Posted 4 years ago
Ever since CW member VowelHurry showed a similar (model L) machine a few weeks ago I've been meaning to re-visit (read: dig out) my own SOLOVOX and get some pics -- finally did it! :-)
Made by THE HAMMOND INSTRUMENT COMPANY of Chicago, IL (who started their operations making electric clocks, which I've recently also shown several of) the SOLOVOX was intended to be an 'add on accessory' to a(ny) piano, which would thus allow the possibility to add a limited number of "organ tones" to the player's music-making capability. Its name belies that HAMMOND figured it would be used as a 'solo' instrument (to be thusly 'accompanied by' the piano instead of vice-versa) and indeed the nature of its design suggests that form of usage -- both because of its likely general average volume level, and that it is what's termed a "monophonic" instrument in that it is only capable of playing one single note at a time (the first one engaged) no matter how many other keys might also be pressed later.
Also worth noting is that though HAMMOND had ceased all production of clocks at least a decade before this instrument was made, they had meanwhiles moved onto making the HAMMOND TONEWHEEL ELECTRIC ORGAN as their primary (also likely ultimately more successful long term than any of 'em woulda guessed?) product instead. [those old organ models being fabulously fun boxfuls of electro-mechanical whiz-bangery too...] The SOLOVOX did not share any particular technology with the tonewheel organs, being a device which generated its tones purely electronically instead. Soon after HAMMOND ceased official production of the SOLOVOX as an independent instrument however, its essential design morphed into what was called the "Pedal Solo Unit" on certain HAMMOND ORGAN models (the RT- series) that continued to be made for a few more decades.
This is an example of the "model J", the first (of 3) models to be produced, made between 1940 and 1946. Its main cabinet ain't too pretty but *is* 99.8% complete anyway (including its *14* glass tubes!) only missing its original power cord and a tiny little knob near the top of one side. (which I think was used to 'tune' it...looks like the mechanism the knob connected to is still there anyway??) Its (bent/formed ply-)wood cabinet measures about 27"h x 22"w x 5-1/2"d.
Its keyboard unit (3rd pic) isn't so happy, sadly. It was originally a contraption with a 'sliding bracket' assembly meant to be attached to the underside of the piano keyboard so that only its couple octave's worth of tiny keys and row of big square brown control buttons on the front would show. THIS one came to me as pictured here, somewhat disassembled and missing its brown bakelite end caps and a whole buncha little machine screws... :-( It otherwise appears like most of its mechanism is still intact in there, but somebody probably took it all apart for *some reason*, so who knows what not-immediately-obvious 'issues' might be lurking in there too...??
I bought it (for way-cheap) a couple decades ago now, from an estate sale of a local music lover who was also a personal friend. It's fun to think I might to could "restore it" one of these days but frankly that's also rather an unlikely thought...it remains (since I got it) way near too close to the bottom of my "to-do project list"... <groan>
Here's VowelHurry's machine:
and also a *very helpful and informative* link which CW member keramikos dug up and added to VowelHurry's post -- everything you (n)ever (?) wanted to know about the SOLOVOX can be found there, including a YouTube link or two demonstrating the things -- THANKS AGAIN keramikos for that!!! :-) :-) :-)