anyone know anything?
A friend has uncovered an old organ, Thomas 705.
It looks vaguely “churchy” to me.
It has two manuals, and those foot pedal things.
It may have Leslies in, but I’m not sure.
Anyone know anything about them?
Thomas - solid state? do the keys light up?
Yeah, it has the word “transistor” proudly displayed on one of the labels, (so that makes it early I suppose).
But, the keys don’t light up. It does have several lights above the upper manual that illuminate both keyboards though.
It’s definitely a “fixer upper” though. The wood is a bit dry and dirty, and although it produces sounds, I use that word in its broadest context.
But the wooden case is nicely carved, a gothic churchy look, and a two octave set of footpedals.
It’d probably be an ideal restoration project for an enthusiast.
Old organs like that are cool, but boy are they complicated inside. At least to me. We have a few tube versions (Lowerys) of the sort of thing this Thomas sounds like. Wonder if that’s the same Thomas Organ that bought the Vox name and issued marginal amps as Vox’s? Anyway, they can be cool, especially ones with Leslie’s, but many, many rudimentary contacts, and lotsa electrolytic caps…much to do to get one working. Ours can be tuned, can that one? These things seem to lose tune rapidly. Not really worth any money…most people wanna give 'em away 'cause they take up space and haven’t aged well. Such organs do make sounds that don’t seem to come from modern samplers though; if you’re into old they fit the bill nicely…
Thomas made a series of home/church organs with light up keys, I thought it was the 700 series. I couldn’t find anything on the web about a 705 however.
If it’s free, you know what I’d say. One of the local pawn shops here has a Thomas proudly on sale for 350 us dollars. It’s been there for at least 3 years.
I think you have a nice find there.. I'd say the mid '70's or so.. It's sortta the fore-runner to the digital organs the began to appear.. I serviced Lowery organs in the mid-late-'70's.. They used a top-octave-synthasizer and divider circuits to supply all the lower octaves.. But from there-on everything was analogue... Well.. If the one you have is the series I think it is, the rotating horns for the leslie sounds are made from styro-foam.. They didn't have much "Mass". but they sounded really life-like.. When they worked they souunded pretty nice.. They required a lot of maintenance, though.. The key contacts attracted dust like a magnet.. Just get in there and get your feet wet.. But try hard not to abuse anything while you're in there..
Common sense will and should prevail, while in there.. hehehe.. lol..
Yes it is.
Jennings Musical Instruments (JMI), headed by Tom Jennings and Dick Denney, was started in 1958. Within a couple of years of their initial introduction of the AC-15, VOX was well on its way to being the most influential musical instrument manufacturer of the day. By the mid sixties, VOX had climbed the ladder of success to become one of the worlds largest musical instrument manufacturers and distributors. With most of the major 1960's British rock groups featuring VOX amplifiers in their backline, VOX had to do little to encourage musicians that VOX was the equipment choice of the day.
During the mid sixties JMI began designing solid state amplifiers. Their tube amplifiers while great sounding, were expensive to produce, very heavy (weight wise) and could be difficult to maintain. Converting the JMI amplifiers to solid state was a monumental task that would soon elude VOX. Because of the onslaught of the British invasion, VOX was constantly running up against an inability to produce products in sufficient quantities to satisfy customer demand. About this time, Tom Jennings struck a business deal with Thomas Organ in the USA and and soon after was bought out by The Royston Group and VOX Sound Limited replaced JMI.
Thomas Organ initially imported amplifiers directly from JMI, but because of JMI's inability to supply amplifiers in great quantity, they soon started to design and manufacture their own models and soon abandoned the English amplifiers altogether. This fateful departure from Jennings designed amplifiers soon led to wide spread customer disappointment. This disappointment was fueled by the fact that the Thomas amplifiers didn't sound anything like the British amplifiers and had an even worse reputation for poor reliability. By the early 70's, VOX had fallen out of favor. The company had been sold a number of times by the early 1970's, and Tom Jennings and Dick Denney who had master minded the VOX empire, were no longer participating with VOX products.
