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  • Practice organ recommendations?

    Please forgive me if this has been covered ad nauseam before; I can't seem to find anything in the archives.

    Thanks to a potential opportunity for a regular "gig" in a liturgical setting, I'm thinking of picking up a standard AGO console (with 32 note pedalboard) for practice. Ideally of course this would be a used Allen or the like, but I can't justify putting too much money into it at this point in my life. So, what are some general recommendations for an older practice organ? Really the most important factors for me are a) AGO pedalboard and b) liturgical stop selections.

    What I've seen come up lately:

    1) Wurlitzer 20 or 4800

    2) Conn Artist 720

    3) Baldwin Studio II

    4) Gulbransen XXX - I've seen a lot of Gulbransens out there... can't really remember if any of them were church-style, as opposed to being more oriented to theater-style - ?

    What would you guys (and girls) hold out for? Thanks for any advice!
    Nobody loves me but my mother,
    And she could be jivin' too...

    --BB King

  • #2
    Originally posted by toasterDude View Post
    Really the most important factors for me are a) AGO pedalboard and b) liturgical stop selections.

    What would you guys (and girls) hold out for? Thanks for any advice!
    Hey toasterDude!!

    The Conn Artist 720 is the only one amongst the bunch that at least has independent tuning! Add to that, a rather outstanding pedal division for the era; and you have a somewhat playable instrument.

    The Artist 721 offered the following pedal division on an AGO console:

    Pedal

    Diapason 16
    Bourdon 16
    Octave 8
    Flute 8
    Principal 4
    Flute 2
    Posaune 16
    Trumpet 8
    Gt-Ped 8
    2008: Phoenix III/44

    Comment


    • #3
      Baldwin Studio is after Baldwin's best years and wouldn't be a choice for serious practice. The Gulbransen D is the only 32 pedal model I've encountered and it has a more theatrical sound. I agree that Conn Artist is a wise choice.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks very much for the advice! It's funny, I've seen several of the Artist 720s going back to the time when all I cared about were Hammonds... but even then the Artist seemed to have a special quality. Very appealing somehow.

        However, now I've come across an Allen for a reasonable price: a TC-3. How would you guys compare the TC3 to the Artist? The TC3 is late analog technology, isn't it? -From around 1970? This as opposed to early-mid-1960s for the Artist.

        Interested to hear your opinions.

        cheers,
        Scott
        Nobody loves me but my mother,
        And she could be jivin' too...

        --BB King

        Comment


        • #5
          While my knowledge in this area is limited; I would consider the Allen the obvious choice.

          Comment


          • #6
            The TC-3 is indeed late analog technology. The TC-3S that I owned at one time had moving capture, and a full AGO console. I also had an Artist for a short while, which is based off older tube oscillators. I can't recall how many ranks the Artist had, but the TC-3 will have 3 ranks of oscillators. The TC-3S also had a Celeste.

            The Artist seems like a toy by comparison to the TC-3, which has much nicer keyboards, a more full sound system (usually with the large woofers for the pedal stops), and more stops. Out of curiosity, how much are they asking for the TC-3? I would think that these days the price would be quite reasonable. I sold mine about 4 years ago.
            Corey

            Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
            Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
            - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
            Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks guys-

              I didn't think about the Artist potentially having tube oscillators. Seems like that could be problematic in terms of tuning - ? From the date range, I wrongly assumed electronic oscillators, which I'm comfortable working on from past experience with (admittedly simpler!) combo organs.

              They're asking $300 for the TC-3, including the two tone cabs: one straight and one Gyro, I'd imagine. My real concern is whether the pedalboard would be AGO standard - for example the Allen I have access to now, for practice (a T15B) has the "princess" pedalboard.

              While I'm on the subject, which would be worse? --Practicing on a flat 25-note pedalboard or a "princess" pedalboard? I have a Hammond C3 at home already to practice on, but I've been advised to aim a bit higher! I'll confess I'm not very proficient with the pedals yet, but I've just recently started to get comfortable with them and it's kind of a rush :-) ... but I do want to make sure I learn properly from the start (hence the inclination to opt for the AGO standard.)

              thanks again-
              td
              Nobody loves me but my mother,
              And she could be jivin' too...

