|Fate||Music division purchased by Bontempi|
Farfisa is a manufacturer of electronics based in Osimo, Italy, founded in 1946.The name is commonly associated with a series of compact electronic organs manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Compact, FAST, Professional and VIP ranges, and later, a series of multi-timbral synthesizers. They were used by a number of popular musicians including Sam the Sham, Pink Floyd, Sly Stone, Blondie, and The Philip Glass Ensemble.
The company was formed after three Italian accordion manufacturers combined to form a single company. Electronic instruments began to be produced in the late 1950s, and combo organs were introduced in response to similar instruments such as the Vox Continental. Farfisa continued to make organs and synthesizers into the 1980s. The brand name has survived, and Farfisa is now a consumer electronics manufacturer.
Farfisa was established in 1946 following the mergers of Settimo Soprani, Scandalli and Frontalini, whose businesses had suffered during World War II. The company was officially named Fabbriche Riunite Fisarmoniche Italiane S.p.A (United Italian Accordion Factories), and production was based in Castelfidardo, Ancona. It quickly became the world's largest supplier of accordions; the International Accordion Museum now occupies the site of the original factory.
During the 1950s, Farfisa began to diversify their range of instruments after sales of accordions began to decline, including radios, televisions and musical instruments. The Microrgan, a portable reed organ was released in 1958; it used an electric fan to automatically blow air across the reeds. Two years later, the company developed the Cordovox accordion with Lowrey, which combined accordion reeds with electronically generated sounds.
Following the introduction of the Vox Continental combo organ in 1962, Farfisa decided to quickly build a competing instrument using the technical expertise they had gained from working with Lowrey. The first model, the Combo Compact, was introduced in 1964. Production was moved to a factory in Aspio Terme.The relatively cheap labour in Italy, compared to the UK and US meant that Farfisa were able to produce a greater quantity of combo organs at a cheaper cost, and consequently they were picked up by many amateur and semi-professional groups. Unlike later organs, the Compact series is not fully transistorised, and included high tube circuitry for the reverb unit. Distribution in the U.S. was handled by the Chicago Musical Instrument Company, which also owned Gibson, and the instruments were originally known as CMI organs when introduced there. Unlike other combo organs like the Vox Continental, Farfisa organs have integrated legs, which can be folded up and stored inside its base. This design was copied for later combo organs such as the Gibson G-101. The organs also had a flip-down modesty panel displaying the brand name.
The line of FAST (Farfisa All-Silicon Transistorized) organs was launched at the 1968 NAMM show.These superseded the earlier germanium transistors used in the Compact models, and were styled to closer resemble the Vox Continental, including chrome stands. The Professional series appeared around the same time, which included more features than earlier models. The VIP models were introduced in 1970, and included a foot-operated pitch bend. At the height of its production, Farfisa operated three factories to produce instruments in Camerano in the Marche region of Italy.
By the late 1960s, major groups had moved on from combo organs and begun to use the Hammond organ more prominently.In response, Farfisa advertised that its latest organs at that point could emulate a Hammond and had a full set of drawbars. Production of combo organs began to be phased out in the late 1970s after synthesizers had become more commonplace, with the last unit being produced in 1982. Farfisa has survived into the 21st century, and brand mainly produces intercom systems with the company ACI Farfisa which makes and distributes systems for video intercoms, access control, video surveillance, and home automation. The Bontempi group owns the rights for Farfisa keyboards.
The Compact series had four models. On the Compact Duo dual manual organs, tone and volume were regulated by controls on the F/AR combination preamp, spring reverb and power supply unit.On most other models the tone controls and a bass section volume were located on an indented panel on the rear of the keyboard. Underneath the keyboards, a knee-high lever could be actuated for the tone boost feature, turned on by rocker levers on the console. All models had reverb except for the mini-compact. Optional feature: 13-note bass pedals (not for the mini-compact).
