Gibson Clavioline Keyboard Instrument (1953)

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

The Clavioline is an early electronic keyboard instrument, similar to my Hammond Solovox. Both of them are monophonic (single voiced) and tube powered, consisting of a keyboard and an amplifier. The first photo shows my Clavioline after restoration. In the second photo, my son, Peter, is seated at the keyboard. Click the musical icon to hear him

Gibson Clavioline Keyboard Instrument (1953)
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playing a brief theme from the well known 1962 song, Telstar. As illustrated, a Clavioline can be used in two ways. First, like a Hammond Solovox, it can be mounted on a piano and played as an adjunct to the piano keyboard. Or, mounted on a tripod, it can be played as a standalone instrument. In the United States, Claviolines were manufactured by the Gibson instrument company. They were also built by JG¶rgensen in Germany and Selmer in England. Since the JG¶rgensen and Selmer instruments differ in construction as well as features, I`ll refer you to the previous links for details about them. Martin applied for a U. S. patent in 1948 and on August 7, 1951, he was granted patent 2, 563, 477, "Electronic Musical Instrument. " Click the thumbnail to read the patent, with the full description and original drawings: If you`re looking for a layman`s explanation of how a Clavioline works, the patent is not the place to start. Like most patents, it is written in a dense polyglot of legalese and techno-jargon, aimed at establishing precedence and forestalling infringement. Furthermore, since a patent is drafted to protect ideas and principles in the broadest possible fashion, this one doesn`t literally describe the Clavioline as it was commercially realized. Still, it`s interesting to see a contemporary expression of Martin`s idea. Interestingly, the last page of Martin`s patent description references an earlier (1939) patent, number...

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