              --BB King

              Comment


              • #8
                Ago !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  The TC-3 would have a full AGO pedalboard and full sized console. The telltale way to spot an Allen with the infamous princess pedalboard is to look at the sharps (as well as the depth of the entire pedalboard). The sharps are always wood on the AGO pedalboard, where the princess often has the plastic sharps that also slope down to a thin sliver of plastic before ending. This makes them look larger than they actually are for playing. I never understood why they didn't just make them tall for the full length of the black piece, as that would have been a lot closer to AGO.

                  Regardless, my TC-3S had 3 cabinets (5 technically) - A gyro with bass cabinet that hooked to it for flutes, a "Sweet 16" with 16 drivers plus bass cabinet for diapason, and finally a cabinet the size of the bass cabinets for the reeds. All amplifiers were solid state.

                  That $300 doesn't seem unreasonable, though I have seen early digital instruments (that weigh quite a bit less) selling for around $500. I can't say how much an analog Allen sells for these days, as I haven't looked. It depends on how urgently you want something and where you are located. I got my ADC-6000 for a very nice price, and it is a 3 manual with a lot more going for it than some of the MOS instruments.

                  Just a few things to think about... :)
                  Corey

                  Allen MDS-41-S with MIDI-DIVISION-II
                  Schulmerich Carillon Americana - 61 notes Flemish / Harp / Celesta / Quadra / Minor Tierce
                  - MIDI Retrofit finally underway & Moller console in need of refurbishment
                  Schulmerich Campanile Digital Carillon (Cast & Harp)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I appreciate the advice and info. I decided to pass on the TC3 - it was too far away (4 hrs.) and in a 2nd story apartment. Didn't even want to think about navigating those stairs with it! Besides, from what I've been seeing these early/analog Allens are starting to move into the "free - you haul" category. Or, at least for the same $$ I can probably find one closer to home and on ground level!

                    Thanks again-
                    td
                    Nobody loves me but my mother,
                    And she could be jivin' too...

                    --BB King

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      quick update: today a TC-1 showed up on CL for free, only half as far away as the TC-3 (and on the ground floor at that.)

                      Then I noticed an MOS-1 (digital) Allen just sold on Ebay for $500. So the lesson I'm taking from this is, it might be wise to be a little patient and wait to see what else comes along. Sad, really, to realize that these wonderful old organs just don't carry much market value any longer. Guess it has to do with the whole "praise band" fad that others have been lamenting on here...
                      Nobody loves me but my mother,
                      And she could be jivin' too...

                      --BB King

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        TD,

                        Don't know how much you'd consider spending, but in my experience the biggest expense in getting an organ is the moving. We often get used church organs for free or very cheap, but wind up spending hundreds of dollars getting them out of a church and moved to the shop!

                        I don't blame you for passing on the TC3 on the second floor and so far away. You would have had several hundred dollars tied up in the move for sure. If you plan to do your own moving, you will need some good help and if possible a pair of actual organ dollies. It's quite difficult to move a big organ console without "Roll-R-Kari" dollies or at least a pair of piano dollies and some very strong and competent helpers.

                        I played on a Conn 720 for several years at church, and found it to be OK but not great. This is one of the few Conn models that had a genuine principal unit rank with transistor keyers instead of the awful vinyl rod keying. So it had nice flutes and diapasons at least. But it still used the vinyl rods for strings and reeds, so about half the notes would be weak or even dead on those stops. It has a nice pedal division with hefty 16' stops, but the couplers are not very good and only couple the 8' stops down from the great, as I recall. There are no mixtures and no celeste other than the quirky "chorus" tuning control. So, it might make a decent practice organ, but nothing to get really excited about.

