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Early Synthesizers, Keyboard and Performance Instruments

The Hammond Solovox

The Hammond Solovox keyboard (2002.0406) was produced from 1940 on. It was manufactured in Canada under licence by the Northern Electric Company of Belleville, Ontario.

The Hammond Solovox consisted of a keyboard and a "tone cabinet" (speaker/amplifier/tone generator).    The Hammond Solovox keyboard (ca 1945-1950) simply attached beneath a standard piano's keyboard.(CSTM)

The Solovox is a three-octave keyboard that produces one note at a time, using one of twelve preset tone colours. It was designed specifically to be attached beneath the keyboard of a standard piano, providing the piano with a second manual on which contrasting sounds could be played. A musician could play each keyboard with each hand, using the Solovox to produce sustained sounds, in contrast to those of the piano, which rapidly fade in volume.

The Museum's Solovox (2002.0406) was originally purchased in Toronto around 1948. The owner, Ken Baer, had played an earlier model as the accompanist for a traveling evangelist. He equipped his new keyboard with adjustable brass legs for easy attachment to any piano and took the Solovox to numerous Baptist evangelical meetings in the Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto areas during the next decade.
A speaker/amplifier sat on the floor beside the piano. (MNST)