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When did the 'Organ Bug' first bite you?

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    I was born to the sound of Lenny Dee recordings being played many moons ago and so those melodious Hammond tones were set in place very early on. Today I'm still listening to the same records I did as a wee baby boy and play I hope just a little like Lenny sharing my parents love of his music.

    Bless you Lenny.
    HAMMOND XE200 Special Edition


      I grew up attending a church that did not allow musical instruments (Byzantine Rite Catholic - the priest sang the mass and a cantor led the congregation's responses) so there was no organ music influence there. But my mom grew up in a Protestant church that had a nice pipe organ and I think she missed it. Each year we would go to the Wanamaker store in Philadelphia to see the big Christmas show and hear the pipe organ. One day when I was 14 we made a trip to Philadelphia to look at organs. She had saved up enough money to buy one, which was a complete surprise to me (and I think to Dad as well.)

      I remember like it was yesterday when the salesman showed us all of the vacuum tubes in other brands of instruments and then showed us a Hammond "that was always in tune." So a week later our new Hammond M3 spinet was delivered. It came with a set of books called the "Pointer System" and all three of us (mom, dad and I - older brother was in college) started playing the Hammond with no prior organ playing experience. We joined the regional Hammond organ club and went to many public events and private homes.

      I eventually started music lessons with a fellow who played a Hammond B3 in a night club. My lesson was at 11 AM on Saturday morning and he was often just out of bed after playing until 2AM on Friday night. I never took any piano lessons before that, and all of my studies with Sal were pop, theater and and light classical music.

      When I went to high school, there was a very large vacuum tube Allen organ in the 1500 seat auditorium. Mr. Dakin, who taught classes in the commercial track of the school, played it before and after assemblies. I loved the sound of that organ and wanted to play it but with my heavy class load I never had time.

      Since I lived only a half block from my high school, that summer I went over to the school and asked the principal if I could play the organ during the summer. He said to me, "Well, as an old Navy electronics man I know that it is not good for a piece of equipment to sit unused in humid weather so I think it would be good for the organ key contacts if you came in to play it while school is out of session." I was thrilled at his response and he made arrangements with the school secretary for me to have access to the key to the organ loft.

      That summer I went over to practice about three times a week. As I mentioned in another thread, I do believe that the sound of an instrument can inspire you and this one sure did. That fall I asked if I could come in before the start of the school day to practice. Again the answer was positive so I willingly went to school at 7:15 AM several times a week to practice for an hour before having to report to my home room. At first I didn't realize that I was developing an audience. The cleaning ladies would come in about 8AM when their work was done and sit quietly in the balcony. It wasn't until they started applauding that I realized they were there!

      College exposed me to multiple pipe organs, including a wonderful Aeolian-Skinner designed and voiced by G. Donald Harrison. I made friends with the university organist and even though I was an engineering student I got permission to practice on the pipe and electronic organs on campus that the organ students did not use. I also "discovered" movie theater pipe organs and had another big thrill when I got to play a big Moller organ in a movie palace back in my home town. Once I had my first job I bought a used Baldwin organ, the first of many home and former church organs that I have owned over the years.
      Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand name.

      Main: Allen RMWTHEA.3 with Rocky Mount Electra-Piano, Allen 423-C + Gyro cabinet, Britson Opus OEM38, Saville Series IV Opus 209, Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI
      Lower Level: Hammond 9812H with roll player, Gulbransen Rialto, Roland E-200, Vintage Moog
      Shop: Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with 18 speakers and MIDI, 4 Allen theater organ tone cabinets (including 3 Gyros, but don't call me Gyro Gearloose!).


        I attended a student church through college and the summer before I finished grad school all of the organists moved away. I had put down that I knew how to play piano on my new member forms so one of the church leaders asked if I would be willing to play the organ. I thought "why not?". I got a key to the church so I could go practice every day. Sometime within the first couple weeks/months I realized what the organ was capable of (mainly reproducing symphonic/orchestral works that I always wanted to play but knew that even if I were part of an orchestra for 20yrs I might never get to) and that's when the bug bit. I started learning the pedals, figuring out how to work the console, and putting together arrangements of my favorite orchestral works (if I couldn't find any decent arrangements). For a year or so I only liked classical, draw-knob organs. Then I started learning how to hand register and suddenly the tab organs weren't so bad. Eventually, I decided a midified theatre organ would be the way to go because it would give me more easy-to-reach stops and cost less than classical drawknob organ. I bought my organ and continue to learn things and get better (slowly).
        Home: Allen ADC-4500 Church: Allen MDS-5
        Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, TC Mixer, ADC TC SF2, and MOS TC SF2, ADC TC Cad/Rvt, MOS TC Cad/Rvt, Organ Database, Music Library, etc. PM for unlinked files.


          in 2006, at the age of 14, i first heard frank zappa's hot rats. The music was so delightful and challenging that i wanted to know everything about it, especially how to make the keyboard sounds. i worked a fast food job to buy a yamaha yc20 and found a lowrey genie in decent shape in a newspaper ad. aside from playing guitar in a rock band, i practiced parts and songwriting on the organ because it's easy to layer parts.

          the next year i got a hammond m100 with a leslie. i was on a pink floyd kick and saw the combination on "live at pompeii." this organ made its way into jams and band practice and gave me a new tone to search for. since then, i've acquired a hammond model A, a lowrey T100, and a nord C1. i've played other organs where i've found the chance, pipes, transistor, hammonds. i'm entranced with the pure, distinguished tone of the Model A (but would love to try other consoles!). i rarely entertain, but playing the hammond is a genuinely therapeutic experience that i revisit daily.

          what really gave me the organ bug was the sounds of motown, funk, and jazz. albums like (just to name two) Parliament's osmium and MMW's the dropper showed me a side of organ playing that was not only contemporary, but alluring
          A city built on rock and roll may be structurally unsound


            2 months ago I rescued my first hammond (m3). Today I met another enthusiast with many different organ types. The 1935 model A, serial number 25 fired up and sang beautifully through a Leslie 122. This thing was rescued from a barn! It looks old and ratty, but boy-o-boy what a sound!
            BCV, C2, M3, C3
            HR40, 142, 760, 771
            Once upon a time I was a musician, now I just collect Hammonds!


