Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yamaha E-70, E50 and E-30 Electone Organs, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

Yamaha E-70, E50 and E-30 Electone Organs advertisement from page 23 in Contemporary Keyboard November 1977.

Normally I'm not an organ fan. And as a general rule, I flip by piano, electric piano and organ advertisements when reading through old issues of CK. For the most part, that is all Yamaha advertised for the first 11 months of 1977 (well, that and Yamaha music courses). Call me a synth-snob, but these ads just don't catch my interest.

But, Yamaha had a good reason for putting organ, electric piano, and organ ads in CK. Tom Darter, editor for Contemporary Keyboard at the time this ad appeared, presented the late 1976 survey results in the "From the editor" section of the February 1977 issue. And according to the survey:
  • 56% play acoustic piano
  • 50% play electric piano
  • 44% play electric organ
  • 35% play synthesizer
  • 11% play pipe organ
  • 9% play harpsichord
  • 5% play accordion
That's right. Only 35% of CK readers in 1976 played synthesizers. And so, Yamaha continued to advertise pianos, electric pianos, and organs throughout 1977, and I continued to ignore them - this ad included. Quite frankly, this ad and Yamaha organs in general would have continued to go totally unnoticed except that I was surfing around the Web and came across a small tidbit of information that I found rather intriguing.

It was recent comments on Vintage Synth Explorer's CS-80 page where "Flametopfred" wrote on January 20, 2011:
"In more recent years I have found the Electone E-70 and E-75 to be very good "siblings" of the CS-80 and retain many of the same sounds - - with the added bonus of dual sound banks, keyboard coupling, separate CS-80 bass synth, drum machine and arpeggiator."
And in response, "Mike Thompson" wrote on February 13, 2011:
"I also recently obtained an Electone E-70, and I am glad I played the CS-80 so I can now appreciate the similarities between the two..."
And "Bohemian86" commented on February 20, 2011:
"Yeah the E70 can be a quick shortcut to the CS sound. They also might be useful for parts for a non-working CS polysynth. I have one right now, unfortunately had to disassemble that beast to fit it down the steps. "
Well, ain't that intriguing! I hadn't heard anything about this apparent relationship between the CS-80 and the E-series Electones.

So, I decided to look up Yamaha's ads for the E-70 and it seems the E-series first appeared in CK in November 1977 with this ad for the E-70, E-50 and E-30 organs. . It continued to run fairly regularly throughout the winter, spring and summer until its last showing in July 1978. And, coincidentally, it was kinda replaced by an ad for the CS-80. So, timing-wise, these E-series organs and the CS-80 could very well have contained similar technology innards.

Reading through this ad, I found the ad-copy to be very "organ-y" until I came to the last paragraph, where it stated:
"What gives Yamaha's new Electone consoles such realistic voices and incredible versatility is a technology called Pulse Analog Synthesizing System, PASS for short."
Hmmm - "Pulse Analog Synthesizing System". Synthesis!

Actually, it sounded like a lot of hype to me. But, Yamaha wasn't really known for "hype", especially back in 1977.

A quick Google search brought me to the Electone Museum Web site, where it was explained that the E-70 (top of the line model), E-50 (mid-tier), and E-30 (smallest) organs all used PASS, which "took technology from the GX-1 and incorporated it into a consumer model instrument. The ramifications revolutionized the organ industry. Instruments voices began evolving towards emulating the true orchestral instruments rather than theater organ equivalents".

I recall I mentioned the GX-1 back in a June 2010 blog post about the Yamaha SY-2. Turns out the SY-2's filter has a connection to the GX-1. And the GX-1 has a connection to the CS-80. Ahhhhh.

Maybe PASS wasn't that "hype"-y a term. This whole thing definitely deserved more digging into.

But first...

Dinner. Stay-tuned for more research on the E-70 organ.

End note: Some of those other 1976 Contemporary Keyboard survey results are rather interesting too.
  • Average age of CK reader: 25.6 years
  • 86% of readers are male
  • 75% play rock
  • 62% play jazz
  • 61% play classical music
  • 51% play pop music
  • 40% play the blues
  • 28% delve into avant-garde music
  • 23% play country
  • 19% play traditional ragtime
  • 65% are professional or semi-pro musicians
  • 75% own TVs (what?)
  • 91% own stereos
  • 96% read standard music notation
  • 44% have had more that 10 years of formal keyboard study
  • average reader is a college graduate
  • 24% also play percussion
  • 15% work with brass instruments
  • 12% with reed
  • 9% with string
I wonder how this compares to today's readers of Keyboard magazine?

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