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  • Baldwin 520 used as a church organ?

    I don't recall the Baldwin 520 being discussed in a while. We serviced one today in a small Methodist church, and we seem to run into these fairly often in Arkansas. I assume the Baldwin dealer back in the 80's was fairly successful putting these into small churches, selling against the little Allen digitals I had to offer in the about the same price range. I could have sold an ADC 220 for about the same money, I think. Not AGO either, but at least the Allen was laid out like a classical organ and had church organ stops.

    My guess is that Baldwin sold better in Arkansas than it should have for a couple of reasons. First of all, Baldwin organs were being built in Fayetteville, AR at the time, and Baldwin pianos were built in two other Arkansas cities. So most everybody knew somebody who worked for Baldwin, and buying Baldwin seemed like a smart thing to do for the local economy. Second, the prices were low compared to Allen and Rodgers, or at least they had some cheaper models than Allen at the time. Third, the kinds of organ players that small churches tended to have didn't know swell from great and played with the left hand on the lower and the right hand on the upper all the time (usually with the same registration all the time), so the layout of this type organ worked for them. But could it also be that they just sounded better than I ever gave them credit for?

    Heresy, I'm sure, but I actually enjoy playing one of these things when we service one, more than one of the ADC 220s I sold, I think! My head tells me that there are a number of reasons why I shouldn't like one of these Baldwins, but my ears and heart really get sucked into the sound!

    It doesn't even have "great" and "swell" manuals, it has "solo" (upper) and "accompaniment" (lower). And the tabs for the Solo (upper) division are on the far right where the tabs ought to be for the lower, and the tabs for the lower are where the swell tabs ought to be. And the inter-manual couplers couple the lower to the upper . . . horrors! And of course the pedals look shy of AGO, at least the sharp keys are small and funny-looking. Not a mixture to be found, not even an 8' principal until you hit "strings become diapason" or whatever the tab says.

    But the sounds are just sweet and pleasant all around. You get a sort of "surround sound" effect on the bench with speakers playing out both ends of the console. Big punchy bass, throbbing tremulants. And the celeste is just right, and can be at 16' 8' and 4' if you use the couplers. The Trumpet sounds like a Vox Humana when the Trem is on, but comes on full volume like a big trumpet when you draw trumpet loud.

    Anyway, only in an organ forum could one speak so lovingly of a piece of equipment like this! Just enjoyed this one today and look forward to playing another one soon.

    Wonder if anyone else has played one and found it as sweet as I?
    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

  • #2
    Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
    I don't recall the Baldwin 520 being discussed in a while. We serviced one today in a small Methodist church, and we seem to run into these fairly often in Arkansas. I assume the Baldwin dealer back in the 80's was fairly successful putting these into small churches, selling against the little Allen digitals I had to offer in the about the same price range. I could have sold an ADC 220 for about the same money, I think. Not AGO either, but at least the Allen was laid out like a classical organ and had church organ stops.

    Second, the prices were low compared to Allen and Rodgers, or at least they had some cheaper models than Allen at the time. Third, the kinds of organ players that small churches tended to have didn't know swell from great and played with the left hand on the lower and the right hand on the upper all the time (usually with the same registration all the time), so the layout of this type organ worked for them. But could it also be that they just sounded better than I ever gave them credit for?

    My head tells me that there are a number of reasons why I shouldn't like one of these Baldwins, but my ears and heart really get sucked into the sound!
    John,

    I read this and thought I should probably not say anything, but I'm going to anyhow. LOL I'm thinking you need your ears checked out !! But then, you know what I think of Baldwins .
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), US-1, EL-25 ( Chopped ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755. 1919 Wangerin 2/7 pipe organ.

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    • #3
      LOL!! I hear you, Larry. But Baldwin made a large variety of organs over the decades, some better than others. That sad old 720 that you complain about was surely one of their worst. It has only one rank of lock-step tone generators from which all stops are drawn, so there is no "ensemble" or "chorus" effect of any kind other than the cheap-sounding fake rotating speaker effect. And they just seem to have done the poorest job ever of designing the voice filters on that thing, made all the stops sound more or less like a clarinet. And of course the one you're having to endure has something wrong with it that makes matters worse.

