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date: 24 February 2020

Thomas organlocked

  • Hugh Davies
  • , revised by Laurence Libin


An Electronic organ manufactured in many models by the Thomas Organ Co. from about 1948, at first in North Hollywood and later in Sepulveda, California. The company was founded by Thomas J. George, who had formerly worked for the Hammond Organ Co. By 1968 the company was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Warwick Electronics Inc., which also distributed Vox amplifiers and electric guitars and introduced the ‘wah-wah’ pedal in 1966. In 1977 the Thomas Organ Co. became the Thomas International Corp. The firm’s assets were later purchased by investors led by Gary Grimes, president of Southeast Keyboards, Inc., of Ormond Beach, Florida. In 1997, the Thomas Organ Co. was again reorganized, using digital technology co-developed with Thomas Organ GmbH of Halsenbach, Germany, an outgrowth of the WERSI company, originally formed in 1969 by brothers Wilhelm-Erich and Reinhard Franz to produce organ kits.

Primarily designed for home use, Thomas organs were cheaply built but extremely successful in the 1960s – they were rivalled in this area only by the Lowrey organ. Some models were available in kit form from the Heath company and were sold by Sears, Roebuck & Co. under the brand ‘Silvertone’. Products included inexpensive chord organs with 37-note manuals and 13-note pedalboard, and a model with a built-in record turntable. Larger models included organs with two 44-note manuals and a 25-note pedalboard, church and theatre models with two 61-note manuals and a 32-note pedalboard compliant with American Guild of Organists standards, and a three-manual theatre organ. The sounds are normally generated by 12 oscillators using frequency division, and the organs are equipped with an electronic rhythm section (in many cases two). Some models incorporate a rotating loudspeaker unit to give vibrato. In ...

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