Introduced at NAMM in 1968, the FAST series of organs seems to have been an attempt to upgrade the stodgy old Compact line. As appearance goes, they were certainly successful - these are some sharp looking little beasties. But the sound, at least according to some who are acquainted with both, was somewhat lacking.
FAST stands for "Farfisa All Silicon Transistorized". The FAST organs were sold side-by-side with the Compact line for a couple of years. An August, 1968 price list included the entire FAST line (except for the 2/C), the entire Compact line, and the Professional. In that list, the Fast models were designated "FAST n Compact" (with n being 2, 3, 4 or 5), and the model names on the organ ID plates also bear the word "Compact". I guess they were trying to keep some ties to the well-established Compact line, or else imply that these, too, were also "Farfisa Compact" organs.
Quote from Barry Carson regarding the sound of the FAST and Professional series: "... I think the entire Farfisa Fast line (maybe especially the Professional) was going after (and maybe upping the ante on) the Vox look (reverse colored keys; graceful chrome stand; slim, eye catching bodies) and the Hammond sound (lots of flute footages, percussion, and I think the Professional vibrato, as it is, might have been an attempt to create something like the Hammond chorus vibrato that sounds great through a Leslie. And, small amounts of the Professional vibrato do sound nice through a slow Leslie). Remember that at the time the Fast line came out, the Compact series and its sound were seen as kind of 'old fashioned' while the Hammond sound was new and cool (check out the infamous Farfisa 'Soul' ad for an example of what I mean.) I remember in the very late '60s, having a bright red Farfisa or any kind of Vox organ on stage was an embarrassment to most bands. That's why those organs could be had for less than a good meal at a restaurant by the early '70s. Of course, by the mid to late '70s the new wave bands had rediscovered them and their value slowly began to rise."
Another quote from Barry on the sound: "I had a Fast 4 for a few months in high school. I liked the percussion (orange tabs on the Fast 4 and 5). Nothing like Hammond percussion (or anything else that I can think of), but I had fun with it. I wasn't wild about the straight organ sound although the flutes were nice - that's the Sly at Woodstock sound. I traded it in for a Wurlitzer Combo Organ pretty soon."
Model Names/Numbers: The model names of all members of the FAST are of the form "Compact FAST n", where 'n' would be, well, you get the idea. Model numbers, as well as color variations, are described in each section.
Model Name/Number: C2/143=Compact FAST 2
Rather anemic, feature-wise, the FAST 2 is nonetheless a pretty cool looking little fellow, all orange and dark blue-grey body, with orange ball feet. It sports a 4-octave keyboard, with 3 octaves dedicated to treble voices and a 1-octave fixed bass section. There are only four treble voices, all 8'. The single-voice bass octave is always-on, controlled only by the bass volume control. The bass notes feed into the same voice filter as the Flute tab (but are not switched on/off by that tab), and so have the same sound. Thus, with only the Flute tab on, you get four full octaves of Flutes. The Bass keys, however, are monophonic, with low-note priority. It also has a built-in 10-watt amp with two 6x9 speakers - an unusual feature for one of the earlier Farfisas (some of the later VIPs and Matadors had amps/speakers built-in).
The sound of the FAST 2 isn't as anemic as you'd expect. It actually sounds pretty good, for being single-footage voices. The four voices are noticeably different from one another, and mix together well. One rather odd "feature" is that the lowest 5 notes in the Treble section are monophonic. For some odd reason, They decided to save a buck (or two) by skimping on the lowest four dividers.
Note about the pictures below. These are some really good pictures, which is why I chose them, but I don't believe the two orange-topped knobs are original. The original knobs are grey with a brass-color top.
Model Name/Number: Compact FAST 2/C (or 2/E) Model C2-E/144
A rather odd beast, what with its largely wood grain appearance, and *almost* normal colored keys (White naturals, Grey sharps/flats), it just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the line, cosmetically. Still, the ID plate proudly proclaims it as a member of the FAST line - so be it.
The FAST 2/C appeared in a flyer with a 1969 date code, so it may have been introduced somewhat later than the rest of the FAST series.
I'm sort of guessing at the first part of the model number (above). The only good clear shot of an ID badge I have is shown below, and the first part is cut off, but if it follows with the others, it's likely a 'C'. As you can see, one of these is a FAST 2/C, and the other a FAST 2/E, but they look identical.
Micke Lindgren supplied the following additional information: "I have an original German leaflet for this model (FARFISA G.V. 69482) and the organ pictured in there looks identical to the ones on your site with the exception that it's sitting on a speaker/amp wood grain cabinet, like a small spinet! Now, from what I understand it actually came like this but if you wanted you could detach the organ part from the cabinet to use as a portable organ (I can imagine though that the ugly looking cabinets were discarded very quickly). The organ has inputs for a swell pedal, an external amp, and a head-phone connector."
Micke points out that the number, 69482, on the leaflet, may indicate it was released in 1969. The Fast 2/C did appear in the May, 1970 price list, so that may well be the case.
He also was able to translate the description in the leaflet, and from that has surmised that the tabs work as follows: The lighter grey voice tabs are for the treble section. Only the dark grey tabs affect the bass section, which comprises the first 17 keys. The 8'/16' selects either footage for the bass section, "p/f" is a soft.loud switch, and Manual Bass Off/On converts the bass section to extend the treble voices across the keyboard. So that means with the bass section set for bass, you've only got 2-1/2 octaves in the treble section!
Another good looker, this time with some significant improvements over the FAST 2. 7-voices in 3 footages, Bass section switchable to extend the treble section.
Model Name/Number: I've seen four variations of the FAST 3. Following are the model names/numbers as they appear on the ID plates:
Here's the model C3/133 in White/Green with chrome legs:
And here's pretty much the same model, C3/133, but in White/Black. Note the script "Fast 3" on the back.
And here's the MM/133, looking just like the White/Green C3/133, but with white legs instead of chrome.
The FAST 4 takes the FAST 3's features, and adds a few voices (Piccolo 4', Mixture, Brilliant Mixture), Percussion (separately selectable for Bass, Treble and/or Mixture voices), and a "Light/Heavy" switch for the Vibrato.
C4/153=COMPACT FAST 4 - Some came with blue trim, and some with black.
Some have "Fast 4" in script on the back (and some don't).
From what I've seen, they all have the
same model name/number.
This is the only decent picture of a blue-trimmed FAST-4 that I have:
Here's an interesting effect. Move your mouse over the picture below to remove the cover:
Here's a black-trimmed one showing the "Fast 4" lettering on the back:
And some more pictures of the black-trimmed version (without the "Fast 4" on the back)
Top-o-the-line, the FAST 5 improves on the FAST 4 with the addition of three 8' Sustain voices (Celesta, Clavichord, Kinura).
Model Name/Number: Mod. C5/163=Compact FAST 5 - I've only seen them with black trim so far. Some have "Fast 5" in script on back, and some don't. I also have seen one ID plate (shown below) with the model# C5/162 - no apparent differences.
|Looking virtually identical to the Compact bass pedals, these appear to differ only in the coloring.|
|The Fast-3 volume pedal is electrically and mechanically identical to the one use for the Compact line, the only difference is that it lacks the "Z" bracket that secures it to the Compact stand (which wouldn't do you much good with a Fast-3 anyway). And of course, it's a lovely grey color. Click here for more information|
FAST 2/4/5 (2/C?)