The Mini-Compact is the smallest of the Compact Series. It has only four octaves, with no bass on the early models. The later version had a selector switch to choose bass or high sound in the lowest octave; these models had grey naturals with white sharps in the bass octave. Some of these extended bass models have only three voices (sounds), while the later models had six voices.
The model was used by Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Kate Radley of Spiritualized and by Steve Reich in his piece Four Organs.[ citation needed ]
The Compact Duo weighs 90 pounds (41 kg) and supports 49-key manuals. It has been used by Rick Wright (Pink Floyd), Stereolab, Al Kooper (Blues Project), Michael MacNeil (Simple Minds), Keith Emerson (ELP), and Clint Boon (The Inspiral Carpets).
The FAST (Farfisa All Silicon Transistor) Series models had a metal cabinet covered with a washable skin plate and plastic edges, chrome folding legs, retractable carrying handles, and a removable music rack. This model of Farfisa was used by Philip Glass on some of his early recordings. This series had the combo organs (FAST 2,3,4,5,Console), and the Professional (Original, Duo, and Pianos)
Features, same as FAST 4, plus:
Notable artists: Candida Doyle (Pulp), The Ventures (seen on Hawaii Five-O clip), Irmin Schmidt (Can) Laurent Sinclair of (Taxi Girl),
These are the most sophisticated models made by Farfisa. In 1972 Leir Siegler and started producing VIP models and custom models.
During this same time period, Farfisa also produced a line of effect pedals: the Repeat/Volume pedal (in orange), the Wah-Wah/Volume pedal (in green), and the Sferasound pedal (in blue). There was also a high-end amplifier called the 80 or S-80, which came with speaker cabinets, either the Twin-80, or the BR-80.
The Farfisa Matador was produced in the early to mid-1970s. It is a compact organ with a built-in speaker and amplifier. Several models of Matador were produced.
In the mid-1970s Farfisa produced the "Stereo Syntorchestra", with a three octave keyboard, and "mono" and "poli" tone generator sections. The "poli" section has four timbres: Trombone, Trumpet, Piano, and Viola. The mono section is the "synth" part of the machine. It has nine timbres: Tuba, Trombone, Trumpet, Bari Sax, Alto Sax, Bass Flute, Flute, Piccolo, and Violin. This section is monophonic, with a highest note priority. The mono section can be modified by two envelope controls and a wah-wah; there is also a variable portamento. Only one timbre from each section can be used at a time. Each section has a brilliance control, which adds more top end to the sound, and a variable speed vibrato, which has a delay function, for delayed vibrato effects. The Syntorchestra also has separate outputs for each of its two sections. Farfisa also produced two very large organs which incorporated the Syntorchestra at this time, the 259r and 6290r "Maharani" organs.
Some examples of recordings including the Farfisa Syntorchestra are New Age of Earth by Ashra (Manuel Göttsching) and Moondawn by Klaus Schulze (especially the first half of the B-side, "Mindphaser").
The Syntorchestra was produced at a similar period in the mid-1970s to the more basic String Orchestra, which included piano and string sections. The Soundmaker was Farfisa's next non-organ instrument, with a further development of the synthesizer approach, incorporating string, brass and monosynth sections.
The "Polychrome", built at the end of the 1970s, was Farfisa's largest and most well-featured non-organ instrument, as an analog synthesizer featuring vocal, brass, string, and percussion sections, and including a built in chorus, phaser and modulation as well as aftertouch sensitivity.
The "Transicord" was a transistor electric accordion. Essentially, it was not a true accordion; an "accordion-shaped combo organ" would have been perhaps a more fitting name. There were no reeds; it was purely electronic. It was designed to be used in conjunction with Farfisa's amplifiers, and had a multi-pin cable that connected the controls of the accordion, with the controls of the amplifier, or the F/AR Reverb preamp power supply unit.
