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Each type of organ has its own charms, or does it?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Larrytow View Post
    ...but playing supper club lounge style on an Allen church organ is not nearly as nice ( or effective ) as using a Yamaha for that sort of music.
    Those places still exist?!!!:-P

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

    Comment


    • #17
      I'll bite.

      Real pipes are the breath of joy and inspiration to me, they are the reason I'm going to so much effort to learn to play. I hope to play as substitute sometimes in my church, perhaps other churches, and in my retirement travel and go organ crawling and get my hands and toes on as many lovely pipe organs of different types as I can.

      At home is another story. Real pipes just aren't practical for me. I'd have to choose a disposition and live with it effectively forever. Add a rank or two later maybe, but not switch from Baroque to Romantic because I've changed favorites. Volume is an issue. I have a family, and neighbors only a driveway to either side. I like to practice at 5am.

      I'm having a wonderful and educational time converting my old pipe console to MIDI and playing via Hauptwerk. It increases the breadth of my experience to have the sounds of different styles and periods of organ sounds available to try out with different types of music, switching whenever the whim strikes me. When I'm done, I might entertain myself with making it hybrid and adding some physical doodads - a zimbelstern, or chimes, but probably not a windchest. probably. :)
      Home Organ: VPO Home-Brewed from a former Klann pipe organ console

      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        LIzny, you bring up another good point that bears upon the choices many of us must make -- practicing at odd hours while respecting the ears and sleep schedules of others.

        The need to practice quietly nearly rules out all pipe organs, unless you can truly soundproof the room in which it will live. The need for headphones also puts up a stumbling block for old-fashioned hardware organs, such as the Hammond tone wheel with a Leslie. You CAN play the Hammond through a good Leslie emulator (Neo-Vent, etc) with headphones, but most players would think that rather a serious compromise.

        Even all the Allens I ever owned -- which includes MOS, ADC, MADC, and Renaissance -- were a bit hard on the ears with headphones. Allen doesn't really design their organs to sound great in headphones, but in real spaces, preferably large spaces. At least that's been my experience.

        By far the best headphone listening experience is with the VPO. Any "software" organ, whether running on Hauptwerk or Grand Orgue or jOrgan or whatever, can theoretically sound awesome in headphones, because the sampling of the organ sound captures much more than just the raw output of the pipes. It captures the environment in which the pipes are sounding, and with headphones, you feel almost transported to the very spot where the samples were recorded. Quite astounding.

        That means that anybody who does most of his/her playing with headphones on may well settle on a software organ, UNLESS he/she is satisfied with the less-than-authentic type of sound field you'll experience wearing headphones plugged into an ordinary organ intended to sound through speakers.

        Thanks for bringing up that subject.

      • lizny
        lizny commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't generally practice with headphones. I just turn the volume down. It also spares my hearing - I'm delighted that I can practice for hours without risking damage, and still enjoy playing full throttle once in a while or for performance.

    • #18
      Well yes Michael, they certainly do exist here in WI ! And yes, solo entertainers still do provide live music on organs at some of them. The supper clubs that still are going strong are mainly in the resort / vacation areas of the state. Most of them are Up North from where I live, here in the middle of the state, but there are also some in the richer suburbs of Milwaukee.

      I have a good friend who still does those gigs, and folks really enjoy it. It keeps them around, spending money on drinks, after they have had a good steak dinner. He does not sing - he plays pretty elaborate instrumental arrangements of popular songs, and old standards. You would be amazed at the sounds one can get out of a big stage model Yamaha, when played by someone who understands it capabilities, and Uses them. In the early evening he does background music for the diners, but later on it becomes more of an actual show. He uses no "styles", "backing tracks", or "auto play" ways of playing - if you are hearing it, he is playing it all live. Of course, the drums are a programed pattern, but that is all.

      I myself no longer play out like that, for a number of reasons that have to do with life situations, more so than there being no places that I could play at. I get my playing for others satisfaction now by playing for churches, and I'm happy with that. My second organ teacher was a very popular supper club entertainer, and I still have a strong affinity for his style of playing. So much so that it pervades my style to this day, even when playing for church. It's certainly not "proper" church style, but it works for me.

