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Microphone Month

Guitar Organ

In the mid-1960s, manufacturers began building effects like distortions or phase shifters into certain models. But nothing was as ambitious as the Guitar organ. At least three manufacturers actually got to the point of releasing these instruments, the most high profile of these being from Vox in the UK. The first of these appeared in 1966 as the Vox Model V251, a combination of the Vox Continental organ and Vox Phantom solidbody guitar. The fingerboard’s frets are wired to a set of organ tone generators, so that when a string is depressed, it touches a fret which completes a circuit and triggers the appropriate note. Although the basic idea was sound, it quickly became apparent that the amount of wood required to be removed from the guitar body in order to squeeze in the organ circuitry resulted in a poor-sounding electric guitar.

In the late 1960s, Texas-based Musiconics International introduced the world to the Guitorgan, which was based upon a design by Bob Murrell. In this case, the organ circuitry was built into a Japanese Univox “Effie,” a semi-hollowbody guitar which cut down on the weight. The guitar bodies had enough room in which the organ circuitry could be placed. About 3,000 Guitorgans were eventually built. The idea briefly resurfaced again in 1976 as the Godwin Organ (notice that the word “guitar” was not used), but while the organ sound was quite good, the guitar sound still lacked the punch players expected of these instruments. Thus, until the birth of the guitar synthesizer, the idea of combining a keyboard instrument with a guitar was shelved.

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