, the right controlling sustain, and the left assignable by a dual-purpose switch on the panel to be either a soft pedal (which also reduces the brightness of the sound) or a momentary vibrato pedal.

"A stereo headphone jack is conveniently located on the control panel for private practicing. In addition, two auxilliary inputs are provided on the rear of the instrument so that tape recorders, record players, or other external sources can be mixed with the instrument through the stereo outputs and through the outputs.

"The piano comes with four detachable legs, a keyboard cover, and pedal assembly." ----[quotes are from an ARP Piano brochure courtesy of Kevin Lightner.

Also available from ARP, shortly before they went under, was the 4-Voice Electric Piano, a simplified version of the 16-Voice. This instument featured four presets, acoustic piano, a Rhodes-type sound, harpsichord, and a xylophone/marimba-type sound. It also had bass and treble EQ. It had 73 weighted keys and 2 tone generators that could be detuned.

Fortunately the 4-Voice "did not have the same membrane switches as did the 16-Voice -- they were round, black push button switches. Hence it didn't have the service problems that the 16-Voice had. Both did have a very unique keyboard sensing system (built by Kimball Piano) based on opto-electric sensing of the velocity, with a real piano-like key lever linkage." ----[Joseph Swails, a former ARP salesman]

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