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

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    #76
    Originally posted by eaaron View Post
    Funny this post got resurrected I had a conversation with a colleague last week about how it seems organs have become the abandoned puppy of church music. Playing in a church that brought an organ back after many, many, many years was an up hill battle with some of the congregation, truthfully I would say 80% had one issue or another.

    We spent almost 5 years fundraising and building about $2000-2500 a year with a very supportive pastor that wanted an organ and was antsy to find one but luckily also agreed with me on not jumping on something that would fit because the price was right. If we were to convince the congregation we needed an instrument that would inspire not bring cringes. We were lucky enough to find an instrument about 3 hours away that we could afford. It was an Allen dealer that had the unit from an upgrade to a larger instrument, apparently there are some out there who still want to support the cause as the upgrade must have been $175-250k at least. They had tried to offer it as a used instrument for almost 2 years with no takers and finally decided to sell it as is with no installation, and parts out half the speakers (still wish we could have had a few of the HC-9s) we paid $11k and I spent nearly 2 weeks cleaning, testing, and adjusting before even bringing the console into the church. It was then almost 2 months before we fired the instrument up for its first service, during which time our music director, pastor and fundraising page got some cranky comments.

    However the wait was worth it. Even with my rusty playing the doubters and complainers were taken aback at the sound. In 13 years of playing at the church more people joined in singing at the two services that day then I had ever heard prior. I even had one of the complaint writers come up to me and apologize for the comments, this being someone who would be happiest with the praise-ist of all praise bands, and said she realized that it was the first time she felt she was singing with and part of the music and not being sung in what she could remember.

    I really think there has become this polarization in the world of service music especially when it comes to organs. The misnomer that contemporary hymns are not able to be played and rendered well on an organ pushes the instrument to the side as an ornamental relic of "old people". Plus the opposite extreme of the "Purist" that want classical repertoire and that organs are traditional and don't work with "contemporary" instruments, puts the real possibilities of what music can be created down limited paths.

    The fault of this lies on both sides of the stop rail. The "praise" group that wants a "pop-esc" type sound and sees the organ as a lumbering sloth that dirges along and has no place in their music based solely on their perception of the instrument, and the organists that don't know how, or in some cases are unwilling, to break the traditional style of organ playing to be able to work with "contemporary" groups and bring the uniqueness and flexibility of the instrument.

    I have tried very hard to reform the image the organ to our congregation and choirs. We have groups that have guitars both acoustic and electric, bass, drums, percussion and various other instruments. All playing a mix of contemporary and traditional hymns joined by both organ and piano that bring some amazing music to life. Plus our youth choirs have started to realize the depth and beauty in many older hymns. It is truly a win win.

    I had the chance recently to sit in on a rehearsal of a local Baptist church where I was adjusting their sound system. A friend plays bass for the group and they just bought a refurbished Hammond A100 to add to their praise band. My friend egged me on to play a piece with them on piano and/or the Hammond, I agreed but instead sat down at the 20 rank 3 manual Fisk console, the director gave me a confused look and just went with it. Four minutes later the director and the keyboard player both looked at each other and said, almost simultaneously, "Why did we buy the Hammond?" They now use the Fisk at least once a service with the band and I have gotten a couple emails of "We tried xxx hymn with the organ and can't believe how well it worked." The sad part is that I have gotten feedback from other local organists that the organ doesn't belong in that "type" of music.

    I guess the end result is as organists new, old and in between we need to be flexible in what we play, and find ways to teach others what the instrument is capable of providing. Otherwise more and more instruments will be left to rot in their chambers, or on craigslist and *Bay.

    Erik
    Yet I play both Hammond and an Allen ADC 5300 and can see where both can be utilized. I brought my choir director friend (gospel style) over to my house a year or so ago and showed him my Allen ADC 5300 set-up.....pretty custom....he was blown away at the majestic sound that it has. I played some very conservative evagelical hymn pieces for him....mostly anthems, and he started considering his choir sing some of them. I turned him towards Samuel Metzger on *tube ( since I like his arrangements) of which he enjoyed immensely. What I think is the "issue" people today have with the organ is the stereotyped sound of a one being in a funeral parlor. It also doesn't help when the organist has absolutely no legato whatsoever and or picks stops that are shrieking. There will have to be flexibility on both sides of the coin on this issue. I see pure conservative organist ramrod their organ style.....right into a dead end cave....and then can't figure out why nobody wants to take the baton. I'm sorry....but I peruse *tube nightly for good organist and can't believe what some of these big churches have....thinking they're the greatest.....gawd awful! But, on the other hand.....alot of these so called church Hammond players are going deep into these weird a** chords that aren't even musical to the ear and are being "praised" for their ability to play. I'm still hopeful that I can convince my Hammond friends that playing an Allen or Rodgers or any other good conservative brand, can bring a world of ideas! All this........it either has to be this way or that way or the highway is pure nonsense....
    Allen 5300-DK, Hammond A-105, Conn Custom 905-DK

    Comment


      #77
      One of the churches for which I was the organist had a list of approved selections for church. It also included weddings. It was developed by a woman who had been the Music Director at one time. She sat down and made a list of selections she felt were appropriate and in good taste. Any organist who played something that wasn't on her list was subject to a written reprimand. Three reprimands and you qualified for dismissal.

