The Korg CX-3 keyboard review

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The Korg CX-3 is one of the first and most authentic clone wheel organ ever produced in 1979 that stimulates the sound of an electromechanical Hammond organ. The CX-3 gave a convincing enough, emulation of a tone-wheel Hammond’s sound that can be used in live stage performances, particularly when played through a real Leslie rotating speaker.

The Korg CX-3 struggled to achieve a competitive edge against other digital synthesizers in the 1980’s; particularly the Yamaha DX7 and the sales flopped. The product was intended as a replacement for the classic Hammond tone wheel organ (C3 or B3), which sounded fantastic but was immensely bulky that the easiest option if you fancied using once at a gig, was to transport the pub. The CX-3 is a successful portable drawbar organ.

The Korg CX-3 keyboard review
The Korg CX-3 keyboard review

The combination of drawbars and  built in rotary speaker simulation, with fast and slow speed means that many of the most sought after organ effects could be heard with just a keyboard and a good amplifier. Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, a Hammond stimulating organ needs to have a certain look and feel. A dark wood veneer is pleasingly sculpted at the sides, with a handy flat wide top surface. Two complete meets of click- stopped drawbars sprout from a ledge above the keys. They are authentic and they possess a smooth positive fluid feel that is better quality than the drawbars on most Hammonds.

A digital remake of the CX-3 was launched on 2002, which included; two sets of drawbars, expressions and overdrive controls and a built in reverb unit and Leslie simulator. It was retired in 2011 after the introduction of their Korg Kronos. Notable users such as Marillions Mark Kelly used a CX-3 for live performance and recording in the early 1980’s. Adam Wakeman used a CX-3 when touring with Ozzy Osbourne. There had been a market for a light weight clone of the Hammond organ, due to the instruments weight. While the made in Japan instrument spent its life on the road, it is been studio kept currently, serviced and checked  out ready for a few more decades of making music.

Here are the features of Korg CX-3

  • Keyboard; 61-note unweighted, transmits note-on and note-off velocityThe Korg CX-3
  • Polyphony; 64-note
  • Two multitimbral parts
  • Sound engine; tonewheel organ modeling
  • Two sets of nine drawbars (9×2)
  • ROM/RAM programs 0/128 (64 normal EX)
  • Effects; Rotary speaker, vibrator/ chorus, overdrive, reverb
  • Analog audio outputs; 2  1,1\2 4” Ts unbalanced, 1 1,1\2 4” stereo headphone
  • Control inputs; one expression pedal, two assignable foot switch
  • In, out, through MIDI ports
  • 20 character 5 1- line vacuum fluorescent displays (VFD)
  • Dimensions 42.6”(W) x 5.83”(H) x 15.87”(D)
  • Weight 37.5 lbs

With the Korg CX-3 128 program location and over 64 presets you can cover the whole musical map from pop, hard rock, jazz, gospel and R&B. Hosts of keyboardists such as Brian Auger and Tom Coster contributed their signature sounds to a huge art of voicing. Two sets of nine drawbars can extensively be controlled while effects add authenticity to notes. Three amp simulations deliver real rotary speaker, classic tube amp sounds. The adjustable split function allows you to use two sounds at once to create upper and lower keyboards.

Benefits of using Korg CX-3

The CX-3 offers 64 programs in normal mode. The user can alter the sound in real time with two sets of nine drawbars. You can split the keyboard to use the upper and lower tone generators. The drawbars can govern two simultaneous sounds in a split configuration, or they can be tighten to provide two sets of sounds that can be altered in real time for just the upper half of the board.

The Korg CX-3 keyboardAt the right side of the drawbars, is a large 20 – element, fluorescent display, with characters formed of pale blue dots that encourage you to investigate and tweak. Aside from showing the current program’s name, the display reveals standard drawbar configurations and many parameters for sounds and effect processing.

For players who demand authenticity the CX-3 has more controls in the same location as a real B-3 than other Hammond clones. The CX-3 keyboard is ultra-fast, triggering long before you reach the bottom of the key travel, which makes it perfect for playing choppy, skittering parts. The keys are nicely rounded at the edges which also facilitates smears. The CX-3 can progressively add the sound diffusing, high pitched background noise on the vintage setting. The programs offer only a glimpse into the world of possibilities that the CX-3 offers. You can call up a program and hit the drawbars button and rebuild the sound in real time using the drawbars. The display button reveals the current program’s drawbar configuration, which is a great way to learn about using drawbars. On the CX-3, you can find the sound wheeze and breathe in true Leslie style. Korg CX-3 provides a full complement of editing parameters, including horn and rotor balance.

Buy Now the Korg keyboards

The CX-3 is perfect for casual gigging more than the XK-3 and what has been said about it being slightly more aggressive than the XK series and nodes is very true. Its design at this point is vintage for the market but it has kept its niche. The CX-3 sound is certainly aggressive and has a great scream on the upper octaves. The CX-3 is much lighter and has no reverse preset keys which makes it fit easily when being packed in the boot of a car. With CX-3, you can create or customize almost every aspect of the Hammond experience from selecting a vintage equipment and model to tailoring percussion levels, tone, amplifier type and gain along with every imaginable rotary speaker setting. You will also find a smattering of reverb parameters.

The instrument and owner’s manual use plain English and if you are the plug in and play type, it is high time to experiment with the virtual Leslie’s mic distance parameter.

Join the world in embracing Korg CX-3, the true musical player.

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