Musiconics/Univox GUITORGAN... (picture heavy)

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by danieldanger, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. danieldanger

    danieldanger Member

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    found one of these in Pittsburgh, made a trip down last night and snagged it from from this really nice guy. ill prolly spend the next few days cleaning the thing, as it was a little basement grundgy and a little bar sticky, i did alot of buffing and cleaning today and its look much sharper. at first it was working really intermittently, notes not picking up, but simple taking some fine wet sandpaper to the frets made the HUGEST difference, because it cleaned up the contact points to the string (since thats how it works). some corrosion was making the contact points not so great. its tracking near perfectly now. so i stripped everything off of it, took some pictures, and did by best to clean it out.

    more details and whatnot to come... needs some work..

    IF ANYONE CAN TELL ME ANYTHING FURTHER ABOUT THESE, or has a USER MANUAL or SCHEMATICS, please lemme know... im not sure what year mine was built, what was modded/added after the fact, as theres a couple different dates scattered around on the thing. and if anyone wants any specific photos taken of anything in all this, lemme know, be happy to post stuff. this things pretty unique.

    if youre new to these things, as i am, i posted some information/videos at the bottom of this post... typically i do my research on anything before i buy it, but i just sort of jumped into this beast on first sight.


    some photos!

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    the GUITORGAN. i have since strung it back up. need to get the action level'd out though. the case is pretty sweet. thats one of my portaflexes up there, and down pedal is the volume pedal unit (plus power supply) for the organ componants of the guitorgan. big ol' 6 pin cable runs from it to the guitar itself in addition to the guitar cable...

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    each fret is divided up into 6 parts, which are all wired through the neck to the inner guts and such. the string hits the fret, it triggers the note.
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    the octave sliders.... shapin the tone and such
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    tone switches...

    now lets look at the guts!!
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    so each note has its own section... fun. i think i found some fine tuning knobs inside for each note. not sure...
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    apparently midi capabilitys were something you could send the guitar back to the maker in the 80s and have installed for $1200. so apparently this was done to my guitorgan. apparently in 1987?
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    i cant figure out what any of these switches do. one is some sort of open chord button which generates a tone, but thats it. one switch is marked as a channel switcher, but i cant figure it out. maybe its a midi thing, i dunno yet.
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    the wiring in this thing is really pretty...

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    mine is serial number 1285, out of roughly 3000.
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    some spare part, maybe for the midi, replaced in 1988...

    more to come when i find out more...






    http://www.gearwire.com/media/musiconics-guitorgan.mov
    heres a video of a guy talking about one... but his doesnt seem to be working...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmgjiUTFs3w
    heres a video of a guy actually playing one...


    some light reading....

    "The Guitorgan was created when inventor Bob Murrell wanted a guitar that could also produce Hammond organ-type sounds. He started a company called Murrell Electronics to produce this guitar, which later evolved into Musiconics International (MCI). Murrell began working with Baldwin to develop the organ circuitry for his guitar; Baldwin in turn used Murrell’s knowledge of the industry to learn guitar marketing concepts when they began importing Burns guitars into the U.S. during the late 1960s. The first Guitorgan was introduced at the 1967 Chicago NAMM show and early production began in the same year. By 1968, a production factory was opened for the Guitorgan. Commercially, it wasn’t very popular, but Murrell sold enough instruments to remain interested in the concept and he continued to modify and release updated versions of his guitar/organ through the eighties.

    I recommend visiting your local community college and enrolling in Guitorgan 101 if you are truly interested in playing this instrument. Since that doesn’t really exist and I can’t seem to locate any catalogs or owner’s manuals, I’ll try to explain how this contraption works. The organ circuitry was developed by Murrell and he used Baldwin tones to voice the organ. Several different guitars were used in construction; at first, Murrell used any guitar that would simply house the electronics. The M-300 was the first Guitorgan and it was a Barney Kessel-style guitar built by Ventura; later M-300 models were built in an ES-335 Univox copy. Other semi-hollowbody guitars were supplied by companies such as Ibanez and Yamaha. The headstocks read “Guitorgan” and the backs have a rather large chunk cut out and covered in order to install the extensive electronics.

    The fingerboard featured segmented frets (six segments – one per string) that were wired to the internal controls. When a note or series of notes were fretted, the circuit would be closed and it would trigger the organ. The organ would stay on as long as the circuit was closed, or in other words as long as the guitarist kept the string against the fret. The body featured several knobs, switches, and buttons (all the bells and whistles you tinkerers love!) that allowed the guitarist to alter the sounds of the guitar and organ. The giant footswitch in the picture was used to fade the organ in and out when the guitarist was playing. It’s quite a concept, although thousands of organists were fearful of losing their jobs when this instrument was released!

