Say cheese.

December 2, 2012 6:02 PM

What's in the box?

(unSane's sockpuppet here cos I used up my weekly post on the challenge)

In the late 90s I had a Vox Continental Mk II which I played in a surf band. One of the surf bands we often played with had a Farfisa which always sounded WAY better to me. So I've been jonesing for one ever since then.

Imagine my joy when I saw a Farfisa Compact I advertised semi-nearby (that means a 2-hour drive round here). I went so see it, but it was in terrible shape... half the keys didn't work, one was stuck on, etc. So I knocked the guy down to a ridiculous price and took it home.

When I opened it up I found out why it wasn't working -- there was a huge mouse nest inside. Once I cleaned that out and hit all the contacts with some cleaner, and worked the keys, I managed to get it back to 99% functionality. There's just a couple of 4' contacts that aren't working but you don't really notice.

Anyway, the point is HOLY SHIT. Farfisas have a reputation for cheese but when you put it in full boost mode this thing will kill cows at two hundred paces. The entire house was shaking. It's so much less POLITE than a Hammond or Vox.

The only problem is, like my Vox, it weighs a friggin' ton. Makes the Fender Twin look light. Oh, did I mention how it sounds through the Twin...?
posted by sweet mister (6 comments total)

Man, that's a beauty. I love the sound of these organs... it's a good thing I don't have room for any more "stuff" right now, or else I'd probably bankrupt myself picking up pieces like this.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:10 AM on December 4, 2012

I have a Mini-Compact from the same late '60s era, and count your blessing that just a few of the contacts are bad. Mine has a bad oscillator card which I've been meaning to fix for years, but it involves a lot of desoldering in tight spaces just to remove the card. Farfisas sound amazing, except when a transistor dies and it produces that terrible whistling static tone.

There's a decent Yahoo Group called ComboOrgan which has lots of advice and support docs, if you need them.
posted by Paid In Full at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2012

Heh. Well, speaking of heavy boxes with 'portable' keyboard instruments inside – I've been looking at gigging a bit here in Albuquerque, so naturally I need something I can haul around. I've tried a lot of electronic pianos, and I hate all of them; they're okay, but they're really just a completely different instrument from a piano. And I can't really do organs. I've had a little fun playing them, and I've got a really crap Hammond at my house that I mess around with now and then, but they don't really work for me as an extended workaday instrument.

So a few weeks ago I realized that portable pianos exist – a weird hybrid breed born in that space of time just before they figured out how to make sort of passable electronic pianos. Specifically, the Yamaha CP70, which looks like this when set up but breaks down to two boxes like this for portability. And now I'm gradually scrounging up enough money to purchase one of these suckers – although I'll probably end up paying freight, since the things weigh around 300 pounds (!) but I don't even care at this point as long as it is actually possible in some way for me to take it to gigs.
posted by koeselitz at 6:51 PM on December 4, 2012

Oh, God, I love CP70s. They are just fucking wonderful, K. There are a couple of really good samples of them that are worth playing with -- the Hollow Sun one is my favourite. They are staggeringly heavy though.

I've tried a lot of stage pianos too and the two best ones I've used are the Roland RD700 and the on on my Korg SV1 -- both have fantastic feel -- but I can imagine they are not organic enough for your playing.

The great thing about the CP70 is they have this sort of funky wrongness to them, especially in the bass register... lots of strange organic beating... wonderful.
posted by unSane at 7:51 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, for a long time I tried to convince myself that I was just being superstitious for preferring acoustic pianos, but there is still something really very different about them – it's largely in the way the strings ring together and against each other harmonically. Someday somebody is going to learn to approximate that digitally, and I don't even know that it'd be that hard; maybe if that happens I'll have to reevaluate, but for now, a real piano is what I want.

I'm actually thinking about trying to get a little trailer to lug it around in if I need to. I'm not really sure how my little Nissan will handle something that large. But of course, since it's an instrument, that practical crap is really secondary to me actually acquiring the thing.
posted by koeselitz at 7:24 AM on December 5, 2012

Cargo trailers are a wonderful wonderful thing for moving equipment around. I almost bought one this summer. If you can run to it, getting one with a 6' interior height makes a huge difference to the ease of getting heavy stuff in and out, as do barn doors. On the other hand, these things are awful cute and would handle your CP70, and your Nissan would probably be fine. They are a bit of a thief magnet so you have to think about security.
posted by unSane at 8:19 AM on December 5, 2012

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