Rhodes Chroma

Rhodes Chroma Image

Quite a rare analog synthesizer from the early 1980's (only 3,000 made). The Chroma was originally an ARP project. However Rhodes picked it up after ARP dissolved in 1981. Rhodes, best known for its Electric Pianos released the Chroma (and Chroma Polaris) as their premiere analog synthesizers. The Chroma had 16 voices with 1 oscillator per voice (or 8 voices with 2 osc/voice), a 64-note velocity sensitive weighted keyboard, and a very complicated but powerful synthesis design. Programming was further complexed by a limited implementation of just 2 rows of membrane push-buttons. With few sliders to grab, hands-on control is cut short. However the Chroma is a very stable and elegant synth with complete auto-tuning, split-keyboard mode and the ability to link to a computer!

Rhodes Chroma Image

Although the Chroma came before there was MIDI, all was not lost. Rhodes used ARP's proprietary Digital Access Control which was used in some ARP instruments for inter-connecting them. Midi retro-fits can be purchased these days which convert MIDI to ARP's DAC system. Perhaps its most advanced feature for its time was the ability to interface with an Apple IIe computer for sequence and patch storage using dedicated Chroma software! That may not be very practical today, but historically it was a significant example of how synthesizers and personal-computers could work together. Also on-board you'll find two arpeggiators, a graphic equalizer, pitch/mod and 6 other sliders. A keyboardless expander module of the Chroma was also made available. It has been used by Jethro Tull, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Oscar Peterson.

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24 Visitor comments
April 25, 2014 @ 11:05 am
The chroma is capable of way way more than Any video shows , it can do some Insane modular like fx , arpegiating sequences using its staircase and sequence style lfo waveforms and just a whole lot more .Its one of the most detailed and rich sounding analogues synths.I owned 3 and these synths are Very stable when they have the updated psu.
Ahmad Jafar
July 30, 2013 @ 4:37 am
A much more in depth look at this beast, sonically speaking. Courtesy of Analogue Lab in NY.

March 10, 2013 @ 1:28 am
This was designed by ARP in 1981 as the ARP Chroma. But ARP went out of business and was acquired by CBS Musical Instruments, so it was released as the (Fender) Rhodes Chroma.
March 3, 2013 @ 10:07 pm
these rhodes electronic instruments are great but not at all what rhodes was about. rhodes was first a piano company and that's really where they did best. this is a nice sounding synth but the control aspect is a little messy. capable of some decent digital sound though..
selling a rhodes mark 1 stage 73 the kind with the speaker cabinet and vibrato like on this link. it is in flawless kept up working and really exceptionally nice physical condition. please feel free to contact me if interested.
i am in california askull.estrada@gmail.com
matt f
January 15, 2013 @ 6:44 am
Highly recommended , ive used most analogue polys and the Chroam us very underated , the online demos are awefull mostly and fail to show the Chromas depth.I have had one soundling like a 303 and the next minute doing complex polyphonic chromatic arpeggios using the 2 x lfo and their multiple staircase waveforms.Its truely a synthesists dream.

Whats really amazing is its ability to emulate melltrons , organs , pipes , reeds , ethnic sounds, formant choirs , female voices and of course any analogue synth tone really.Dont be fooled by the Rhodes badge - its more a poly arp 2600 .
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Rated 3.97 (271 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 16 voices max.
  • Oscillators - 16 VCOs: 0-63 value mix of sawtooth and variable pulse waveforms; 16 modulation sources
  • LFO - 16 LFO waveforms
  • Filter - Switchable hi-pass or low-pass filters
  • VCA - ADSR
  • Keyboard - 64 weighted-keys with velocity (polyphonic aftertouch optional)
  • Memory - 50 patches + external cassette tape interface
  • Control - None (MIDI via retrofit)
  • Date Produced - 1982 - 1984
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Information provided by Michael Salmon.

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