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Rodgers 558 or Allen Protege L-122

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  • Rodgers 558 or Allen Protege L-122

    Hello everyone, I am on the verge of buying a house practice digital organ, and am trying to choose between the Rodgers 558 and the Allen L-122.

    The Rodgers has the advantage of very versatile software and a user interface that allows me to swap individual stops, and comes with two MIDI stops in each division that I can replace with any stop I need. This gives me a total of 33 usable stops. The downside is the build quality is still nowhere near as solid as an Allen.

    The Allen has the advantage of being practically bombproof in its build, but from what I know, I can only change an entire suite of stops at one go (French, German, American, English), and there are no other options to change the stoplist through the user menu.

    For me, versatility is of paramount importance, as I would like full control over the stoplist for various applications, and a soft 32' is always welcome for certain pieces even though I really "hear" it in a small room.

    At the same time, build quality is something I fuss over, and Rodgers, even though it's improved somewhat, still doesn't quite cut it.

    I know I can't have my cake and eat it (or can I?), so could any of you chaps weigh in on this?

    Also, if I've missed out any features on either brand, please correct me at once.

    With many thanks,

  • #2
    Your post sounds like a confused mixture of fan propaganda propagated by brand loyalists. It's either that or a desperate sales tactic on the part of a dealer who doesn't have the features you want so they toss out something subjective like "build quality" to give them something of an edge. Comparing the products of these two world class companies goes way beyond the old Ford verses Chevy arguments and I seriously doubt there are relevant differences in "build quality". Of course there are differences in style, features, and sound but, really how much can you change an organ and still have it be an organ? There may be differences in price and warranty as well. Other things are important when purchasing an expensive luxury item too. I may look into things like a companies sales and service policies, even their political persuasion as, if there is a choice and the products are equal I'll choose not to support a company that supports things I disagree with. Different things are important to different people so pick the one that makes you happiest and be happy with it. I'll be very interested in hearing what others say on this topic.
    "The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like." St. Pius X


    • #3
      Thanks for that. You are right - I am confused, but not about the fan propaganda bit, because I have played both mid-range Allens and Rodgers somewhat casually for many years now and what I am describing is what I actually observed.

      Allen organs have very good build quality. They are very well-finished, and solid to the touch. The stoptabs, keyboards and pedal boards are firm. They give me a sense of security.

      Rodgers seems to have more tolerance in they way it makes its keyboards and stops - drawknobs and tabs. Their pedal boards are also lighter to the touch. It feels flimsy, if I may use the word.

      On the other hand, I know for a fact that both organs have multiple suites of sounds, but only Rodgers allows me to individually change the character of each stop, and even put additional stops on the MIDI tabs, whereas Allen does not.

      Where I come from, both Allen and Rodgers come with ten-year warranties on their parts only. The Rodgers man gives much better service than the Allen man, but that's another thing.

      From a photographer's point of view, I always tell people that Canon and Nikon are equally good, although vastly different. In this case, I'd say that Allen and Rodgers are "equally good", but vastly different too, and I want to hear the other members weigh in feature-wise and build-wise, and anything else I might have overlooked.


      • #4
        I do not have experience with NEW Rodgers organs, but I recently bought a used Rodgers Trio. I also have a Conn 651. Both are very similar Theater style organs. I am playing them daily to compare, first hand, the differences between the two. As far as function, I like the Rodgers combination action over the Conn. The voicing is great, but different, on each instrument. The "build quality" is where I see a big difference. The entire Conn console is very solid with great finish on the hardwood. Built like a tank! The Rodgers, on the other hand, uses a lot of MDF material for the inner console construction. As was stated in the earlier post, the Rodgers pedals do require a lighter touch and the radius of the concave arc of the pedals seems different from the Conn AGO pedals. Once again, both are very good instruments. I think it comes down to the players personal preference with respect to voicing, features, playability, and overall quality.
        Keeping (too many) old organs alive.
        Allen ADC 2110-T, Rodgers Trio 321B
        Conn 651, 713
        Hammond M-3 w/Leslie 120
        Hammond Solovox
        Mass-Rowe model 96 Carillon


        • #5
          If you get one of the Allen expanders with the L-122, the expander has a 10-2/3, which makes quite a convincing 32' resultant in the bottom octave.

