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Why are lovely and amazing used organs suddenly going begging for takers?

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    #31
    Hi,

    I've been following this thread with some interest.

    Although I'm primarily active as a pipe organ builder and technician in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, I have been receiving an increased number of calls or inquiries whether or not I would be interested in a church's organ because it is no longer part of their worship style, the church is closing, etc.

    The scary thing is, since the beginning of March, I've received at least three inquiries from churches or individuals whether or not I am interested in their organs.

    Scenario A: This church 15 minutes from my shop couldn't justify the $750 per year to keep their pipe organ on their insurance policy as they only used the organ once a year for a couple of Christmas carols. They aren't ready to give it away, but would like to get something for it. A couple of nice ranks in it, but for the rest, an instrument that started out as typical of the late 1920s, reinstalled in the 1960s by a local amateur.

    Scenario B: This church was trying to find a home for their 1988 AOB organ, with 50 some audio channels. It's just simply "in their way" because their worship style has changed and they no longer use the organ.

    Scenario C: An amplified reed organ that needless to say, would only be a waste of my time.

    Scenario D: A very early Baldwin digital organ that, needless to say, would only be a waste of my time.

    To be honest, this has me wondering more and more if I've completely lost my mind to still be in this business. The above doesn't include a scenario last year where I remarked to a church that their set of Deagan chimes (installed in their 14 rank pipe organ) might fetch $500 on the used market. A couple of weeks later they replied that for $500 I could have the instrument in its entirety for $500.

    JVDS

    Comment


      #32
      JVDS,

      Interesting to hear about your experiences there in Ontario. Here in the middle of the US it's not very different. I've been in the organ business more or less for over 40 years now, spending 7 or 8 years as the Allen salesman for the local dealer, a number of years as the installer for Rodgers organs sold into this state, and the rest of that time as an independent servicer of Allen and Rodgers, as well as the scattered Johannus, Baldwin, and other minor brands. So if you call any music store in this state and ask about an organ guy you'll get my name and phone number.

      With my name out there like that, I get regular calls from folks wanting to dispose of organs of all kinds. Everything from the executors of some little old lady's estate trying to deal with an old Baldwin or Kimball or Hammond that hasn't been played in 20 years, to the occasional church with a perfectly decent Allen or Rodgers that has become a dusty hunk of furniture where they want to put the drum kit. Sometimes with unrealistic expectations of getting thousands of dollars, sometimes just wanting anyone to come haul it away.

      But my shop/warehouse is bursting at the seams with some pretty good organs that I can't sell. I've got one going out later this week to be used as the basis of a Hauptwerk project, and getting a decent price for it, since it's a fairly modern console that already sports MIDI. And we did sell two nice organs in January -- a great big Allen MOS-2 1105-DKC 3m to a fine church with an excellent traditional music program, and a self-contained 3m Church Organ Systems digital to a smaller rural church that still sings hymns. But other good organs are begging for homes. Some of our service customers who really need to upgrade can't be persuaded to spend just a few thousand dollars for a nice organ that cost $50K back in the 80's. It's much easier to bring organs in than it is to send them out!

      Sometimes I feel like I need to contact the Florida Flipper and see if he wouldn't like to bring a truck and just carry them all off. But then I may get a phone call tomorrow from someone out of the blue who's decided they want to move up to a nice older Allen or Rodgers. You just never know when that's going to happen, but it doesn't happen often enough.
      John
      ----------
      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
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


        #33
        still banned from using the Rodgers organ in my church, that is dedicated to the use of holders of the master's in music performance degree.

        Banned from playing a Rodgers? You're serious? I was banned from playing my school's pipe organ for playing House of the Rising Sun but that's different.
        Mick

        Comment


          #34
          Originally posted by indianajo View Post
          I'm still banned from using the Rodgers organ in my church, that is dedicated to the use of holders of the master's in music performance degree.
          What next? One must have a DMA in piano performance to play the Kimball Whitney Spinet in the old Sunday School room?

          If I never played another Rodgers would that be a bad thing?