      I guess we here in WI are kinda "Old Fashioned" in some ways. We are perfectly OK with that !
      Regards, Larry

      At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        Old-fashioned is good!

    • #19
      John,

      I just re-read the title to this thread, Each type of organ has its own charms, or does it? Are you trying to figure out if that mongrel of a VPO you've built has any charm or not? Even Cinderella had two ugly stepsisters!

      So, what is the charm of the VPO "organ" you've created? It is certainly one-of-a-kind and will probably never be replicated in my lifetime!;-)

      I just got a call to see if a Lowrey Festival with Magic Genie had any worth (deceased parent). I routinely get questions about various reed organs or Hammond models (H, L, M, and others) to see if they have any worth. Do those organs have any charm? That begs the quesiton, Does charm translate to worth or value? I would argue they are separate entities, but that's an opinion.

      Michael
      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        Haha! Brilliant question, Michael.

        Not sure my "ugly step-organ" has a particular charm at this point. Although I do love the music rack ;-)

        And people call me regularly to inquire about the value of that charming organ-shaped piece of faux furniture that Mama bought in 1959 with the entire contents of her Christmas Tree Account at the bank. That's a tough one.

        The whole home organ servicing business has all but disappeared, it seems. Twenty years ago there were lots of calls to come out and fix a Baldwin Cinema II or Kimball Swinger 700 or Wurlitzer Total Tone, as well as the Lowrey Holiday and such classics, and the usual assortment of Hammond L and M models (and the tackier T and R models.

        But nowadays I can go a whole year without a call on such an animal. We do get a call now and then on a current-series (or nearly current) Lowrey, those big home jukebox looking contraptions that people apparently pay $40,000 to $100,000 for, for the privilege of selection the solo instrument on their favorite old Big Band number or oldie from the swing era.

        The "charm" of those things fully escapes me, but some people must see it, considering the big bucks they lay out for them!

    • #20
      I have highly refined tastes in piano sounds, which is why I can't abide poor quality digital pianos nor pianoteq. I can kind of tolerate new and high-end digital pianos but prefer software pianos. However, the organ has such a vast variety of sounds and so much variation between instruments that my tastes are not nearly as discriminating--I've also never played an actual pipe organ. The 1990s Allen I use at church sounds great to me, as do a great many organs of various vintages and makes.

      However, when it comes to my preferences for my home instrument, we must keep in mind the role organ plays in my life: it's a hobby. The organ itself, not just the organ music. For that reason, I'm in solidly in the home-brew VPO camp. And when I say "home-brew" I mean the hard way about everything. The easiest way is to buy an organ that just works. Second easiest is to get an organ with working MIDI and install Hauptwerk. Or take the simplest route to obtaining MIDI. Personally, I bought a non-working organ and am changing out the keybeds, installing my own optical switches, programming my arudino from scratch, installing GrandOrgue (which I compile from scratch under linux), building the internal computer from parts, and constructing my own hybrid organ from the sample sets from a number of different organs and a graphical interface of my own design. Probably I will ultimately modify the organ to add a fourth manual. I will be adding RGB LED strips in various places. When I'm done with all that, I will find other ways to improve it. It's definitely not about saving money and it's not really about getting the best organ sound, exactly. It's a labor of love. And that love greatly transcends the actual playing of the instrument.

      My sister also plays the organ at her church and she has little interest in differences between organ sounds, aesthetics, and actions. As long at the organ is AGO, she's happy to play on it. That's because she's primarily interesting in playing organ, not constructing one. To me, that's only half a hobby at most.
      Rodgers 905

      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        Yep, farnsy, you're in it for the long haul! I admire your skills and your determination, and I suspect that you will wind up with a magnificent organ. Your zeal reminds me of another youngster I know who built, practically from scratch, a wonderful Hauptwerk organ for his church. Here's the church's website page that has full info on the organ, which has become quite a magnet for musical artists:

        https://www.greenwoodumc.org/hauptwerk-organ

        And the "home-brew VPO" route is definitely the organ type for you, for all the reasons you describe. The "home-brew" approach (or a modified version of it) would be my pathway if I had all the necessary skills and abilities and plenty of time to throw at it. I'm just at the awkward stage of life where I'd dearly love to fully retire and just putter around on my organ projects every day, but if I did, I'd lose a considerable amount of income, which would make it harder for me to spend money on my organ toys!