          My preference for build quality is Allen, and I generally prefer their sound over Rodgers. Both of these are personal preferences.



          • #6
            My personal preference on the other hand, runs with Rodgers for sound quality. While I haven't seen a new Protege, I can say that the build quality issue is probably something you do notice upon sitting at the consoles. I haven't seen a 558, but I've played a Roland C-380 (similar, but a 30 note pedalboard, perhaps even lower build quality). Lower still, is the current Rodgers C-440 at my church. It's now 22 years old, and I've been here for the last 14. What I can tell you is the following.

            The pedalboard required a "re-build" at one point several years after my arrival. Many of them were loose (although that's easy to tighten) but they clattered quite a bit. The dampening was replaced, and it is much better now, and has required no such rebuild since. Puzzling really, as it didn't get much use before my arrival anyhow, so it may have been a combination of them being stood on, and wet outdoor shoes. It seems fine with weekly use for the last 6+ years, a no standing rule, and a no wet shoes rule. The stop-tabs on the Roland, while not top quality, are better than what the C-440 had, and those still work fine really. One or two of them require some extra pressure to activate, but that's all. If my memory serves me right, the 558 comes with tracker-touch, which I must say is quite nice on those (but I can't really comment on the longevity). All in all, the majority of foreseeable problems as a result of low build quality are seemingly minimal over the course of 22 years (although this is a church instrument, not a practice still does see 6 masses a week minimum).

            So taking in account all of that, the fact that the Roland C-380 is better built than the old Rodgers C-440, and that the 558 is probably built better still, I would recommend the Rodgers, unless you simply prefer the sound of the Allen that much more. Factoring in your own local service situation, another point scored for Rodgers. For me, the MIDI couplers are quite is the fact that you don't have to switch specs between stops. I mean, while it's rare that you want to mix and match English stops with French ones, sometimes it could be very satisfying while playing solos.

            One more thing I like about the Rodgers is (especially since this will be a home organ in a most probably small room) is the adjustable touch sensitive chiff. You can adjust how strong you hear the chiff based on how you hit the keys. That with tracker touch really is a satisfying effect. Either way, happy buying.


            • #7
              Judging from the number of items on here regarding service issues with Rodgers vs. the number of questions about Allen, it would appear Rodgers is the less reliable. Both make excellent instruments, athough it seems most people favour Rodgers. Am I right?


              • #8
                Probably no clear generalization on that. Each brand has its fans, and the culture of each company and its dealer network strongly believes in the superiority of its own product. Much of the talk about the other company is negative. Allen folks cluck their tongues about Rodgers obsession with "stereo imaging" and Rodgers people talk about the Allen "buzz" and how their samples are "dated" or "primitive."

                Walking into a church where a new organ has been installed, if the acoustical setting is good and the installation was well done, I usually don't immediately think "Oh, that's an Allen" or "Oh, that's a Rodgers" because I am thinking instead how great it sounds, how much like pipes, how wonderful it would be to play it!

                Some people prefer mechanical drawknobs and the sturdy feel of their consoles and actions, so they are going to be drawn to Allen. Some prize Rodgers long-standing relationships with pipe organ builders and their history of combination organs, and feel that Rodgers has more of the real-organ cache.

                As a service tech, I find both companies quite easy to work with, both committed to maintaining their products, both becoming quite pricey with parts for their older organs but still having most parts readily available. Both companies are retreating a bit about supporting certain models that were perhaps ill-conceived, such as the Cheetah organs from Rodgers and the MDC models from Allen, though they will help a tech try to make the best of one of these when necessary.

                It often comes down to which company has the best dealer and best tech in a given location. And there are other players to be considered too. It's a fascinating market, even if shrinking.
                *** 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!



                • #9
                  Check out the 500 series Rodgers. For a low end series, they are a hard act to beat for sound and flexibility.