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Ahlborn-Galanti Praeludium III

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  • Ahlborn-Galanti Praeludium III


    I've taken a new job in Cheektowaga NY, at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish as Music Director. The Church has two worship sites, a large Church built in the late 1960's, and a small, historic Chapel from 1853, which will soon house a rebuilt Johnson & Son pipe organ. The large Church, which serves as the primary worship site has a 3-manual 1991 Ahlborn-Galanti Praeludium III.

    I haven't been able to play or see it yet, seeing as the main church is being completely renovated. The organ speakers have been removed and stored, and the console has been completely boxed in to avoid damage.

    The specification is as follows:

    Principal 8' Gemshorn 8'
    Rohrflöte 8' Chimney Flute 8'
    Octave 4' Flute Céleste II 8'
    Harmonic Flute 4' Spitzflöte 4'
    Super Octave 2' Nazard 2 2/3'
    Larigot 1 1/3' Blockflöte 2'
    Mixture III Principal 2'
    Cromorne 8' Tierce 1 3/5'
    Swell to Great 8' Cymbal III
    Choir/Positive to Great 8' Regal 16'
    Trompette de Fête 8'
    Swell to Choir/Positive 8'

    Contra Gamba 16' Sub Bourdon 32'
    Bourdon 8' Principal 16'
    Gamba 8' Subbaß 16'
    Voix Céleste 8' Octave 8'
    Principal 4' Gedackt 8'
    Nachthorn 4' Choral Bass 4'
    Fifteenth 2' Open Flute 4'
    Sesquialtra II Mixture IV
    Scharf III Contre Bombarde 32'
    Bassoon 16' Fagott 16'
    Trompette 8' Trompette 8'
    Oboe 8' Schalmei 4'
    Clarion 4' Great to Pedal 8'
    Tremulant Swell to Pedal 8'
    Choir/Positive to Pedal 8'

    Is anyone familiar with these organs, or Galanti organs from a similar vintage? I'm wondering if it is going to be a decent instrument. At this time, when the Church is being renovated, perhaps it would be a good time for a new instrument... I'm not quite sure on that. Also, I'm not sure the Church would want to spend so much money on a new digital organ, after spending a LARGE amount of money on the pipe organ in the other building.

    Any information that can be shared on this instrument would be welcome.


  • #2

    I have worked on a number of these organs. This particular model was the best of the Galanti Praeludium models. Whether one considers it decent, depended an awful lot on the audio system that was attached to it. The organ has a 16 channel audio out, but generally they were sold with 2, 4 or sometimes 8 channels. Naturally they would sound best through 16 channels, but I never saw one with that many. The other thing, these organs were not voicable at all. I did however change the blend on a number of these organs which made it sound much better. For late 80s technology, they probably had the best sound on a per stop basis. The ensemble could be better. So, if it was properly installed with good audio the organ would still sound very good, just not as good as the better digitals today. Certainly an A-G Chronicler III would be an improvement, or better yet an A-G 3200 which would be noticeably better.

    One thing though, there are aspects of the build quality which were not terribly good. Pedalboards which if not properly fixed would become rattly, keyboard contacts going intermittent. By this age, there are likely some stop lamps which are burned out, a ni-cad battery that needs replacing.

    The ones I work on, seem to hold up quite well, and that is after 20 years.

    Since you are in the Buffalo area, you may want to get in touch with the A-G rep. Contact me, if you need his info.



    • #3
      I remember when this particular organ was installed, as we were working with Ahlborn-Galanti in the neighboring territory of upstate NY extending to Rochester. If I remember correctly, this organ was installed by Keppler Music.

      The PIII was a nice, if somewhat unique model that sonically compared favorably with most other electronic organs being sold at the time. These always showed favorably for us to potential customers. In fact, during the short time when both the Praeludiums and the Chronicler series organs were available, more than one potential buyer preferred the sound of the PIII to the sound of the more "advanced" Chronicler II.

      The console is typically utilitarian- not as nice as something from the same period from Allen, for instance, but if the pedalboard, rocker tab bulbs, and occasionally the key contacts are well-maintained, it can do the job.

      My memory is a little fuzzy on this particular organ, but I would expect that it is at least an 8-channel installation. 8 channels was the typical "standard" speaker complement, with 4 smaller Walker Technical TB6's for Great and Choir, 2 larger Walker WM126's for Swell, and 2 Walker B400's for the Pedal. Very few PIII's in the northeast were sold with less than that.


      • #4

        I heard that too about the PIII sounding as good or better than the Chronicler II. I never heard any dealer telling me they were really that fond of the CII. And I'm not sure the CII was even improved upon even when the other models came out with improved samples and different hardware in the tone generators. The CII looked magnificent on paper, but was somehow lacking in real life.