      I don't have any issue with her having music she likes. I do object to the church leadership adopting her personal preferences list and making it official. I was there slightly less than a year and was glad to leave. And this woman is still harassing organists with her infamous list.

      Bach On
      Make being happy a way of traveling, not just a destination.

      Church organ - 2 manual 12 rank Estey Pipe Organ with 12 Artisan Digital Stops
      Home organ - Allen R-230 organ (We also have 48 pipes in a facade)
      We have a Yamaha 6' 8" Grand
      Have used an older Korg T3 keyboard and MIDI for doing musical arrangements.
      I'm a Methodist organist.
      I taught high school chorus, elementary music and middle school music.
      Became a Technology Specialist.
      Retired from Education after 32 years.

      Comment


        #78
        This discussion has brought out lots of emotion in me. Technology has made it possible for nearly any church to enjoy at least an approximation of the sounds of a good quality pipe organ, to accompany many styles of music (not just the great, majestic hymns of the faith, although I'm quite partial thereto). Few churches are interested. That's why the market is so weak. But I think, at the risk of digressing, that a lot of modern "praise/worship music" has made churches weak also. I'm not against modern music. But much of it is artistically and theologically void, and I really don't believe it will stand the test of time. And even in churches that have magnificent, at least partially working pipe organs - I know of several - no one even attempts to integrate it into whatever musical-fad-of-the-day happens to be popular any given Sunday morning. I worry that within a few generations nearly all churches will have forgotten the majesty of worship music as I knew it growing up, not to mention the Christ- rather than man-centered theology it so beautifully expressed. I think if we want the situation to improve, we need to figure out ways to "sell" organ music, both worship and concert music, to younger generations. I don't have the slightest clue how.

        Comment


          #79
          Originally posted by Bach-On View Post
          One of the churches for which I was the organist had a list of approved selections for church. --- I was there slightly less than a year and was glad to leave.
          This is one of the most ridiculous, narrow-minded restraints I've ever heard of in a church. To close the door on much of the existing and all of the newly-published music should be an enormous turn-off to any reasonably intelligent members and to any visitors considering membership. I can certainly understand your departure!
          Roger Memphis
          C-3 with O-M, 145, 122RV, 2 PR-40's, PSR-36
          CV with HR-40, 2 B-40's

          Comment


            #80
            Our churches don't really get the high-end stuff a lot of you guys get exposed to and our congregations are kept relatively small intentionally, but every unit has and uses an organ (at least in the US anywhere there is a 'usual-sized" congregation. No one gets paid for playing, but we give it the old college try! I'm a converted piano player and have been playing the organ regularly for the last 3-4 years -- I'm passable I guess! Anyway, not everyone had bailed the traditional music -- some of us are clinging to the more reverent music that most posting here appreciate! It should mean some decent practice organs coming up for sale at a good price, but certainly, at least for this cycle, the heyday may have waned!

            Comment


              #81
              kennyrayanderson, are you speaking of the LDS church? Your description sounds somewhat like what I know of the organization. I certainly respect the firm guidance provided by the LDS hierarchy so that local congregations don't get led off into the wilderness by an individual or small group who want to "modernize" the church.
              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


                #82
                Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                kennyrayanderson, are you speaking of the LDS church? Your description sounds somewhat like what I know of the organization. I certainly respect the firm guidance provided by the LDS hierarchy so that local congregations don't get led off into the wilderness by an individual or small group who want to "modernize" the church.
                Why yes John, you are correct. The organ they are giving us now (it comes with the building!) Is a Johanus LDS-44 that is spec-ed by the church and I'm quite sure they buy them in bulk! It ain't fancy, but it's an organ!

                Comment


                  #83
                  Good deal! That Johannus LDS-44 is certainly a perfect fit for a meeting house, and the spec is just what you need for the music you'll play in those services. One thing that is not ideal, unless things have changed since I was at an Allen dealership in the 80's, is that the organ companies (currently just Allen and Johannus, I think) have a special arrangement with the LDS. They build these special models in quantity and sell them at low cost directly to the LDS Church, bypassing the dealer network.

                  The local dealer is involved only in sending out a tech to install the organ once it is delivered, and the dealer gets only a token fee for doing this. As a result, some dealers have been lax about doing proper setup and voicing, leaving the organs with a less than optimum sound and performance. I have in fact gone in after a number of these on-the-cheap installs and "finished" the job only half-done by a dealer. Seriously, it only takes an hour to do a rather adequate setup -- making sure the speakers are properly wired, setting the amp levels and checking the voicing to be sure something isn't way out of whack.

