Wurlitzer Orbit III

Wurlitzer Orbit III Image

Organ 555 with Orbit 3 (mini-keyboard)

The Orbit III is an unusual, but not at all rare, basic monophonic synthesizer. It was included as the third manual on many different Wurlitzer home organ models since its introduction in 1971 (models 4037, 4373, 4573, 555 and others). It has a basic envelope that includes attack and sustain, a filter of sorts (called "wah-wah" - guess what kind of sound it makes), and an LFO (called "modulator" in Wurlitzer parlance). The LFO has settings for rate and "deviation" (depth). The "second touch" feature is a crude aftertouch function, which you can assign to affect either the LFO or the "slide" function. Each synthesis function can be completely toggled on and off via push button. The sound of the synth is modified by a row of organ-style buttons that affect the timbre and the range.

The rest of the instrument the Orbit III is attached to is classic home organ fare. Cheesy drum beats, the usual home organ sounds, and a cassette player/recorder round out the features of the organs that typically contain an Orbit III. And lurking beneath the three manuals is a real life rotating speaker cabinet. The early models used the Wurlitzer Spectratone speaker, but switched over to the Leslie speaker in 1974 with the model 555. Additional features included a volume pedal and a foot manual (again, classic home organ features).

Typically these organs were used in churches and schools. They are of considerable weight, and as a result they can often be had for the cost of sweat equity alone. You're not going to be picking up a secret low-cost Moog, but you'll have a lot of fun with it once you get it home. And when you tire of it, you can pass it on to the next sucker, ahem, lucky individual.

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17 Visitor comments
dorothy montoya
June 25, 2013 @ 4:41 pm
Trying to locate a technical manual as we live too far away for a repair person. My husband can do minor electric repairs.
Rebecca Richeson
April 28, 2013 @ 3:24 pm
My husband brought home a Wurlitzer Centura 805 (King Tut) that someone just gave to him. It is wonderful! Beautiful sound! I am looking for an owners manual, and the original bench and music stand. Any feedback would be appreciated.
aj
December 14, 2012 @ 11:57 pm
Hey Steve

The outputs are under the left hand corner of the lower keyboard (up against the speaker mesh).

I just picked one of these up fro FREE and it has LESLIE Speaker.
Charles
December 10, 2011 @ 8:17 pm
I have a Wurlitzer 550 with Orbit 3, Great Organ worlks great
Cheap, Fob Jax fl. Charles 904-573-3855
Steve
July 27, 2011 @ 10:02 pm
My Orbiter III works perfectly and sounds great! Mine is the same as the picture above. It is a 555 with a Leslie! Bought it for a song. Can't find those outputs yet.
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO
  • LFO - Modulator: Affects pitch with rate and depth controls
  • Envelope - Attack and Sustain
  • Keyboard - 25 mini-keys
  • Effects - Wah-Wah
  • Memory - 10 Presets (Reed, Brass, String, Banjo, Harpsichord, Electro Piano, Vibes, Xylophone, Piano
  • Control - None
  • Date Produced - 1971

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