        That is interesting that they were sold with Walker Technical audio equipment. Up here where I am, each PIII seemed to come with a different designed audio system, none of which was really proper. A number of them only had 2 channels. One of those I changed to 8 channels and modified the mixing signals to improve the balance.

        One has to remember that when this organ came to the marketplace in 1989, only Allen was building digital organs (late ADC),, and the PIII had more authentic sounding voices.

        The PIII is still a reasonable organ if installed properly.



        • #5
          This is very interesting stuff. I'm really hoping it's going to be a nice instrument. From what the organist told me, the speaking system was dismantled incorrectly and will need some work. So I was wondering if it would be worthwhile to put the money into the organ.

          Do you think that with a good speaking system, the congregation and I would still be happy with the instrument?

          The previous organist tells me that there were 16 speaker cabinets for the organ. He tells me that he rebuilt the speakers for the great swell and pedal just a few years back. So I'm hoping that's a plus.

          A photo of the loft is is attached. It's under construction, so it's difficult to see what's going on. There is scaffolding built all the way to the edge of the choir loft. The organ console is boxed in closest to the edge, and there are two speaker towers on either side of the loft. When it is finished, all speakers will be reinstalled within the towers, and hopefully I will be able to have a pipe facade installed over the vast amount of grille cloth.


          • #6
            Facade pipes

            Originally posted by jskumro View Post
            The organ console is boxed in closest to the edge, and there are two speaker towers on either side of the loft. When it is finished, all speakers will be reinstalled within the towers, and hopefully I will be able to have a pipe facade installed over the vast amount of grille cloth.
            Careful! You'll have Clarion jumping all over this!


            • #7
              I am wondering a little bit about an instrument called "Praeludium III", because in Europe
              the Praeludium III is a two and not an three manual Instrument, but maybe its an older series.
              Did you post a photo of the organ ?


              • #8
                The US Praeludium III being referred to here was an M114-based first generation organ of 3 manuals and 45 stops, produced by GeneralMusic under the Galanti name (before Ahlborn was acquired or merged with in the early 90's). I believe it was also available in Europe, possibly under a different name. It was produced from around 1988 up to around 1993, if I recall correctly. This was a very different organ than the current Ahlborn DRAKE-based Praeludium series.


                • #9
                  Hi Organum,

                  In Europe the equivalent model of the Praeludium III was known as "Concerto". Ahlborn in Germany also had a version of it, and it may have been called something different again.



                  • #10
                    Update on this project:

                    We decided to reinstall the Galanti, rather than investigate the purchase of a new organ at this time.

                    Someone recommended to me a local firm to reinstall the organ. They are by the name of Benchmark keyboards. A Galanti sales and service dealer. The project seemed to be quite labor intensive. The 18 speaker cabinets were ripped out and stored in various locations about the Church campus. The wiring for the speakers and amps was a wreck. At some point, someone attempted to modify the speakers with the addition of many useless resistors and other electronic components. The large subwoofers were original, and all 8 subwoofer speakers were refoamed.

                    The technicians came, and required nearly two weeks to sort out, reinstall, adjust, and modify the speakers and other aspects of the organ. They also addressed my concerns of the loose pedals, and fixed that problem in a way that should not cause any more problems, they've also fixed some dead pistons, replaced some light bulbs, and the ni-cad battery, as predicted by aerie v.

                    After being reinstalled, I must admit that this is not a bad instrument. I was a little bit nervous at first, because I've heard some mixed reviews about Galanti's. I'm not quite sure why this is, because I feel that the sound is much superior to that of Galanti's and Rodger's of the same era. Most of the stops are true to the name, and sound quite realistic. Moreover, the ensemble sound is quite good.

                    For an instrument of this age, I'm quite impressed with it. Console quality has been an issue, and there are still some speaker bugs that need to be worked out, but this is being addressed this week. Sometime this week, I was take some photos of the choir loft, and organ installation for everyone to see.

                    It should be noted that this installation uses the 16-channel speaker arrangement. There were even more speakers that were duplicated within channels, this was done at some point after the installation. The original 16-channel arrangement was reintroduced. Using this arrangement, with so many speakers, the sound is very clear and realistic. I'm quite happy with it.


                    • #11
                      Ahlborn-Galanti is the best electronic organ. If I got a new electronic organ, it would be a new AG! A hybrid pipe organ with a nice custom AG console (with none of those horrid light-up stops) would be a nice combination! The sound of Ahlborn-Galanti is the most faithful reproduction of original pipe organ sound you can get. I agree with getting a pipe facade. That would be nice. Make sure that proper accommodation is made for the organ speakers in acoustic chambers or it won't be right.

                      The Allen dealer FUBAR-ed the organ at a church I go to and it sucks! It is the organ I would show people if I wanted to convince them not to buy an Allen. In all fairness, there is also a kick-awesome Allen on the other side of town that I thought was a pipe organ the first time I heard it.

