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  • Organ advice

    I have been playing classical piano for 50+ years, Mozart, Chopin and the like, and want to get into organ music but need some advice. What sort of features do I need in an instrument, two or three manuals, one or two octave pedals, stops? I dont want to spend large amounts of time repairing/mantaining an older instrument since I would insist on doing work myself, but have no interest in rhythm, and auto modes that newer instruments seem to feature. Is there any specific model of organ most suited to classical music?

    Thanks

    Moved to the correct section for you. Home Organs is for the type of instruments you don't want! Andy-Moderator
    Last edited by andyg; 03-01-2014, 09:33 AM.

  • #2
    Since I don't know which country you're in, I'll advise a bit blind. If you're in America, you'll probably be looking at an Allen or Rodgers organ with AGO specifications, 2 or 3 61-note manuals, and 32 pedals. Other companies can also be recommended, but people give them mixed reviews (i.e. Johannus, Phoenix, etc.). From my signature, you can probably see my preference.

    While an older instrument may need to be repaired from time to time, a newer instrument is less conducive to a person repairing their own instrument because they require specialized software and/or hardware to effect the repair and/or voicing. A new instrument will cost much more as well. Surely in your 50 years of playing classical piano you've run into one or two organists or organs that'd give you an idea of what you want?

    In my case, a good bit of my literature requires 3 manuals to be played properly, but if you're just starting, perhaps a 2 manual will suffice for now. Only you can be the judge of that--and your abilities.

    Hope this helps somewhat.

    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


    • #3
      Thanks for advice. Live in Canada Long St Lawrence river across from NY. I am a retired tech teacher so could learn to fix anything, but since at present time am building a French Double Harpsichord, am leery of embracing new tasks. Will look along line suggested.

      Thanks

      Comment


      • #4
        BTW, welcome to the Forum. I hope this won't be your last foray into our sphere of the world!

        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


        • #5
          Thaind,

          Your obvious resource would be Phoenix Organs, just couple hours down the road from you in Peterborough.

          http://phoenixorgans.com/

          If you are going to do classical organ, then the road to happiness includes a three manual console with a 32 note pedal division.

          If you wish to start out on a limited budget, Phoenix sometimes have trade-ins that are available at bargain basement prices; which might be the way to go at the outset until you figure out what you want to do.

          The other option is to have them build a custom organ to your specs, as I did.
          I have a three manual Phoenix, and couldn't be more pleased with the instrument.

          As Michael says: "If you're in America, you'll probably be looking at an Allen or Rodgers organ," that is . . . until you have heard and played a Phoenix! ;-)
          Last edited by Clarion; 03-15-2014, 06:42 AM.
          2008: Phoenix III/44

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          • #6
            Although I don't think Clarion has stock in Phoenix Organs, he always sounds as if he does. Any of the major builders that you have access to should be able to provide an instrument to suit your needs. Allen, Rodgers, and Phoenix all make excellent organs, so shop around and find one you like. As has been said, you'll need at least 2 61-note manuals and 32 pedals (probably AGO, but some folks like other designs); for really complex music 3 manuals are best. I think most people here would also recommend that the instrument have a good set of programmable presets. For Classical music, you'd also be looking for what is often described as a "church" instrument, as opposed to a "theater" organ.

            David

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Thaind View Post
              I dont want to spend large amounts of time repairing/mantaining an older instrument since I would insist on doing work myself
              Here is an approach that might appeal to you. With the exception of the refurbished console, you end up with a brand new organ with a 10 year warranty. Using a refurbished console, that would have otherwise been carted to the dump, you will save megabucks!!! Here is an excellent example of a rebuild done by your neighbour in Kingston:

              http://phoenixorgans.com/installatio...nstallation=86

              Phoenix can be VERY helpful in finding the ideal instrument for you, but they have to know something about you before they can provide you with useful assistance. In my case, when I started my search for a new organ, I sent Phoenix a very detailed and complete resumé outining, my musical history, my current aspirations, and of course, in in an effort to communicate my passion for frugality, I offerred my current financial status as an impecunious old guy living on a pension/welfare in a cardboard box in back alley of Toronto.

              I don't think they exactly bought into everything I revealed in my resumé, but they did clue into exactly what wanted in an organ!!! They actually offerred two options:

              1. Rebuild my old two manual console for $xx,xxx; or

              2. Go for an organ that more closely matched my fantasies: a custom built 3 manual, 44 stop Phoenix!! for an acceptably few more extra $xx,xxx.

              When you talk about a custom built Phoenix, that doesn't mean you have to design the organ from the ground up! Phoenix has a whole bunch of canned versions engineered and designed to provide an awesome organ, no matter which version you choose.

              'Course you can make any changes you wish to any tried and true canned version you choose, as I did. In the end, I withdrew ALL of my custom revisions in favour of a canned version that I had to admit that I could not improve upon! :-(

              I am now celebrating the 6th anniversary of the installation of a Phoenix organ in my home. And unlike bad organs, whose nauseating voicing and bad tuning quickly become tediously offensive.