Thanks very much for the info guys.
If nothing else, it was very interesting reading, and a wee insight into what happened to the once renowned Vox.
But, I don’t intend doing anything with it. I’ve spent enough years slaving over a hot soldering iron and coating my lungs with with rosin!
Anyway, I’ve more than enough things to waste my time with.
But, I’ll pass on the info, and advise him to stick it on ebay, and if he gets a bite, fair enough, if not, well, winter’s coming and firewood is always welcome.
And, one thing I did find out, is that it’s known as the “Lawrence Welk” model, and if that’s not a good reason to burn it, what is?
it's even older than that Wox; it's an LSL model. Ours is completely analog; 3 tubes per note (one is an oscillator) and a sorta tunable inductor to get each note in pitch. Nice push/pull 6L6 master amplifier, and wooden rotor on the Leslie with the original Jensen Alnico speaker. All of the major contacts have these little neon bulbs in series so when you push down a key, the bulb lights...must be a troubleshooting thing. When you open that rascal, all you see are DOZENS of these little light bulbs attached to the circuit rails and you think "my God...what's all this then?".
We have two, but one is basically an older parts unit. I got the nice organ going, and I'm in the process of turning the spare main amplifier and speaker arrangement into a guitar amp with a built in Leslie...
Clava, you don’t have a picture of that around do you? I’d like to see that. I think I’ll go surf a bit and see what I can find. Dozens of little neon bulbs, hmm? That just sounds too cool.
I think, in that design, they used the neon bulbs as an octave divider circuit… the tubes in each note were the amplifiers for the divided notes… I think… If the tubes were dual triodes, then each triode became, and were then a six octave keyboard… Makes sense… A 71-72 note keyboard… You still have a find, there…
The 6L6 power amp in that organ is quite the amp…
Bill, if you can put it in relatively non-technical terms, how would that neon bulb divider circuit work?
I’d have to dig the schematics out (and yes, I’m very lucky to have them…), but I think the little bulbs are only a contact troubleshooting device. The reason I say this is that the pedal assembly has them too. Each lights up as you push the pedal and make contact with the collector rails. (If I’m missing something here Wox, fill me in. You know more about this kinda traditional electronics than I do.) The pedal assembly was the most easily cleaned set of contacts since it was removable, and them lights actually helped me see how good a job I’d done getting things clean. The lower manual in particular was a pain, since it has all this circuitry around and under, and on top of it. Seems to me the octave devider duties are part of what passes for a preamp stage, which is made up of 3 dual triodes. The preamp stage is on a completely different part of the organ guts than the power amp, and is causing me some extra work in my guitar amp project. You can run a guitar input into the phase inverter section of the power amp and it works, but it really needs a preamp stage which I hafta build.
Still, a cool organ to have around the place, though it takes up space, and is uber heavy. Sounds very different from the Hammond L-series we have too, which is a nice bonus. The Hammond gets more use though (as you might expect…)
Mac would really help here… The neon bulbs act as a voltage regulator circuit. Before VCO amps these were what was called analogue Voltage controlled ossocillators. The triodes became the buffer stages to them… Somehow, they divided the frequencies for each note, in the octave…
Boy, do I ever stand corrected on these electronic designs…
The output signal of those Guitar floor pedal amp-modelers would do nice as the preamp of the organ Amp… It would be worth a try…
O.K. this I get. For the Lowery we've been talking about, this duty is handled by a seperate oscillator tube that's part of the tube cluster/tuning device on each note. And I'm totally down with using an outboard preamp if I have to. I have a big ol' Dukane tube line amp that gets used this way when it's not used as a reamp. Just like to get all the guitar amp controls in one box, like real guitar amp, for this project.
Boy we hijacked this thread good...
I know… I Love it… It’s in my nature to do that… I think it’s in the drinking water…
Bill, Clav, you do with the thread as you wish; I’ve finished with it.
Anyway, I expect my mate’s organ will end up as firewood, the shipping costs of the beast probably outweigh any value it has.