Farfisa 'Beresford' Organ
Test Report on: Farfisa 'Beresford' Organ
Date: Sept 1975. £1200 Ex VAT
This very fine instrument is obviously aimed at the "Solo Organist" Market. The bewildering array of "Extra-Man" facilities, which are easy to use once one has worked out which does what, why, and how, gives the most impressive imitation of a one-man orchestra I've ever heard.
Two 44 note (3½ octave) manuals and a thirteen note pedalboard gives the Beresford a "conventional" appearance.
This has five "flute" voices at 16ft., 8ft., 5 1/3ft., 4ft and 2 2/3ft respectively, plus six voiced tabs and a chimes effect which behaves exactly like a "Ring-Modulator". One of the voiced tabs is a very pleasant electric piano. All of these voices have lots of "attack" and the "flute" voices have an almost bell-like sound as a result.
In addition to the upper keyboard voices, the Beresford sports an array of percussion voices at 8ft., 4ft and 2 2/3. They can be used either in the "touch response" mode or in the "repeat" mode commonly used for banjos, marimbas and mandolin effects.
A "speed" slider controls the speed at which the percussion is re-triggered and a short-long tab controls the decay time of the percussion when operating in the "touch-response" mode. The percussions also have their own volume slider control.
The Upper Manual also has an attack speed control marked slow-fast and two sustain tabs, the functions of which are off-on and short-long. I found that wah-wah controls to be concisely labelled and the device worked very well indeed. It has a brightness control, an off-on switch and a timer control together with a volume tab. In addition, the Beresford can boast an unusual "synthesizer"-type feature. A Portamento (glissando) system which has both a range (interval of glissando) and a timer control, in order to make the Portamento practical to use, Farfisa have designed into it a "touch-response" mode of operation which avoids constant knob fiddling by the musician and does away with an unnecessary switch. The Portamento glides in the upward direction only.
The lower manual has five voices and its own volume control. A "brightness" slider is provided which changes the L.M.'s tone from very reedy to an almost pure sine wave (flute) tone. Unfortunately, one loses a lot of volume (about 6 dB.) when the filter is set for the softer tone.
This has a 16ft. and an 8ft. voice, an extremely aggressive "bass guitar" tab which gives lots of attack for pop styles of music. Normal bass-sustain is available on the other pedal voices. An unusual feature is the "automatic-bass" tab which gives a soft sustained bass note, with very slow attack, on the lowest note being played on the lower manual. This can be useful for playing orchestral-type passages and chords on the lower manual. This bass voice is gentle enough not to interfere with the "double-bass" parts as they are played on the pedalboard.
An overall vibrato at two speeds and a "violin" type vibrato-delay facility, plus separate Leslie-Main selection for each manual together with a pair of Leslie "Rotor" controls (off-on, slow-fast) give pretty comprehensive control over the various vibratos and tremeloes available. A spring reverberation system is built in which can be directed via either the main or the Leslie Speaker system.
This stunning "automated accompaniment" system is divisible into three separate sections.
(i) An automatic drummer with sixteen rhythms.
(ii) An "EXTRA-MAN" section which gives the effects of a group of sidesmen vamping along with the organ. It works by collecting information from the lower manual, pedal board, electronic drummer and its own memory system, playing different riffs and rhythms according to which rhythm is selected and which buttons in the "BRAVISSIMO" section are selected. The upper manual is not affected by this device, which sounds realistic.
(iii) "SUPER PARTNER"; a device which can generate a full and complete rhythm-n-bass backing from a bass note and lower manual chord just being held down. The rhythmic part is driven by the electronic drums unit.
It was not possible, in a dealers showroom, to rip the organ to pieces and test the circuits, but from what I could see, I'm satisfied that Farfisa have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that their new generation of organs are reliable and trouble free.
The mains lead was correctly colour coded and a fuse was fitted to safeguard the instrument.
A slight variation in the contact point of the various voices (on any one note) gave rise to the thought that, having developed such a wondrous beast as this "Beresford", perhaps the next logical step would be for Farfisa to look at the contact-switching technique they use and try to come up with a more fool proof system.
A beautifully built, well designed organ at a very reasonable price.
Some of the "gimmick" features are clearly intended to help the beginner but others are equally clearly going to extend the technique and abilities of the skilled artist.
One thing I particularly liked was that it could create both a "pop" sound and a "theatre" sound authentically.
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!