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  • Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



    Anotheractive thread on this forum got me to thinking about the inherent quality of some of the old analog instruments built before the digital organ age. The electronicorgan industrydecided long agothat digital is the onlyway to go, but I often wonder if we haven't lost something in thewholesale abandonment of analog. Was there something --in some way -- more "real" or "honest" about the analogs that the digitals just don't capture?</P>


    My partner and Istill tune and repair a lot of analogs, especially Allen and Rodgers organs, some built 40+ years ago, and I'm often amazed at the beautiful sounds I hear from them. Just today we tuned an old Rodgers 32C from 1969, installed in a cavernous 1200-seat sanctuary with wondrouslylive acoustics. Probably quite undersized for that room, but still making some lovely music without the benefit of any digital technology. Just listening to some of those beautiful tones gave me chills. I've had this same reaction on a number of occasions.</P>


    Digital made it possible to put a lot moredistinctive stops into an organ at reasonable cost, mostly eleminating unification and borrowing. And certainly the tones are more "authentic" and startlingly pipe-like. Tuning and regulation can be done once and locked in forever. All kinds of features can be incorporated into an organ with minimal cost.</P>


    But there is still a charm about the old analogs, something I can't quite quantify, some characteristic that still appeals to my ears, often more so than a new digital. When I hear one like the 32C we worked on today, I'm once more aware of the respect due these older organs, in spite of the advances in technology since their building.</P>


    Anybody out there agree? Or disagree? Have any comments or reactions?</P>


    John</P>
    <P mce_keep="true"></P>
    John
    ----------
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  • #2
    Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



    John,</p>

    I am somewhat sympathetic to your reaction to some older analog organs.</p>

    I worked for a firm that built organs with analog tone generation. I suppose the overall design was somewhat akin to a Rodgers analog, but with a twist. The independent pitch oscillators were computer tuned. This allowed controlled stretch tuning, alternate temperaments, etc. Generally, a moderate sized organ that our company made had a full set of 96 oscillators, a half set of 48 (covering the middle of the compass in pitch), a couple of celeste ranks using dividers, and a properly tuned tierce rank also using dividers. The better models had anywhere from 11 to 14 keyers. Because the main oscillators were not perfectly stable and were periodically computer tuned, there was a randomness in the overall effect, that made them sound interesting. Other circuits such as chiff, air sound, air puff on flutes and diapasons added to authenticity and interest. Typically these organs had 9 to 12 audio channels. These organs were built from the mid 70s to 1988, with the best and most mature organs being built from 1985 to 1988. I had occasion to play one yesterday, and I was enthused with the sound.........and what was more important to me, the church folk still just love the instrument. Not bad for a 21 year old instrument. When competing against Rodgers, we (Classic Organs), put in about 50% to 75% more resources for the same amount of dollars. They sounded nicer, with a better ensemble than all but the larger Rodgers organs of the day. </p>

    After working on the Classic, playing it and listening to it, I went and serviced an Allen MOS-2 organ in a home. While the Allen sounded like.......well like an Allen, I found the basic tone off-putting, the ensemble was created by rather massive out-of-tuneness. I just found the organ sound cold, hard and rather soul-less.</p>

    John, in general I found the Rodgers from the 60s sound better than at least the small Rodgers from the 70s. More oscillators I guess. I never cared for models 100, 75, 110, etc. They just didn't have much in them. In the 80s their small organs sounded more authentic maybe, but there was so little in them, the duplexing and unification so massive, that they were a musical compromise. </p>

    Other analog organs that interest me were the Saville ( I used to tune a large one) and the AOB. Properly setup they could sound quite amazing, considering the technology.</p>

    John, I think you might like the organs that are based on synthesis or modelling. They tend to sound more like analog organs, but don't have that etched digital sampling sound. </p>

    I am fully with you, that at least some analog organs have some musical merit to them. Considering some digitals that I have heard lately, I would not toss them just because they are older and of obsolete design.</p>

    Maybe I am sentimental.............</p>

    At least doing service work, I am reminded of what was, and what the benchmarks were over time.</p>

    AV
    </p>

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



      Arie,</P>


      Thanks for the comment. I'd love to hear one of those Classic models you helped put together. Sounds like a lot of common sense went into the making. Were any of them sold into the southern USA? Any still in service down here?</P>


      Having a separate tierce generator was a smart move, bringing thatpitch into tune with the fundamentals with a cost-effective divider system. I've often thought that would make a major improvement in an analog organ and wondered why nobody was doing it. I think a tierce borrowed from the main rank is almost intolerable in an ensemble and Iavoid using one.</P>