    I mentioned that Murrell kept modifying and updating the Guitorgan throughout time. Later models employed a “master oscillator circuit” that featured digital note dividers. The model you have is an early 1980s B-35 featuring this newer “digital” technology. Murrell also experimented with MIDI technology in the mid to late 1980s. Murrell would also install his organ electronics in a customer supplied guitar for $1200.

    Murrell estimates that he built 3000 Guitorgans between 1967 and 1984, but he also filled custom orders after 1984. For an instrument as odd as it is, there were quite a few of them produced and they don’t bring as much money as one would think. Most Guitorgans can be found priced between $900 and $1200. But where else can you get a guitar that can also play Hammond organ-style sounds for a thousand bucks? This falls into the treasure category for me!
    "
     
  2. 12guitdown

    12guitdown Member

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  3. r_cressw

    r_cressw Member

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    :confused: Jesus!

    I saw one on Ebay once. That's all I got. Congrats? :D
     
  4. pennylink

    pennylink Member

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    Congratulations on an amazing find!
     
  5. JLee

    JLee Supporting Member

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    That is f**king cool! I'm surprised by how much it really sounds like an organ.
     
  6. danieldanger

    danieldanger Member

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    im pretty stoked on it. the best part is the thing is basically the equivalent of strapping a desktop PC from 1993 around your neck. its not light.
     
  7. KenRothman

    KenRothman Supporting Member

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    They used to write about these in Guitar Player alot back in the late 80's...
     
  8. danieldanger

    danieldanger Member

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    ...dont suppose anyone has some back issues of guitar player they want to scan...
     
  9. stratotonedude

    stratotonedude Senior Member

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    That sure is a pretty guitar.
     
  10. phantasm

    phantasm Member

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    I considered buying that, but didn't have the cash...or the strong back.
    Richard's a friend of mine- very nice guy and he was sad to let the guitorgan go.
     
  11. slider

    slider Member

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    Saw a guy play the sh*t out of one of these in the 70's, in saxaphonist Eddie Harris' band. Sounded great. Wonder how it compares to a Roland synth guit.
     
  12. soulohio

    soulohio Member

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    man that is cool.
     
  13. Memorex

    Memorex Member

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    I've played them before. They sound cool, but you can't bend strings because of the sectioned frets. I couldn't overcome the temptation to bend, so it didn't work for me.
     
  14. JohnnyL

    JohnnyL Member

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    Cool for sure-I would like to have one of those...

    I am quite certain the body and neck of that guitar are from the same factory as the Japanese Epiphone EA250s and similar 335 style guitars of the early 70s. I have one of the Epiphones and it is a really nice guitar. You can see a few of them on Ebay right now for comparison if you care to look. The shape of the ears and body width at the lower bout are distinctive...

    Enjoy that guitar!

    Johnny
     
  15. franksguitar

    franksguitar Member

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    I remember those, kinda heavy and very innovative at the time and had wired fret contacts. Midi guitars, and guitar synths have greatly surpassed that technology, but still cool to have a piece of history
     
  16. danieldanger

    danieldanger Member

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    ok, so i have a users manual coming my way.. that should clear up some questions...

    word is on some theres a strumming activated gate on the notes, not sure if my model has that and maybe thats what some of non-working switches are for. well see.

    anyways, picked up some fretboard cleaner, some new straplocks to replace the shakey ones on it now, and poked through a few shops today looking for a replacement nut for it. this one is worn down so much its letting the strings fall too low at the first fret, making levelling out the strings difficult. still gotta find someone to build me a replacement 6 pin cable for it, this one occasionally cuts out..

    more info to come. if anyones board and wants to help me find some schematics that arent $35, id be much obliged.
     
  17. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Member

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    I have an Epiphone 5102TE , essentially the same as EA250 and the body and finish are dead ringers, although the pickups look different. Nicely made indeed.

    With the segmentation on the frets, can you bend or does it go *clink*
     
  18. danieldanger

    danieldanger Member

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    if you bend a note it hits the next segment of the fret and jumps up to that note. its sort of weird, but can actually be kind of fun. im not much of a bender anyways, so its fine with me.
     
  19. Motorhed

    Motorhed Member

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    Man, that thing's just plain cool!!!!! :dude
     
  20. Glen Miller

    Glen Miller Member

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    yes it's real, I have a real 1977 Gibson ES-355 that has had a guitorgan installed ! It can be seen on our website at: www.wronashouseofviolins.com

    I have been told this may have been Bob Murrell's ( he invented the guitorgan ) personal guitar but have not been able to prove that as of yet
     

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