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My Home Organ

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  • My Home Organ

    Hi there
    I've just bought a used digital organ for my home - a Wyvern MPS Sonata.I love this instrument, it's in mint condition as it was used by another professional organist and it has a radiating concave pedalboard and excellent quality sounds for it's age (around 1997). I only have one nit-picking thing to say about it, and hopefully someone on here will have some advice or knowledge in this area - when practising at night I like to be as quiet as possible for my neighbours (who already are extremely good about tolerating our grand pianos and my fiancee - an opera singer), and I use the smart "general" volume control underneath the keybed to turn down the system volume all the way, yet the great manual is still quite loud for me to practise on, meaning after around 8pm all I can do is make use of the swell manual and pedals, which is absolutely fine apart from the fact that I play lots of trios and other music which requires a second manual for solo stops etc, so my evening practise is rather restricted just now. I don't know about the mechanics of the instrument other than the fact that an organ technician would open the back panel and tweak things from there, is there something I can do myself here or could I get a sound engineer to work this out?

    Thanks in advance!

    Moved to the correct section of the forum where it will get more attention. "Home Organs" is for entertainment type organs. Andy G - Moderator
    Last edited by andyg; 03-02-2016, 01:27 AM.

  • #2
    welcome to the site.
    You possibly can go in the back and adjust a potentiometer to lower the volume of your great channel. Most church organs (32 pedal) can be "voiced" for the building they are in, which means a board with pots on it. Usually this board has wires that go to the power amp, which the speakers connect to. Hold a key down with a roll of nickles when adjusting pots. Mark all your pots with a sharpie as to original position so you can get back where you started. And don't adjust pots on the power supply. The power supply has big cyliinders that look like oil tanks, and a big square metal transformer on it next to a fuse cap, usually. Post 1990 organs don't have the transformer, but switcher supplies have a metal grid to let air in to circulate around the heat sink, and most have a fuse cap or IEC socket around there.
    Many modern organs have a headphone plug that silences the internal speakers. Look around under the keys or on the front someplace for a hole that would fit a 1/4" or 1/8" stereo headphone plug. If not, transistor organ amps usually work okay into an open circuit, which means, da da, you can install a headphone jack. These have a built in switch that opens the wire to the speaker, and diverts it to the tip of your hearphone plug. For mono, you just cut one speaker wire, put the headphone jack in, and plug in to silence the speaker. If you also connect the back ring of the headphone plug to speaker return at the amp, you get sound in the headphone.
    With a stereo headphone jack, it has TWO switches, one for tip and one for first ring. The back of the shaft is the speaker return. You have to be very careful to wire it right so you don't cross the wires to the two amplifier channels. If you do, zot, blown amplifiers. Also both speaker returns have to be the same polarity on the amp output. Usually if amps have a left and right screw, putting the ground one to both common does the job. Check that the right screw is <1 ohm to chassis, that screw is the one to make common to the two speakers on the back shaft of the headphone plug. If the left screw is <1 ohm to chassis, you use that screw as the common for the back shaft of the headphone plug.
    To install the headphone jack you'd need needle nose pliers, wire strippers. diagonal cutters, slip joint pliers, screwdriver, safety glasses, rosin core tin/lead solder, soldering iron like a Weller WP35, DVM. Read the safety sticky thread before touching metal inside the organ.
    You can instead pay for a service call to install the headphone jack, but I'm sure it would be a 2 or 3 hour minimum, at least $60 each hour in my low cost area. Looking at the work done by previous techs in two of the used organs I own , I can see why those guys weren't working in hospitals on medical equipment. You won't get the senior tech of a service on a headphone jack install.
    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


    • #3
      I assume you are in the UK. Have you contacted Wyvern for some advice? I know the guys there and they are helpful people!

      Wearing headphones is the way to go for night time practice, unless you have the luxury of plenty of distance between you and your neighbours. Self installing a headphone jack may be a simple job on a very basic organ but yours may have multiple channels of amplification, which would make the job rather more complex. If the organ hasn't already got a headphones jack (I assume you've checked but some people don't!) then getting a technician in to do the work is probably your best option.

      In the UK, Wyvern will have a few 'tame' engineers who they will recommend and use. There aren't that many left in the UK and those I know are first rate. Yes, it will cost you a bit of money but it will give you the freedom you need to practise, so I'd say it's worth it.

      As I said, speak to Wyvern first.
      It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

      New website now live -

      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
      Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
      Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
      Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1


      • #4
        Hi both and thank you very much for your responses. The organ does have a headphone jack at the bottom, so is it as simple as inserting the headphones and i'm good to go or is there additional tweaking which needs done here? Just asking before I go out and buy a set that fits in the jack. Also, I noticed during my morning practise session that the lowest C sharp pedal isn't sounding at all - any advice or tips as to what to do or where to go with this issue, shall I contact Wyvern?

        Thanks very much for your support and advice, this really is a wonderful forum!


        • #5
          Get thee to thy nearest discount store and buy a Sony headset for about $20 US (maybe about 12 or 15 pounds). It will have a mini-size headphone plug on it, but will also have an adapter included for use with the larger 1/4" headphone jacks that are more common on organs and professional audio equipment. Since there is already a jack present, it will surely be ready to use, if it's indeed a headphone jack. Is it labeled for headphones?

