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Building an analog organ

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  • Building an analog organ

    I was looking at electronics parts yesterday, just killing time. I thought it would be sweet to use the ICs and transistors and stuff I was looking at to build an old-school electronic organ. I have in mind something like the venerable analog custom Allen on Youtube. Has anyone here set out to build something like that? Just wondering.

  • #2

    You must have time to dream.

    Most folks who have an interest in electronics have moved on, and are into either standard digital or virtual sampling kind of instruments.

    Building a sizeable analog organ the way Allen used to in the 50s and 60s is just not feasable. It would be costly both in terms of components and labour. I can't see that at best more than half a dozen dreamers around the globe would be interested in doing something like this.

    Even with Hammond organs, where there are still a lot of enthusiasts, no one is interested in building a direct copy of the tone wheel organ. Reason expense. Someone once told me to make a tone wheel copy of a B3 would be around $75,000.

    It would be easier to find an organ you like, than to make an old fashioned analog organ.



    • #3
      Yeah, I figured the cost of those little parts would add up in a hurry. Still, I'm kind of a nerdy type and think about odd things like making an analog organ. LOL!

      This April I was diagnosed with cancer and had chemotherapy all summer. I'm not making that up either. It's been hell! I've had plenty of time on my hands to fantasize about building all sorts of things, including an analog organ. I'd still rather build a real pipe organ. I do think the old Allen custom analog organs were better than some of the digitals that came out later.


      • #4
        See this other thread:!

        Apparently, you're not the only one!


        • #5

          So sorry to hear of your diagnosis and treatment ordeal.

          I am curious whether you have any interest in MIDI triggered sample sets such as those from Hauptwerk, Grand Orgue, or those used with jOrgan? I have been very impressed with the realistic quality of sound attainable with real pipe samples. Really nothing compares to it, analog or not. A MIDI organ can be quite small, probably smaller than the Analog organ you have in mind (not to discourage you on that project however)...



          • #6
            Thanks Dell. I find out tomorrow how the treatment went. I hope it's gone.

            I would like to build a MIDI console. I wanted to get an old Allen MOS drawknob console and turn it into a MIDI console. IDK if any of that will happen.

            Hauptwerk is lightyears ahead of Allen. Even the new Allen organs still sound "canned" unless you are in a church with good acoustics or apply the virtual acoustics. If you're near the speakers and there is no reverb turned on, it will make you lose your religion. AG is way better! There are a few Allen organs out there that really sound fantastic. They aren't dull, nor are they suffering from inadequate sound systems. Sadly, that isn't the case for many of them. In all fairness, poor installation will hurt any organ.

            I would like to see a new analog organ built, possibly just for the sake of curiosity and nostalgia. I imagine that using modern ICs and other parts that weren't available in the old days would make for a more compact and less power-consuming organ. The old things were called toasters for a reason. You could make toast on them! :P


            • #7
              I used to work in electronics, before the wizards began doing it all in j****, t*****, & c****. So I am a bit prejudiced against buying everything from c****, however cheaply they work. I'm going at it from a different angle- I bought an H100 organ, which has precious metal contacts, 4 per pedal and 11 per key. The Hammond tone generator gives me wonderful sounds and a great tonal palette for $250 (post recap), and the schematics are open source, unlike Allen. The lack of modern sounds, I am experimenting with RC4560 op amps (made in USA, oddly) with triangle waves. For wilder sounds, there is a contact dedicated to brush & cymbals which is a bit obsolete that would look good going into a midi encoder. And I own a made in Valley Forge EPS synth, which will sample any sound I want and sound to midi inputs.
              To replace the vast weight and heat of tubes, I am experimenting with diy pcb's to replace the tube amp and mixer with solid state stuff, based on transistors made by ON in mexico. I've found some cheap USA surplus transformers for the power. I love the speaker, vibrato, and reverb setup, as is.
              I'm really getting into the tabs instead of drawknobs. I can flip them on and off with my index finger while playing notes on the UM for changes on the fly. For additional control, racks of 6 pole tabs and drawbar assemblies come with additional H100's at $100 each. For triangle wave coloring, I'm looking at tab + filter subassembliess from Wurlitzer or Conn spinets, which suffer from unstable tuning to my perfectionist ear, and plastic pedal contacts in the case of the conns. Meanwhile, the H100 is great for tuning the pianos, the UM seems to have stretch for the upper octaves.
              Enjoy your time- don't ever stop.
              Last edited by indianajo; 08-15-2011, 09:43 AM.
              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