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Older Allen Organs

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  • Older Allen Organs

    I'm a new member with this first posting asking for advice.

    I'm looking to buy a used home organ within a budget of $5,000 or so. I've found several older Allen's (mid 80's vintage) that are in my price range. My concern however is buying an organ 30+ years old. Would these organs be at the end of their useful life? Would the speakers need replacing soon? Would the electronic boards need replacing soon? I would be keeping the organ for ~ another 20 years. Seems like much would be required in maintenance along the way.

    My findings so far within my budget are a '87 Allen ADC3160, and a '85 Allen 220. I'm not opposed to another organ brand, but dealers are telling me parts will always be available for Allen's when needed.

    Advice would be appreciated on this subject of older organs, upkeep, and long term ownership.

  • #2
    You've come to the right place to ask those questions! There are a good many Allen owners, players, and techs (like me) around here, and we're all eager to talk about these things.

    Regarding your two models, I'd definitely go for the 3160 over a 220. The 220 is a far lesser organ with only two audio channels, very simple and primitive preset system, and "princess" pedalboard, which is smaller than real AGO pedals and considered less desirable.

    The 3160 is a highly desirable model. Though only two manuals, it is fully decked out. Genuine moving drawknobs with extensive double-memory capture system, the same premium capture system Allen used for their largest organs at the time. It has dual expression pedals plus a crescendo pedal, toe studs, lighted music rack, and a number of other "deluxe" features. It also has four audio channels instead of just two, so the swell stops get their own amps and speakers, which gives more clarity and realism.

    The 3160 is of course a couple generations behind the current models, and not necessarily as robust in sound as newer ones, but it was and still is a very enjoyable organ. As you've been told, there is no problem at all getting parts or service for any Allen organ every built. We do find that Allen computer boards, should you ever need one, are pricey, even for older models. But many of these organs will never need any expensive parts replaced.

    There are certain maintenance and upkeep procedures that we always recommend for these organs, especially if you buy one from an owner and not from a dealer or tech. Once you have an organ bought, we can give you some tips about tweaking things to make it perform its best. Speakers can indeed develop problems after 30 years or so, specifically the midrange drivers. Several of us have repaired these units and can give you advice and help if your midranges happen to be rotted, as many of them are.

    Hope you'll keep on posting and let us all know what you find. Welcome to the forum!
    *** 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!


    • #3
      The electronics on a 1980's Allen will be fine; if the speakers that come with the ADC3160 are HC-14 or HC-15, then they might need to have their midrange surrounds replaced, and that can be done quite affordably. There are any number of posts on this site about doing that. These have been proven to be very reliable models with very little maintenance needed. About the only thing that is routinely needed is to move the adjustable voicing controls if they get noisy--just exercising them seems to clean them enough to keep on working for a few years.

      If the speakers are HC-12, then those surrounds might need to be replaced, if they haven't already been done. The speakers themselves would NOT need replacing, just some maintenance.

      The ADC-3160 is a particularly nice model, with a very useful stoplist, and many desirable features. The 220 is less desirable, being one of their smallest models, but it is still a fine organ--there is just less of it.

      To be honest, I would recommend sticking with Allen unless you want to do repairs yourself. Rodgers of that era can sometimes need attention, and since it is analog circuitry you can do most repairs yours elf if you are knowledgeable. But if you're not electronically inclined, I'd stick with Allen. Digital Rodgers instruments may be a problem because the company was sold, and the older instruments may not have the support you might need in the future.

      So, I suggest staying with Allen.

      Note that the ADC-2160 Allen is the same as the 3160 except it has stop tabs, and was sold as a 2-channel instrument instead of 4; it might be missing a piston or two (Tuttis)--can't remember. It can be expanded to 4 channels easily by adding two amp channels and 2 speakers.

      The only reason you might replace an ADC-3160 is if you wanted to get greater pipe-like sound.


      • #4
        Not sure where you live Lemonade but I have a beautiful 1981 Allen 965-TH that I am giving away. It's a three-manual with 22 channels, percussion kit, 2 midi units, card reader everything. I hope I can find someone in Seattle who will rescue this one. I've never had installation completed. Here's some info and pictures.


        • #5
          I'm going to move this thread to Classic Electronic organs, as Home Organs is only for organs that have succumbed to the 'Dark Side'! :)
          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 -

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