Chord organ

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Hammond S-6 Chord Organ (c.1950)
Wurlitzer Model 4100 BP (1959–1963)
Magnus Chord Organ Model 890 (after 1960s)

The chord organ is a kind of home organ that typically has a single short keyboard and a set of chord buttons, enabling the musician to play a melody or lead with one hand and accompanying chords with the other, like the accordion. Tone-wise, a chord organ is almost identical to an harmonium, accordion, or similar. It was invented by Laurens Hammond in 1950[1] (model S-6) as an electronic home organ based on vacuum-tube circuits, similar to his earlier Novachord and Solovox models. In addition to Hammond, also Wurlitzer,[2] Farfisa[3] and Estey Organ[4] made electronic chord organs.

In 1958, Magnus Organ Corporation introduced its electric chord organs, similar to electrically blown small home reed organs.[5] Since then, chord organs were generally designed as instruments for beginners, and separated from the mainstream of home electronic organs. In addition to Magnus, also Emenee,[6] Bontempi and Belcanto[citation needed] made electric chord organs.

Chord organ musicians[edit]

Chord organs have seen a recent revival amongst minimalist and ambient musicians.


  1. ^ "Laurens Hammond". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2014. His later inventions included ... the chord organ (1950), on which chords are produced simply by touching a panel button. 
  2. ^ Wurlitzer Model 4100 BP (1959–1963) has chord unit on lower left. See image for details.
  3. ^ "Farfisa Model VIP-205R". Combo Organ Heaven. 
  4. ^ "New Estey Chord Organs". The Milwaukee Sentinel. April 8, 1961. p. 37. 
  5. ^ "'Play by Numbers' Organ Hottest Musical Merchandise". Billboard (magazine). May 11, 1959. p. 1. 
  6. ^ "The Strydel/Emenee Story" (PDF). Stryker Area Heritage Council. 

External links[edit]