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Electric organs that sound most like a pipe organ

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  • Electric organs that sound most like a pipe organ

    I have found several good brands for electric organ. I am wondering, which make and model will produce the best pipe organ sound? The brands that I have discovered are Allen, Hammond, Lowrey, Roland, and Schoenstein.

  • #2
    Welcome to the Forum. This question has been asked many, many times before, so a good search of the forum will bring up lots of results.

    You'll find lots of opinions but here are a couple of facts. 1) Of the makes you mention, only the original tonewheel Hammond is 'electric', or to be more accurate, electromagnetic. All the others are electronic and for the past 35 years or so, almost all have been digital. 2) The tonewheel Hammond is the one that will never make a true pipe sound. It makes a sound that was (some would argue 'still is') unique - it's the Hammond sound. It can get somewhat pipe-like in the right hands with the right registrations, but that's as close as it goes.

    Now some opinion! Current Lowrey models have some pipe sounds but that's not what the Lowrey is all about! It's an entertainment machine. Rolands like my AT900P are more orchestral than the Lowrey, and have plenty of classical and theatre pipe sounds. They can sound quite authentic if registered and played well. Allen is the most pipe-like of the makes you mention. There are a few other makes of electronic classical organ out there, so start reading those other threads.

    Finally, to the best of my knowledge, Schoenstein make pipe organs, but not electronic organs.
    Last edited by andyg; 12-20-2016, 02:57 PM.
    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

    New website now live -

    Current organ: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition
    Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball something-or-other.
    Retired Leslies, 147, 145, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.


    • #3
      Hi, Seraphim - you have more guts in user names than I do, but welcome to the forum! Rogers is another famous digital church organ. Hauptwerk on a PC or Mac and $10K - $15K would make an awesome home organ capable of running any number of international pipe organs. In a way, Hauptwerk is the future because even the name brand organs are becoming computers at heart.
      -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
      -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
      -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
      -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
      -- Public domain hymn search:


      • #4
        Hi Seraphim! Welcome to the Forum. I cannot help risking the question: Why Seraphim? What about the Cherubim? These are Biblical beings associated with guarding for example, the Ark of the Covenant.... That was the Bible lesson for today!

        Now to my way of thinking most of the modern "Church" models made by Allen, Content, Johannus, Rogers, etc. sound very much like pipe organs. The niche in the market created most likely by the high cost of maintaining pipe organs has shifted the interest of churches that still prefer organ music towards the electronic/digital organ models. Unfortunately, they are all very expensive and beyond the reach of most individuals.
        There is another thread about the price of home organs in the 70-ies from where one can glean that those models were equally very expensive in their day - perhaps the trend kind of continues today if one is looking for a true pipe sound without pipes.

        "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...


        • #5
          Although I'm a Hammond man I would have to say Roland as well.
          HAMMOND XE200 Special Edition


          • #6
            I have heard a Rodgers (Roland) installation that was absolutely magnificent.

            And that's something to remember - the installation matters, A LOT. Just as it does with a real pipe organ.


            • #7
              I'm not the foremost of authorities on what electronic organs sound most like a pipe organ, but I have been playing organ for 30 years now. In my humble experience, I think that both Allen and Rodgers have done a fine job of pulling their weight in managing to convince the average listener. I believe that "authenticity is in the ear of the beholder" when it comes to your question. I remember the first time I played one of Allen's organs which was manufactured in the early 90's. I was totally blown away by it and thought it sounded exactly like a pipe organ. Technology has come a long way since then. I played organ for two years in a UCC and their instrument was an Allen manufactured in the early to mid 90's. The bass stops were amazing. When you would being to depress a pedal, you could first hear a very convincing chiff and then as you completely depressed the pedal the note would sound. The first time my wife heard the organ, she asked me where the pipes were hidden! But then I left that church. I recently went back three months ago to play for them (almost 7 years later) and the organ didn't sound as good as I had remembered it. Go figure. Bottom line, I think that Allen and Rodgers are my personal favorites for authenticity, and they both pretty much are on equal playing ground.

              I have to agree with what Wes said. The installation is critical. I'm currently playing on an Allen Custom 2 manual manufactured in the 70's. I'm absolutely in love with this organ and it's not nearly as impressive as their ADC or later models. However, the acoustics in the sanctuary are excellent and the organ sings incredibly well for it's age.

              Hammond L143 with Leslie 760