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  • Choices Choices - home practice organ

    Hello All,

    Because of all your extensive expertise and knowledge in this area, I would like some feedback on a selection of organs that I have the great opportunity to choose from for a home practice organ. I am a novice in this area and I'm embarking on a life long desire to play liturgical music and would like a suitable organ to continue my study on. These are all available at no cost but I'll have to drive up to 2 1/2 hours to pick them up. They all look to be in beautiful shape and functional, but may need tuning.

    1. Baldwin Model 4 with with a "sound box" - speaker looks to be good sized and a Baldwin product that came with the organ. AGO pedals?
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    2. Conn Artist 721 - Needs tuning
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    3. Mystery Baldwin - Don't know the model on this one and the pedals don't look AGO?
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    4. Allen MDC Classic 20 - AGO?
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    Any thoughts regarding specs, voicing, quality, longevity, maintenance, etc. would be much appreciated. I am competent in electronics and repair although parts may be a problem in the long run ... bottom line, would it be a good instrument to learn and practice on for the long term or should I hold out for something better/newer?

    Thank you for your feedback ...

    Joel

  • #2
    The Baldwin Model 4 is one of the first generation electronic organs, from the 1940's or 1950's, uses tubes in its circuits and I would not recommend it.

    The Conn 721 is a good basic organ but you can probably do better. My biggest concern with it is that these organs used a conductive vinyl material in the key switches and it has not done well over time. If you have electronic technician experience it might be OK as it is from the late 1960's/early 1970's and will likely need routine service on a regular basis. It seems to have divided expression and would be a pretty large specification. Definitely has AGO pedals.

    The unlabelled Baldwin does not have AGO pedals.

    The Allen MDC does not have AGO pedals and is among the worst of Allen's digital organs--it is a stripped down console solely to be sold at a low price.

    Consider these two possibilities over any of the ones you've posted:

    https://nh.craigslist.org/msg/d/alle...585022747.html
    https://plattsburgh.craigslist.org/m...577173004.html

    These are both MOS-1 Allen organs (1st generation digital), which have proven to be very reliable. The large one (2nd link) is in a beautiful oak console, though it needs a wide doorway to get into the house. It is one of the largest 2-manual specifications Allen ever built. Considering the price, I'd strongly recommend you consider it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hello Toodles,

      Thanks for the quick response. WOW! The second one is like a dream come true! What an excellent find! Very desirable. Unfortunately, I'm currently in S.E. PA right now for the time being and that's about a 6+ hour drive, or I'd go get that one in a heart beat. Even from NH, almost 5 hours because there's no direct way to get there without taking a ferry across the lake. But what a find! I'll be thinking of that opportunity when I sleep tonight.

      I do have another potential Allen organ that I'm waiting to hear about tomorrow. Unfortunately I'm second in line so I have to wait until someone else looks at it, and if they don't want it, I'll see what it is. I don't know the model, but I won't sweat it till I find out if it's available.

      Thinkin' of that 603 ... :)

      Comment


      • #4
        Joel,

        I agree with toodles - none of the ones you show are worth hauling home, for your intended use.

        And yes indeed, that 603 is one mighty fine organ. The console is beautiful and well built. I have a D console Allen, and it is the finest furniture in my home. And of course, they sound great, even the MOS 1 organs. It kinda sounds like there are no amps at all with that one, but you would need to call to clarify that. Just something about how that ad is worded makes me think that. But that would not be an issue at that price. They can be found.
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Larrytow View Post
          I agree with toodles - none of the ones you show are worth hauling home, for your intended use.
          Ditto what Larry & Toodles said. If you're in SE PA, are you nearer Philadelphia, Allentown, or Lancaster? I found a few last night posted on various sites.

          Best on your search.

          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


          • #6
            Considering the low asking price on the 603 you could consider a professional move. Since it isn't too far the cost might be tolerable. Pro moves are slow but they take away many headaches and sore backs. Never had an organ damaged using a pro mover, and I've done it many times.

            The low price even permits finding used amps and speakers without killing the budget.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the replies Larry, Michael and Tootles.

              I'm right in the middle of those 3 locations sort of. 45 min. from Philly and Allentown and around 1 1/2 hours max from Lancaster. All easily within reach.

              I'm waiting to hear today from the person who has the Allen organ in Emmaus on Craigslist to see if it's still available. She said she would let me know if the other person wants it or not, and if not, I can at least find out what it is and go look at it if it's viable.

