FK4: Elka Rhapsody 490 (AKA Hohner String Vox)
Elka Rhapsody 490
The Elka Rhapsody is an Italian made String Machine from the 1970s that was also sold under the Hohner brand name as the String Vox. The only noticeable difference is the colour; the String Vox being beige while the Elka is black. It has that classic shimmering ensemble effect and was used by the likes of Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and I’m sure many others. The sound isn’t an accurate simulation of a real string orchestra — though it seemed so at the time — but has a unique and pleasant sound of its own.
The Rhapsody 490 has just Two sounds; Violon Cello and Strings. You can combine the sounds and doing so shifts the Strings sound down an octave. There’s a Volume and a Sustain slider. An interesting thing about the sustain is that it behaves more like a pseudo reverb effect. The sound decays fairly quickly then a long quiet release comes in.
I owned one of these in the early 1980s so when one came up for auction I decided to place a bid. I won the auction and had to go and collect it from London which was a horrendous journey with road-works and traffic jams. When I finally found the chap’s house I was so anxious to get back in my car and get home that I gave it a quick look over, took his word that everything was fully working as described and got out of there.
Well, it took a bit of work to get it to the “fully working” state as advertised, but I think it was worth the effort in the end. The main problems were: No envelope on two of the notes, some noise on envelope decay, dodgy note contacts, sustain/release that was too long, both end cheeks loose, the power switch light not working and rust under the keyboard chassis! All sorted out now though and sounding as good as new.
Inside the Elka Rhapsody
The Kontakt Instrument
Details of the Kontakt Instrument and how to purchase it are here. Essentially it is a re-creation of the real thing so most of the description above is relevant. However, please contact me if you have any questions.
FK4: Elka Rhapsody 490 Kontakt Instrument