In 1980 Korg bestowed upon the world an electronic organ. It was aimed not at those with a desire to entertain sleeping pensioners or create scores for porn films, but fairly and squarely at the pop musician. It was well made and full of beans (not literally obviously), but MIDI was yet to be invented, so if you wanted to make music with it, you just had to make jolly well sure you could play. Here's the story of the CX3 in the UK.
There’s no doubt where the Korg CX3 was meant to fit into music’s grand scheme in the days when Two-Tone and New Wave dominated the pop charts. This product was intended as a replacement for the classic Hammond tonewheel organ (C3 or B3), which undoubtedly sounded fantastic, but was so immensely bulky that by far the easiest option if you fancied using one at a gig was to transport the pub. Korg’s timely rescue package boasted an authentic sound and a drawbar system outwardly identical to the real thing, yet it would fit on the back seat of a car. It was lightweight (for its time) and even offered an electronic simulation of the big Leslie rotary speaker so crucial to the Hammond sound. There was mild overdrive, controllable key contact ‘spit’, and just for the hell of it, a veneered wood finish. Importantly, studio recordists could expect a total lack of unwanted background noise – quite unlike the real deal, but most welcome.
Despite Korg’s aims regarding sound, the CX’s main competitor was not the Hammond C3 (which was never anywhere near a practical proposition for the majority of bands) but cheesy old 1960s bluffers like the Vox and Farfisa combo organs. Though production had ceased, the Vox Continental was still in widespread use during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, sounding far less subtle and classy than the Hammond, but falling into the ‘portable’ category, albeit in a weight-training stylee. Many ‘70s musicians had declared a strong desire for a real Hammond sound coupled with the Vox’s portability and it was out of such a desire that the CX3 was born. Other manufacturers (notably Crumar) had previously dipped their toes in the water, but Korg boasted something more accurate and more attractive.