          Comment


            #35
            I could get fully immersed in the music program as dictated by the hired professionals. That involves singing **** songs with $$$$$ of oriental **** on the stage that the salesman assures the leaders is the best. I'm supposed to sing soprano when I do that.
            Or I can tell them about once a year when they ask me again to join the choir, how awful it all is, and keep my mouth shut and my fingers on the seat cushion otherwise. The new professional music leader is not as bad as the old one, but he is convinced like all youth that music was invented by ******a. The beautiful sounding Baldwin pianos live in the gym as basketball targets. On stage is a *****y sounding ******a studio piano. The Rodgers organ, the one device assembled in the USA, is played occasionally rather basically by a lady who does sing soprano, and who made her living off taxes collected at the threat of a sheriff carrying a gun, like all the leaders of the church. Nobody needs a manufacturing job they feel: everybody should be school teachers or deputy sheriffs or soldiers. At least this bunch wasn't protesting in the streets against Iraq war 1 like the last place I went.
            The minister had a real problem with the George Winston arranged Holly & The Ivy offeratory I played in 1990, when he told me that playing would be done by professionals. He preaches a great sermon. He also hunts for a hobby, which explains the quality of his manly ears.
            The do sing one hymn out of the hymnal a service except Christmas & Easter. Once a decade when they are not playing a ******a or a *****d or a ***g I will sing bass with them. Last Christmas I got frustrated staying home to avoid hearing Go Tell it on the Mountain six services running, and joined the choir at a place with a nice Willis grand piano. When the leader/pianist noticed I know when to start, she asked me to direct: which I did. It was a nice cantata, if not entirely of my choosing. The sermons were about donating to the poor - good, but kind of a one note minister over 5 weeks.
            In warm weather I play a nice Baldwin studio I tuned myself out at a 6-18 attendee church near my summer camp. The director has great taste and when I pick an introit and recessional out of the hymnal, the old ladies sing along without being told the number. The country church has a Baldwin 46 organ with all new TG boards in 1994, but the "tuner" broke a tuning slug & I oouldn't repair it with the limited tools I keep out there. Out there I should be cutting up tree trash or mowing.
            Last edited by indianajo; 04-07-2016, 01:24 PM.
            city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC, Wurlitzer 4500, Schober Recital Organ, Steinway 40" console , Sohmer 39" pianos, Ensoniq EPS, ; country Hammond H112

            Comment


              #36
              FYI, our friend RWA has listed the Allen Quantum 325 on eBay for $65,000 after snapping it up for $12,000. Anything I could say about this fact would probably be removed by the moderator as libelous.

              Comment


                #37
                Yep. IF this guy were actually providing some kind of added value on his flipped organs -- if he were in fact having them fully checked out, renovated as needed, maintenanced, cleaned up, and then delivered, professionally set up and installed, voiced, and with a warranty and some after-sale service, he could justifiably mark them up. But he provides none of that, except you could give him a little credit for scouring craigslist and bringing organs from all over the country into a central repository in Florida. But to mark something up more than 500% is just plain silly and there's not a chance in hades that he'll sell it for anywhere near that price.

                I know for a fact that his organs are not all "splendid" and that they are usually "fix-me-ups" in spite of his declarations to the contrary. Because I bought one from him a couple years ago. I was looking for a specific Allen model (2160) and he had one. I did haggle the price down a bit, but I'm sure he made some money off me, though I have to say I was pleased that he had what I needed when I needed it, and he even had it delivered to my door. But this "splendid" organ was filthy and had numerous problems that required a week of work before I could bring it in from the garage to the living room. So don't be fooled by his descriptions.

                I hope everyone understands that my little shop does in fact buy and re-sell organs for a profit -- at least we'd LIKE to be doing that now and then! And we are thrilled when we are able to pick up an organ for nearly nothing and then sell it for a few thousand dollars above what we have in it. That's called "business" and it's how we earn a living, besides servicing organs that other people sell.

                But there is a huge difference between what we do and what that guy does. Every organ that leaves our shop has been fully renovated as necessary to bring it up to like-new operating condition. Everything gets cleaned up, all routine maintenance is done, felt, rubber, and leather parts that are subject to wear will be replaced as needed. Batteries are replaced. Speaker cones will be replaced as needed. And every organ gets delivered and professionally installed by us, voiced to the room, and fully checked out after setup. A warranty of some kind is normally provided unless the purchaser foregoes the warranty to cut the price to the bone. So we EARN the profit that we make on our used organs. It's outrageous to think that this guy "earns" a profit of over $50K just by picking up this organ from somewhere and re-listing it on ebay. If you ever deal with him, just beware.
                John
                ----------
                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
                https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                Comment


                  #38
                  John, it is often even worse than you state. RWA typically does not even transport the purloined organs to Florida but rather lets them sit where they were purchased until he can flip them. If he succeeds in closing a sale, his transport man is dispatched for a pickup and delivery without that heralded "MITA technician" ever laying eyes on them, at least not at the main warehouse.

                  As evidence, I will point out that his current eBay description of the 325 is reusing a photo from the original description (albeit a slightly cropped photo). If he had the organ in his possession and wanted the price of a small house for it, he would have set it up and taken his own photos.

                  We have seen him engage in this practice before, of course, a memorable example being the MDS 75 in Maryland a couple of years ago. If nothing else, this reuse of the photos could be copyright infringement (everything on the Internet except for federal documents is usually copyrighted); certainly, it is an unsavory practice.

                  Comment


                    #39
                    Does anyone here think he can get $65k for this? The owner of this organ got $12k and I'll bet that it was listed on eBay only after he couldn't find a local buyer at any price.