      Back in the 70's Conn organs used a simple divider generator for the celeste rank in some models, which was far less costly than having a dedicated rank of theirindependent oscillators, but the effect was perfectly suitable for all but theperfectionists -- and those folks weren't Conn customers anyway.</P>


      I'm sure that some of the charm of the old analogs I service is due to the acoustical settings. Back in the 60's and 70's churches were being built around herewith the hard surfaces, vaulted ceilings, and other features that give life and beauty to music, especially organ music. And it's in many of these churches where the old analogs are still in service.</P>


      Sadly, many churches being built today are acoustical disasters. As has been discussed on this forum, many are built like TV studios or Vegas-style music halls, with intentionally dead acoustics and high-power sound systems. Made to order for the Sunday morning praise band extravaganza, but totally unfit for authentic choral and congregational music. If there is an organ it'sprobably a digital, and even if the organ itself is not to blame the sound isusually wretched.</P>


      But there is some other "something" about an old analog that can move me. On an old Allen, maybe it's the nature of the keyed oscillators, as they start up and decay "live" like real pipes. Subtle pitch shifts as they start and stop, a realistic attack, etc. And the old Rodgers analogs with constant-running oscillators and diode keyers -- they somehow got it right with that "harmonic activity" and the inherent randomness of the tuning. Just something"real" that I miss in a digital.</P>


      After all, digital sampling merely captures the tones from an organ at a given time and place, preserving that sample forever. A digital will faithfully reproduce that stored tone for eternity, but cannot truly create anything "new" . . . maybe that's what I'm waxing sentimental about!</P>


      Still, I'd trade my 80's analog for a GOODdigital -- though not just any digital -- to get more tonal variety, more capture memories, MIDI, and other modern technology that I've come to appreciate.</P>


      John</P>
      <P mce_keep="true"></P>
      John
      ----------
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



        I love the "retro sound" of analogue organs, sure they don't sound 100% realistic but they do have a certain "rustic" charm to them.
        </p>

        Perhaps its the old thing about loving something from a bygone era and observing them through rose tinted spectacles. Are classic cars really more reliable than modern cars as classic car enthusiasts say? Are they really better built and built to last? </p>

        Similarly, when digital organs are replaced with quatum computing organs, will people then say digital organs had a lovely tone and character that quantum computer organs have?</p>

        One thing is for sure, analogue organs were a marvellous technical achievement bearing in mind that people developing these instruments did so without the aid of computers etc. And the likes of Allen and Rodgers at that period of time were right at the cutting edge of that technology for that particular era. It would be nice to preserve some of these instruments for the future as they really were (and still) a technical tour-de-force.
        </p>
        1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
        Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?

          my 2 cents...YES the older analogs have a certain charm...a very nice charm.

          At my Mom's house i have a Rodgers 550 that I got for her about 4 years ago...



          Link:

          http://www.rodgers550.com


          Early 70's....very warm/lush sound.....I think in a great accoustic this organ would be simply stunning....in my Mom's house I primarily just play the softer ranks and it does sound wonderful.

          Unfortunatly it has developed a issue over the last year where the combination pistons can't be used (turning them on via the key constrol causes the organ to short out)..I need to get that worked on one of these days.....but for my Mom its not the end of the world to not have the pistons so we just play it "by hand"........

          This particular organ has a flute celeste rank that is just heavenly.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?

            I'm a great fan of the analog organ. With careful registration and an ear for authentic tones -- which I cultivate with an extensive LP library of genuine pipe organ music (another collecting pitfall!) - I believe it is possible to accomplish many beautiful renditions and bring the art of the organ to small spaces that can't accomodate pipes! Thanks for the reminder that nothing that's been accomplished in electronics would have been possible except that these instruments had come before.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?

              To me they don't. And it is more for the keyboards than the tone.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                As I've stated in past posts, I enjoy the elegant simplicity of working with the older analogs, especially the Rodgers models from the 60s and early 70s. My 660-on-steriods, when completed, will have 9 sets of oscillators total from various donors of the same vintage, and my ex-36D/C will end up with around 14 sets. Both will be have many channels of audio as well. Call it a perverse passion [].
                </p>

                Along the line of OrgansR4Me's comments, I'm willing to trade off the tonal accuracy of what would have to be a very small pipe organ due to space constraints against the enjoyment I get from the greater resources of one of my analogs.</p>

                -- Tom</p>

                </p>
                Rodgers 660 with additional analog rack sets (practice), 36D/C in digital conversion, Yamaha CVP-107

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                  Its nice to see that analogues still have a following. </P>


