Monday, March 7, 2011

Yamaha E-70, E-50 and E-30 Electone organs ad #2, Contemporary Keyboard 1980

Yamaha E-70, E-50 and E-30 Electone organs ad #2 from page 9 in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine June 1980.

This rare advertisement only ran once or twice in Contemporary Keyboard in mid-1980. Which is common for Yamaha. After the initial ad for the E-series ran semi-regularly from November 1977 to July 1978, Yamaha didn't run ads for these organs too often. The second ad didn't start running until a year after that first one stopped, and then only ran four or five times over the next year and a half, with the last one appearing in January 1981.

Then, it was four months later that this ad finally showed up. Unlike the second ad, which had no reference-like ad-copy at all, this third ad finally provided readers with a few more details about what this beast was capable of. And it begins with a large font and very clear language. 1. It's an Organ! 2. It's an Orchestra!

The black and white close-up images that accompany these two tag lines highlight these two features of the organ nicely, and the ad-copy goes on to explain some of the more musical features of the presets. And one of the first things Yamaha tries to get across to readers is that when the orchestra presets are "combined with the Flute section, musical marriage takes place on the incredible Electone consoles".

Interestingly, friend of the blog and fearless E-70 organ enthusiast "FlameTopFred" (I'm going to lose the quotes around his name from now on), made a similar statement in a recent email exchange concerning comparisons between the E-70 and CS-80.
"When using the orchestral presets, a key feature is being able to bring in some of the flute sounds (Flute on Electone is really a Hammond clone type of drawbar sound). This gives you an additional bank of Hammond tones that can be quite useful. The CS-80 was great - but it was missing that bank of flute (Hammond) tones. "
I'm starting to think that maybe FlameTopFred wrote this ad... :o)

The one area that I feel Yamaha could have really made these ads punchier is by adding colour. The close-up photo of the E-70's orchestra buttons that you see in all their gray-shaded glory, are actually bright white, red, yellow and green in real life. Colour would have really made the ad pop.

In the E-70 manual I found online, it describes the colour-coding:

White: Flute. Red: Brass. Yellow: Stings. Green: Synthetic tones.

Looking at the orchestra buttons in the ad, it was all lining up nicely except the last two buttons. Rather than saying "synthetic" or "synth" on the preset buttons, Yamaha decided to go with "Funny 1" and "Funny 2". What...? Maybe this is why synthesizer enthusiasts have a history of not getting along with organ enthusiasts. :o)

And after seeing those "Funny 1" and "Funny 2" buttons, I was even more curious about the sounds of the E-70 and its comparison to the CS-80. The preset buttons certainly looked similar.

I turned to FlameTopFred for expertise in this matter. He has owned both, picking up his E-70 in part because he also thought those buttons looked mighty similar too. He bought his E-70 for $150 in 2008, and the more he played with it, the more he kept coming across sounds that resembled his CS-80 synthesizer.
"When people say the E-70 is not a CS-80 I remind them that most of the useful sounds on the CS-80 came from using the preset buttons and then using the panel controls for the resonance, the aftertouch and so on - - - you can do some of that on the E-70. No - they are not identical, but certainly very close and for $150 the E-70 is an inexpensive sound-alike for many musical applications. The E-70 is a remarkable instrument - and one that I think has been overlooked by synth aficionados.

Funny I and Funny II are very close to the Funky I and Funky 2 sounds [of the CS-80]. Violin on the E-70 was close to the Strings 1 sound on the CS-80. Trombone and Trumpet were close to the Brass sounds on the CS-80."
When asked specifically about the different presets and which sound most musical, FlameTopFred commented:
"For the wild filter sweep sound, it would be Funny I or Funny II, the two green buttons on the far right. From the red buttons, Trombone and Trumpet were very useful. Harpsichord and Banjo were good sound for bright, fast attack sounds. Clarinet was also quite good as a triangle or sine wave sound. Kinura at first listen was awful, but was one of the best for using the filter (Brilliance) control.

Just as on the CS-80, between the octave buttons and the filter (Brilliance) control, there is a range of useful sounds from each orchestral button. And because you can combine those together (by coupling the Lower Manual sounds to the Upper Manual) there are sometimes very useful and musical blends using sounds that might not normally work on their own.

The CS-80 was also like this - and people forget that. Most of the time on the CS-80 you're staring with one of the presets and working the other controls on the console. The Filter, the Resonance, and most especially with the aftertouch."
Of course, from my "analogue-synth" point of view, I was really interested in the Funny I and Funny II presets. When asked, FlameTopFred described the two "Funny" presets in more detail:
"They have a fast filter sweep - sweeping both the filter and the resonance, very quickly. Funny I has a gentler sweep, gentler resonance, Funny II has a rapid attack sweep, with a short filter decay to a nice sustain, with a little more resonance in the attack. You can almost blow your speakers on Funny II."
Thanks again to FlameTopFred for providing this useful information (and more for future blog posts!). He's done a fantastic job of bridging between the organ and synth communities.

Definitely check out his YouTube site if you haven't already. And, he credits a lot of his knowledge to other YouTube videos, Yamaha's manual library site, and the Electone museum Web site. FlameTopFred recommends that if you are planning to buy an Electone, definitely check out these sites.

I know I'm hanging out on a lot more now. :o)

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