                  Your results may differ though. Since this arrangement has been in force for 40 years now, church leadership may have had a heart to heart talk with the companies and made them do better work on these installs. Johannus may be doing it better than Allen has typically done it around here too. And a lot will depend on the dealership handling the delivery and who they send out to install.

                  I hope it all goes well for you, but if you think the organ isn't set up correctly (if some stops are not the right level, for example), talk to your local FM director and have him send a tech to correct the problems.
                  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


                    #84
                    The LDS 44 was replaced by the LDS 47 about 4 years ago and has a much better sound than the 44.
                    The 47 is made by Makin in England, a division of Johannus in the Netherlands. The organ uses long samples for every note of every stop from English cathedral pipeorgans.

                    Comment


                      #85
                      John,

                      I don't think the LDS church has changed the way they do business in quite a while. Head office picks the vendors they deal with, in the case of organs, it is Allen and Johannus, and they design a semi-custom organ, which is deemed to do what the musical advisers to fulfill musical requirements. They get a local installer to install the organ, with the proviso that the organ not be changed, as it is "pre-voiced" at the factory. As their sanctuaries are not identical, and generally the acoustics are quite dreadfull, I changed the voicing as needed.

                      The current Johannus LDS model is the WM-47. A better sounding instrument than the WM-44, but the console is much less elegant.

                      I don't think these models are built in quantity, maybe half a dozen or so at a time. They may warehouse a few at the factory, but they do not stock them in the US as far as I know.

                      The number of organs that the LDS church procures is way down from what it used to be. Part of it is due to a lot of congregations not having organists to play them.

                      Another group that Johannus sells direct to is in the Phillipines called Iglesia Ni Cristo. (Church of Christ) They order organs by the container load. Again mostly a standard model customized by the church's musical leaders.

                      AV

                      Comment


                        #86
                        I've seen some youtube videos of the WM-47 being demonstrated for LDS musicians, and I'm quite impressed with what I hear. Looks like the organ I'd love to own myself if I could!
                        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


                          #87
                          Our building is about 6 years ago so that sounds about right. I agree the sound isn't that great, but it is an organ! I remember the one they installed in one of our buildings about 20 years ago (the model eludes me). I was hearing a rattle in it in the lower register so I met with the organ tech. I thiught maybe it was a problem with the speakers, but after a careful listen we determined it was a rattle in the original organ that was used in the sampling! Actually many of the buildings are VERY similar (identical actually). They build off standard plans depending on the gongregation size and function. I've visited churches in several states and you couldn't hardly tell one from another if they were build in the same era. It's all about utility. In any case I'm glad the upgraded to the 47. The 44 has been serviceable... the only problem we've had is recently when you turned it on it was transposing up nearly a full third -- that made for some interesting singing! That's been sorted so we are good to go.

                          Comment


                            #88
                            Folks,

                            Just a quick note about Allen Organ parts being offered presently on *Bay.

                            We all know about our Florida Friend (aka Florida Flipper). So, he has just listed several organ parts and pieces under the moniker Pomodoro1981 on *Bay. I only know about his alter ego because I accidentally bought a music book from him. I realized it was the same name and address when I opened the package. Personally, I will not do business with him, and was more than miffed when I realized I had been snookered.

                            Live and learn.

                            Michael
                            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                            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.
                            [snip]
                            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.
                            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


                              #89
                              I thought I read somewhere where you said he has different accounts, can you list them if there is more than the two? I usually check where it's coming from, you should have seen it then.

                              That guy probably talked his church into giving him a free organ to flip... right back to the same church. (All said in good fun)
                              Allen 530A

                              Comment


                                #90
                                I wonder if he has a twin? There's an ADC-7000 on *Bay right now that has the incorrect stoplist included (photos don't agree w/listing--just check the 32' Pedal stops):
                                This sale is for an Allen ADC-7000 digital organ from the mid-1980's. The starting bid is $5,000 FOB Johnson city, TN. It was a flagship three manual from the time with four 32' stops and multiple celestes. This is the equivalent of a 70-stop, 90-rank pipe organ. Included are the organ drawstop console, pedal board, 8 external speakers and bench. This is an excellent organ for a large home practice instrument or for church use-- definitely NOT a fix-me-up or handyman's special, because everything works well and it sounds splendid. This has recently been inspected by a MITA affiliated technician and all of the notes, pedals, pistons and stop controls are fully functional. The medium oak cabinet is in good condition with signs or wear commensurate with its age. Although currently functioning prior to release for shipping, the manufacturer's warranty has expired and the organ is being sold as-is and without further warranty.
                                Hmmmmmm.

                                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

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