Home   Donate   New   Search   Gallery   How-To   Books   Links   Workshops   About   Contact

Wurlitzer 950 Theatre Organ
Internal Leslie Speakers. Wurlitzer's top-of-the-line.

Wurlitzer 950 Theatre organ

click for larger version

The Wurlitzer 950 covers the range from full cathedral organ to funky to space-age synth to Pink Floyd/ELP. It has internal Leslie speakers. Skip ahead here to hear actual examples from this instrument.

This was my dad's. This model was made from 1977 - 1980 in DeKalb, Illinois and sold originally for $26,000. That's $84,000 in 2005 dollars! We sold it to an enthusiast in Philadelphia, PA for $1,200 in March 2006.

Wurlitzer 950 sales flyer Wurlitzer 950 Sales Flyer

Click each page to see each side of the original sales flyer.

This instrument is for anyone, especially for the dedicated home or studio organist. My dad built many organs for fun and these were his hobby. This was purchased this way; he didn't build this one. It's far more than what you ordinarily find in a home. It has some fantastic sounds, especially with the genuine Leslie speaker system, it's Orbit synthesizer and it's funky, bubbly bass sounds called "Wah-Wah." It's great for fixed use in a studio. I doubt it's built for traveling. I'm not the organist. My dad was.

The Wurlitzer 950 is an electronic theatre organ with genuine internal Leslie rotating speakers. It doesn't need the big external ones. It's in the finest solid wood console and bench and has open grain and hand rubbed finishes.

53-1/2" wide x 46" tall (55" including music stand) x 29-1/2" deep (42" w/pedals)
Pedals and top of console remove from speaker base for moving

Three Manuals, all C - C:

Orbit Synthesizer Keyboard: 2 octaves

Upper and Lower Keyboards: 5 octaves each

Pedals: 2 octaves

Built in lighting from under the top of the console (click to enlarge)


Touch Tone Memory Chord
Famous Wurlitzer Tibias
Total Tone Modulation
Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Sound
Swingin' Rhythms with South American and Popular presets
Toy Counter
Swing Bass, Walking Bass and Rhythm Bass pedals
Pedal memory plays a pattern without holding the pedal!
Chord Magic turns a single note into a full chord
Funky Wah Wah Brass and Pedal sounds
ORBIT Synthesizer
Genuine Leslie rotating speakers, as used by Emerson, Lake and Palmer and many others.
Programmed Rhythm Orchestra


These examples were recorded with my cheap Casio digital camera's voice notation mode. These were recorded from the actual instrument for sale. All the crud and noise you hear is from the crummy mono voice recording. Click the links to listen to each effect. Sorry, I'm not an organist, so these are just me pressing one key at a time. Sit brother Ray on the bench and you'll hear a different story! You know the scene from the Blues Brothers, and no, the action isn't sticky at all so just imagine what you could do on this!

Leslie Speakers

Leslie Speaker Control

The Leslie Speaker system gives the dreamy, floating ethereal effects you've heard on ELP, Pink Floyd and many popular Hammond B-3s. Leslie speakers are a live analog instrument effect which use rotating speakers. They can only be simulated electronically if the speaker doesn't rotate. This Wurlitzer 950 has a genuine Leslie system. Here's a sample from this actual organ for sale. Note this recording is only in mono so you can't hear much here, but you musicians know exactly what this is. The sample is first without Leslie, then with slow Leslie, then fast Leslie. Here's more info about the Leslie system and its history and here's an explanation of how it works.

The Leslie speakers are internal. They are not the huge external cabinets.

The Leslie effect is incredibly powerful in live performance, since it turns a one-dimensional source like an organ into a living, three dimensional presence. My mono voice recording only captures one of those many dimensions. You musicians know what this does, otherwise you'll have to come hear it live.

Coincidentally my wife dated Don Leslie's son for years. She was always visiting at their house which was filled with organs and big speaker cabinets. Keith Emerson and others were over there all the time playing with things. They lived in Southern California; I married my wife after that (obviously) and my dad's organ is out in New York.

Funky Wah-Wah

This example here is from the pedals. You also can get it on the rest of the organ.

Orbit Synthesizer

Reminiscent of the space age and the Theremin, you can get odd effects. I'm not good enough to figure out how to use these for other than theatrical effects.

The example here is first a straight note, then a note bent by the Orbit Synthesizer. I hold the bent note, then alter the modulation rate from slower to faster, then change the modulation depth to deeper then shallower and smoothly to off.


Portamento glides the pitch smoothly from one note to the next, similar to a glissando. Portamento has two modes: legato and staccato. Legato mode only applies the effect with legato playing and has no effect when played staccato. Likewise, staccato mode gives you portamento when played staccato and no effect when played legato.

You can hear this Wurlitzer 950 do this here. First you hear two notes without portamento. The next three pairs of notes are at the standard speed, then at the slowest and fastest rate. Portamento rate is completely adjustable with a slider.

Delayed Vibrato

Delayed Vibrato starts a note without vibrato, and then kicks it in as the note is held. This example from my Wurlitzer 950 first plays a note without vibrato and then the same note with delayed vibrato.


