Novachord: Hammond’s Polyphonic Synthesizer

Was this the first commercial synthesizer? Built in 1938, the Novachord hit the market long before Moog, Buchla and other synthesizers saw the day of light. The Hammond Novachord is a hybrid machine, a mixture of an electronic piano and a synthesizer.

Technically speaking, this is a fully polyphonic (!) instrument that consists of 12 master oscillators (with frequency dividers), various high- and low-pass-filters and even LFOs. The Novachord, which has a whopping 150 tubes, was actually designed for home use. But high costs and lack of tuning stability caused the instrument’s commercial downfall.


After all, the Novachord made it into some respectable studios. It was frequently used on the soundtrack of the mystery / science fiction series “Twilight Zone” way back in the 50s and 60s.

The Novachord shown here is currently being offered on eBay. Completely restored and technically near mint, the starting price is a slim $ 84,000. Happy bidding!












In this Youtube video Daniel Fisher (Sweetwater) explains and demonstrates the instrument offered on eBay.

“Daniel Fisher, Sweetwater’s full-time synth fanatic, gives an in-depth tour of the Hammond Novachord, which is widely regarded as the father of the modern polyphonic synthesizer. It debuted at the 1939 World’ Fair and featured 72-note polyphony, oscillators, filters, envelopes, and frequency modulation, which were used to craft its organic and otherworldly sounds.”


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Filed under 2018, General

“Es genügt, einen Ton schön zu spielen” sagte der Komponist Arvo Pärt im Jahre 2005. Diese Aussage ist ebenso einfach wie ich auch exzellent: Es braucht kein Meer an Tönen, denn entscheidend ist der Klang. Dass so mancher Vintage-Synthesizer der 70er und 80er Jahre teils unerreicht hochwertige Klänge liefert, steht außer Frage. Doch tatsächlich leben wir “heute” in einer nahezu perfekten Zeit. Einerseits hat man – mehr oder weniger – noch Zugriff auf die Vintage Analogen, andererseits wird auch bei Neugeräten die wichtige Komponente des hochwertigen Klanges wieder zunehmend berücksichtigt. Doepfer, Cwejman,, MacBeth, Moog, GRP, Studio Electronics, COTK, John Bowen und andere Hersteller bauen hervorragende Synthesizer, die den “Klassikern” in nichts nachstehen. All diesen (alten wie neuen) “großartigen” Instrumenten ist Great Synthesizers gewidmet. _________________________________________________________ In 2005 composer Arvo Pärt said: “Playing one tone really well is enough”. In other words, it is sufficient to play one tone 'beautifully'. I agree with that. All musical efforts are focused on the sound itself. Although I studied classical music (piano and drums), it’s the electronic sound that inspires me. Synthesizers are the epitome of new sounds and exciting tonal spheres. Today, many companies produce high-quality - excellent! - synthesizers: Doepfer, Cwejman, MacBeth, Moog, GRP,, COTK, Studio Electronics, John Bowen and others. It's their products I'm really interested in ... apart from Vintage Synthesizers, which I have been collecting for 20 years. Subsequent to our former websites Bluesynths and Blogasys, Peter Mahr and I have now created GreatSynthesizers. We hope you like it.