The original VOX Continental was a transistor based organ from the 1960’s. Famous for its orange paint job and reversed keys almost as much as the sound. And that sound was awesome. Used famously on tracks by the Animals and The Doors it defined much of the sound of the 60’s. Well, it’s back and it’s reclaiming the name but it’s actually a very different animal.
This new evolution is designed as a stage keyboard. In many ways, it’s more traditional than the original, while being more innovative. Gone are the reversed keys, replaced with a regular key bed. But it has a newly designed “light-touch waterfall” feel to give the playability of an organ while also making it a half decent piano. So you lose the cool keys and gain some playability. The bold orange colouring remains, although they call it “scarlet” for reasons that are unlikely to become clear at the moment.
Is it an organ?
The VOX Continental is not a transistor based organ. This is a keyboard that “meticulously” models 3 vintage organs. So it’s not really a VOX, it just sounds an awful lot like one. Along with the original Continental they’ve also modelled the Korg CX-3 tonewheel organ and something called the COMPACT, which is probably the Farfisa but they don’t want to mention it by name.
But it doesn’t stop there. It also contains 3 electric pianos, one based on Tines, one on Reeds and one on FM. So that’s presumably a Rhodes, a Wurlitzer and a DX7. It’s turning out to be quite a decent machine.
Let’s not forget the acoustic pianos. You get a Grand, an Upright and an Electric Grand to complete the set.
On the front panel is a range of controls for shaping and customising the sound. The ones that stand out are the “revolutionary” LED equipped touch bars that shift depending on the situation. When playing an organ part they function as drawbars. When playing a layered instrument they become controls for envelope and filter. Or when EQ is on they act as a nine band master EQ.
The VOX has a good range of effects, all the usual types including delays, reverbs, drive and wah to give that authentic feel. and at the end of the chain they’ve stuck in the Korg Nutube vacuum tube to generate warm overtones and that distinctive tube response.
It’s a bit of a monster. Reminds of the similarly shaped Korg GrandStage Piano which is not a good thing in my view. The styling doesn’t really reflect the classic lines of the original and in many ways is a missed opportunity to do something funky. However, it’s a competent and complete stage piano/organ solution that puts some great sounds into a reliable and hardworking hardware format. And you’ve got to love the orange (scarlet).
The Vox Continental will be released in October at a cost of £1,769 for the 61-note version and £1,869 for the 73-note model.More information on the webpage.