        I may well wind up in the middle of your three categories -- bring home an organ that's already fully MIDI equipped so I can run a MIDI cable straight to my computer and use Grand Orgue or another VPO program as a sound source (possibly along with the native voices of the organ I'm considering for bringing home).

      • farnsy
        farnsy commented
        Editing a comment
        Lizny, I'm actually on the beginning part of this project. My organ is being delivered in a couple of days (already got rid of my old one). It has Rodgers/non-premium keys and I'm going to swap them out for Allen/premium keys. I have four Allen keyboards. I play an Allen at church but did not find an Allen organ that was in all ways satisfactory, so I'm going to swap the relevant part out so it feels just like my church organ. Two of my Allen keyboards still have the reed switches intact so I may use them as they are. The other two are from an optical system, but did not come with the associated switches. I have purchased a few hundred HY301-21 optical switches. After doing a bunch of tests I find that they work much better than the reed switches I purchased on Amazon. Much less finicky--and no hysteresis. I'll post a youtube series of the construction details as it unfolds. Probably tomorrow I'll make a technical video discussing the switches themselves and post it here for those interested.

      • farnsy
        farnsy commented
        Editing a comment
        jbird, yeah, I have a bit of an obsessive personality; with any luck this organ will work out as a productive outcome from it--shouldn't count those eggs before they hatch, though. My weakest relevant area is carpentry. I'm confident of my wiring and programming ability. I will just have to measure 3 or 4 times and cut once. Hopefully there won't be much cutting at all.

        I've struggled all my life with a delayed circadian rhythm--ultimately chose a job that would accommodate late mornings and nights. But my wife and kids go to bed early so I have a number of alone hours every night to work on it. You can do a lot of organ building and playing with a few hours each night, as long as you can keep the volume down.
        Last edited by farnsy; 08-16-2020, 08:19 PM.

    • #21
      I would like to second your (Farnsy) opinion concerning pianos. Nothing digital comes close to my beloved "A". But I recently bought a Roland LX 706, and I must confess that in the headphones the sound is not bad at all. I chose the Roland rather than the equivalent Yamaha because I am now a fan of modeled rather than sampled technology after enjoying the Sonus "Physis" for a full year. However, on the organ, opting for modeling "cancels" the delights of instant worldwide travel to your favourite church's samples, and I quite understand why many would go for Hauptwerk-based rigs ; the problem is the interface hardware : for me touchscreens suck and rigs seems ugly.

      The problem with the Roland LX 607 is the audio amplification. No matter how many and large speakers they claim to use, these perfect Steinway-cloned harmonics in your Sennheiser phones are lost in amplification. I think the issue is power. The ridiculously feeble power supply (20 W) will never feed properly decent amps and decent speakers, and I am unconvinced with their class D sets. Of course my Viscount does not have this problem. Like Allen, their DNA is churches, not small japanese rooms. And organs deal out a lot of bass so outsize power hungry woofers are common. I have tried bypassing the Roland amplification using stage equipment lent by a recording engineer friend, but so far I am also disappointed. Stage gear is not known for delicacy. And good studio gear feeds from mikes, not line-out.

      However my music room is not meant for wired equipment. My passion is baroque, my personal favourite instrument is the harpsichord, and bliss is playing with two to five friends, even six feet apart.
      Vincent
      __________________________________________________ ________________________
      Hybrid Home Organ : Viscount Sonus 45 with additional 154 real pipes. Steinway A 188. Roland LX 706. Pianoforte : Walter 1805 Copy by Benjamin Renoux. Harpsichords : Franco-German by Marc Fontaine, Jacob Kirkmann single (1752).

      Comment


      • farnsy
        farnsy commented
        Editing a comment
        I love the idea of physical modeling, but PianoTeq has really put me off it. I haven't tried OrganTeq yet, so I can't comment on whether it works better there. In piano, Roland, Yamaha, and Kawai all have OK sounds in their most recent, high end models, but are still not great. For a great sounds I suggest a virtual piano. Galaxy Vintage D is an oldie but a goodie. I have never heard a digital piano that could come close to it, nor a software piano that is better. You must use high quality headphones, though.

