A Rare Breed Indeed: The Gibson G101

A Rare Breed Indeed: The Gibson G101
May 28, 2012 Max Brink
In Combo Organs

A Rare Breed Indeed: The Gibson G101 Combo Organ

What a groovy combo organ! The Gibson G101 is similar to Farfisa Organs from the late 60’s and was used by Ray Manzarak after he grew tired of dealing with issues on his Vox Continental.

Compared to the Farfisas that we have opened up in the past working on the divider boards was a breeze! All of the components were conveniently mounted onto hinged platforms that allowed most components to be accessed with ease.

(I just couldn’t resist posting the picture of Jim’s mid-set ‘nap’)

I have heard that the reason for the switch from the Vox Continental was because they switched production form wood keys (see photo below) to plastic keys but that isn’t consistent with the fact that the Gibson G101 also has sawtooth style plastic keys–perhaps someone else will share the reason in the comments below.

Here is a picture of the Vox Continental that we serviced with wooden keys. We prefer them over the latter plastic keys models.

This was our first G101 serviced by the shop as we slowly get our feet wet servicing vintage combo organs. And boy did it come with a laundry list of issues for us to resolve! (As well as a custom modification for bipassing the foot pedal). For the most part, the issues were very analogous to the experience that we have servicing Farfisa and Vox combo organs but all of them have their own unique personalities and circuit designs.

Udpated December 2012:

…At the moment The Chicago Electric Piano Company only works on combo organs and other keyboards by word of mouth. The keyboards that we have serviced include the Gibson G101, Farfisa Compact, Farfisa Compact Mini, and Vox Continental and Jaguar. If you have a Farfisa or Vox organ that needs work we have experience servicing most aspects of these keyboards so ‘speak easy’and we will gladly give you an estimate of services. Since our expertise is still growing in relation to our electric piano expertise we will gladly perform the services at a discounted rate. One day if there is enough demand for us to launch it as a full time service we look forward to getting our hands dirty with more groovy vintage keys!

Comments (13)

  1. John 11 years ago

    Hi, I have a British Vox Continental that is in need of servicing and I wanted to see if you had any interest. Right now the tone bars don’t seem to be working properly, and only the flats/sharps are producing the correct tone. Some of the black keys work but many sound weak or otherwise distorted. If you are willing to take a look can you provide a ballpark for what it would cost to get it back to playable condition? Thanks!

    • mbrink 11 years ago

      John, We would be happy to give it a look over for you. Give me, Max, a call at (312)476-9528. Thanks!

  2. Brad Wolf 10 years ago

    I have recently bought myself a Gibson G-101 organ as I am a huge fan of The Doors. When I bought the organ, the previous owner gave me a nonworking, identical organ for parts and repair. There are a few problems on the working organ as to be expected. Every C note on the keyboard does not make a sound. I am wondering if you have a guess on what the problem may be, and if it is easy to fix. There is a company around here in Cleveland that said they would take a look at it for me, but they specialize in church and hammond organs, which makes me cautious. I am just looking for someone who knows what they are doing. I also could ship them to you if you think you could help me. I would love to get some help! Thanks

    • mbrink 10 years ago

      Give us a call and we would be glad to discuss what options we may have. We may even be in Ohio in the next couple months if there is no rush.

    • David Schulz 2 months ago

      Hi Brad, hope this reaches you ten years after your post. You stated you have an ‘extra’ G101… I’m looking for a volume pedal and a bass foot keyboard, wondering if you have an extra of either. If anyone else sees this that has either, please reach out. Thanks, Dave.

  3. Timothy J.Sobina 10 years ago

    I very recently acquired a Gibson G-101 and it does make sound, just all the wrong sounds. I did some DeOx spray on some areas of interest but to no avail. It is truly in very nice condition considering its age, and seemingly very worthy of repair.
    I also have a Vox Super Continental in very nice condition with a few small issues. The keys sound like an old typewriter and I know there are little rubber silencer things that are probably rotted, and, the bass needs some looking into as well. It does play, but needs a going over. Anyway, I was wondering if you are interested in discussing what it/these may need with me.
    Thank you, Tim

  4. Leslie Bell 2 years ago

    I’m going to guess that Ray wanted an organ capable of getting the keyboard sounds being used on the records, live. The Gibson is very good at getting harpischord, piano, and even honky tonk piano-ish sounds that no Vox came close until the Continental Baroque. And of course with the sustain features and the extra sounds THOSE ended up on the records and can’t be achieved with any other combo from the time. Not until the Yamaha combos in the 70’s and the Farfisa Pro Duo and Pro Piano and RMI Rock-si-chord and Electronic Pianos was any other “portable” organ capable of the range the Gibson has.

  5. Steve 2 years ago

    I have a Gibson G101. I really don’t know what internal condition it’s in before plugging it in and and hooking up a speaker but I’d like to find out what the going price would be

  6. I believe Ray went to the Gibson to get away from the Vox wood keys, which broke.

    • Author
      Max Brink 1 year ago

      I’m surprised and a little bit skeptical to hear that it was the wooden keys. Is there a source that you have that backs the claim that he had issues with his wooden keys?

      • Alessandro 1 year ago

        Hi, I’m a big fan of The Doors and have 2 G101s and 1 Vox. The reason Manzarek switched from the Vox to the G101 was because the keys on the Vox would break easy compared to the G101. I got this information from Ray Manzarek himself during a concert in Brazil where they signed the back of our 1972 SG pro.

    • Author
      Max Brink 1 year ago

      I think that this story about the plastic vs wood keys might be something that got scrambled as the story was retold like playing a game of telephone. Someone might have mentioned “broken key” when referring to an electronics issue that caused a note to go out and then someone else retells the story in a way that mistakes it as a physically broken key… We haven’t found that the wooden key Continentals are any less reliable than the plastic key models. The germanium transistors, however, are far less reliable than silicon and have alwyas had a wider spec variance.

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