The Transicord came in two models, a "standard" and a "DeLuxe." The standard has one row of stop-tabs similar to those found on a Combo Compact organ, and is reported to have a similar sound. The color scheme was grey with light blue and green. The DeLuxe has two rows of stop-tabs and is black in color.
Opening and closing the bellows reportedly engage an effect similar to the "tone boost" knee lever on Combo Compact model organs. The Transicord can also be equipped with the same volume pedal used for many other Farfisa organs.
Among the last combo organs made by Farfisa were the Bravo and Commander, produced at the end of the 1970s. The Commander reprised part of the design of the VIP 205 in updated form, while the lightweight and simple Bravo's sound was a move to reflect the changing tastes of the time.
One of the first rock organists to play and spotlight the Farfisa was Domingo Samudio, known as "Sam the Sham", who with his group The Pharaohs had their first hit "Wooly Bully" in 1965. [ citation needed ] and "Incense and Peppermints".In 1966, a Farfisa was prominently heard in "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" recorded by the South Carolina-based group The Swingin' Medallions. It also featured prominently in "96 Tears", "She's About a Mover"
Spooner Oldham, the house organist of Alabama recording studio Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, can be heard playing the Farfisa on numerous southern soul recordings from the 1960s, including "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge.
Richard Wright's use of the Farfisa Compact Duo was integral to Pink Floyd's sound, the organ being his main instrument on the albums from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn to Ummagumma . By 1970, he had started to use a Hammond Organ onstage and alternated between that and the Farfisa, depending on the song.The Farfisa was last used on 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), but Wright reintroduced it to his keyboard setup on David Gilmour's 2006 tour, featured on the Pink Floyd song "Echoes".
Sly Stone from Sly and the Family Stone played a Farfisa Professional, as seen at their 1969 Woodstock Festival performance.
Hugh Banton from Van der Graaf Generator originally used the Farfisa Professional, applying his knowledge of electronics and contacts as a former BBC engineer to customise it with a variety of additional effects pedals, including distortion and phasing. The Professional is the only organ used on The Aerosol Grey Machine and The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other , after which he also started using Hammonds. It was retired after the group's 1972 split.
John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin used a Farfisa on "Dancing Days" from Houses of the Holy ,as well as occasionally using a VIP-255 or a Professional model on stage. Another famous recording is the 1970 A Tribute to Jack Johnson by Miles Davis, where Herbie Hancock plays spontaneous licks on a broken Farfisa.
Composer Philip Glass began using Farfisa organs with his ensemble in the late 1960s.
With the advent of synthesizers, Farfisa combo organs seemed to be headed for obsolescence, but were revived in the late 1970s by several punk rock and New Wave bands (especially those influenced by 1960s garage rock and psychedelia).Blondie's Jimmy Destri used the Farfisa as his main instrument, and included stage tricks such as playing it with a hammer. Other groups using Farfisas included The B-52s, Suicide, Squeeze, Human Switchboard, XTC and Talking Heads embraced Farfisas as substitutes for more sophisticated keyboards and synthesizers. Their classic sound, in turn, became a staple on multitimbral instruments, first synthesized, then sampled from the originals.
Numerous songs by the Industrial group Cabaret Voltaire use Farfisa drum machines and organs.
Elton John used the Farfisa on several early recordings, including the 1972 hit "Crocodile Rock".He called the Farfisa "the worst organ sound possible" and used it in order to sound like Johnny and the Hurricanes.
Composer Giorgio Moroder used the Farfisa i.e. on Donna Summer's smash hit I Feel Love.
The introduction of the Farfisa into West Africa during the 1960s and 1970s played an important role in evolution of Highlife, Mbalax, and later Afro-rock. This can be heard in the work of seminal acts like K. Frimpong and Monomono.[ citation needed ]
The Farfisa sound is today used to impart a stereotypical 1960s-retro essence to music. It was a key ingredient to the sound of bands such as Inspiral Carpets and has appeared recently on many albums by contemporary artists. The Farfisa brand name, meanwhile, continues to appear on contemporary MIDI keyboards.
