The Continental Baroque Organ: V305
|The following catalog description of the Vox Continental Baroque comes from the 1968 "The Sound That Travels With the Stars" catalog, the year of the Baroque's introduction.
"Introducing a masterpiece in musical enginnering....the New Vox Continental Baroque Organ: V305. It's a portable orchestra!
It does everything with the touch of a tab! Full 61 note keyboard with upper and lower manuals! All solid state! Two large speakers!
Now, with the simple flip of a tab, you can accent your music with many exciting musical sounds! Go for baroque with a harpsichord, the calm or clamor of a piano, the strum and plucking of a banjo or the zither sounds of the cimbalom! Add the warmth of a banjo, the sparkling excitement of celesta, the mystery of a lute and the cheerfulness of a circus carousel......plus the full sound of the organ. All of this is yours with just one instrument...The Vox Continental Baroque Organ!"
The sounds above were in the upper manual. The lower manual was the standard Continental arrangement---8', 4', 2', and harmonic mixture IV, plus flute and reed tone bars. An eighteen note walking bass section was also included on the lower manual, which could be disabled to extend the standard Continental organ sound to the bottom of the keyboard. No foot clavier was available. Two 6x9 speakers were mounted in the lid of the organ and run from a small power amp that looks suspiciously like the power amp section of a Berkeley II, including germanium output transistors. A knee pedal dropped out of the case to provide either wha or pitch bend functions.
The circuitry of the organ was fairly ingenious for its time. Thomas Organ designed a filtering and sustain circuit that connected to an adapted Super Continental tone generator board to modify the Continental waveforms into the piano, harpsichord, and other sounds of the upper keyboard. While ingeniously conceived, the organ had a terrible reputation for dependability. Due to the complexity of the circuit, these are also fairly hard to work on and repair, so they are not for the weak hearted. Nonetheless, the Continental Baroque is definitely the most rare of the four Vox organ models sold in the US by Thomas. These were never sold outside the US and Canada, as in Europe the Continental 300 was the top line organ, which more resembled the features of a Hammond organ, while the Baroque was much more in the Thomas and Lowrey style.
US retail for a Continental Baroque in 1970 was $1499; a Super Continental was $999; a single was $599 and the Jaguar was $399.
Photos and editorial content courtesy Gary Hahlbeck, North Coast Music
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