The history of electronic musical instruments from 1800 to 2019
The ‘Solovox’, Hammond Organ Co, USA, 1940
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.
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.
17 thoughts on “The ‘Solovox’, Hammond Organ Co, USA, 1940”
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
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?
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.
I have something that might interest you….https://photos.app.goo.gl/wZd86iW2i5LQxFRp8
I have an old solo vox for sale. If you are interested please get in touch. It has one burned out tube. I know that because I saw it flash.
I am interested. How much are you asking for the Solovox?
Just saved a keyboard unit only from a piano getting junked, no electronics cabinet. The electronics unit looks identical to the RT series of full pedal Hammond organs with 32 pedal notes plus solo(vox) unit.
The first reverbs were vertical springs in tubes of oil. That was Hammond’s first reverb’ used in the oldest tall cabinets.
I have a solovox tone cabinet from the 1940’s that I got at a flea market many years ago. At the time I was rather inexperienced with electronics, and I attempted to play my Kay upright bass through it. Needless to say I blew out the old solovox with a room full of smoke. I still have the old solovox and was wondering if it’s worth anything, but only for its wood cabinet. Its guts still smell smoky after 40 years when it went POOF!
Playing the bass probably didn’t blow it, unless you shorted something across the B+. Most likely the power transformer blew bc of shorted filter capacitors. If you pull the 5Y3 tube out and turn it on ,and it smokes , it’s toast. If it doesn’t , it may can be saved. By all means don’t put the tube back in until you have it checked out. If it’s a goner , you can still get $$ for it for parts on eBay
I have one of these and will to trade or sell
Sure, I’m interested. Price? Condition- does it play? Which model? Where is it located? –
Unrelated reply but I have a solovox model L series A. I have the keyboard legs and hardware. All the tubes speaker and chassis everything but the cabinet. All in good shape on pin missing on the connector and the speaker come has a couple tears. If you are interested in it for parts I would like $50 plus shipping approx $50 I am in northern California firstname.lastname@example.org thanks
I came across a Hammond Solovox Tone Cabinet, Model L. don’t know if it works or not. If interested email me and I can send pictures. I would like to sell it asap. Thank you.
I need the following replacement tube (Solovox Model L):
Sylvania 5Y3GT. Plus how can I get the plug in wire replaced? The original is cloth covered with an old style plug.
I have a 1940 hammond solovox organ I am looking to sell. The toner cabinet is in good condition and the keyboard is missing one key.It played well when I brought it home 15 tears ago.I hit one of the switches and it stopped playing.I have not checked it out but I do believe itt needs a new tube.Dont know anything about them but I am looking to sell it for a reasonable price.Make me an offer please. Jim Stein 602 487 6620 call with any questions I am located in phx az
Found this beautiful, unique machine. Model J Series A Serial 30930.
Have a Solovox Model L with speaker al in good shape . If someone would be interested they can have it . I would like it to go to a good home. it was my dad’s. I am in Kalamazoo Mi. Pianodeb1950@ yahoo.com.