                  Theres something about the sound of my TC-3S that keeps drawing me back and keeps my "ear" interested. Sure the Viscount digital is a great sounding instrument in terms of realism but I find I soon get bored of the sound if I play it for too long.</P>
                  1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
                  Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                    Nullogik,</p>

                    I'm not sure that there is really that much interest in old analog organs. I follow once in a while both the Allen and Rodgers discussion lists regarding the old models, and there is very little activity in either of them. I am beginning to wonder actually how much interest there is in digital organs period. Various lists that I read, have seen a huge falloff in postings.
                    </p>

                    Doing a little service work, I come across older analog organs, and what I think is best about the better ones, is not the accuracy of the tone, but rather how forgiving the tone is to the ear. A lot of digitals, mostly the earlier ones, had a very sterile, etched tone about them, that was boring, irritating and did not maintain an abiding interest. Even with newer digitals, sustained interest in them is not like listening to a pipe organ, but at least if installed properly with careful voicing, should be much better than earlier digitals. </p>

                    Maybe because I worked in the field for so long, I got overly fussy................</p>

                    I have never had an electronic organ in my house. Probably if I did, I wouldn't play it much.</p>

                    I do have a 110 to 120 year old console in my basement. If I get inspired..........I may put in a Hauptwerk system.</p>

                    AV
                    </p>


                    </p>

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?

                      you've hit on something ArieV....I don't know what it is but digitals just lose interest to me... I don't know if it is that they sound "too perfect"? At this point I have interest in 3 types of organs: Pipes, Hammonds and old analogs.

                      Pipes require LOTS of space, labor, love & money.

                      Hammonds are Hammonds..either you love them or you don't......


                      After being in the organ collecting hobby the analogs that after several years of ownership I am still interested in are Rodgers by far and above over anything else.

                      Interestingly I have never heard or played a Allen analog organ so I can't say that I'd not like one, and I MIGHT pick on up someday... I'm particularly interested in some of the BIG 3 or 4 manual custom Allen organs built back in the 1950's that I presume are still around and might pop up someday.


                      Any Rodgers analog organ I think is a good organ to have, of the late 60's and 1970's. I don't have any experience with their newer (1980's) analogs so really can't say anything about those.

                      I think the Rodgers 990/660/550/330 models of the 70's have to be some of the best analog organs built of all time.


                      The other analogs I have some interest in are Conns. My Mom had a spinet of some sort from the early 60's and its tones if you ask me are very very nice (excepting the reeds which were well..rather stark)....the flute/bourdon tones on a Conn I think are extremely nice.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                        Arie,</P>


                        "Forgiving" is probably a good word to use about analog tone. I recall a discussion on this forum some time ago where we were comparing a 1980's digital to a 1980's analog. While that early digital probably had a more accurate, pipe-like waveform for each note of each stop, and had no unification, it was probably much less comfortable to listen to up close.</P>


                        I was selling Allen back then, in the ADC era. We had a fine product, and I still enjoy playingthose when I run across them. We did some installs that I am still very proud of, some of the best electronic organs I know of anywhere.</P>


                        But if I were to put a small ADC Allen side by side with a small Rodgers analog of the same era, both with nothing more than internal speakers and no add-on reverb, I might prefer to play the analog because of that "forgiving" quality.</P>


                        In a church or recital situation the unification and other shortcomings of the analog become annoying, but in a small room with the speakers in your face, playing for pleasure, the grittiness and graininess of the early digitals quickly tiresthe ears.</P>


                        While the Conn 720 I had to make do with at church for several years had some real shortcomings, the smoothness of those flutes and diapasonswas always pleasurable. I still see one of those now and then and can't help enjoying it. That model is 45 years old and still easy on the ears (unless you turn on a reed or string stop).</P>


                        John</P>
                        <P mce_keep="true"></P>
                        John
                        ----------
                        *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                          I would have to say yes the old analog organs do hold a certain interest for me. Years ago when I was learning about the various organs, I learned to recognize a certain brand by the sound. Most of the older tube models were built like a battleship with pride in their construction by each company. They had a tone that was strong and powerful. I even thought all those who later had trasistors in the tone generation system, but had tube amplifers still had a glorious tone.</P>


                          To me the digital organs sound so much the same, and some keyboards can do just as well. These day I wouldn't know one brand from another, but I sure know when I am hearing a true pipe organ. The digitals to me are like a Hammond in that everything you hear is pure Hammond or via a digital you hear something that is not that totally "alive" sound.</P>