    • #22
      Originally posted by Vincent View Post
      The problem with the Roland LX 607 is the audio amplification. No matter how many and large speakers they claim to use, these perfect Steinway-cloned harmonics in your Sennheiser phones are lost in amplification. I think the issue is power. The ridiculously feeble power supply (20 W) will never feed properly decent amps and decent speakers, and I am unconvinced with their class D sets.
      AMEN!!! I have never met a Roland which had enough power to fill the space in which it was placed. The emphasis in your quote is mine. I have never met a Roland that adequately reproduced the samples within to provide convincing sound. In my case, I have opted for older Technics technology, but the pianos I use (in my signature) fill every space I've used them in–from Symphony, to church, to pit work, to school, and my rehearsal space in my garage.

      Michael
      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

      Comment


      • Vincent
        Vincent commented
        Editing a comment
        Glad to see you agree, Michael. So my next comment is : Why does Roland and others get away with such shoddy amplification ?

        Well firstly, many digital piano users, myself included, do not care because they always use headphones. I purchased my digital as a second piano to practice in silence, particularly in the evenings and night. I found that it did not cost more to buy a new top of the line digital than to buy an "silent system" option for a good upright or grand piano, which would in my opinion detract from its performance wether factory installed or after market. And a separate extra digital piano does not take much space. I invested in high quality Sennheiser headphones (open style to avoid heating up my ears) and am perfectly happy. A contrario, I find that I seldom practice into headphones with my organ.

        The second point is that until recently the signal quality of digital pianos was frankly not refined enough for amplification to matter that much. Roland's and Yamaha's have a long history of portable and cheap. You can even argue that the whole history of amplified guitar and keyboard (pop) music embraced low fidelity and made a virtue of distorsion. Organs, even historical pipe organs all the way back to Bach were never refined high fidelity instruments, as say, a flute or a violin. They were and are often difficult to tune, many stops in fact designed to be out of tune or dissonant. The glory of the organ is in registration and mass effect. Filling a church or an arena with sound is not an audiophile project, and the evident scorn of classic concert or opera lovers for amplification is telling.

        But maybe, very recently, the fantastic progress evident in Roland's signal cloning of Steinway's sound changes things. That signal is now worthy of serious high fidelity, and of a proper array of speakers to recreate the spatial feel of a grand piano. And Roland won't achieve this with a pityful 20 W of power. The problem will also be cost. To match the quality of a really good hi fi system, top grade amps and drivers will be needed, and they do not come cheap, even OEM. I dream of my Roland LX 706 fitted with dutch Hypex NCore Class D amps and french Focal speakers. But of course the amplification could soon be the costliest item in the piano.

    • #23
      My Lowrey D550 has really good flutes, Piano preset is good, but doesn't have enough attack, ORCHESTRAL SYMOPHONIZER trumpet is way to harsh,(maybe that's something wrong with the organ, not sure), not a lot of rhythms to choose from, Internal Leslie is an added bonus, wish I had speed controls,... the list go's on to include other things including things that need repair, but for most part I think I have a good organ.

      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        As you say, the list goes on.... It's good to know that the "charms" we find in our instruments extend to a lot of brands and builders, not just the big pipe and pipe-like digital builders. I know that I have played even some very old organs by Conn or Baldwin that had surprisingly beautiful tones, at least on some voices. Keep up the good work and eventually you'll have everything going again.

    • #24
      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
      Procedure: Pick YOUR preferred organ type (what you actually own and play, or if you'd rather, what you'd own and play if you could). Then tell me what it is that makes you think of that as the best kind of organ.
      Hi Jbird, I'm only seeing your post now, Hopefully it still makes sense to comment. It's from Holland, so I'm not sure if it is of interest. Feel free to ignore my story if you don't like it.

      When looking for a new organ, a couple of years ago, my purchase considerations were the following:
      • The physical conditions of the space: I could place a maximum width of 140 cm. Only this already considerably limits the choice
      • The aesthetic conditions of the space: the organ stands in the (little) the living room á vue, and I don't want to see cables, computer cabinets and other objects placed on or next to the organ
      • My own limitations: I am not a computer / MIDI tinkerer, so there must come a ready-made solution. Either a Hauptwerk console (in Holland these are made by Mixtuur and Noorlander) or a 'classic' digital organ (in Holland Johannus, Content and Eminent).
      • My musical wishes. I want an organ that is flexible. Different intonations, i.e. Baroque and Romantic, alongside with appropriate temperaments (I.e. equal, Werckmeister, meantone) in order to be able to play organ music from different periods faithfully. A decent sound (of course) en preferably draw stops, no tabs.