                    I might be outraged if our Florida Friend actually was able to get $65K, but who knows if he'll get his $12k back after expenses? Considering that he's trying to sell it on eBay where it sat for weeks without takers at $12k, asking and expecting to get $65k borders on delusional. Given the current state of the church organ market, if what's he's asking is out of line, only a complete idiot would pay that amount as there are plenty of alternatives.
                    -Admin

                    Allen 965
                    Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                    Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                    Hauptwerk 4.2

                    Comment


                      #40
                      P. T. Barnum would say that a sucker will indeed come along to buy a $20,000 organ for $65,000 after being assured that it is "half the cost" of a comparable new instrument. Of course a comparable new instrument would sound better, be in factory-new condition, and have a 10-year warranty, but why be picky when a bargain is to be had?

                      I am glad that Admin used the word "delusional," as I wanted to do so but feared legal repercussions. Let's just say the actions are delusional, not the person, and we should be fine.

                      Comment


                        #41
                        Originally posted by don60 View Post
                        P. T. Barnum would say that a sucker will indeed come along to buy a $20,000 organ for $65,000 after being assured that it is "half the cost" of a comparable new instrument...
                        When I worked in the P & O business (40 years ago) I was young and dumb, but the experienced sales guys all seemed to believe that "You can put a load of deodorized manure in a prominent place in the store, along with a fancy sign 'REDUCED' and someone, sometime, will buy it!"
                        R, Bill

                        Comment


                          #42
                          Originally posted by beel m View Post
                          When I worked in the P & O business (40 years ago) I was young and dumb, but the experienced sales guys all seemed to believe that "You can put a load of deodorized manure in a prominent place in the store, along with a fancy sign 'REDUCED' and someone, sometime, will buy it!"
                          R, Bill
                          Exactly. The Buy It Now price is $65K, but it's also Best Offer. I don't think the seller expects to actually get $65K. That's just the price from which to negotiate the actual price so that the buyer feels good about getting a big discount. I'm not sure I would have chosen that price point for such a strategy as it might scare potential buyers elsewhere, but it's always easier to reduce the price than it is to raise it. So unless a complete idiot with excessive disposable income willing to pay the asking price comes along first, I expect the asking price to drop over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime the seller can gauge what he's likely to get from the Buy It Now offers. His is a waiting game.

                          Incidentally, is not ironic that the premise of this thread is that nobody wants organs at any price but that it has now turned into a rant about excessive pricing?
                          -Admin

                          Allen 965
                          Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                          Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                          Hauptwerk 4.2

                          Comment


                            #43
                            Originally posted by Admin View Post
                            Incidentally, is not ironic that the premise of this thread is that nobody wants organs at any price but that it has now turned into a rant about excessive pricing?
                            Ironic yes, but related. Most of us who are deeply involved in the organ world are very much aware that there is something of a glut on the used organ market, and that prices are and should be low. We are somewhat aghast at the gall of someone like FF who seems to think that he can still pull the wool over somebody's eyes like this. No doubt he could tell a prospective buyer that the organ originally sold for "twice that amount" -- though I'd guess he is overstating a little.

                            But as has been pointed out somewhere else, the selling price of a new organ from a dealer or builder includes a huge amount of "stuff" that cannot be transferred to a second purchaser if the original owner sells it, even within a short time period. The original price included delivery and installation, setup and voicing, a very generous and lengthy warranty, commissions for the sales team, and dealer profit so that he can continue to support the product. These "extras" account for about half of that retail price, whether the buyer realizes it or not. These monies cannot be refunded nor can they be transferred in most cases, though the factory warranty usually can, if still in effect.

                            So when FF re-sells an organ, even if it's only 10 years old (new by organ standards), he might rightly expect to get perhaps 1/5 of the original price if he's lucky. But with the current glut on the market, used organs as-is-where-is are probably bringing more like 1/10 of their original price, even when only 10 or 15 years old. Older ones of course may go for a far smaller fraction of the original price.

                            it's a great time to be in the market for a good used organ, but not such a great time to be a dealer!
                            John
                            ----------
                            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
                            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                            Comment


                              #44
                              Originally posted by Admin View Post
                              . . .it might scare potential buyers elsewhere. . . .
                              Worked on me!

                              Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                              We are somewhat aghast at the gall of someone like FF. . . .
                              Have the alternatives for those initials escaped everyone. Not appropriate to list the meaning here, but it pretty much describes what he's doing, though. I don't want the thread moved to the Grease Pit, but they aren't appropriate there either.

                              John, I would have probably listed it as "unmitigated gall." No doubt the game will continue.

                              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 & 4 Pianos

                              Comment


                                #45
                                Others have claimed here that religion has nothing to do with selling church organs, but I beg to differ. One has to possess some degree of religious morality to succeed long-term in this profession--and by "succeed" I mean "develop a reputation for fair dealing in an endeavor whose ultimate goal is to glorify God in music."

                                And therein lies my main complaint with FF. He is a professing Christian and the music director for a Christian church. His public image is tied as much to these features as to his shady eBay and Craigslist practices. Something is wrong with this disconnect. Either a church organ dealer is known for being a decent, ethical sort or he is known for having the morals of a common thug. It is not possible to separate the two aspects of his life convincingly for knowledgeable potential customers.

                                And just in case I am not being clear, even attempting to charge $65k for an organ worth perhaps one-third that amount represents the morals of a common thug in my book.

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