Vox: Other Models
(An assorted odd lot of Vox and Vox-related models that didn't really fit into any other category)
|One of the lesser-known
Vox models, the Junior was, for some time, little more than a description,
according to Barry Carson: "This was a small, 37 key
instrument that looked quite like its bigger brothers. It has straight
legs and a built in speaker like the Baroque. The only example I have
come across was made in England but has plastic keys like the Italian
Continentals and Jaguars. It looks kind of like a 3/4 size Jaguar with
only the three octaves of black keys and red tabs instead of white"
Since finding that quote, I was fortunate enough to get a picture of one (shown here), and it looks like Barry's recollection is (as usual) pretty good. (Thanks, for the picture, Ihor!).
The Junior was made by GEM, which explains it's resemblance to many of their branded models (the Mini and the Gemini, particularly).
Then, more recently, I located yet another. Thanks to Huw for the pictures below:
|No, not an organ by any means,
including it for completeness (well, if that were entirely true, I'd have the
"String Thing" here as well), and also because I suspect
that most folks, myself included, had no idea that Vox sold an electric
piano. Definitely Italian, it was
really a re-badged "JEN Pianotone". I've also seen the same
piano with other names as well, "Sound City" comes to mind.
(Pictures courtesy of Henry Badowski)
Following is one owner's description:
"...the vibrato does seem to be true vibrato rather than chorus etc, and the piano and harpsichord voices can both be played together, and mixed using the sliders when 'piano' is selected on the selector switch. The bass sound only works when 'bass' is selected, and can't be mixed with any of the other sounds, however it works along the whole keyboard, and as you could imagine, as it gets higher up the register, it isn't very bassy at all. Over all it really isn't a brilliant sounding piece of equipment..."
So there you have it! The Vox Piano - NOT a brilliant sounding piece of equipment! <rotfl>
Henry B. corrected an inaccuracy in the description concerning the Bass setting:
"When the switch is set to bass the keyboard splits enabling "bass only" on the lowest two octaves (plus one and a half notes?!). The higher octaves still play the piano/harpsichord sound minus the bass. Setting the switch to piano eliminates the split, and the bass voice. The bass sound itself is actually very good. Very big and full."
Perhaps the piano in the first description wasn't working properly.
And yet another interesting story about one of these (thanks Justin):
"I was eighteen, in a band and my doting father
bought me a keyboard. It was a VOX piano.... This would have been
1978 as I recall. It was dreadful. It had no touch sensitivity of
course, but also the key contacts were like one atomic diameter below the rest
position of the keys, or so it seemed to someone trained on a real piano.
My friend and I tried to ‘improve’ the situation by messing with the contact
bars and created a really unreliable result. We used it for a few years in
the band, mostly for the ‘bass guitar’ sound rather than the piano; I
can’t remember what happened to it after that but I’m thinking it might have
ended up in a skip."
Vib. Intens. Vib. Speed, Piano, Bass, Harpsichord
Switches: Power, Piano/Bass
Careful with that 'aigh voltage", mate!
I guess they got a spell checker at some point.
Vox Disco Tape
|So, what do you do with all those empty organ cabinets and Z stands when you stop producing Continentals? While not a combo organ by any stretch of the imagination, this thing was just tooooo weird to leave out. I wonder if perhaps it was just a joke, and was never actually sold.|
(Picture and following description are from the Vox Showroom web site):
"Produced in the early seventies, easily pre-dating modern rap coffins by two decades, the Disco Tape was truly ahead of its time. Made from a Continental Organ shell and chrome stand, the Disco tape featured two turntables with Shure cartridges; a cassette tape recorder and a 50 watt self contained amplifier. Other features included a monitor selector and volume; sliding turntable level controls; master volume controls; recording and microphone level controls; level and recording selectors and record scratch and rumble filters."
(Thanks to Eric at Boss Guitars for pointing this one out to me)
I've only heard about this, but have never seen one. Apparently, it's a device that takes input from another instrument and does frequency division and filtering to provide organ-like voices at different footages. Sounds like an interesting idea.
|And to round out this collection of oddities, the infamous
Voxmobile. Sporting a real Continental II (or maybe it was a Super -
According to Kirk Slinkard, it's currently "On display in a music store called Fat City Music near downtown Denver with some solid-state Vox amps around it. It looks almost like new, they've been taking great care of it.... A guitarist friend of mine and I tried to talk them into selling it, but they wanted to keep it."
What discourse on Vox would be complete without mention of the unusual Guitorgan? A Vox Phantom guitar with the guts of a Continental built-in. Well, I'm afraid it's going to have to wait for another day, folks - too much to cover right now, but it'll show up here someday soon (as in "this century"!)
The next three organs are Thomas-branded. I've only put them here because of Thomas' relationship with Vox. Someday I may have a separate Thomas page, but for now......
