Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Concussions: Guitorgan

It’s an organ. It’s guitar. It’s two instruments in one. That was Bob Murrell’s idea when he unveiled the first Guitorgan at the 1967 National Association of Music Merchants’ (NAMM) show in Chicago.

Produced by Murrell’s Musicsonics International (AKA MCI), this Frankenstein of an instrument merged organ circuitry into the body of a thin line hollow bodied electric guitar. The guitars were imported from a variety of Japanese companies and were retrofitted with the organ electronics

The organ circuitry was developed by Baldwin and the sounds were triggered when the string grounded on the segmented frets to produce the individual notes. Fully polyphonic, the organ had 12 oscillators – one for each note. In addition, switches controlled the various organ stops, pipe lengths, vibrato, and sustain. Over the years, the design was improved; however, it never was a popular instrument.

Today’s selection appropriately named “Guitorgan” apparently features the unusual instrument. If you listen closely, you can hear some inherent tracking problems with the organ sounds – but they are ever so slight. The Concussions, who merge surf and other retro sounds while playing vintage designed instruments, are today's featured artist. Like the drawing on the cover of their “Magic Fingers” CD, the band members wear skull masks while performing in public.

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