The V303J British Continental II - Keys

View of the top side of the aluminum "keybed" which supports the
keys, key contact rams, and key contact mechanism. In this image,
the bottom two keys have been reveal the key contact rams.

Key return springs

Underside of keys and upper keyboard contact mechanism

The Continental II has plastic keys

The single Continental (later to be known as the Continental I), introduced in 1962, had wooden keys with plastic overlays. The TC/2M Continental II, introduced in 1965, had plastic keys, as shown above.

When the Continental Organ was in development at JMI in 1961, the Vox product line was primarily sold in the south of England. When developing a product that is expected to have a somewhat limited distribution, as was the case with the first Continental Organ, compromises must be made. One such compromise would involve the keys.

If produced in sufficient numbers, it would unlikely that a manufacturer would choose to have wooden keys on a portable organ. Producing such wooden keys requires tedious hand work. As a result, these are quite expensive to produce.

In true mass production, plastic keys would be a wiser economical choice, but plastic keys have their downside as well. Plastic keys would require the development of a series of very expensive plastic injection molds. The price of the individual plastic keys would be low, but the high tooling costs would have to be factored into the cost of the parts.

When developing the original Continental, Vox had to decide between an expensive, hand made wooden key board that did not require any special tooling or a set of relatively inexpensive plastic keys that had a high tooling cost. In 1962, the linited expected sales of the Continental Organ made the choice of wooden keys to be the practical decision.

By 1964, the Beatles led the first wave of the British Invasion to America. These new British groups were mostly powered by Vox amps and organs. Demand for Vox products throughout the world was driven to a feverish level. It was now possible for Vox to tool their products for mass production, and the plastic keys used on the Continental II are a good example of this development.


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Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music

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