              I had played the piano for nine years and listened to the Rodgers in our church for as long. When we moved just over a year ago, I decided that then was the time to get in on the action. I talked to one of the organists, and she said she regularly taught group lessons and that I should join in the next round. I promptly began reading everything I could about pipe organs, even a book about registration before I even touched an instrument! I still listen and read to anything I can about the instrument, and even though I've played for less than a year, I accompany our congregation monthly on our church's Allen.


                Stravinsky, your story is SO much like those I've heard from many of my organ friends, I think I can say with confidence that you are one of us! Almost every serious organist I know felt inexplicably drawn to the instrument, even before playing one. I myself was fascinated by the organ first time I ever heard one and from that day on couldn't get enough of them. Read everything I could find, studied stoplists, organ designs, registration skills, playing techniques. I'm 66 years old and still learning all the time and sharpening my playing skills. It has been a lifelong "obsession" but I wouldn't have it any other way!
                Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches


                  It kind of started with a second hand store when i was a kid. I was browsing the record selves and i found this record, i cant remember what was the title but it had the word "Organ" or it was "The Organ" the cover was plain white and in the wording was various types of pipes and i remember being fascinated by the diffrent pipes and wanting to understand what they were.

                  The theatre pipe organ was just something i came to like and became more of a follower and advocate. I was sitting in lab one semester and i found myself sketching a theatre pipe organ console on my paper.
                  Last edited by Ben Madison; 12-23-2018, 06:15 PM.
                  22/8 Button accordion.


                    It was during my first year of private organ study. The church we were attending had just been formed and was meeting in temporary quarters and the pastors wife was the organist. The organ being used at that time was an Army/Nave Field pump organ.

                    The organist became to ill to play and my parents "volunteered" me to play ... that was February 12, 1961 ... and now some 57+ years later still playing in church every week. I haven't been home on Christmas Eve since I was 12 years old - always in church that night!

                    I got bit by the bug way back when - still in love with playing every week. It's my gyroscope - keeps me in focus and wanting more.


                      Originally posted by Stravinsky416 View Post
                      I had played the piano for nine years and listened to the Rodgers in our church for as long. When we moved just over a year ago, I decided that then was the time to get in on the action. I talked to one of the organists, and she said she regularly taught group lessons and that I should join in the next round. I promptly began reading everything I could about pipe organs, even a book about registration before I even touched an instrument! I still listen and read to anything I can about the instrument, and even though I've played for less than a year, I accompany our congregation monthly on our church's Allen.
                      Wow! We had almost the same story but I was just in a modern time. I was 20 years old when I notice and got some interest in piano. At first I watched a lot of videos about it and learning basics. I even tried downloading basic piano applications in my ipad just for me to have a basic knowledge. After few months I decided to take piano lessons 3 times a week since I still have job for daily living. I save money until I got my own piece. I'm 25 years old now and I never regret spending my time for this talent .


                        I've played guitar for many years although I'm still not very good. I played piano for 4 years as a kid and then quit - biggest mistake I've ever made! About 5 years ago I acquired a Baldwin MCX- 2100. But it sounded so horrible that I never really took to it. Recently, I got ambitious and removed the back. Both of the 10" speakers were blown. I replaced them and suddenly, I was hooked. Now, I've just acquired a Technics SX-GA3, and I'm really hooked!


                          I was probably 5 or 6 years old. Although I didn't care for going to church, I loved the way the organ sounded. The low notes seemingly rattling the stained glass, while the high ones were powerful yet not deafening. I could go on but I assume most people here understand...

                          That was at St. Mark Roman Catholic church in Buffalo, NY back in the early 70's. I assume the original organ is still there, and actually tried to look up some information online recently but struck out, aside from a photo that captured most of the pipes. There is a large center window at the back of the church, up on the loft, and the pipes are in two groups, one on either side of that massive window. Never seen a similar installation since.

                          My family moved from Buffalo in the late 70's and I have not returned to this day. However, if I return, my plan is to attend a service on Sunday and sit in roughly the same location my family did, so I can hear the organ as I did back in the day. I also plan to go up in the loft afterwards to see what make and model of organ is there, maybe chat up the organist for a bit. Taking a test drive would be the icing on the cake but who knows if that would happen.

                          In the event that anyone here has info on that St. Mark organ, please let me know.
                          Hammond RT-3, Estey circa 1903, Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano, Fender Rhodes Mark I 73 stage piano.


                          • samibe
                            samibe commented
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                          • myorgan
                            myorgan commented
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                            Great research, Sam. That's the church I found. Thanks for sharing the links. Too bad we couldn't find anything on the organ.


                          • ChristopherDB113
                            ChristopherDB113 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Yes, that is the church, and the organ. Looks pretty much as I remember it. I think the links are to websites that I found earlier.

                            Without getting too much off topic, how would the pipes be split? That is would you have an entire rank on each side, or half the pipes of a rank on one side and another half on the other? Maybe only the ones on the left are real, since there is some sort of access stair up to them?

                            Thanks for the replies.