The second-greatest electric organ ever made; only the Hammond organ is cooler. Made by Vox, makers of the Britishest of guitar amps such as the Vox AC30, this combo organ seemed to come in straight from the future when it was introduced in 1962.

It had a screamingly red top. It had a shiny Z stand. And it had the hippest of hip features: a white-on-black keyboard!

The Continental has a single manual with four-octave range. There is a mains on/off switch and a vibrato on/off switch, plus a very unusual drawbar setup perhaps best described as `two by four':

Footages:

  1. 16' -- suboctave
  2. 8' -- basis tone
  3. 4' -- superoctave
  4. IV -- mixture; i.e. 2-2/3' (fifth over superoctave), 2' (third octave), 1-3/5' (tierce over third octave) and 1' (fourth octave) all at once

Voices:

  1. ~ -- sine wave `flute' voice
  2. M -- sawtooth wave `reed' voice

That is, there are two generator sections, one for saw waves and one for sine waves, both with four footages each. The voice drawbars control the generator volumes, so with both ~ and M drawbars in all the way, nothing will be heard.

The Vox Continental has been used by countless rock and R'n'B outfits, most notably with the early Doors (Ray Manzarek later switched to a Gibson Kalamazoo) and, of course, The Animals (can be heard in their version of 'House of the Rising Sun'). It has become the most sought-after transistor organ ever, having gone out of production in 1972. You can occasionally see a Continental on MTV as even hip bands will play them -- sometimes. Mo Solid Gold, a neo-soul band, have the Continental feature prominently (complete with an old non-Leslie rotor cabinet!), even in their videos. Their keyboarder plays it through a weird, headache-inducing multi-effect processor for solos.

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