      But this little 520 that I was loving on the other day was built several years later with a rather more complex technology including a sophisticated multi-rank tone generator system that ingeniously used a single high frequency clock to produce three separate ranks of pitches that are completely un-locked from each other frequency-wise, so that you have two different ranks to draw the main stops from and a dedicated rank for the celeste stops.

      It also has the microprocessor-controlled keying system that made possible a much more realistic attack and decay characteristic for each stop and got rid of those lousy vinyl-coated keying rods that were the bane of most earlier Baldwin models.

      Some day I'll take pics inside the back of one of these to show just how much "stuff" is in there ... a bunch of boards, each one covered with ICs and other components, showing the complexity of the system. It's just a lot more organ than most other small Baldwins.

      So, no, I haven't lost my mind completely! I actually owned a Baldwin 626 a few years ago, which was more or less the AGO version of the 520. I loved playing that little organ too, but the 520, being more "theaterish" actually has a more "lush" sound that really pulls me in when I get the chance to play one. I know it's not anything like a digital Allen or Rodgers when it comes to pipe realism, but the gorgeous celestes, big tremulants, and surround-sound audio just **** ** away.

      Now, if we could just find one of these for you to set in that church . . .
      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

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      • #4
        jbird,

        I wish you would post a stop list of the Baldwin 520. That is one that has eluded me. I thought the Baldwin 520 was a church model.

        Yes so many of the smaller Baldwin organs do have a "clarinety" sound as well as some kind of "buzzy" sound I don't like at all. However, for some reason I don't find that type of sound in my Baldwin 48C. I do find that with individual stop there is a "clarinety" sound. On my Baldwin Orga-Sonic I am most surprised to find the tones more pleasing although with each individual stop I can hear the "clarinety" influence quite well. One thing is seems to lack the "buzzy" sound of many of the earlier models.

        It is true the larger Baldwin Church and theater Organs seem to have a much better sound that many of the smaller models. Both of my organs are from the late '60's and I am pleased with both of them.


        I do remember the all tube Baldwin Organs which seemed to have a much richer sound even among the smaller models.


        James
        Baldwin Church Organ Model 48C
        Baldwin Spinet 58R
        Lowrey Spinet SCL
        Wurlitzer 4100A
        Crown Pump Organ by Geo. P. Bent, Chicago, Illinois


        Organs I hope to obtain in the future:

        Conn Tube Minuet or Caprice even a transistor Caprice with the color coded tabs
        Gulbransen H3 or G3, or V.
        Wurlitzer 44, 4410, 4420, ES Reed Models, 4300, 4500, Transistor Models

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        • #5
          James,

          This stoplist for the Baldwin 520 was on another thread about this model, and I have verified that it is correct. I have edited the original posting just a bit for clarity. Hope you can make it out. You can see that it is basically a little unit organ with a viole rank, a flute rank, a celeste rank, and a trumpet. The viole becomes a diapason when the "string to diapason" tab is drawn. The trumpet can become a horn and can also become a "festival trumpet" when the "trumpet loud" tab is used. The celeste rank can be made loud and therefore able to celeste against the full organ when a bigger celeste is needed. And you'll see several separate tremulants that can be engaged. Not a big organ at all, but makes an amazingly sweet sound, and things really get to shaking when the celestes and trems are all going on at once!

          -----------------------------
          Pedal: Sub Bass 16' Leiblich Gedeckt 16' Cello 8' Flute 8' Acc. to pedal 8' and 4'

          Accompaniment: Viole 8' flute8' voix celeste II 8' violina 4' flute 4' flute 2' trumpet 8' Acc. to Acc. 4'

          General: string to diapason, celeste only loud, trumpet to horn, trumpet horn loud, trem flute light, trem flute full, trem string diapason, trem trumpet horn.