              I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to go get that 603. That's a really nice organ and the price is sweet. Now the bar is set real high. LOL. Amps/speakers shouldn't be a problem and any other minor repairs should be fairly easy. It's a matter of going and getting it. Professional movers would be beyond what I could afford. Even so, it would cost me a couple hundred bucks just in gas/tolls to go get it myself. Then, when I head back to NH ... We'll see ...

              Joel

              Comment


              • #8
                The 603 would be my choice if you can get it out of where it is and into your place. All of the MOS1 instruments had weak reeds that got lost in the ensemble. With either of the Allen organs above, you might consider adding midi. Both Zuma and Harrison Labs can provide you what you need to do that a reasonable prices. Then you can add a midi module or Hauptwerk to greatly enhance the sound of the organ. Blessings. Keep us informed please.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We just completing installing a 603 in Haines Falls, New York. It went up into a balcony with 4 Allen Speakers mounted on the wall behind it. I bought two used Alesis mini verbs off Ebay, and tied them to an unused tab for on/off and it really made that organ bloom. I'd go as far as to say it sounds gorgeous! Considering its age, it should please almost any organist. Amps and speakers are easy to get. We could help you.
                  Let us know what you decide!
                  Can't play an note but love all things "organ" Responsible for 2/10 Wurli pipe organ, Allen 3160(wife's), Allen LL324, Allen GW319EX, ADC4600, many others. E-organ shop to fund free organ lessons for kids.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I absolutely agree with John Vanderlee - Alesis Miniverbs, or I actually like Nanoverbs even better, really make a MOS organ sound wonderful. I've added them to several Allens over the years and they always work out well.
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't totally discount the Conn 721. I am also trying to learn liturgical playing after about 30 years of disuse. I'm using a Conn 645, (which is actually their theater organ) and after a few minor repairs, and cleaning the key contacts (not that hard) it has been trouble free. As others have pointed out, the sound is not as good as a digital organ, but it is not offensive. Visit it, play it, and see if you like its sound. That would be my recommendation for any organ.

                      One of the good things on this organ is that it uses standard components for its electronics (Other than the main oscillator coils). This means that it can be fixed if needed. there are no unavailable custom ic chips in the unit.

                      Tuning - the main oscillators should be rock stable. mine have never been tuned that I know of, and they are still right on pitch. The pedals (on mine) use variable resistors for tuning the 16' voices, and tend to drift. They are easily tuned by turning on both a 16' and an 8' stop, press the pedal, and tune it so the beats go away.

                      Moving it - when putting a Conn on a furniture dolly, tip it on its end. The housing for the pedal circuits between the sides cannot safely take the weight of the organ.

                      Good luck with your search and with whatever you decide to get.
                      Ed Kennedy
                      Current Organ - Conn 645 Theater

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for everyone's replies, a quick update ...

                        The 603 would be the best. Kept me up at night thinkin' about it. I spoke with the guy and it's still available. There are a couple of things wrong with it but I believe they are fairly easy to repair. It's just too far away. They said they would deliver for a minimum $500, and if I had it, I'd go for it. It's just money I don't have right now. That's unfortunate because it's such a nice organ. That being said, I'm sure there's plenty more out there that will become available over time and eventually I will get one of that caliper.

                        On the local Allen that is/was available, the person who was supposed to look at it last weekend had a family emergency, so I'm still waiting to hear, but don't expect anything to come of it. Still don't even know what model it is/was.

                        Of the four I originally posted, the Baldwin model 4 or the Conn 721 were my first choices. After some further research, I think the model 4 is indeed a transistor organ, and the the Conn is pretty nice as well. But these are older, and after looking at the 603, I think patience is warranted here. Kinda likin' the Allen organs ... I don't want to think about what happens to these fine instruments when nobody takes them. I suppose I could just start collecting them ...

                        I have plenty to practice and learn on my SR7. Hopefully the pedals won't inhibit my progress. It will surely suffice until something more classical comes along. I missed a couple nice ones early on in this venture, and I'm sure I'll miss many more. But they are out there ...

                        Joel
                        Last edited by JoelHof; 05-18-2018, 04:40 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JoelHof View Post
                          Kinda likin' the Allen organs ... I don't want to think about what happens to these fine instruments when nobody takes them. I suppose I could just start collecting them ...
                          Joel,

                          That's been done before.:embarrassed: Still being done.O:-) I'm actually not far from you either! If I hear of anything locally, I'll certainly let you know.

                          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

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