Billy Zoom's Jet Set

Gretsch Keyboards


When I first met Benmont, he had a couple of these pianos. They were very cool, although about as easy to move as a B3. The Harpsichords were on many many recordings back in the day, although I haven't seen one since.


I knew a guy that had one of the harpsichords. The outside frame was aluminum--- a C beam bent into the standard piano shape. The thing needed fairly routine tuning. They were a one trick pony, but they did the one trick very well. I haven't seen one since. Gretsch, like every other musical instrument manufacturer, came up with a line of keyboards. Vox set a standard for combo organs with the Continental and Jaguar. Fender's Rhodes was and is one of the best electric pianos available, tho Wurlitzer was far earlier, along with Hohner. Even Kustom had a few keyboards---in tuck and roll vinyl, of course. A lot of the keyboards came out of the Italian electronic accordion industry, like Farfisa, the Calliope from Hell. '60s transistor technology did a lot for the combo organ makers. The earlier Accordovox had over 70 tubes in the tone generator section alone, not to mention the ones in the amplifier. Transistors made the combo organs portable and affordable. I doubt a tube driven unit would've survived the abuse my Farfisa went thru.


I guess with Baldwin on the scene -- it was thought of as a logical move. Even putting the Gretsch label on it... even some Thomas organs got a Vox label. Fender tried for a piece of the combo organ scene in the mid and late 60s with the Contempo organ although it was nothing they actually made.


Gretsch used to distribute Farfisa back in the day. Not surprising they would put their own name on something.


I hate Rhodes/ love Wurlitzers, but the Baldwin was cool. It had a real harp, but no soundboard. Farfisas are cool. I'm one of the few techs who'll work on them.


this is cool I wanna see a photo of one. i found this but this isnt what you are talking about Billy is it?


Here's the harpsichord:


Apparently, the internet doesn't know about the Baldwin Keylectric pianos. I searched and found nothing. They looked like a regular wooden spinet piano, but are relatively light weight due to the lack of a soundboard, which had been replaced by electric pickups. On an organ dolly, they were reasonably portable, and they sounded like a piano.


Are you possibly thinking of a Baldwin "Electropiano"?

There are plenty of online references re: that instrument.


I hate Rhodes/ love Wurlitzers, but the Baldwin was cool. It had a real harp, but no soundboard. Farfisas are cool. I'm one of the few techs who'll work on them.

– Billy Zoom

I feel the same way about Rhodes and Wurlys. Rhodes always sounded muddy to me. My 140B, even with a solid state amp, is one of the prime electric piano sounds to me.

Farfisa was my first rock and roll keyboard. It was fine, but, I still wanted a Hammond.

That Baldwin Keylectric piano sounds a lot like the Heppenstihl spinet. At least the Hepp had a real piano action in it. The hard to find keyboards around the Midwest were the Hohners.

Do any of our British contingent know of a Bird keyboard? I saw the Tremeloes with one in '67 or so, and have never seen another. I've seen a couple of amps, but that is all.

Register Sign in to join the conversation