      Subsequently I played almost all organs that fell within these limits: Content, Johannus, Viscount, Eminent, and Hauptwerk Mixtuur and Noorlander. All in all this took more than a year. At last I decided to buy a (modified) Viscount P235, with Physis technology.

      Why did the choice fall on the Viscount?
      • 8 different intonation styles in the organ, readily available with pistons or in the menu.
      • extensive voice library, each stop contains 15-30 alternative voices, readily available via the menu
      • good voicing possibilities per voice, via the on-board menu
      • possibility to swap voices between stops (laptop and software required). (This is useful when 'building' certain kinds of organs; i.e when 'building' a romantic organ it is possible to replace a 4' voice with an 8' voice, so one can have more 8' voices than provided in the 'standard' stop list; so one can make his own stop list!)
      • USB connection, every organ voicing or intonation can be stored on USB so if one likes it one can have hundreds of different 'organs'.
      • decent sound (of course this is personal and subjective)
      • beautiful furniture
      • many other nice features accessories 'on board', such as
        • a built-in sequencer,
        • the possibility to put your own tuning (temperament) in the organ,
        • an excellent keyboard with differentiated touch, moreover the keyboard sensibility is adjustable (from very sensible to simulate an Baroque tracker touch organ, to less sensible to simulate an electric action Romantic organ)
        • etc.

      Why not another brand?
      • None of the DO's has the same set of features. None has an 'on-board' sequencer (must be purchased separately), none (except Eminent) has the same voicing possibilities, none has the possibility to make your own stop list.
      • No one of the DO's did sound better. Some did sound equally good, but as said, they has less features.
      • Allen or Rodgers were not in the picture, mostly because of their high price, but also because of their with (easily more than 140 cm) and their availability in Holland.
      • Hauptwerk solutions (Noorlander / Mixtuur) are significantly more expensive than the P235. This could easily make a difference of €4.000, partly because they didn't pay much for my old Eminent (the Viscount dealer, in contrast, gave me a very good price).
      • Moreover and more important, I found many Hauptwerk sample sets unconvincing, I tried many and only rarely got inspired. May be a matter of taste. Or may be ready-made HW solutions sound less good than self-assembled solutions (I.e the appreciated member 'voet' who uses his Content as HW console)
      In sum, after 3 years I'm still fond of my organ. I'm playing daily with still great fun. Tinkering with voicing and so on is not daily, but I have made myself some nice 'organs' with all the intonation possibilities the organ has. I must confess, I'm still a real beginner in voicing. It would be very interesting what an experienced voicer as you (jbird) would and could make out of a Physis organ)

      Hope you enjoyed reading,
      kind regards,
      Dutchy.


      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        I certainly did enjoy reading this, Dutchy. Thanks for the input! You had a very interesting experience, and I envy you for being so wide-ranging in your search. It is also admirable that you had a clear set of priorities and requirements, and that you limited your search to the organs that fell within those requirements.

        Like you, I must place the organ in my living room where everyone can see it, so it should be as attractive as possible. And it must fit into the limited space. Of course right now I'm working with this on-going VPO setup, which is not very attractive (yet) and takes up more space than I'd like. So my search may not be over.

        When I started this thread I hoped to hear from others just like you who have spent time researching the options and deciding which features and characteristics were most important in making a choice. I appreciate your perspective on the differences between software organs such as Hauptwerk and the ready-made hardware organs.

        Your final decision to go with Viscount resonates with me as well. You may know that my final selection is now down to either keeping the homemade VPO that has been my project the past few months or bringing home the Viscount G404 now residing in my organ shop, which is around 15 years old and has quite a nice sound, though it is NOT voiceable to any significant degree. The only advantage the G404 has over my VPO is that it is neatly packaged, while my VPO looks like a middle school science project gone bad!

        Good luck with your Viscount. I hope to hear more in the future about that organ and perhaps some samples of the sound.

        Thanks again for your contribution to the thread.
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