          Here in the US we have Walmart stores everywhere. Don't you have ASDA stores that are quite similar? They might carry these great little Sony headphones. I use my pair with my Allen organ and I'm amazed at how good it sounds, with excellent pedal tones and crisp clean manual voices.

          Oh, the dead pedal key. Nearly all modern organs use magnetic pedal keying, so there is probably a magnet embedded in the end of the keystick that activates a small reed switch to play each pedal note. You might pull the pedalboard back from the console and look to see if something like a paper clip has become attached to the magnet, thus hindering its ability to trigger the reed switch. Sometimes the alignment between the pedals and their switch rail is very critical. You might try gently wiggling the pedalboard side to side and front to back to see if the note starts to play correctly.
          *** 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!


          • #6
            Hi John, thanks so much for your advice with my issues. There is a dedicated headphone jack underneath the bottom keyboard, however I am extremely hesitant as my hearing has already been ever so slightly damaged and I have permanent tinnitus after spending my teenage years blasting out my piano practise on a digital piano as my family weren't supportive at all, so I'd rather not use headphones and practice very quietly on the swell and pedals, sorry I didn't mention this being an issue before. There is also a general volume switch underneath which I take right down to almost nothing during the night for practise during the very late hours, however I do still find the great too loud so I will just practise on the swell and pedals when I need to at these ridiculous hours!!

            Regarding this pedal note, I did as you suggested and there was only dust between pedals etc at the very top of the pedalboard where all the little cables are, so I just blew over it all and reconnected the pedals. It still didn't function originally, but somehow after just keeping my foot down on it for a few seconds it came back to issues as yet so I hope it's a fix!

            There is just one more tiny issue - which isn't really an issue - but the pedals don't sound whatsoever if the "great-pedal unenclosed" control isn't on- does this mean maybe one of the internal speakers is damaged? Surely I shouldn't have to have that control selected permanently to her anything from the pedals? Or is it maybe just that the internal speakers don't provide any bass sound for home use without the great to pedal option? As you can tell I'm not very experienced with the technology behind all this, I'd be very grateful if I could pick at your knowledge for this last thing.

            Thanks ever so much!


            • #7
              I sympathise with the hearing problems and the tinnitus, I have the same issues. However, I would still recommend headphones over playing softly on speakers. You'll hear more detail, but just make sure the level isn't too high. I can't agree with the low cost headphones idea though. I think it's better to spend out a little if you are going to use them a lot. Avoid some makes that seem biased towards bass heavy sounds for the youngsters (made just so that they can enjoy poor hearing and tinnitus in later life! ) and go for monitor quality headphones. The musical instrument makers like Roland and Yamaha do some good ones, but I like those made by Grado. Very flat response from bass to treble but you can't overdrive them - not that you want to, of course. I have a set of the Sonys here as well, and there's no contest, IMHO.

              Ditto to what jbird said about the pedals, a one off missing note sounds like a contact issue.

              I'd suggest having a chat with the Wyvern guys, or drop them an email, detailing the issues and asking for their advice. Last time I visited them to review some organs, it was Graham Lord and Paul Wren at the helm, but that was some years ago now!
              It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

              New website now live -

              Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha Genos, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
              Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
              Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
              Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1


              • #8
                As to the pedals not sounding without using the "unenclosed" option -- you would need a schematic or block diagram of the system in order to understand what is happening. Sounds to me like the pedal stops are routed through an expression circuit when "enclosed" and that this circuit is bypassed when "unenclosed". So the trouble would likely be in whatever circuit takes care of the expression. If the same problem does not affect the great division, that only means that the great has its own expression circuits, which would be quite normal. Some organs have a lamp involved in their expression apparatus, and in some designs, if the lamp burns out, you would get little or no sound. Could be your trouble, but this is a wild guess.

                At any rate, you may need the services of a tech who knows that type of organ. I have not seen Wyvern here in the US, so I have no experience at all in servicing these. A tech who knows these organs will probably spot the trouble very quickly.

                I understand your reluctance to use headphones, and in truth I don't much enjoy playing that way. It's a necessity sometimes since I don't live alone and other people in the house may not always want to hear my practicing! But it is much more pleasant to play the organ with speakers, and if you can figure out how to get the volume level as low as required you should be able to do that. Playing at a very low volume level should not bother your neighbors any more than a radio or TV being on at night. Again, you may need a tech who knows the organ to get to the bottom of it.

                If you have a tech come in, be sure to mention about the dead pedal key, even though it may now be working. There could be some adjustment needed to the contact switch or other part.
                *** 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
                  I have a horrible time with headphones myself. Not tinnitus, but just the mismatch in the timbre through headphones compared to the room, and there always seems to be some kind of unevenness going on.

