If you were in a band in the '60s or '70s and couldn't afford and/or carry a Hammond B-3, you opted for an Italian transistor combo organ. One of the most famous of these is the Vox Continental, made famous on such hits as The Doors' "Light My Fire," The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun," and Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up." There are also a smattering of later tunes you might think are a Hammond but are actually a Vox, such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Do Me Like That."
Since Vox is a Korg subsidiary, Korg would be in a great position to do some kind of retro-cool but modern-powerful re-issue, and that's exactly what they've done. Meet the new Vox Continental. If you're one of those organ-centric weekend warriors who can't bring too many keyboards to the gig and is frustrated you have to get your organ sounds from a stage piano, you're now going to delight at getting your stage piano sounds from an organ, because the new Vox is much more than an organ.
Not only does the new Continental nail the classic Vox sounds, but it also does Farfisa Compact (the other big transistor organ) and tonewheel (rhymes with "jammin'") organ tones, all controllable from its LED drawbar matrix. But wait, there's more. Korg has repurposed some engines from their flagship Kronos workstation to include serious grand pianos (SGX-2 engine), plus Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav sounds (EP-1 engine). They also included a complement of sounds from the AL-1 analog modeling engine in case you need some wormy, squirty synths, then a smattering of PCM-based sounds in all categories courtesy of the HD-1 engine.
Bottom line: For live performance, you've got a ton of what matters about the Kronos, in a 61- or 73-key package that looks like you stole it off a bandstand set from an "Austin Powers" movie. And in case you think the red color means it rips off another company that rhymes with Korg, two things: The Vox Continental was red first, and this red is warmer with more yellow in it.
I'm personally kind of excited, because I saw a non-hooked-up prototype this past NAMM show, and thought it might be too narrow a specialist of a machine. As it turns out, it's something that can do full "bottom keyboard" stage-piano duties with modern sound fidelity while projecting a credibly retro image. Now, we just need one with quilted leather tuck-and-roll upholstery on the outside. They could call it the Continental Flying Spur.
The Continental will be available this month (September 2017) at $1,999 for the 61-key model and $2,199 for 73 keys. Here's Korg's teaser video.