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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink What organ sounds for surf?

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I'm a guitarist through and through. Don't know much about what organ or keyboard sounds are typically heard in surf music.

I record surf music tracks though, and I'd like to add organ/key melody lines. What type of organ sound should I be looking for for that that classic surf sound?

There are combo organs like the Farfisa used by The Avenegrs VI or Zorba & The Greeks in the 60s. Frequently with wrecking crew side men in the studio there was a Hammond B3. The sound on The Ventures records is quite different than on, say, The Super Stocks or Ghouls recordings. The versatility of the organ concept allows players to create a trade mark sound. But I'm a guitar player myself and even though I used to play a little organ I never got deep enough into organs to tell you more about the settings.

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Last edited: Jul 24, 2020 11:37:56

This topic has come up in the past. I love combo organ and use it in songs a lot. I love Hammonds and use them too.

As mentioned already, there are a variety of species you'll find. I think particular brand isn't a big deal. They generally have enough settings that you can approximate anything you want to hear.

Here are some models to look up if you want a quick youtube education:

Farfisa (multiple models in the "Compact" line)
Vox Continental (early Ray Mazarek)
Vox Jaguar (Satan's Pilgrims use one of these on stage)
Elka Panther
Ace Tone
Teisco "Teischord" series
Fender Contempo (awesome bass voice)

There are a few good free VSTs for combo organs out there. A guy named Martinic created "Combo Model F" and "Combo Model V" and I use them all the time in songs. They were free but then he got hired by Arturia I think and they were removed from wide circulation but I think you can still find them. There's also a new Elka Panther one but it's not free. Probably well worth the price, though.

Here's my favorite youtube combo organ demo:

Recently Yamaha released the Reface YC, which emulates a variety of old organs, including their own YC-30/YC-45. Lots of demos on youtube, most of which focus on the Hammond setting, unfortunately.

It's a good piece of equipment but not great, due to one glaring deficiency: it does not have a bass voicing for the bottom keys. Most combo organs have an octave or so of bass keys that are on their own circuit (sometimes even with its own separate output jack) that lacks all the high end of the main circuit. This is crucial to achieving a full complete sound. For instance, pay attention to the thick bass in the previous demo. So the Reface YC is limited in that way.

Skiltrip wrote:

What type of organ sound should I be looking for for that that classic surf sound?

For that classic surf sound you don't want an organ. You want an electric piano.

T H E ✠ S U R F I T E S

How about am Electro Harmonix C9 pedal. As a guitarist, you can play your guitar and (wait for it).... Sound just like an organ! Good range too, including Hammond, Vox and the weird thing used on Telstar. Used subtlety in the mix, no one would really know. Lots of fun and cheaper and easier to handle than a big ol Vox Continental. Which always break down

https://www.ehx.com/products/c9

I have an EHX Key9 and it's not good. It would never realistically replace a keyed instrument. It does make cool sounds--they just don't sound like a Rhodes!

Plus 1 for the Yamaha YC Reface. I love mine and have received many compliments from fellow musicians. You can also use it as a midi controller.

Danny Snyder

aka El Gringo Viejo of Combo Tezeta
aka Mycroft Eloi of The TomorrowMen
aka Shecky Shekels of Meshugga Beach Party

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

DannySnyder wrote:

Plus 1 for the Yamaha YC Reface. I love mine and have received many compliments from fellow musicians. You can also use it as a midi controller.

They do sound really good.

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While you could use a Reface YC as a controller, I can't imagine doing that. But I don't like mini-keys.

As for bass, the thing only has a 3 octave keyboard, and on the usual setting the keys don't get that far down. I don't miss combo bass.

I own 2 Reface YC units. Each is controlled by a 61 key controller. Thus, I get double manuals. If I want bass, I move a unit down an octave or so and I'm ready to go.

As for electric piano, I also have the Reface CP. Also tied to a controller, 88 keys for that.

For maybe $800 total, I have what I need for hardware organ and piano.

Skiltrip wrote:

I'm a guitarist through and through. Don't know much about what organ or keyboard sounds are typically heard in surf music.

I record surf music tracks though, and I'd like to add organ/key melody lines. What type of organ sound should I be looking for for that that classic surf sound?

I am a dedicated guitar player as well. One of my favorite surf bands is Finland’s Laika and the Cosmonauts. They use a Farfisa organ on many of their tracks. When I transcribe I use a photocell vibe on guitar for all of the organ parts. I believe Laika uses vibe on their organ parts.

So, you can use a dedicated effect on guitar for all organ parts to give the organ part the same separation as if it were guitar and organ. You can create even more distinction by eqing most of the treble out of the guitar ‘organ’ parts (assuming your guitar parts are typically bridge pickup) or using the neck/middle/neck + bridge pickup to mellow the high end.

Makai

Last edited: Aug 01, 2020 03:44:30

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