                  Then I got a stereo digital reverb and routed it into my Marantz stereo, and ran the headphones from that. Having the extra tone controls helps greatly, and the fact that it is an older stereo means the preamp is warmer than much of today's stuff. That's so important when the sound is right in your ears. That is all a big difference, but the MAIN difference is the stereo digital reverb. Since it's parameters can be tweaked exactly how you wish to create the space you're in, you can literally make the headphones sound exactly the same as the actual room you are in. Maybe I have other things that are helping my particular situation, but just the reverb and a good HIFI stereo receiver or amplifier should be all you need.

                  In my case I also have a much recommended STEREO BBE AURAL EXCITER model 802 ( older, in fact one of the first, but has excellent signal to noise ratio). In fact you could forgo an amp or receiver completely, if using one of these because at least on the 802, and probably their newer models too, there is an adjustable LOW LEVEL [full ccw] -to - LINE LEVEL [full cw] trimmer control ( w/ screwdriver) on the front panel. As well as a BASS ENHANCE trimmer ( next to the LEVEL one). Now I'm not certain if there would be any benefit using this unit on a DIGITAL organ, but it's something that makes my 57'-58' CONN all tube CLASSIC 815 organ sound like it rolled off the showroom floor!

                  My DIGITAL REVERB is an ART RXR ELITE. I paid $35 for mine at a MUSIC-GO-ROUND and it's like new. Still can't figure out why they sold it so cheap, but they sell for $50 to $100 on Ebay. The FXR is the multi-effects processor so it's not as good for reverb.
                  I can say, that actually just the INPUT /OUTPUT knobs on this unit, by turning them up to about 2 or 3 o'clock provided enough output strength to drive a pair of AKG HEADPHONES. Just get the proper 1/4"LEFT MALE & 1/4" RIGHT MALE- TO - 1/4" STEREO FEMALE ( and use the 1/4" to 1/8" mini headphone adapter plug if nec.). I was spoiled using my kids AKG's, but believe it or not the AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-1 HEADPHONES I bought from the thrift store sound about 90% as good! These old ATH-1's were one of the first lightweight orthophonic headphones and the old injection mold type plastic they are made from is seems almost hokey, but they are great. Here an image of this model-
                  Click image for larger version

Name:	audio-technica-collectible-stereo-headphones-ath-1-incendeo-1601-06-incendeo@13.jpg
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                  ..and wow, looks like they have a cult following-
                  On mine I put a reinforcement on the headband. I happened to get a couple of SOL REPUBLIC headphone headbands (w/out the ear pieces) made from rigid, but flexible, plastic from the local Radioshak when they went OOB. So I took one of the bright blue SOL REPUBLIC headbands and cut both sides off so it was just the center left over. I then put that under the ATH-1 headband and put a screw on each side to hold it in place. Works great! It was like an upgrade. So the headphones comfortably stay snug to my ears and they're not too heavy.

                  Oh', the RXR REVERB also has tone control settings for every reverb patch so you can precisely match it to your organ. I can't say enough about this reverb, and it's only a 16-bit reverb. It's all of the other processing power that makes that not matter in this case. Reverbs are very forgiving with 16-bits, unlike many effects.

                  Don't know if your organ has an effects loop, but it's probably not stereo I would assume. Still the ART RXR, and nearly every other STEREO RACK EFFECT will convert to a stereo- L&R output by plugging the mono-source into the LEFT-INPUT on the EFFECT.

                  As far as the REED SWITCH OR HALL EFFECT SWITCH on the PEDAL, you can take a magnet and put it near it to see if it kicks in. If so then maybe the magnet position is the problem or something obstructing it.

                  MORELOCK'S WURLITZER PARTS IN MISSISSIPPI C:\Users\paul\Downloads\Morelock's Organ Parts MITA International.htm sells GLASS REED SWITCHES that fit Wurlitzer and Rodgers alike. You might want to reference what you have. I believe the reed switches are $1.50ea and the RUBBER O-RINGS are like a quarter. You need 2...for the WURLI and RODGERS organs that is.
                  Wurlitzer '46' Model 31 Orgatron & 310 rotary cab, 56' 4410 , 65' 4300
                  Hammond '55' S6 Chord Organ,HR-40,ER-20, 1971 X66/& 12-77 tone cabinet w/ 122 kit & TREK Transposer- of which I've retrofitted a Wurlitzer/Lowrey 'PedAL gLIdE' awesome!
                  Gulbransen 61' 1132 '76' Rialto II & Leslie 705 + two 540
                  Conn '57' 406 Caprice '59' 815 Classic (the 29th 815)


                  • #10
                    I have just plain Wurly 131 mono headset (with pilot mic) and it does excellent job, same timbre all the way, even with some reverb as they have some air volume on each ear. Otherwise they play exactly the same as if they are not there.


                    • #11
                      Thanks to you all for your wonderful level of assistance to someone you don't even know, this forum is amazing and the people in it true good people!
                      If any of you visit Scotland in the future, please do get in touch.
                      My Fiancee is american and I hope to be moving over very soon!

                      Thanks ever so much, and I'll be contacting my nearest tech to have him check over the organ, and will post back!


                      • #12
                        Hi again all

                        Strangely enough, the pedal seems to have sorted itself out. However, the middle c of the lower manual seems intermittent, how would I adjust something here? If I remove the screws beneath the keyboards, do they pull out or something?