The ‘Solovox’, Hammond Organ Co, USA, 1940

Hammond Solovox
Hammond Solovox

The Solovox was designed by engineers Alan Young, John Hanert, Laurens Hammond (speaker cabinet) and George Stephens of the Hammond Organ Co and manufactured in the United States between 1940 and 1948. The Hammond Solovox was a monophonic ‘keyboard attachment’ instrument intended to accompany the piano with organ type lead voices – similar to the Clavioline and Tuttivox. The three octave short keyed keyboard was stored on a sliding mounting under the piano keyboard with a knee operated volume control. The instrument was connected to an electronic sound generation box, amplifier and speaker housing by three thick cables and derived it’s sound from a single LC oscillator with  a one octave frequency range – the signal from which was then passed through a series of 5 frequency dividers to create a further two octaves.

Hammond Solovox
Hammond Solovox
The Solovox (J+K models) used two vibrating metal reeds modulate the oscillator frequency to create a vibrato effect, in later models this was replaced by a second oscillator acting as a vibrato oscillator.On the front of the instrument below the keyboard there were a series of large thumb operated buttons for oscillator range (switchable +/- 3 octaves: ‘soprano’, ‘contralto’,’tenor’ , ‘bass’), vibrato, attack time, ‘deep tone’, ‘full tone’, ‘1st voice’, 2nd voice’, ‘brilliant’ and a switch for selecting woodwind, string sound or mute. The Solovox was able to create a range of string, woodwind and organ type sounds and was widely used in light music of its time.

Solovox Production Models

  • Model J (1940–1946)
  • Model K (1946–1948)
  • Model L (1948–1950)

Solovox patent files:

Manuals


Sources:

2 thoughts on “The ‘Solovox’, Hammond Organ Co, USA, 1940”

  1. I bought a Hammond solovox tune cabinet model K In fair shape and I was going to make a speaker box for my tiki bar . I was wanting to find out if I should repair it and sell it ,don’t know much about them just though the wood box was nice to redo and put in my bar . Thanks for your time James

  2. Hi, my name is Derek Riggs.
    thank you for your movie, it was very entertaining.
    I am planning on making a piece of music using the very oldest electronic instruments that I can find. so I was looking to find the oldest reverb unit. it seems that the first reverb units were spring reverbs made by Hammond some time in the mid 1930’s. they added a reverb unit to their keyboards to improve the sound, which was very flat without it.
    anyway I was wondering if you have come across any very old Hammond keyboard from that era and if you knew what the built in reverb actually sounded like?
    also
    I have a suggestion about the big metal box inside the cabinet of the solovox. Hammond mounted the reverbs inside the speaker cabinet
    (to help cope with vibrations.) their first reverbs were called “necklace reverbs” and there were three coils which actually hung down like a necklace, so the case for them might have been large and thin, a bit like a pizza box. so the mysterious box in there might be a very old necklace reverb unit. but this is just a guess.

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