              Sitting down at a Phoenix every day is a fresh new thrilling envigorating experience, the very same as the first day it was invoked. The impact of each and every note of each and every stop, produce the expected richness of an ensemble of some 4,000 independently tuned voices being heard together, never becomes tedious or tiresome. <giggle> </giggle>
              Last edited by Clarion; 03-15-2014, 07:58 PM.
              2008: Phoenix III/44

              Comment


              • #8
                I think most of what I know from Phoenix is via Clarion's ceaseless promotion of them - but I think it's a good point to say that if they really can breathe life into old consoles, that's a pretty good idea. As I've posted numerous times on threads pertaining to value, on any pre-MDS Allen organ, most of the value _is_ in the console. This isn't to say they can't still sound good to most non-specialist ears in the right acoustic setting, they certainly can and many churches will remain happy with MOS & ADC organs for years to come. But it's just acknowledging their their tone generation is incredibly antiquated these days. (and yes, Clairon, you don't need to remind us that MDS is, too, in your eyes.) It would cool if Phoenix figured out either Allen's ADC matrixing scheme (which I think someone out there has already mastered) or TDM cage control line scheme, so that ADC consoles could be tonally updated with minimal rewiring and soldering.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Although I do not own a phoenix organ, I have dealt with Don and Jim Anderson in the past, and would confidently say that it would be worth contacting them. Both are wonderful to work with and I would have no trouble placing my trust in them in the future. It might be worth a call and a drive to Peterborough!

                  I also happen to have an older Allen that I purchased from them a few years ago - my wife would like me to realize that it is surplus to our needs. fee free to contact me via PM or chris AT springerah DOT com

                  Best,

                  Chris

                  - - - Updated - - -

                  Although I do not own a phoenix organ, I have dealt with Don and Jim Anderson in the past, and would confidently say that it would be worth contacting them. Both are wonderful to work with and I would have no trouble placing my trust in them in the future. It might be worth a call and a drive to Peterborough!

                  I also happen to have an older Allen that I purchased from them a few years ago - my wife would like me to realize that it is surplus to our needs. fee free to contact me via PM or chris AT springerah DOT com

                  Best,

                  Chris

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Will certainly stop at Peterborough on way home from wintering in Texas. Im no where near ready for a custom instrument, but appreciate the good and sincere advice.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Thaind View Post
                      Im no where near ready for a custom instrument . . .
                      I get the impression that you may be embracing a faulty concept of custom instruments, as if they are more exotic or more expensive than an off-the-shelf mass-produced cookie-cutter kind of instrument.

                      In reality, custom built organs tend to represent the best value for the $$$, typically costing 30 - 50% less than a comparable cookie-cutter instrument. While mass-produce manufacturers spend mega-bucks filling their dealers and warehouses with dormant organs awaiting customers, custom manufacturers don't waste $$$ by having useless dormant organs lying around. They don't even think about building a new organ until someone has actually ordered one: major cost savings that are passed on to the customer. The only down-side, is that when a customer contracts to have an organ built, be prepared to wait in a good 6 month que!

                      So . . . the benefits of a custom mfg include:

                      1. 30 - 50% saving over a mass-produced instrument;

                      2. Option of restoring an old, but good console, with a realistic saving of $10,000+

                      3. Although you can specify your own personal selection of voices, most of us are incapable of doing something like that, so there is a good selection of workable pre-canned voicing options that will always work well together, so you don't have to be some sort of organ architech to put together a great sounding organ;

                      4. And while this effort might seem to be a bit extreme, Phoenix actually took furniture samples from our house to have the stain and finish custom made to match the rest of our furniture!!

                      5. If you wish to have new voices added to the organ, they are probably already present in the organ, and it is merely matter of exchanging one voice for another;

                      6. While mfgs like Allen will sell you voicing software through a dealer for megabucks, Phoenix Organ not only supplies voicing software as part of the package, but in my case, they spent an hour showing me how to use it. Their software not only allows for voicing changes, but allows total remapping of each and every tab/piston in the entire organ. In my case, I did an OOPS when ordering the organ; I forgot that I really like chimes for the Advent season. No big deal though. I merely reassigned the chimes voice to one of the midi tabs.

                      The 'chimes' I chose, are actually the carillons of St. John’s, Peterborough which bring back childhood memories: 60 years ago when every Sunday I walked the 5 km trek to church into Peterborough alone. The city was ever so silent on Sunday morning, except for the carillons of St. John's, whose celebration could be heard for miles around. I can now here those very same carillons with the mere flip of a tab. :->
                      Last edited by Clarion; 03-19-2014, 07:48 PM.
                      2008: Phoenix III/44

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Clarion View Post
                        In reality, custom built organs tend to represent the best value for the $$$, typically costing 30 - 50% less than a comparable cookie-cutter instrument. While mass-produce manufacturers spend mega-bucks filling their dealers and warehouses with dormant organs awaiting customers, custom manufacturers don't waste $$$ by having useless dormant organs lying around. They don't even think about building a new organ until someone has actually ordered one: major cost savings that are passed on to the customer. :->
                        Dear, dear--more ridiculous straw men being erected for the sole purpose of bashing the "cookie cutter builders" (i.e., Allen, Rodgers, and Johannus). In the first place, I know of no major builder nowadays who turns out more than a handful of instruments per year on "spec"--as Clarion himself points out, the economics do not justify this approach. Johannus, for one, will not even start an organ in the factory until it is paid for. What spec instruments are built are generally samples of brand new models that will be used at shows and yes, at the major dealers, to generate interest. But even in this case, someone is paying for them--often the dealers who ultimately sell them to customers and recoup their investments. The allegation that there are thousands of church organs sitting in warehouses around the world is just ludicrous.