                          That is why we all differ in our opinions, but I do know what I like. I can agree with you John about those old Conn organs. I liked the flutes and diapasons too, but found other stops to be far from what they should be. The first Conn I ever played on was an old tube Minuet with just stops, and no sustain, etc. I enjoyed this organ so much since I liked the rocker tabs as well as those guides that enabled one to set up a decent registration for various tones. This organ sound was rich, smooth, and not like the percussive Hammond I played on all the time or the newbrassy, buzzy Baldwins I played at the local dealer's store. I knew then that other brands had just as much going for them as the big boast of the ones I played frequently.</P>


                          I also found the Wurlitzer reed and tube organs as well as the early transistors models to be great. The old reed Wurlitzers had a glorious classical sound that just came "alive" very close to a church pipe organ. Some of the stops were just softer versions of some of the others, and very far from being an actual string or reed tone. It seems these older brands to have a certain charm which I will always treasure. I wished I had an old tube Conn and reed Wurlitzer. If you can play an electronic that is over 30 years old and it works just fine then you will know they are well built. Most of us know about some of the later transistor models and some that were glorfied toys have already met many city landfills.</P>


                          Those old organs sure had a lot going for them when pride was the main thing in construction. For the most part the tones are what my ears enjoy hearing.</P>
                          <P mce_keep="true"></P>


                          James</P>
                          Baldwin Church Organ Model 48C
                          Baldwin Spinet 58R
                          Lowrey Spinet SCL
                          Wurlitzer 4100A
                          Crown Pump Organ by Geo. P. Bent, Chicago, Illinois


                          Organs I hope to obtain in the future:

                          Conn Tube Minuet or Caprice even a transistor Caprice with the color coded tabs
                          Gulbransen H3 or G3, or V.
                          Wurlitzer 44, 4410, 4420, ES Reed Models, 4300, 4500, Transistor Models

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                            James,</p>

                            I agree with you that many of the old classical electronic organs were built very solidly. Things began to change late 60s and early 70s. They then started looking less like pipe organ consoles on the inside, and started using cheaper materials especially in the lower end models.</p>

                            Regarding, the sound of digitals sounding the same, I'm not sure I agree. Many digitals that I have seen in the field, do not sound anywhere up to potential. They tend to have marginal speaker complements, too few audio channels, speakers poorly placed, and the organs themselves are poorly adjusted or voiced. The biggest problem seems to be at the dealer end, as many of them don't have a clue about what an organ is really supposed to sound like. Also the manufacturers build organs that are compromises simply so they can market various lines and models. The marketplace is also to blame, as it seems to want lots of keyboards, many stops, and a huge list of features.</p>

                            Even so, there is now no reason why any digital organs should sound really bad. All come with a measure of adjustability, and the basic tones, while not always that great is passable. Just some musical sense is required to get them to sound up to potential. </p>

                            I can understand that your comment may have been valid 10 or 15 years ago, when there were organs out there that had no adjustability, little tone generating hardware, samples that were too few and very short, etc. But even today's entry level instruments are a vast improvement over much of what was available 10 to 20 years ago.</p>

                            AV
                            </p>

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Do the old analogs have a certain charm?



                              AV,</P>


                              I am glad to hear the "tide is turning" since I have not been around any new organs since 15+ years ago. I just don't keep up with them too much, but have had some nice recordings sent to me by several companies. They all sounded great just by hearing them via a CD, but I do realize things are so much better on the spot.</P>


                              I was and still am interested in the older as well as newer organs that were/are designed to be played, not any gimmicks, rhythms, easy play features, etc. added on them. I think sustain is very nice, but I don't care for other percussions unless they are on a theater model that sounds great. The very old vintage electronic organs for the most part were interesting in that they were designed to be played and make decent sounding music via their stops. It took skill and practice to accomplish that well. As a saying went back in those days, "some were better than others."</P>


                              So many electronic companies IMHO just began putting a lot of toys on the MKT to entice people in big shoppingmalls and many show room floors how "easy" it could be to make music. I had one customer tell me, "if the organ costs that much and can almost play itself with me only using two fingers, I might as well buy a nice stereo." Some were cheap junk, and even the larger models were big very expensive toys that could go on the blink in one way or another much sooner than their older counterparts.</P>
                              <P mce_keep="true"></P>


                              James</P>
                              Baldwin Church Organ Model 48C
                              Baldwin Spinet 58R
                              Lowrey Spinet SCL
                              Wurlitzer 4100A
                              Crown Pump Organ by Geo. P. Bent, Chicago, Illinois


                              Organs I hope to obtain in the future:

                              Conn Tube Minuet or Caprice even a transistor Caprice with the color coded tabs
                              Gulbransen H3 or G3, or V.
                              Wurlitzer 44, 4410, 4420, ES Reed Models, 4300, 4500, Transistor Models

                              Comment

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