Here's a batch of organs of a different type. They look more like small electric pianos than combo organs, what with the chrome faceplates and little black pushbuttons. They're kind of neat, though, with the B3-style attached fold-back lid.
I'm pretty sure these were all made in the
same place by the same company and sold under different names. The
MeloSonics and the Whippany all claim to be manufactured by Whippany
Electronics, Inc. in New Jersey, while the Clark claims to come from the
Clark Musical Instrument Company, also in New Jersey - probably the same
outfit. This was probably just a distributor, though. One owner
found a "made in Italy" sticker on the inside of his Melosonic 300, so,
like about 80% of all combo organs, these were probably of Italian
origin as well. They probably came out in the late 60's, too -
according to it's owner, the Realistic has a date of 1968 stamped
inside. But they may have been available as late ast 1974, where
the 350 and it's companion Spinet version appeared in Bennett's Blue
I've also recently been informed of a "Rockland Mark IV", that sounds like it's identical to the Melosonic/Clark 300. It also claims to be "Made in the U.S.A." externally, with the ever-present "Made in Italy" on one of the circuit boards. No pictures of that one yet, though.
From talking with someone who saw these when they were new, they went for about $150 and were the absolute bottom of the combo organ market (though by 1974, the 350 was going for $280 at Bennett's). The voices are 8', which severely limits the tonal possibilities. The monophonic bass section just adds cheap icing to the low-buck cake. And to make matters worse, they use an unusual "three notes per oscillator" setup. Rather than 12 top-octave oscillators with divide-down circuitry (which permits full polyphony), each oscillator serves three adjacent notes, which makes playing certain (albeit, unusual) chords and note combinations impossible. This setup is identical to the Magnus 3D, though cosmetically, the two seem have little in common.
Barry Carson said that around 1970, he saw a Bennett's catalog with a "console" version of one of these that "...looked exactly the same but in a cheap wood-like cabinet."
On the left is a MeloSonic 300, on the right is a Clark 300. Looks like the same organ to me.
Knobs: Volume, Bass Boost, Vibrato, Fuzz bass
Pushbuttons: Flute, Diapason, Horn, Woodwind, Reed, Full Organ
The lowest octave is a bass octave, but not all of the 300's had reverse-color keys for it. The bass section is monophonic - one note at a time, so you can't play chords on it, and it is not switchable to extend the treble section.
Here's a picture of the innards of a '300. Note the reverse-color keys:
(Thanks for the picture, Mike)
|Same controls as the Model 300, but adds a rhythm section with 10 drum beats (eeeewwww!). The bass section is probably monophonic, like the Whippany/Realistic shown below.|
350 was also available in a "Spinet" version. Click on the
picture below to see the page from Bennett's 1974 Blue Book, which
featured both the Spinet and the Portable versions:
Whippany Dart/Realistic Musicdeck
Looks like the MeloSonic/Clark 300 without the Fuzz Bass. Knob/button placement is more like the '350. On the Whippany, the Vibrato knob is marked "Timbrato". Somewhere out there is a person who got paid to come up with the name "Timbrato". Very strange. I don't remember ever seeing Radio Shack offering such an animal, but it's a Realistic, that's for sure (look at the name on one of the closeup photos).
Controls: Knobs: On/Off/Level, Bass Boost, Vibrato(or Timbrato). Buttons: Flute, Diapason, Horn, Woodwind, Reed, Full Organ
Here's a description from Oak Tree, where they have a Realistic for sale (well, as of 10/27/00, anyway):
"REAL COOL. MADE IN ITALY. 4 OR 5 CHEEEEESY TONES AND A COUPLE OF COOL ONES. BEST FOR DISPLAY. LID FOLDS DOWN OVER KEYS FOR TRANSPORT TO YOUR CHEEESY VEGAS GIG. 1/4" OUTPUT ON THE BOTTOM. BASS KEYS ARE MONO, AND HAVE THEIR OWN VOLUME CONTROL. HERE'S THE ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS ABOUT IT. THE LEGS ARE THE SAME AS WURLITZER 200 LEGS. THE LEGS CLIP TO THE BOTTOM FOR STORAGE AND TRANSPOR. PACKED SIZE IS 31" WIDE, 18" DEEP, AND 5" THICK. WEIGHT AROUND 25LBS"
(Photo courtesy of Barry Hark)
(Photo courtesy of Oak Tree)
Whippany Pinto (Whip Pinto, 350)
|Here's Whippany's version of the Melosonic 300. I say that, despite the model number of "350", because there's no Rhythm section like the Melosonic 350. Feature- wise, it's identical to the '300. This one has reverse-color keys for the bass. Knob/button placement is more like the Whippany/Realistic, with the addition of the Fuzz Bass knob.|