                        The follow-on assertion that custom models cost far less than stock models is also ludicrous. Yes, one could find a custom model from one builder that costs less (perhaps far less) than a stock model from another, but that evidence proves nothing. A valid comparison is to price a stock model from a given builder against a similar instrument from the same builder that incorporates significant one-of-a-kind features. In the best case, the prices might be nearly equal if the custom features involved assembling stock components in a new way. In the worst case, the price of the custom instrument would be much HIGHER since new drawings, stop lists, wiring harnesses, jigs, templates, etc. would be needed to produce it.

                        Perhaps a familiar real-world example will help to make the point: The "cookie cutter" carmakers such as Chevy and Ford "waste" millions of dollars filling their factory lots and the lots of their many dealers with "dormant" cars. Custom coachwork firms turn out one-of-a-kind vehicles to order. Which will cost less in a like-to-like comparison--a Chevy or a custom car?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Perhaps a valid point but still a bit of a departure from the highly civil tone most of us use to ah, "take exception" with an opinion. The nature of organs, that is their rarety and tendency to be old, has caused most of us to be older and more mellow types and this comes forth in our posts to one another. I know of good friends that take each other on in a highly spirited and possible rude tone but their relationship is established and easily bears the "honesty". We, most of whom have never met, are generally more cautious simply because of the tendency of the written word to be harsh at times. Such an informed opinion belongs on this forum but in the words of that great social philosopher Rodney King, can't we all just get along? I may have gotten a bit strong a time or two myself, of course.
                          Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
                          Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
                          Moved on:
                          Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
                          Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            (Though I despise the term) "cookie cutter" organ builders and custom organ builders both exist in the market because the market wants both.

                            I priced a rebuild of my Rodgers Specification 220 with Phoenix, and it far exceeded what I was willing to pay (and this included my providing all of the console hardware such as keyboards, new drawknobs, pedalboard, and audio), so I am doing it myself using Artisan equipment. Their approach fit my acceptable costs, and, in the end, I'm getting a custom organ.

                            Phoenix is not in a good position to service all parts of the USA where I live, but I have a Johannus dealer locally, and Rodgers and Allen dealers within a 2-hour drive. Buying an organ is much more than just the instrument, it is installation, service, delivery, and consultation.

                            While the Phoenix approach works well for some buyers, the Allen, Rodgers, and Johannus approach works just as well for other buyers. And some, though fewer, will do Artisan or Hauptwerk. Still others may choose a pipe organ.

                            I do agree that any potential buyer ought to investigate all possibilities to be sure he/she/they are getting what will be best for themselves. All of the options are a significant investment and it's just smart to investigate all options.

                            By the way, Allen does not build organs for stock from what my dealers have told me--they build based on dealer orders. And since even "stock" models have options, including custom finish, that makes sense.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kurzweil View Post
                              Perhaps a valid point but still a bit of a departure from the highly civil tone most of us use to ah, "take exception" with an opinion. . . can't we all just get along?
                              Hmmm . . . since Don was basically addressing me and my flawed facts; under the circumstances, I found his tone highly civil and restrained, and in no way offensive in the slightest. ;-)

                              Not all of us have been cut from the same can't we all just get along? cookie cutter. There is quite a diversity amongst people when it comes to personal values, cultural norms and values, not to mention testosterone levels.

                              Amongst the cultural values I most despise are the can't we all just get along? crowd. They tend to be less educated, liberal, and intensely boring, with an ingrained girlie finishing school kind of culture!

                              Then there are those of us who did not emerge from the can't we all just get along?
                              cookie cutter; and think the most common characteristic of these people is passionate belief in whatever they believe, and the ability to enthusiastically express that passion in very clear and certain terms!! :P I find these people immensely more enjoyable to interact with, than the can't we all just get along? bunch.

                              While I tend to interface with all areas of society, the ones I enjoy the most, are the ones with at least a Masters or Phd education. The higher the education, the more they enjoy fighting, and the more passionately they fight. Any subject that doesn't raise your blood pressure is not worth discussing!

                              Bottom line: All of us have not been formed by the same cookie cutter. While I tend to find the can't we all just get along? group intensely boring, I suppose they might serve some sort of useful societal purpose.

                              For me: The passionate combative bunch, are by far, a whole lot more fun and entertaining to interface/fight with! :P
                              Last edited by Clarion; 03-20-2014, 09:55 PM.
                              2008: Phoenix III/44

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