Do you love the vintage sound of Rhodes keyboards?
Then, you have come to the right place!
In this article, you will learn about the top Rhodes VST plugins that let you play classic Rhodes electric pianos right from your computer!
But before we check them out, let’s find out more about these VSTs.
First of all, what makes them so popular?
In fact, the sound of the Fender Rhodes Electric Piano has become iconic. Since its release, it has been used by countless musicians in all music genres. That is true especially for the Rhodes Mark I, as well as some of the models that followed it.
There is an abundance of Rhodes VSTs out there, and every plugin offers something different to the user. Some of them stand out for being really accurate and faithful to the original sound, while others have modeled used and out-of-tune models.
Now let’s see them one by one!
The 13 Best Rhodes VST Plugins of 2020 include:
Our first choice on this list is the Lounge Lizard EP-4 by Applied Acoustics Systems.
This virtual piano comes with over 240 presets to choose from, that cover all the basic and experimental piano sounds. They include tine-based, reed-based, pian-organs, electronica, and custom instruments that are ready to play.
You can customize your sound as much as you wish, as you can play your piano through different cabinets, pre-amps, microphones, and recorder signal paths. It even allows you to custom tune your virtual piano by adjusting the hammers, forks, and pickup position.
The effects panel includes a variety of choices such as compressor, EQ, Delay, Distortion, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Wah-Wah, and Hall.
The interface is very clear and straightforward, which makes it pretty intuitive to use.
Finally, the Lounge Lizard EP-4 is especially suitable for beginners, as it features more than an hour of tutorials that will help you get started.
For those of you who want a plugin that emulates the sound Fender Rhodes Mk. 1 electric piano as it comes out of a vintage amp, I would highly recommend the Mark One by XLN Audio Addictive Keys.
In fact, the sound of the MusicMan 112 RD Fifty 1x12" is the one that has been used for this plugin. A variety of high-quality microphones has been used to record the samples, including a Telefunken U47, a Coles 4038 ribbon mic, a Shure SM57 along with a Neumann SM69 stereo mic.
The Mark One lets you combine different recording setups to achieve the result you need, by mixing between the six selectable mic perspectives it offers.
It runs on every DAW that supports VST, AU, or AAX plugins, such as Reaper, Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live, and Cubase, but you can also use it as a standalone application.
What about getting a single plugin that combines five famous electronic pianos in one interface?
The Velvet 2 by AIR Music Technology allows you to do that! It is based on the Fender Rhodes Suitcase, Fender Rhodes MK I and MK II Stage Pianos, Wurlitzer 200A and Hohner Pianet-T.
It comes with more than 350 presets that you can easily recall, while also letting you create your own presets.
The onboard effects let you adjust the timbre, dynamic response, and velocity of each keyboard, as well as add multiple effects such as vintage distortion, wah/filter, modulation, amplifier effects, delay, along with reverb effects such as Ambience, Spring, and Room settings.
The Velvet 2 comes with MIDI Learn functionality that allows you to easily map its controls to MIDI controllers.
Last but not least, the user interface is sleek and vintage-looking, and you will find it very easy to use.
In case you are a great fan of Rhodes keyboards, you will appreciate what Arturia has accomplished with the Stage-73 V. The renowned company has used the method of physical modeling to give you full control over your sound.
This virtual instrument combines three different Rhodes models in a single plugin: it features the '73 and the '74 73-note Stage Piano plus the older '73 Suitcase Piano model.
Additionally, they have modeled both the Suitcase amplifier and the Twin guitar amplifier model. The latter comes with its effects such as classic vibrato and spring reverb.
The Stage-73 V allows you to tweak parameters such as hammer hardness, tone bar resonance, and pickup alignment. You can also use the effect palette to add delay, flanger, chorus, and wah.
The plugin comes with 80 ready-to-use presets and easy MIDI mapping to connect your controller. You can use the Stage-73 V with your favorite DAW, or as a standalone application.
Do you wish for an electric piano plugin with a vintage and lively style? Do you find that most Rhodes plugins sound “too digital” to you?
It is true that digital technology often produces too “perfect” sounds that seem to us weird and lacking that lively human dimension...
That’s why the people at Waves have brought to us the Electric 88! This virtual electric piano has been sampled from a “road-worn” piano with non-linear sampling that gives it a human feel.
The Electric 88 offers you all the controls you need to customize and tweak your sounds, such as a mix section for ambient noise components, a compressor, an amp, and multiple effects that include tremolo, auto-pan, phaser, chorus, and reverb.
The Waves Electric 88 can be used with any audio software that supports VST2, VST3, AU, AAXnative, and NKS. You can always use it as a standalone application, too.
What could “classic electrics” mean in the title of this plugin?
Well, the Toontrack EZkeys Classic Electrics comes with two famous electric pianos: the Rhodes MK I and the Wurlitzer 200A.
Both pianos have been sampled with high-quality equipment so that the result becomes as realistic as possible.
This plugin comes with a MIDI Library with piano patterns and chord progressions, along with 14 Mix presets that make it easy to get started, even if you are an absolute beginner.
Additional features include an integrated timeline arranger and a smart transpose function.
You can tweak the sound of the electric pianos by using their onboard effects. The interface is pretty straightforward and clear, without a steep learning curve.
All in all, the Toontrack EZkeys Classic Electrics is perfect for those who want to easily replicate the sound of either the Rhodes MK I or the Wurlitzer 200A.
Another “classic electric piano” on this list, the Scarbee Mark I by Native Instruments is as simple as it can be.
