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Allen Organ dealer vs. independent technician. Thoughts?

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  • Allen Organ dealer vs. independent technician. Thoughts?

    What are your thoughts on using the authorized Allen Organ dealer as compared with an independent technician, for repairs and maintenance? Is there any advantage to using a dealer over an independent? I have heard that the dealer is the only person who can do X, Y, Z, etc., or that the dealer gets parts from the factory for far cheaper than the independent guy. Any truth to that? Thoughts?

  • #2
    the answer depends on which series or Allen you are trying to get repaired. Allen (Corp.) will ONLY sell to authorized dealer technicians. Anyone that is an Allen technician must be affiliated with a dealership in order to be able to get factory parts. Some things like the older analog organs that use discrete components (resistors, capacitors, et al.) could be serviced by a good independent tech (some former allen techs may still have the service manuals) and the early digital organs (MOS-1, MOS-2) have some components that are rebuildable (such as the power supply), and some that are not (DAC cards, main computer boards, etc.). You might have some success buying the parts from a dealer, but there would be no warranty on those parts if installed by a not-authorized service tech. Good luck!!!!

    Rick in VA

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    • #3
      Mwestsoc,

      Welcome to the Forum! Could you please provide the Allen model you're thinking about? Then we can provide more exacting advice. That said, however, Rick has provided excellent information, though even if your organ is an ADC or MDS organ, you may have good luck getting advice here on the Forum. If it is newer, however, you'll probably need to go through an Allen authorized dealer or their technicians.

      I have visited the Rodgers dealer in Birmingham, but wasn't impressed with what I saw in the 20 minutes or so I was there. First impressions can be mistaken, though.

      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)
      • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

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      • #4
        Ok, it is a Renaissance II made in 2001. The backstory is: the church moved to a new building and so we asked the Allen dealer to voice it, at he said $400-500. The bill, however, is now $3,100. He made three trips to the church and said the power supply needed to be replaced. He replaced it for $1650 for the part, but then the organ would just barely make sound, even at full. Used a multimeter (yes, I know we’re not supposed to) to see if it was putting out 12 v, as indicated, and it read 0!
        Soooo, had him come back and put the original
        power supply back, albeit he said the factory had refurbished it. Still stuck with $3,100 bill.

        Moving forward in terms of maintenance, I am not sure we want to continue using this guy... Thoughts?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mwestsoc View Post
          Ok, it is a Renaissance II made in 2001.
          [snip]
          Soooo, had him come back and put the original power supply back, albeit he said the factory had refurbished it. Still stuck with $3,100 bill.

          Moving forward in terms of maintenance, I am not sure we want to continue using this guy... Thoughts?
          I would highly recommend a 2nd opinion! Also, how much of that expense is travel? I don't doubt the organ needed voicing in the new space, but that price (IMHO) is ridiculous! If I recall correctly, your service person comes from Montgomery. Is it possible to use someone from Atlanta or Nashville?

          Unfortunately, you need specific software to voice this instrument–I believe it is called Dove, and is only available through Allen. That said, it is highly suspect the organ power supply failed only when the instrument was moved. I've moved my Allen organs MANY times, and have never had a power supply fail.

          I ask this question to others on the Forum–should the church contact Allen's headquarters with this information, or take the 2nd opinion route? Meanwhile, wait for John (jbird604) and others to weigh in. He is an Allen service person and has used the Dove software on his own Allen Renaissance in his home with reportedly great results.

          If I had the software, I would volunteer to help you re-voice the organ when I come to Alabama in the next month or two. Best with the bill.

          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)
          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

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          • #6
            Thank you for your advice! Montgomery us about an hour and a half south—Nashville or Atlanta is significantly farther. He did voice it...eventually. And it certainly sounds better. —sigh—

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            • #7
              Hmmm..... Several things come to mind. There have indeed been certain power supply issues with some Renaissance models built around that time, so there may well have been a problem that he discovered, or that only showed up when the organ got moved. But I have to wonder why and how he could've left you with a nearly dead organ after putting in what was apparently a defective power supply. Perhaps he simply pulled the PS out of his kit, then sent your old one to Allen for rebuilding, which is normal practice. But it's very odd that he didn't notice that the PS from his kit rendered your organ unplayable! And that YOU had to be the one to troubleshoot it and discover that the 12 volt output was dead! That doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, especially since he was supposedly there to "voice" the organ -- a process for which, of course, he would have to LISTEN to the organ play!

              Anyway, I don't know that dealer or who he might have sent out to do your work, so I'll not tell you whether or not to call him again. Organ service does cost a lot, because there is often so much mileage and travel time involved. Back in the old days, when even a small state might have several dealerships, a dealer or dealer's tech only covered a "local" area and organ service was a simple "by the hour" commodity. With both dealers and techs so scattered now, our jobs are frequently very far away. If a job is 150 miles away and it takes 3 hours to get there, I may have to charge them $800 just to walk in the door, and the total for the day can easily hit $1500 plus the cost of parts. So I can't say if you were overcharged without knowing all the details. But you shouldn't be too shy to ask for an itemized invoice, if you want to know exactly what you are paying for.

              It's a shame that Allen doesn't just give every purchaser their own copy of DOVE, along with the required model-specific file, so owners can voice and re-voice to their heart's content. Yes, it is possible to do some serious damage with DOVE if you don't know the ropes, but it is also true that voicing is an on-going process, and you may feel the need to tweak something tomorrow that sounded perfectly fine to you yesterday. But once the dealer leaves with his computer and his DOVE, you are stuck with the way he voiced it, except for the ability to adjust the overall volume of each stop using the Console Controller buttons (if you know the secret to doing that). But the finer points of voicing -- sample swapping, note by note and range leveling, tuning and scaling, tone filters -- can only be done with DOVE and supposedly by a trained tech or dealer. Honestly, it's not brain surgery, but it is very easy to make grotesque mistakes, so I'm of two minds on this. If owners had DOVE and used it themselves, we techs would probably be busy going back to "un-do" some of the bizarre changes they might make!

              Bottom line -- you should have a heart to heart talk with the dealer and ask some pointed questions, such as "why did you change the PS and leave me with a dead organ?" If acceptable answers don't seem forthcoming, you might seek service elsewhere.


              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

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              • #8
                Thank you! This is very helpful. One last question for me the novice

                Is there a hidden secret diagnostic windows in the Console Controller on an Allen R250? Are there error codes presented from the Console Controller display? The dealer said the Console Controller was displaying error codes and this caused the voicing to take so long and require so much more maintenance, software updating, etc etc.

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