Vox Continental

The Vox Continental is a transistor-based combo organ from the early 1960s that was designed to replace the Hammond tonewheel organs of gigging musicians.  This wasn't exactly the case, but it did prove to be a hit regardless and its sound made it onto countless records, notably by The Doors on "Light My Fire".

This project was one of the hardest, and required a complete overhaul and re-tolex.  When we got it, the price was right, but the condition was far from satisfactory...
 



















I began by stripping off all the old tolex, and using it as a template for the new stuff.  We decided to go with a red and white sparkle vinyl covering, just for something different.  

  Oh, and by the way, stripping off the Tolex was the easy part.  Word of advice to anyone trying this job on their own Continental:  pull slowly, and try real hard not to rip the wood underneath.  The wood is so delicate and the adhesive made such a good bond that it would actually pull and splinter the wood apart as you're removing it.  These areas need to then be patched with a wood filler and sanded. Otherwise, just like paint magnifies a blemish, you will see the damage through the Tolex, no matter how thick.
 I used a special Tolex glue to wrap the new vinyl covering.  I am not going to sugar coat it; this job was hard!  Getting the vinyl sides to wrap nicely around the bends required heating with a heat gun and pulling until it was formed to the shape.  I got the basic idea to do this from Nate's Vox Continental Organ Project and although I used a different type of vinyl, it basically worked the same way.  

 I also pulled all the keys and replaced all the bushings (or should I say, added bushings since they have all disintegrated).  Taking the keys out was no simple feat either.  It required a lot of patience, flathead screwdrivers and WD-40 to disengage them from the bar.  Once out, popping the bushings on was cake. 

 










Both of the switches (power and vibrato) were also replaced, and the tone cards were tuned.  It was a complete overhaul, but now we have a nice working Vox Continental organ with a modern twist.