Here's an odd beast. It's a Thomas, but has some characteristics in common with Vox organs, as described here by it's previous owner, Ihor (thanks for the pictures!): "The organ has the following Vox features: everything is covered in black vinyl IDENTICAL to that Vox used on their U.S. amps and cabinets, and hardware such as rubber feet and cabinet screws are also like those found on U.S Vox amps. The carrying handles look like those on the Vox Student amp. The organ also has repeat percussion, an effect available from Vox as either a separate plug-in unit or built into some later amps such as the Beatle V1143."
I believe the model name is "ARP-2", but I'm not certain. I doubt seriously there's any relation to Alan R. Pearlman's company. Perhaps it was a "Moog joke" of some sort.
Further information, also as provided to me by Ihor (I'm getting real lazy in my old age, but he did do a great job on the description, didn't he?):
keyboard unit has 2 manuals with 44 notes each and a folding music rack
built into the attached lid. The lid closes over the keyboards to form
a carrying case that measures 41" x 24" x 8" and weighs about 70
pounds. A matching bench is included with legs that unscrew and strap
underneath the seat.
Voice tabs for the top keyboard include trombone, reed, flute, oboe, cornet and violin. The bottom keyboard has voice tabs for saxophone, horn, viola and diapason. There is also a vibrato tab. The 3 control knobs include: 1 - on/off/pedal volume; 2 - repeat percussion, slow to fast; and 3 - manual balance.
The keyboard unit sits on top of and latches to a base with 2 sections that come apart and slide into each other to form a second case. The top half of the base has 2 speakers while the bottom half contains the amp, bass pedals and volume pedal. The bass pedals are slightly longer and in an arc for easier playing. There is also a string bass tab for the pedals that gives a convincing string bass effect by cutting the note off each time you depress a bass pedal.
The back of the organ has a socket for a Thomas Leslie 300 with 2 control tabs to the left of the bottom keyboard. The amp section connects to the speaker section with an RCA plug and with a 1/4" adapter, the organ can also be connected to any standard amp, PA, mixer or Leslie preamp pedal for even more tonal control and variety."
As to the model name, more info has surfaced - apparently, Thomas made a spinet organ, model AR-2, with virtually identical features and control layout. So this one must have been the "P"ortable version, hence, ARP-2. I've been told that the AR-2 came out in 1964, so it's possible this one was available that long ago.
Thomas P-350/"Blue Jaguar"
legendary "Blue" Jaguar? Well, almost. It's a
Thomas model P-350
Looking very much like the Jag, except for "normal" colored keys, and that cool blue top!
More information has surfaced since the initial discovery of the "Blue Jaguar". (Many thanks to Derek Evans for all this new stuff). The nameplate reads: "Thomas Transistor Organ Model P-350", and "MFD. By Thomas Organ Co. Sepulveda, California", and also has the typical, paradoxical, "Made in Italy" sticker above, just like all the other Italian Voxes. The generator boards look like the ones found on the earlier, GEM-built, V304 Jaguars (the Howard/Doric style boards), so this one may also have been built by GEM.
So except for the placement of the Vibrato tab, it's very much like the Jaguar. Let's put the voice tabs side-by-side:
|Thomas P-350||Broad||Full Octaves||Brass||Mixtures|
It has jacks on the back for "Bass" and "Output", versus "Bass" and "Signal Out" for the Jag.
Many thanks to Derek Evans for the following collection of photos of this unusual beast:
And as if things aren't complicated enough, there's this fellow, looking VERY much like the Cordovox CDX/Moog (CDX-0652)
This model was made for Thomas by EME, who also made the Cordovox CDX-0652, so they're probably pretty much the same instrument (Thomas/Cordovox designed the CDX-0652, and so probably did so for this one, too). This Thomas version, however, appears to have been put into a Vox Super Continental case. But that would make sense too, now, wouldn't it? It came with four screw-in type legs, though - no "Z" stand.
Here is the owner's original description:
"This Stylish Vintage Thomas Organ has 2 jacks for separate Moog and Organ channels, Full sized keys for both Organ and Moog. Comes with upper housing to protect keys. The Organ has 49 full sized keys. It has a sustain and vibrato switch. It has an organ equalization system to get the desired organ sound. The Moog has 37 full sized keys. It has modulation which can adjusted through rate, depth and slide and volume. Has a filter which can be manipulated with contour, color and emphasis. Moog and Organ effects include: Piano, Flute, Gilox, Flute, Banjo, Clarinet, String, Trumpet, Bell, Lunar and Horn."
|And if we haven't gotten far out enough yet, here's what was described to me as a prototype, built at Thomas Organ. The owner is the engineer who built it. I have not been able to contact him directly (yet), so what you see in the pictures here is all I have to offer.|
|Well, well, well. What have we here? A rare and un-documented model? A prototype? A hatchet job? An evil experiment? I'll let you be the judge (except to say, it's DEFINITELY not a production model). Looks like someone took a '65 UK Continental, gutted the drawbar assembly and filter circuitry, sawed a rectangular hole in the top, and installed a row of tabs and new filters. Whether it was done at JMI (or maybe even EME) as a prototype, or as an "aftermarket" mod by an organ technician with too much time on his hands, is impossible to say (personally, I lean toward the latter explanation).|