                        I wouldn't worry about the fact that it has tube oscillators. They use 12AU7 tubes, which are plentiful and cheap, and Conn ran them at low voltage so they seem to last forever. The tube-type audio amplifiers are more likely to give trouble since they run so hot, but even they might last for many years if they are still working. So I wouldn't rule out that model if there are some available at very low cost. Even better is the model 721, which had transistor oscillators and a few more stops, including a celeste, I think. I do know that the later Artist models, the 714, 716, and 717, had celestes, and they eventually got into multiplexer keying, eliminating the vinyl rods, and gaining real couplers, even some mixtures. So, IMHO, most any Conn Artist model would be acceptable, but some are better than others.

                        Allen analogs such as the TC series are usually quite good. Be warned that many of the Allen analogs are now showing their age and needing keying capacitors, chiff and sustain caps, and possibly some other parts replaced wholesale. This could be fairly expensive, but not all analogs are afflicted. So be sure to play it from top to bottom of each rank and see how many dead notes there are. The TC organs have amazingly good sounds, lovely flutes and diapasons, but suffer from all the drawbacks of unification, of course. And they don't normally have couplers or mixtures. Celestes were optional on most models, and there are no true reeds on the TC-1. As much as I respect Allen and have enjoyed playing some of their analogs, I think they are really showing their age, maybe more so than some others of the same vintage.

                        Rodgers analogs can often be had for little or nothing, and usually play pretty well. For some reason, the tone quality seems to vary a lot from one to another, even of the same model. But you might happen across one that sounds really nice. Certain problems, such as the infamous sticking stop tabs, plague a few models, but you'd notice that immediately if you tried one out. But they generally have held up pretty well.

                        Baldwin models from the 80's can be satisfactory. I've played on some 626, 636, and 645 models that were very pleasant to the ears. They went down a completely different road technically from Allen and Rodgers, but they had some good organs and if you find one in good working order it might be a bargain.

                        MOS Allens are often free for the taking or very cheap. The sound can be quite sterile and irritating, but if you get one with external speakers and place them some distance from your ears you'll enjoy it more. The 300 series came with an analog celeste rank, which is a real plus. Some models will have the optional "frequency separation" (which became standard in the MOS-2 era) that also makes the sound a little more interesting. The best thing about a MOS Allen is that the parts are always available and repairs are usually very easy. Later Allens, such as ADC and MDS, are even better, much better, but likely to be quite a bit more costly. The "MDC" series (not to be confused with the very fine MDS series) were a series of low-end digitals that had a basic stop list without mixtures or couplers, a very bad carillon and a note-challenged celeste effect (you could only play 6 notes at a time with the celeste on). But they do sound very nice if you don't need the carillon and if the celeste's shortcomings don't bother you. At least as good as the best TC series, as far as good sounding principals, flutes, and reeds.

                        Well, I've talked too much. Best of luck. Let us know what you find.
                        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
                          Toaster,

                          I just wrote a long reply and lost the %@#$! when the site couldn't be found. PM me, and perhaps I can help you find something in your area for a good price.

                          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)
                          • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by toasterDude View Post
                            I didn't think about the Artist potentially having tube oscillators. Seems like that could be problematic in terms of tuning - ?
                            I cannot envision any problem you might have perceived in tuning Conns, but they are very easy and simple to tune.
                            2008: Phoenix III/44

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow, thanks very much for all the great advice. First of all please forgive me: my remark about potential tuning difficulties was based loosely on my knowledge of that problem with the "pedal solo" units on AGO Hammonds like the RT3. So my concern was not with the actual tuning procedure, but with "drift"; though again, I've only worked on electronic (and electromechanical) oscillators myself. I'm quite glad to hear there are no particular issues with the Artist 720's tone generation.

                              So I can see I have a lot to learn here! (for example I need to go look up terms like "moving capture" and "unification"!) Thank you guys for being patient with my newbie questions, as I advance from Hammond-land to the wider world of proper liturgical organs.

                              cheers,
                              Scott
                              Nobody loves me but my mother,
                              And she could be jivin' too...

                              --BB King

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