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Rodgers 321A or 32B

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  • Rodgers 321A or 32B

    I have an opportunity to purchase either a Rodgers 321A or a Rodgers 32B. They are appoximately the same price. Which would be the best organ for an amateur player like me? thanks in advance for any light you folks may shed on this subject. Jim Schwindt

  • #2
    Re: Rodgers 321A or 32B

    What an enviable position to have two instruments to choose from in one budget consideration. I'm not an expert of Rodgers but love the theater line and dream of the day when I might get an opportunity to own one.</P>

    In your situation I would play both instruments if you're not shopping over distance. I'm sure there will be some features to lead you to a preference. It is your own opinion of the two instruments that is most important. How each of them accomodate your musical tastes and playing styles should quickly help you decide.</P>

    If you find you could be happy with either then you can't lose!</P>


    • #3
      Re: Rodgers 321A or 32B

      Hi Jim,</P>

      Are you interested in classical or theater/pops style music?  The 321A is a theatre style instrument more tailored towards "popular" literature in terms of voicing and features.  It's a horseshoe style console that's a bit more compact than AGO size specificaitons. The 32B is a classical/church style instrument with voicing and features best suited to interpreting that style of music.  As I recall it has an AGO spec console.  They're both three manual instruments.</P>


      Current: Rodgers 340 "Special", Gulbransen Rialto K (Both Versions), Allen Theatre Deluxe, Rodgers Olympic 333, Roland Atelier AT70 (I hope)
      History: Rodgers 321B, Rodgers 740B, Gulbransen Theatrum, Hammond H-133, Thomas Malibu, Heathkit/Thomas Paramount


      • #4
        Re: Rodgers 321A or 32B

        These are very different animals, I've owned both, and here are my opinions. These are analog organs, and so my comments about the sound are with that in mind.</P>


        The 32B's diapason and unit flute are exceptional for analog organs. These are available only on the great &amp; choir (and on the pedal by coupling the great to pedal).</P>

        Great Organ: There is nothing I dislike about the Great division on this organ, and it is completely satisfying.</P>

        Choir Organ: The lack of anything but flutes (except at 8' pitch) makes this division less than ideal. The flutes are good, and combinations of flutes at various pitches can do a lot, but it still limits the registration options on this division. The clarinet is just flutes at 8, 2-2/3, and 1-3/5--i.e., synthetic, or a cornet. The organ would have been greatly improved with a Swell to Choir coupler and a 4' principal, and a real 8' reed.</P>

        Swell: Mediocre, in my opinion. The swell &amp; pedal share the same filters (which is why they express together), and if you don't have a separate pedal cabinet, you'll probably get distortion on the swell when deep pedal notes are played.The lack of anything but 8 &amp; 4 pitches is limited. Celestes are just 37 notes. Not really Rodger's best celestes (and their analog celestes are usually very fine).</P>

        Pedal: Limited to 16 &amp; 8 stops of so-so quality.At least it has Swell &amp; Great couplers to brighten the division. The Trombone isn't bad at all.</P>

        Tonal Resources consist of 3 sets of oscillators, flute, main, and celeste, so the ensemble can be very warm.</P>

        Console: AGO, with divided expression. One of the very few 3-manual analog AGO consoles that will fit through a 30" doorway.</P>


        Another small 3-manual organ, though Theatre.</P>

        All divisions share common filters, and so there's limited voicing variety. The diapasons are NOT the same caliber as the 32B (and not very good), but the flutes (tibias) are just fine. The clarinet on the 321A should be a real clarinet (not sythetic like the 32B). My complaint about the Trio series, is that voices it has are notat enough pitches to do traditional theatre registrations: for example, Vox 16, Vox 8, String 16, String 8, String 4, Tibia 4, Tibia 2 is a lush combination--you don't have the voices at all those pitches on the Trio. Or Tuba 16, Tuba 8, Diapason 16, Diapason 8, String 16, String, 8, String 4, Tibia 16, Tibia 8, Tibia 4, Tibia 2 for a mezzo-forte combination--again, your missing voices at some of these pitches.</P>

        Some voices are better than others (the strings are particularly lack-luster, to me, and they are important for theatre voicing).</P>

        The keying has a strong bass pre-emphasis (not shown in the technical manuals) that gives an overall dull sound. This can be removed (very easily) if you choose to do so.</P>

