The first Wurlitzer electronic piano appeared in the second half of the last century in the U.S.A. The idea came from an early invention of Benjamin Meissner. In the 1930s, he used an electrostatic pickup to amplify the sound of a traditional piano and this system was used first by the Everett Piano Company. Later, in the ’50s, the Wurlitzer Company bought the patent of the invention of Meissner, finally changed the strings of the piano for the (now) famous metal reeds and, in 1955, the first Wurlitzer electronic piano was put on the market.
The operation of a Wurlitzer is very simple. Well, actually not as simple as a Rhodes electric piano, but still very simple: one key activates a hammer – almost like the hammers of a traditional piano, but smaller – which hit a reed made of metal whose sound is picked up by a huge electrostatic pickup and the signal is pre-amplified and amplified inside the instrument. The piano also has a sustain pedal that also functions in a simple manner: a lever pressed by the foot creates tension in a cable that in turn triggers a mechanism similar to the sustain pedal of a traditional piano.