Wow, would you look at this fantastic white organ in this Metronomy The Look video. It’s like some futuristic sixties space ship theater organ. Does anyone have an idea what it is? If so, please comment below! It looks more Elka to me that Cordovox, but something tells me that it could be a ridiculous one off Conn or Yamaha.
This Saturday I will be performing with The Columbines at The Hideout in Chicago. Two weeks ago I broke a key, and noticed an oscillator divider going on my Farfisa, so I’m not going to be playing a Farfisa. Fear not, I will be still bringing a combo organ, my Fender Contempo. She’s noisy, but fully functional, and sounding sweet. We will be performing with the faiztabulous Faiz Zeppelin
Check out this beautiful example of the Farfisa Soundmaker Synthesizer on ebay right now!
This is my Farfisa Soundmaker, and what an interesting beast it is!
Built from 1979 to 1981, this thing cost around £900 new (this model was bought in 1982, I think I’ve got the receipt somewhere!) which put it in competition with some pretty serious hardware. It also explains why it’s so rare. It was in production until just before MIDI, the Prophet 600 and Juno 106 came along, but looks like it’s from an entirely different era. The whole keyboard and front panel are angled slightly forwards, as it was designed to sit on top of a combo organ or piano (although a snazzy stand was also available as you’ll see from the promotional literature included).
Here’s the detail from Vintage Synth:
Built in 1979-81, the Soundmaker has Synth, String and Piano/Brass Sections. The Monophonic Synth section has 12 preset sounds (Tuba, Trombone, Trumpet, Sax, Clarinet, Oboe, Flute, Piccolo, Violin, Accordion, El Bass, El Guitar) and one Free patch which lets you use the controls to create your own sound. Basic controls for the filter, the one ADSR for the filter and/or the VCA, and the LFO are laid out plain and simple.
The Polyphonic Preset Synth section has Volume & Brightness controls for its four preset Piano type sounds (Piano, Electric Piano, Honkey Tonk, Brass).
The String section offers a fairly decent string sound with Volume, Brightness, Attack and Sustain controls for a choice of two preset strings (8″ footage or 4″ footage).
The Soundmaker is a bulky synth, weighing in at 27kg! Its keyboard may be split (at middle F only) and the Strings and Poly Synth sections play with the left hand and the Mono Synth plays with the right hand. The keyboard also has polyphonic aftertouch which can be used to control the Mono Synth Brilliance, OSC (vibrato), Synth Glide or Brass Brilliance. The String and Poly Synth sections can be switched to monophonic at the same time. The Farfisa is not the best String Machine you’ll ever hear, but it is very rare and that alone gives these machines some serious vintage appeal.
Here’s the detail on this Soundmaker:
Physically it’s in OK shape. There are some knocks in the walnut veneered cabinet, as you’d expect from a 30-year old instrument. It’s also very heavy (see above) and built like a tank. The only bodywork point to mention really, is that the hole for one leg of the detachable music stand has chipped, leaving a gap about 7cm long. It doesn’t show when the stand is in place, however.
Electronically, this synthesizer is in need of a little attention. The ‘poli synth’ (sic) section works fine. The monosynth section does not. It really is probably the simplest of repairs – but I haven’t the time or skills to carry it out. There is a full set of schematics and a fantastically detailed Service Manual included, so for someone with the ability, this would make an excellent project. It’s also had what appears to be a pitchbend/modulation modification added to the left hand keyboard cheek. Again, it looks like a professionally done job though.
I’m including the original Service Manual, a Sales Brochure, a Brochure/Manual and a patch guide called ‘Some Registrations’ (it’s that organ-based theme again!)
I’m happy to ship worldwide, but remember, this thing is HEAVY. 27kg of heavy, in fact. And that’s before packing materials. UK shipping will be £19.80, Europe £32, USA £126
Check out this great video from gearwire where they interview Dengue Fever’s Ethan Holtzman about his Farfisa and his Nord that he tours with. While he sticks to the Farfisa, among other vintage (and heavy) gear in the studio, he loves his Nord for the road.
He even gives a shout out to Robert’s excellent Combo Organ Heaven!!!
In the battle between authenticity and portability, the Nord Stage Compact has it over Ethan Holtzman’s vintage Farfisa organ, as Ethan opts to leave the old thing home when his band, Dengue Fever, takes to the road [or skies, as the case may be].
Patrick Ogle caught up with Ethan at a Dengue Fever sound check and chatted about the differences between what he uses in the studio and what gear he brings on tour. While Ethan does admire the Nord’s sample patches, their are some Farfisa qualities it cannot reproduce, like the Farfisa’s ability to “harness the power of a nest of bees.” True story.