The Italian keyboardist/artist Joey Mauro used various Farfisas (Syntorchestra, Professional, Compact, Deluxe, and VIP) to create sound in his Italo disco songs.
The ensemble from Belarus "Pesnyary" used Farfisa VIP in their songs.
One of Farfisa's most distinctive and expensive organs was the Farfisa Pergamon 200 kilograms (440 lb), the Pergamon didn't have a portable version. In 1983, Todd Rundgren's "Bang The Drum All Day" was Farfisa-driven., which debuted in 1981. Due to its weight of over
John Linnell of They Might Be Giants used a Farfisa organ at the band's first public performance in 1982.
The Post-rock group Stereolab used various Farfisa organs extensively throughout their career. They were also used by Candida Doyle of the Sheffield group Pulp. A Farfisa was used on Mike Watt's "Against the 70's", played by former Nirvana bassist, Krist Novoselic.
The rock group Green Day used a Farfisa organ on the song "Misery" from the album Warning , played by their bassist Mike Dirnt.
An effects unit or effects pedal is an electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source through audio signal processing.
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935. Various models have been produced, most of which use sliding drawbars to vary sounds. Until 1975, Hammond organs generated sound by creating an electric current from rotating a metal tonewheel near an electromagnetic pickup, and then strengthening the signal with an amplifier to drive a speaker cabinet. The organ is commonly used with the Leslie speaker.
The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.
Vox is a musical equipment manufacturer founded in 1957 by Thomas Walter Jennings in Dartford, Kent, England. The company is most famous for making the Vox AC30 guitar amplifier, used by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Queen, Dire Straits, U2, and Radiohead, the Vox Continental electric organ, the Vox wah-wah pedal used by Jimi Hendrix, and a series of innovative electric guitars and bass guitars. Since 1992, Vox has been owned by the Japanese electronics firm Korg.
In music, the organ is a keyboard instrument of one or more pipe divisions or other means for producing tones, each played with its own keyboard, played either with the hands on a keyboard or with the feet using pedals.
An instrument amplifier is an electronic device that converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal of a musical instrument into a larger electronic signal to feed to a loudspeaker. An instrument amplifier is used with musical instruments such as an electric guitar, an electric bass, electric organ, synthesizers and drum machine to convert the signal from the pickup or other sound source into an electronic signal that has enough power, due to being routed through a power amplifier, capable of driving one or more loudspeaker that can be heard by the performers and audience.
A guitar amplifier is an electronic device or system that strengthens the weak electrical signal from a pickup on an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar so that it can produce sound through one or more loudspeakers, which are typically housed in a wooden cabinet. A guitar amplifier may be a standalone wood or metal cabinet that contains only the power amplifier circuits, requiring the use of a separate speaker cabinet–or it may be a "combo" amplifier, which contains both the amplifier and one or more speakers in a wooden cabinet. There is a wide range of sizes and power ratings for guitar amplifiers, from small, lightweight "practice amplifiers" with a single 6" speaker and a 10 watt amp to heavy combo amps with four 10” or four 12" speakers and a powerful 100 watt amplifier, which are loud enough to use in a nightclub or bar performance.
An electric organ, also known as electronic organ, is an electronic keyboard instrument which was derived from the harmonium, pipe organ and theatre organ. Originally designed to imitate their sound, or orchestral sounds, it has since developed into several types of instruments:
Bass pedals are an electronic musical instrument with a foot-operated pedal keyboard with a range of one or more octaves. The earliest bass pedals from the 1970s consisted of a pedalboard and analog synthesizer tone generation circuitry packaged together as a unit. The bass pedals are plugged into a bass amplifier or PA system so that their sound can be heard. Since the 1990s, bass pedals are usually MIDI controllers, which have to be connected to a MIDI-compatible computer, electronic synthesizer keyboard, or synth module to produce musical tones. Some 2010s-era bass pedals have both an onboard synth module and a MIDI output.
