The Mini-Compact was the smallest of the Compact Series having only four octaves with no bass keys on the early models. The later models had a selector switch to choose bass or acute sound in the lowest octave. Developed with gray natural keys with white sharps in the bass octave. Some of these extended bass models have only 3 voices while later models had up to 6 voices.
All these models came equipped with Germanium type transistors. Germanium is an element (Ge) and has some pretty unique properties. Germanium has the ability to expand and grow germanium spikes commonly referred to as "whiskers". These whiskers can change the value of the transistor over time and create some strange anomalous behavior in the compacts such as drifting tuning and temporarily cutting out of notes. These problems can also be attributed to other issues as well and normally missing out or cutting out notes can be caused by dirty, misaligned, or broken contacts. Tuning issues can also be created from the out dated electrolytic capacitors associated with the iron core tuning coils. Another note on the original electrolytic caps found in all the compact models; they can explode! Yes, all electrolytic caps are capable of exploding but this is not a common problem under normal operating conditions. The two original caps found in all of the Compacts are of Italian make one type is red in color and called 'Facon' and the other in blue called 'Ducati'. These foil electrolytic caps dry up like most other caps but, when in operation they can expand and burst sending little sparks of hot foil all over the circuits. Not to worry though, this normally doesn't cause any further damage but the probability does exist. Some models are comprised of nothing but one type (brand) of capacitor while others can have a mixture of the two. The iron core tuning coils are quite stable once set in tune but, it makes good practice to place a small melted drop of wax or a bit of fingernail polish onto the adjustable screw piece to further assure the coil won't vibrate out of place when moving the organ.
Here's a Farfisa Compact!
Later on into 68' Farfisa decided to change from using the old Germanium transistors to the use of newer Silicon transistors. This development birthed a whole new line of Farfisa Combos called the F.A.S.T. series. F.A.S.T. stood for (Farfisa All Silicon Transistor). The sound has changed from the compact models with their more 'grunge' like tone to a more fundamental sinusoidal wave type tone that was much smoother. Not to say these guys had no grit too them as they were capable of some pretty enormous grinds but, they were able to produce a better 'truer' organ like tone. The F.A.S.T series of combos included the console models: 2, 3, 4, and 5. Each of these were made of a metal cabinet covered with a vinyl covered plate with plastic edges, chrome fold-up legs, retractable carrying handles, and a music rack. This series also included the "Professional," Duo, and Pianos consoles as well. Here are some specs on each:
Fast 2, and 3 (3 had swell pedal)
Fast 5, (features are the same as FAST 4 but, along with):
(During this same time period, Farfisa also produced a line of effect pedals: the Repeat/Volume pedal (in orange), the Wah-Wah/Volume pedal (in green), and the Sferasound pedal (in blue). There was a high-end amplifier called the 80 or S-80, which came with speaker cabinets, either the Twin-80, or the BR-80.)
Farfisa F.A.S.T. 5
The V.I.P. series were basically the F.A.S.T. model line up with a boost of a few extra features and a better constructed housing. These were to be the main Flagships of the day. Still utilizing the silicon transistors and keeping up with the organist purists who needed portability. These organs ushered in the 1970's for Farfisa.
However popular these organs were, there was a change in the gigging keyboardists rig of the day; an old friend had began to make a new appearance in the rock arenas, the Hammond B3! With the popularity of the Hammond B3 starting to creep its way into rock shows with the advent of jazz/ rock fusion bands the popularity of the 'gig friendly' Combos were starting to exit stage left. There were some artists who just couldn't completely let go of their old combo friends and so removed the legs, stands, and a few pedestals from their combos so to prop the instruments atop of their monstrous 500 plus pound B3's. Ever wonder why so many of these organs are missing their legs?
So, was the V.I.P. series a day late and a dollar short? Well, not too much so, as they were used by some major artists such as: John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Edger Froese of Tangerine Dream, Sly & the Family Stone, Susan Dey a.k.a. "Laurie Partridge," Sun Ra, Micheal MacNeil of Simple Minds, and a host of others that popularized the V.I.P. and Professional series combos.
Here's a list of the V.I.P. series line up:
The Matador was released in 1972 to be an affordable, portable, and attractive instrument for the young and aspiring organist. There were a few models made that were all essentially slight modifications of the first. It came with internal speakers and a few simple tone selections and a vibrato. The vibrato was no more than a preset rocker switch with no variable control until later models came along and added a variable potentiometer to control the speed. These were all housed in the pseudo wood casings or plastic with wood 'looking' contact paper. Stands were optional with all these models but, was mainly marketed as a 'desk-top' type instrument.
Although these instruments were limited on features it did in fact create a very interesting timbre that was all of its own. Hooking up a nice Wah-Wah to this organ can certainly capture some attention!
Farfisa Matador (R- model)
Well, before Farfisa decided to change its aim from the music industry to commercial home theater systems and intercoms they came to the conclusion that it would only be proper to introduce their own synthesizer! A synthesizer is exactly what it was too, not an organ with 'synth-type' features but a true synthesizer!
The Syntorchestra had a three octave keyboard, and a Monophonic and Polyphonic section with the poly section having four timbres: Trombone, Trumpet, Piano, and Viola. The Mono section is the "synthesizer" half of the machine containing nine timbres: Tuba, Trombone, Trumpet, Baritone Sax, Alto Sax, Bass Flute, Flute, Piccolo, and Violin. The mono section was a high note priority meaning that, what ever key pressed the next note higher would sound. It could also be modified by two envelope controls, and a Wha-Wha control, there was also a variable portomento. However, only one timbre from each section could be used at a time. each section has a brilliance control which, adds more top end to the over all tone and a variable speed vibrato, which has a delay function for delayed vibrato effects. The Syntorchestra also has separate outputs for each of its two sections in effect making it a stereo unit!
Farfisa Syntorchestra (wooden housing)
There was also one in all metal plate.