Conventional vibrato on this Wurlitzer 950 sounds like this. The first chord is without vibrato. The second identical chord is with vibrato.


click for larger images to read all the tabs, stops, presets, keys and etc. The linked images are huge and you'll have to scroll around. Some browsers "auto resize" big images to fit the screen. If the images aren't bigger than your screen you'll have to either 1.) find and uncheck the "auto resize" or "fit images to screen" preference of your browser or 2.) download the linked images and look at them in Photoshop or similar. They are about 1600 pixels wide. Sorry, but it's really tough to make it so you can read an entire console on your computer screen. Obviously its much clearer in person. A few of these keys are hard to read even at the huge size. Here's what exactly all these controls are:

TOP ROW (stop tabs)



16' Bourdon
16' Principal
8' Flute
Guitar Bass
Wah Bass
Pedal Sustain


Upper Accent
8' Diapason
8' String
8' Oboe
8' Trumpet
8' Kinura
Upper 8' Off
16' Upper to Upper Coupler
4 ' Upper to Upper Coupler
2 ' Upper to Upper Coupler


Upper Tibia Accent
16' Tibia
8' Tibia
4 ' Tibia
2-2/3' Tibia
2 ' Tibia
1-1/3' Tibia
1 ' Tibia



Tibia Leslie Tremolo on/off
Tibia Leslie Speed fast/slow
Symphonic Presence Upper Ensemble on/off
Symphonic Presence Lower Ensemble on/off
Symphonic Presence Sustain on/off


Lower Accent
8' Tibia
4' Tibia
2' Tibia


8' Principal
8" String
8' Cornet
4' Octave
4' Violina
4' Lower to Lower Coupler

SECOND ROW (Orbit Synthesizer stops and switches)

32' sine wave (pure tone)
16' sine wave (pure tone)
8' sine wave (pure tone)
5-1/3' sine wave (pure tone)
4 ' sine wave (pure tone)
2-2/3' sine wave (pure tone)
2' sine wave (pure tone)
1-3/5' sine wave (pure tone)
1-1/3' sine wave (pure tone)

32' Bass Guitar (has attack and decay)
32' Bass Reed
32' Bass Clarinet
Banjo (strummed!)
String Celeste
Harpsichord (has attack and long decay)
Electric Piano (has attack and decay like a piano)
Vibes (has attack and long decay)
Xylophone (has attack and long decay)
Glock (has attack and long decay)
Chimes (has attack and long decay)
Harmonica (has attack and pitch bending)
Wah Wah

Delayed Vibrato
Orbit to Leslie
Orbit Coupler
Orbit Coupler upper/pedal

Orbit Modulator
Orbit Attack
Orbit Sustain
Orbit Portamento Legato
Orbit Portamento Staccato

Power Switch

THIRD ROW (Swingin' Rhythm, Orbit manual and modulation controls)

TEMPO (slider)

Bossa Nova
Slow Rock
6/8 March
2/4 March
Brush cancel
Snare cancel
Cymbal cancel
Down Beat

Bass Riff (pushbutton)
Clear (pushbutton)

ORBIT KEYBOARD: two octaves (C - C)

Orbit Sliders:

Volume (modulation)
Modulator Repetition Rate
Modulator Depth
Portamento Rate

FOURTH ROW (between Orbit and Upper Keyboards)

Spotlight Solo Voices for Upper Keyboard. These automatically cancel all other Upper Keyboard voices and light up when activated

Hawaiian Guitar
Wah Wah Trumpet

Upper to Presets (allows the Upper Keyboard voices to be combined with the Spotlight Solos instead of being cancelled)
Chord Magic

Five LEDs indicating which, if any, of the the five piston presets are active


Solo/Sustain (slider)

Upper Sustain off
Lower Sustain
Sustain long/short
Repeat Sustain

Sustain Repeat Speed (slider)

Reverb level (slider)

4' Upper Touch Response
2-2/3' Upper Touch Response
Touch Response Decay short/long
Touch Response Volume loud/soft

UPPER KEYBOARD: five octaves (C - C)

SIXTH ROW (between Upper and Lower manuals)

inscriptions for memory chords corresponding to each lower manual key

Five Piston Presets and Clear


Pedal Memory (allows walking or swing bass patterns to play without having to keep pedals held down.)

Programmed Rhythm Orchestra:
Touch Tone Memory Chords
Dancing Chords
Rhythm Bass walking/swing

Programmed Rhythm Orchestra Volume (slider)

Toy Counter

Bass Drum Cymbal pedal
Upper Brush
Lower Clave
Lower Block
Lower Tom-Tom
Lower Snare
Lower Brush

LOWER KEYBOARD: five octaves (C - C)

Under the Console

Concert/Practice level switch
Light switch for console lighting
1/4" audio jack

One dynamic level control pedal

PEDALS: two octaves, C - C

Home   Donate   New   Search   Gallery   How-To   Books   Links   Workshops   About   Contact