Keyboard expression is the ability of a keyboard musical instrument to change tone or other qualities of the sound in response to velocity, pressure or other variations in how the performer depresses the keys of the musical keyboard. Expression types include:
Chord organ is a kind of home organ that has a single short keyboard and a set of chord buttons, enabling the musician to play a melody or lead with one hand and accompanying chords with the other, like the accordion with a set of chord buttons which was originated from a patent by Cyrill Demian in 1829, etc.
The Wurlitzer electronic piano is an electric piano manufactured and marketed by Wurlitzer from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s. The sound is generated by striking a metal reed with a hammer, which induces an electric current in a pickup; although conceptually similar to the Rhodes piano, the sound is different.
The Fender Contempo Organ is a combo organ made by Fender during the late 1960s. It was designed to compete with similar instruments such as the Vox Continental and Farfisa Compact, and was only in production for a few years.
The Vox Continental is a transistorised combo organ that was manufactured between 1962 and 1971 by the British musical equipment manufacturer Vox. It was designed for touring musicians and as an alternative to the heavy Hammond organ. It supports drawbars in a similar manner to the Hammond, and has distinctive reverse-coloured keys. The sound is generated by a series of oscillators, using a frequency divider to span multiple octaves.
A combo organ, so-named and classified by popular culture due to its original intended use by small, touring jazz, pop and dance groups known as "combo bands", as well as some models having "Combo" as part of their brand or model names, is an electronic organ of the frequency divider type, generally produced between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. This type of organ predated, and contributed largely to, the development of modern synthesizers. The combo organ concept, at least in the context of mass-production, is thought to have arisen from popular demand, when smaller home organs were seen in music stores. Combo organs were probably originally developed in the United Kingdom, based on the Univox polyphonic version of the Clavioline, and some models included the inner-workings of Italian-made transistor accordions. They were the brainchild of necessity for portable organs of simple design, mainly for use in these small groups. Combo organs ended up having a major impact on the music scene of the mid- and late 1960s, particularly on rock and roll of that era.
The Gibson G-101,, is a transistorised combo organ, manufactured in the late 1960s by the Lowrey Organ Company in the late 1960s. It was also known as the Kalamazoo K-101. It provided a 61-key manual with a variety of stops accessed by rocker switches and a separate bass system.
The Doric Transistorized Organ is a model of combo organ produced in Italy in the 1960s.
A keyboard amplifier is a powered electronic amplifier and loudspeaker in a wooden speaker cabinet used for amplification of electronic keyboard instruments. Keyboard amplifiers are distinct from other types of amplification systems such as guitar amplifiers due to the particular challenges associated with making keyboards sound louder on stage; namely, to provide solid low-frequency sound reproduction for the deep basslines which keyboards can play and crisp high-frequency sound for the high-register notes. Another difference between keyboard amplifiers and guitar/bass amplifiers is that keyboard amps are usually designed with a relatively flat frequency response and low distortion. In contrast, many guitar and bass amp designers purposely make their amplifiers modify the frequency response, typically to "roll off" very high frequencies, and most rock and blues guitar amps, and since the 1980s and 1990s, even many bass amps are designed to add distortion or overdrive to the instrument tone.
The Korg CX-3 is a clonewheel organ that simulates the sound of an electromechanical Hammond organ and Leslie speaker. The CX-3 was first introduced in 1979.
A digital accordion is an electronic musical instrument that uses the control features of a traditional accordion to trigger a digital sound module that produces a synthesized or digitally sampled accordion sounds or, in most instruments, a range of non-accordion sounds, such as orchestral instruments, pipe organ, piano, guitar, and so on. Digital accordions typically encode and transmit key presses and other input as Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) messages. Most digital accordions need to be plugged into a keyboard amplifier or PA system to hear their sounds.
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