          Solo: flute 8' viole 8' viole celeste 8' flute 4' violina 4' flute 2 2/3' flute 2' flute 1 3/5' flute 1' trumpet 8' chimes F#2-F4 Harp F#2-F5 solo to solo 16' and 4' acc. to solo 16' acc to solo 8'
          -----------------------------
          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

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          • #6
            I think a "clarinety" sound would be an artifact of the basic output of the tone generators being a square wave. The "buzzy" sounds would likely be from differentiation of the square waves into pulses in an effort to create better string and reed sounds by mixing them with the basic waves.

            My Schober instrument used integrator circuits to form sawtooth waves from the square waves, and those waveshapes were what were switched by the keys to the formant filters. I am surprised if this were not done in the Baldwins, because a lot of concepts in the Schober were, I think, derived from Baldwin practices. Some of the circuits were used by license from Baldwin.

            David

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            • #7
              David,

              I think the better Baldwin analogs, such as the very ancient C-601 and all its descendants, including the humble 520, did have an integrator-type keyer, one or more diodes and capacitors for each note of each keyed rank that effectively provided a sharp pulse or near-sawtooth waveform for further filtering, and thus something approaching a true string or diapason tone. This is more or less what Rodgers did in their excellent analog organs. Looking at the keyer schematics on a Rodgers from the 80's you'll see that the flutes were keyed through a double diode gate giving a squared-off sine wave for the basis of the tone. Diapasons and strings were keyed by a single diode preceded by a capacitor, and the output of that keyer is the upper half of a sine wave, chopped off flat at the bottom, a waveshape that was a fairly convincing substitute for a genuine diapason tone, and when the gate is choked down by a lowered keying voltage, the bottom of the chopped sine wave gets shortened so that the wave is even more pulse-like, thus stringier.

              An examination of Baldwin gate boards of the 80's shows a similar scheme, and that is one reason why these organs sounded so much better than the cheaper garden-variety Baldwins. The cheaper Baldwins used nothing more than gradual-contact conductive vinyl direct keying, no diodes involved, no preliminary wave-shaping. The waveforms were all square waves and the subsequent formant circuits had to try to make them "flutier" or "reedier" or "stringier" as needed. They would attempt to brighten their string tone by making a string or diapason stop out of not just the 8' square wave, but by blending in a certain amount of signal from the 4' and 2' keying rods before filtering. This is all explained in detail in some of the service literature.

              But it is all square waves, and that's why it all sounds more or less like a clarinet. Even the diapasons with their "stacked" square waves cannot disguise the squareness of their basic waveshape. So the Baldwins that weren't based on diode keyers were all less realistic than the diode keyed models, but some of them, such as the 48 and even some of the old tube-type organs, had a much warmer and sweeter sound, perhaps because the formant circuits were more complex or they used more combinations of square waves in their strings and diapasons than just 8, 4, and 2 foot pitches.

              All that stuff became moot of course when good digital tone generation became common and cheap. But some of these old organs are still quite lovely to play and hear.
              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

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              • #8
                thanks. A diapason is a half sine wave? I've got an organ full of sine waves, and a DC contact per key (brush). All I need is 16 CD4016 IC's, 61 diodes, and a mixer control, to add a diapason stop. "Principal" is one thing I have noticed I am missing. Lot easier than hauling home, finding room for, and re-e-capping another organ. I was thinking of making sawtooth waves with op amps, but the filter cards would require a lot of inductors off a donor organ probably. Midi would require typing to change stops, which I would find as annoying as I do programs that just sit there with a blank screen.
                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

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                • #9
                  I believe a Diapason (or Principal) is better described as a strong flute with an elevated second harmonic. It might be that eliminating one half of a sine wave would provide a basis for filtering a Diapason tone, but that is not the way my organ (Schober) does it. You could give it a try, I guess.

                  David

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                  • #10
                    Even Allen used the half-sine-wave trick to create diapason tone in their analogs. The diapason oscillator ranks are basically identical to the flutes except that a diode is inserted into the signal path at the output of each oscillator. The resulting tone is unmistakably diapason. I'm sure there is at least some formant filtering post-diodes, but the chopped-off top of a sine wave (even a Hammond organ sine wave) would sound amazingly diapason-like, I believe.
                    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

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