You have to love what you run across on YouTube sometimes – here’s some awesome footage of Scott Ludwig demonstrating his Sonotron mod of a Claviolene keyboard (invented in 1947!), which he in turn based around what he had learnt from working with the legendary Max Crook; most famous for his wonderful work on Del Shannon’s tune ‘Runaway’ released in 1961.
Max modified a Claviolene keyboard with all sorts of wonderful effects, instrument sounds and even added a spring reverb unit to give that trademark ringing reverb which you hear on the excellent solo in Runaway. It’s probably not only one of the earliest examples of keyboard modification in pop but as it is based around the Claviolene keyboard – one of the earliest applications of analogue synth circuit modification! I never thought I’d ever see a demo on one of these keyboards as frankly Max’s Musitron keyboard was unique - but here is the Sonotron in all its lovely warbly glory:
As an added bonus and to give what I have written a little more colour – here’s Del Shannon’s original recording of Runaway featuring the wonderful Max Crook on his heavily modified Claviolene keyboard which he called his “Musitron” -