        Tonal Resources: main &amp; tibia oscillators, so decent ensemble, but no celeste.</P>

        Console: quite a bit smaller than AGO, and if you're tall like me, not comfortable. Single expression.</P>


        Both should have wooden core keyboards, and external speakers. The 321A will have a Leslie, the 32B doesn't have provisions (but does have a separate flute channel if you wanted to connect one).</P>


        If you're committed to a style (classical/theatrical), then the choice is obvious. But if you play a mix of music, my preference would be for the 32B because of AGO console (easier to play), divided expression, celestes, and a really solid Great division. It can perform light music, and could sound reasonably theatrical with a Leslie speaker added.</P>


        It would be easy to modify the 32B to change the Choir Dulciana 8' to a Violaor Principal 4' which would help the choir immensely. Adding A Swell to Choir 8' coupler would be exceptionally useful and wouldn't require much work--a Reisner/OSI 61-note switch with 61 diodes would be the easiest interface to make this happen. A Choralbass 4' pedal stop wouldn't be hard, either. There's limited space for modifications, so I wouldn't go much beyond those. Of course, you'd want to max out the audio channels: flute, diapason, main and add a pedal channel (this was a Rodgers subwoofer, with the crossover in the pedal cabinet, so a modern good performing subwoofer with a built-in crossover would work well since the Rodgers unit might be hard to locate).</P>

        The 321B: there's almost no room for any modifications, but I'd definitely remove the bass pre-emphasis from the keyers--that takes no space.</P>

        <U>Other Options</U></P>

        Instead of the 32B, a Rogers 22B or 22D is a 32B in a 2-manual version and a better designed organ. The choir flutes move to the Swell, so the combined division (swell + choir) isn't so impoverished. It makes more sense based on the limited resources of the organ. The 22D should have a setterboard combination action: just 4 pistons per division, but the stops really move. The Specification 220 is an updated version from the early 70's (not to be confused with the Cambridge 220-II, a much bigger organ).</P>

        Instead of a Trio 321A, you might find a Marquee 327 or an Olympic 333. Both are much larger Rodgers theatre organs, AGO consoles, and better voicing. Not many made, but you might find one. </P>

        Good luck with your choice.</P>

        <P mce_keep="true"></P>


        • #5
          Re: Rodgers 321A or 32B


          Where are you located?</P>



          • #6
            Re: Rodgers 321A or 32B

            Some very good input there Toodles, thanks.  I don't have any experience with the classical Rodgers except for a 740B that I had for a short time.  I'm a TO fan but it was one of those deals I couldn't pass up.  I really enjoyed the sound and features but I had to trim the collection a bit and when I had a chance to pass it along to a budding classical student I couldn't resist.  It had MIDI out which was great fun with MidiTzer.</P>

            On the 321 series you make good points.  I'm also tall and once you play an AGO size console for a while the 321's do feel cramped and you have to compromise your playing position quite a bit.  I had a 322 Deluxe that I'd passed along to my brother after restoring that had the two external cabinets.  A very nice main speakers setup and a decent Rodgers Leslie.  As with my 321B I found that external cabinets and the right (Alesis or ?) reverb makes all the difference in the world.</P>

            Your comment on the 327 and 333 are spot on.  Over the years I've acquired a number of instruments (Rodgers, Gulbransen, Allen, Hammond) in the 321 class of organs.  Once I heard the 333 I got the bug to get one but lost out a few times.  When I managed to find my 340 it was like night and day.  There is a world of difference between the 321/322 and the 327/333/340 class of instruments.  Big consoles (good and bad sometimes depending on your house), more oscillators, some have added customization, more channels, better voicing, etc.  They're harder to find and more expensive but very nice. I had posted an entry in the organs for sale section about an outstanding 333 that Earl has to sell.  It's an absolute beauty and one of a kind.  It is currently located over in the Netherlands but it originally came from the US and Earl has lots of experience moving this one around the world very safely (and he says inexpensively).  If you can't find his contact information in the post just let me know.  We're just trying to help him along and his priority is finding it a good home rather than big $$$.</P>


            Current: Rodgers 340 "Special", Gulbransen Rialto K (Both Versions), Allen Theatre Deluxe, Rodgers Olympic 333, Roland Atelier AT70 (I hope)
            History: Rodgers 321B, Rodgers 740B, Gulbransen Theatrum, Hammond H-133, Thomas Malibu, Heathkit/Thomas Paramount