                      Still, I say Ahlborn-Galanti is the best.


                      • #12
                        Post pictures! Especially if you installed a pipe facade!

                        I do agree. If you have to have a digital organ, Ahlborn-Galanti is superior to Allen or Rodgers. The sound is a more faithful reproduction of the original!


                        • #13
                          Well, that's a very broad series of generalizations as I've ever heard.

                          As always, quality of installation or the lack thereof makes all the difference with any electronic organ. I have heard and participated in putting in great PIII installs that were, in our opinion, at least the equal of any contemporary similar-sized Allen MDS overall, and generally superior in terms of individual voice quality. I have also heard and serviced some pretty poor Galanti installs too, and I've heard some great MDS installs. It's really impossible to say that one of these organs is always superior to or always inferior to another. If all things were equal, maybe, but all things are NEVER equal. Beware the temptation to draw conclusions about a builder's work based on a couple execptionally good or especially bad installations. Words to the wise.


                          • #14

                            Your post is so right on. The quality of the install is the main reason for success or failure of the musical result. I think a lot of the blame can be put on the fact of lack of oversight on the basis of the factory/distributor, almost more than the product itself. Also, the fact that most dealers of classical/church organs are basically musical instrument or piano stores, that just kind of push organs out the back door doesn't help, as these type of folks don't have a clue as to what makes for a good install, and are in it to just make some money.

                            One big variable in organ installs is the audio that is supplied. In the days of Allen MOS-1 and MOS-2 organs, most installs at least of the smaller organs would have sounded very similar. That is because of the specified audio, and the fact that there were no adjustments of consequence that could be made. When the ADC models came out, although adjustability went up, the overall results more often than not did not improve as many dealers did not know about voicing. Even a few years ago in my area, the Allens that were installed generally sounded lousy. I was asked to see what I could do, and on a number of ADC and MDS organs I made adjustments that transformed them. This is not rocket science, just common sense and musical taste.

                            Michael, I agree with you that the basic tone of the early Galanti organs was more real or authentic than what Allen was putting in their organs. However they were not voicable. And also, external audio was not specified. So the final quality of installs varied greatly. The Praeludium III, had the advantage of more output channels, and so one could improve things by using more channels, different speakers, putting them in different positions, etc. My guess is very few of these organs would have had all 16 channels of audio installed on them. The ones I have seen have from 2 to 8 channels on them. These organ didn't sound bad.

                            Galanti (Ahlborn-Galanti), came out with a new generation of organ called the Chronicler Series starting in 1992. They were revamped around 1996. These were voicable organs, and with the revamping, they sounded better than the earlier Chronicler and Praeludium organs. Again install results depended on audio and time spent voicing the instrument. Just last week I was in Nova Scotia (Canada), doing a service loop out there, and checked out an Angelus organ I had installed in 2001. The organ sounded better than I remembered it, in fact I would say it sounds better than most anything in it's price range even today.

                            I would suggest, that to get a feel for what a modern digital organ can do, with most manufacturers, check out a number of installs, possibly even ones from different dealers. Most manufacturers have product out in the field that sounds very good to excellent. The hardest part is possibly finding the good ones. Most every company[s product that I have played in the last 10 years has impressed me in one way or another. No manufacturer can make junk and survive these days. They may not be as good or musical as a fine pipe organ, but they don't have to be as bad as the cheap and cheerful analog organs that were sold 20 to 40 years ago. There is progress, be it uneven. And I applaud progress, whoever makes it.



                            • #15
                              me three

                              I remember being very impressed by the AG PIII voices when I first played one around 1990-91 or so. I hadn't heard an MDS but had played a few recent Allen ADC installs and the sounds of the AG were very chiffy and articulate but not in an ugly way. In a word, more realistic, though redolent of a European approach to voicing. The church was an extremely rich one so it would not surprise me if they had 8 or even 16 channels for it but I do not know.
                              As I've said before I'm not sure how much of a heads-up they had but when Allen introduced the truly multisampling MDS organs they used very chiffy samples to show they could have the same kind of sound. Of course the Classic (I) was around a little earlier and was very chiffy and buzzy, but used the expensive TT4 boards and was a limited edition organ. Would love to find a recording of one of those...there must be one out there, but very obscure. Not made by Allen I mean but a church or organization that had one. The early 90s was when it began to be feasible to make Compact Discs on a hobby/small scale basis, a regional orchestra I worked for at the time had them made in Europe by Nimbus because it was cheaper. It's just a matter of finding it. I for example, have an obscure recording of one the first big Rodgers PDI models. It sounds pretty good actually, but it was in an excellent acoustic setting. But if you were to look for that compact disc, you'd never find it.