This came into my collection in December 2013 in a very unlikely way: It was listed on Craigslist at a location 200 miles from my house. The piano was mis-identified as a Wurlitzer 112. And the seller was asking $3,000 for it. But a few days later, after a long drive, it was mine for a reasonable price.
This was the last Wurlitzer electric piano before the company decided to save money — and weight — by building the plastic-topped 200 series. The 140B is, in my opinion, a high-water point for the Wurlitzer electric piano: The best action and tone of any Wurli I’ve played, and optically controlled vibrato that will bring tears to your eyes. There are nuances in the sound that I don’t hear with the thicker reeds on my 200A, and hitting the keys a little harder rewards you with a very cool bark. I like the way it looks, too.
And this was a very special one: Virtually flawless cosmetically. Complete with lid, pedal, music stand, legs and matching bench. And the seller even had a copy of the original schematics and a Wurlitzer warranty envelope with the the owner’s manual and, believe it or not, the original hang tag. Cool!
The downside of this model is that it is the heaviest portable Wurli EP ever built (not an issue for me, since I won’t be gigging with it). Its early solid state amp is also known for being noisy — and mine had some significant hum. But that’s gone since I re-built the amp (replacing the electrolytic caps, the high-value resistors, and subbing low-noise transistors for the originals).
This model does not have a line-level output jack to use with an external amp. There are mods that can be done to add one, but I did not want to alter the piano. So, I got one of these Radial ProRMP reamp boxes.
I now take the output from the headphone jack on the piano to the box, and out to my Twin Reverb. This works beautifully. (You can also use the Reamp box to take the signal off the speaker output on the back of the 140B’s built-in amp. This gives you a mix of the internal amp/speaker and your external amp.) The internal amp and speaker have a beautiful mellow sound, like you hear on some vintage R&B songs. But running it through the Twin Reverb gives it a nasty, metallic sound — and adds a lot of bark. It’s almost like having two different electric pianos. I like both sound options.
After owning this piano for eight years, I finally decided to give it the complete “beauty treatment:” I got some Protek CLP piano lube, and lubricated all the hinged joints in the action and the key rail pins. And then I used a capstan wrench to regulate the lost motion and the let-off. This turned out to be a lot of work (in part because I had never regulated a Wurli before), but it was well worth it. (Details of regulating the piano are contained in the 140B’s service manual.) I also dealt with a handful of keys whose volume was too loud or too soft, or didn’t sustain properly. Now, every key sounds consistent. The piano was playing very nicely before I did this, but now it’s really outstanding. It now has an excellent dynamic range, and is set up to have a nice “bark” when you push it a little.
The 140B had a near-twin, the 145B, which is identical except that it has a tube-type amp. Normally, you’d think a tube amp would be preferable, but those who have played both instruments tend to prefer the solid state amp. It’s one AMAZING piano!
Hear the sounds of the Wurlitzer electronic piano