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The Pianet was a series of electric pianos built by the Hohner company of Trossingen, West Germany from the 1950s to the 1970s. The designer of the early Pianet models was Ernst Zacharias, basing the mechanism closely on a 1920s design by Lloyd Loar.

Sound is generated by an array of metal reeds which are plucked by foam pads, which have been impregnated with adhesive (actually a proprietary viscous silicone oil). The pads are connected to metal rods connected to the keys. On pressing a key, the pad is released, creating a tension which makes the reed vibrate. Electrostatic pickups mounted directly below the reeds transmit the sound to an amplifier.

During its period of manufacture, the Pianet was offered in a number of designs. The original models were the Pianet C and Pianet N, which were built with wooden cases and legs; later came the Pianet L which had metal legs. The C model has no additional controls, whilst the N model is equipped with a tremolo circuit with a switch mounted next to the keyboard. The Pianet soon found popularity with popular music groups of the 1960s, leading Hohner to produce the Combo model, designed for the performing musician in mind. This had no legs, being designed to sit atop an organ or acoustic piano.

In the 1970s Hohner produced the final models, the Pianet M and T. These featured a change in design from electrostatic pickups and foam pads, to passive pickups and rubber pads. The M model was designed for home use and was built with a wooden case with internal speakers, and a phaser circuit. The T model, which is the most common of Pianets found on the used market today, was again built for the gigging musician. It had no legs and in a departure from earlier models finished in wood veneer, is finished in black vinyl leathercloth. Production ceased in the early 1980s.

The change in design was forced on Hohner as after a time the original foam pads were found to disintegrate; the rubber pads were much more durable. However, the new design also produced a completely different sound; mellower than that of the early models. While popular with semi-pro musicians due to its low price and portability, it failed to make a significant impact on major recording artists.

Early Pianets were used on a number of hit recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, including She's Not There by The Zombies, Louie, Louie by The Kingsmen, I Am The Walrus by The Beatles, and Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. The Pianet is enjoying a renaissance due to the popularity of retro sounds and the availability of new pads for the earlier models, most of which had been reduced to unplayability due to pad decay.

[edit] External links

This company sells a new and improved version of the sticky pads:

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