It comes with a single electric piano based on Rhodes Mark I and focuses on reproducing it as accurately as possible, instead of providing you with different pianos. It has been meticulously recorded, as 73 keys were sampled at 12 different velocities, along with release tones.
The Scarbee Mark I features a set of effects controls that let you add reverb, chorus, phaser, amp simulation, distortion, auto-wah, pan, compression, delay, bass, and treble. Plus, you can add as much of the noise of the original instrument as you like.
This VST brings you the classic sound of an electric piano, which can be used extensively for jazz, funk, and fusion. However, note that it is versatile enough to be used in other music genres as well.
Are you looking for a plugin that brings something different, but at the same time manages to keep loyal to the original Fender Mark I?
Then, you will be happy to hear about the Electric Piano by Cinematique Instruments!
This high-quality plugin comes with samples from a pretty old and used Rhodes keyboard.
Its sound becomes really vintage, and its flaws make it less digital and much more lively! You will love it if you enjoy analog dirt!
Every third note has been sampled without looping the sound (real release). You can choose between 4 velocity layers for each note, with 2 Round Robin variations and a separate release sound.
All 88 notes of the original piano are included, while a script lets you control how much reverb, vibrato, and distortion you want to add.
Last but not least, its interface is simple and very easy to use, so it is highly recommended to beginners.
The Scarbee Classic EP-88S offers a virtual classic electric piano with 88 keys.
It comes with high-quality emulation that features up to 30 velocity samples. Plus, the samples are very clean and provide you with crisp sound.
One of the best features of this plugin is its effects palette that includes overdrive, reverb, delay, compressor, wah, chorus, phaser, flanger, rotator, cabinet, and tape effects. Plus, you can route them in a number of ways, in order to achieve different results.
As you have probably realized, his plugin is very versatile, but it also offers lots of presets for beginners. These include 5 different snapshot presets, along with 117 FX presets.
The interface is also quite easy to grasp, without any steep learning curve to start playing.
All in all, the Scarbee Classic EP-88S is highly recommended to anyone looking for a high-quality, versatile Rhodes plugin.
Keyscape by Spectrasonics is a massive VST plugin that features a great number of presets for all kinds of pianos. Here, we will take a look at its electric piano options.
Spectrasonics has sampled the Fender Rhodes Mark I with great accuracy at Ken Rich Sound Services. Taking it one step further, this plugin comes with circuit-modeling of all the classic amps and effects that are used with these instruments in the software. You can find this instrument under “Classic Mark I”.
If this is not enough for you, you’ll be content to hear about the LA Custom “E”.
This Rhodes piano is not a separate model, but it mimics the sound of certain Suitcase Rhodes electric pianos in Los Angeles that Eddy Reynolds, a keyboard tech, had tweaked to get a distinctive tone.
Finally, the “Vintage Vibe Electric Piano” which is based on a modern take of the Rhodes piano, completes the list.
If you want to have as many electric pianos as possible, in order to be able to switch between them, I would highly recommend the Sampleson Vintage Keys Bundle.
This is actually a bundle that includes 6 plugins: Electrix, Markus 88, Reed200, Model-T, Suit73, and 1959.
Electrix is modeled based on a rare suitcase model electric piano, while the Markus 88 is a spectral-modeled electric piano that has been based on real samples.
Both Reed200 and Model-T are also spectral-modeled instruments that have been created with attention to detail. The same thing applies to Suit73, which is a recreation of the Suitcase electric piano.
The last but not least, 1959 is a VST that models a non-existing electroacoustic piano! It comes with a warm and clean sound and has a lot of room for expressiveness.
Summing up, the Sampleson Vintage Keys Bundle is perfect for those who wish to have a variety of virtual electric pianos to play with.
The second collection of VST plugins on this list is the Session Keys Electric Bundle by e-instruments.
This bundle includes three plugins, Session Keys Electric R, S, and W that have been based on samples from a1 974 and 1976 stage piano and a 1973 suitcase.
Each one of these classic electric pianos comes with two separate sound banks: Studio and Live. Plus, tweaking your sound is made easy, as they come with pentamorph sound control that lets you morph the complete sound with a single knob.
An additional effects chain offers you tremolo/auto-pan, chorus, phaser, amp simulation, compressor, and convolution reverb.
Its Smart Chord function that lets you create instant piano chords from single keys or pads makes this bundle beginner-friendly. This is also enhanced by the animator that features more than 440 flexible piano phrases.
All in all, this bundle allows you to be flexible and switch between three different high-quality electric pianos.
As you have probably guessed by its name, the Wurli V by Arturia is a faithful reproduction of the classic Wurlitzer 200A Electric Piano.
The Wurlitzer has been recreated through physical modeling, including lots of parameters that you can change to tweak the sound to your liking. If that doesn’t sound enough to convince you, you should take a look at the additional features.
This plugin comes with a number of modeled amplifiers, through which the piano sound passes. These include Fender Deluxe Reverb Blackface, Fender Twin Reverb Blackface, Fender Bassman, Marshall Plexia and Leslie Speaker.
Additionally, it features three modeled mics: Shure SM57, Sennheiser MD 421, Neumann U 87.
This VST also comes with a number of effects such as wah-wah pedal, auto-wah, overdrive, flanger, compressor, phaser, chorus, delay, pitch shifter/chorus, vocal filter, and reverb.
In short, this is a versatile plugin with the sound of Wurlitzer 200A Electric Piano.
Rhodes VSTs are really flexible and versatile, as they can be used in so many different musical genres.
Owning a plugin is the first step to understanding this instrument’s immense capabilities.
Now that you have checked the best plugins out there, it is your chance!
Pick one and get started!