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  • Best organ for HS Concert

    I am a High School Choir Director in the DC area. In December my group will be singing Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with a small orchestra and organ. I have been looking all over for an affordable electronic organ. My organ friends have steered me towards Allen, Rogers, Johannus and Baldwin. Should I be considering any other brand or a specific model of a brand? Conn, Lowry, Wurlitzer, Yamaha... Hammond? I know some of these companies make classic models. The organ isn’t a lead instrument in the waitlists most of the time.

    I found a Rogers 330 that a bunch of the keys will not play consistantly... is that a cleaning issue?

    I’ve looked at some Allen’s but the affordable ones have been theater organs and did not have the stops I needed.

    My ultimate back up is to buy a midi peddle board and use logic/main stage with two key boards.

    Thanks for your input.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum and thanks for the post. Your quest is similar to that of many here -- finding an affordable classically voiced organ in good working order and suitably large enough for a serious musical presentation. Allen, Rodgers, Viscount, Johannus -- these are the brands you will most likely encounter in classical organs these days. Baldwin has been out of the church organ business for a number of years now, but there are still some available on the used market, though you might have a harder time finding one that is truly suitable for your needs, as Baldwin sold a lot of low end inferior organs along with a small number of large well-voiced organs.

    That old Rodgers 330 was a good organ in its day, in spite of the known limitations of the old analog "unit" design that plagued all electronic organs back in the day. Might be a poor choice though, as an organ like that can have a lot of problems, and certainly would be due for a lot of maintenance and TLC, possibly costing you quite a lot of money to get it ready for your program.

    A digital organ would almost surely be a better choice, though not all of them are equal. I'm a thousand miles away from you so can't loan it to you, but we have an old Allen MOS organ model 603 from the late 70's that we rent out to the Symphony orchestra and others when there is a need for powerful classical organ in a major program. Even though a 70's Allen lacks some of the niceties and nuances of pipe replication that are found in newer ones, these old organs are built like a tank and are about the most reliable electronic devices ever built. If you could find one of these in first-class order it would be a good one to keep, and they often sell for very little money, given their age.

    The trick is finding one that has been regularly serviced, or that has been fully restored to proper working order. Buying one as-is from a church wanting it removed might be a viable option, but you need to be prepared to spend some money on the setup and possible repairs.

    Speaking of money, be aware that having a decent classical organ set up, even if it were just a rental, will cost you quite a bit of money. We barely break even when renting our big Allen out to the Symphony for $2000, given the cost of having it moved twice, the tech time involved in running a considerable amount of wiring, transporting and placing the large array of speakers, and the necessary voicing and leveling to make the organ sound right in the environment.

    You might get in touch with Jordan Kitt's and see if they can help you. I believe they were once a viable church organ dealership, but as is the case with many such, they have dropped that offering from their local store. However, I understand that they do have a relationship with a Viscount dealership in another city. They MIGHT be interested in some kind of promotional setup to give you an instrument for your program at very low cost while giving them a chance to show off one of their instruments. It's worth asking.

    It's awesome that you are doing this type of thing with your high school choir. May your tribe increase. I only wish I were close enough to be involved. Would love to have a hand in making this happen for you.
    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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    • #3
      We really need to know approximately how large is your budget?

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      • #4
        I would stay away from the Rodgers 330 because of its age and its size and weight. It's old enough to require some regular service now and again; the console is quite heavy and oversized.

        As cham-ed suggested, knowing your budget will help a great deal in steering you to a suitable model.

        In many ways, for institutional use (i.e., schools & churches) I suggest Allen. They have a large established dealer network to support service, and they provide parts support for all their models. Rodgers recently changed corporate ownership and it seems the support for their older products might not be as good as it used to be. Baldwin no longer manufactures organs, so I can't recommend those; likewise for Conn and Wurlitzer. The others you mentioned never made truly classical organs, and I can't recommend any other style for concert work.

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        • #5
          I'm thinking that you want to purchase an organ for this event ( and others after it as well ), not just rent one ? If that is so, then I would also suggest an Allen, for all the reasons mentioned already.

          Any Allen you consider should be a digital one, but Allen has been making those since 1971, so they are not that tough to find. Allen did make a number of small classical models with internal speakers, but I would not think that sort would be good for your use. You need to be able to place the speakers in the room where they will be most effective.

          Have you given much thought to where it will be stored once the school owns it ? In the choir room perhaps ? Also, how it will be moved to venues for performances when needed ?

          We have a member here (myorgan - Michael ) who transports large Allens to performances regularly, and I'm sure he will check in on this thread pretty soon with his thoughts.

          I think it is wonderful that a high school is doing music like this, and looking to get a proper organ to do it. My high school had an organ, and it is one of the big reasons I have been an organist ever since.
          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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          • #6
            I see that someone on this site has an Allen ADC 7000 for sale. I don't know about the price. Perhaps others can comment on that. It would meet your needs. Hopefully, you are checking Craigslist in the cities around you. Best wishes on your search.

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            • #7
              FWIW, We have an Allen LL324 Quantum Special installed in our High School. 16 HR200 speakers in 2 "chambers", 3 SVS subs, and a B20 Sub.
              It's used with school concerts as well as play in /out Music at the musicals and concerts. After 8 years now the people ask us "if the organ will be part of the program?" Last concert had Carmina Burana's 'O Fortuna' by Orff as part of the program where the organ doubled on some of the parts with the orchestra and chorus - it brought house down!
              We're a NFP group that raised the money for this partially by acquiring, renovating, and reselling organs and organ parts. Once the community caught wind of this some generous donors showed up to fill out our budget so we could afford this new organ 8? years ago. The beauty of a digital organ is that it can be stored in a studio with a reduced sound system. In there we give organ lessons to students.

              My point is that it's not impossible to do this in your local schools, and even if we don't turn out world class organists, at least many more people realize that organs go far beyond church, weddings and funerals.

              I apologize if it sounds like I'm bragging, but we are very proud of this!
              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.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nigel Tangredi View Post
                I am a High School Choir Director in the DC area. In December my group will be singing Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with a small orchestra and organ. I have been looking all over for an affordable electronic organ.
                Not being familiar with the particular piece you're performing, I can't advise between an actual organ or a MIDI-generated organ for your use.

                However, what do you mean by affordable electronic organ? If you plan to use an actual organ, I highly recommend Allen (no surprise, if you look at my signature) for an actual organ to use. Others have already alluded to their reliability, service network, and stability of dealers. Don't overlook older Allen models either. Most of my organs are ca.35 years old, and still perform well.

                You also neglected to mention whether you prefer to purchase or rent an instrument. If I were closer, I could make one of mine available, but alas, you're roughly 12 hours South of me (700+ miles).

                I generally move an organ in, preferably the night before the first rehearsal, and BEFORE the risers and stage are put in place. It allows you to run everything in time so you don't need to navigate around the staging. The drawback to that suggestion, though, is that the people placing the stage (or performers) may not be as careful as you'd wish them to be. I had a speaker cord severed one time by a trumpet player jamming his stand with the speaker cord between the base of the stand and the riser in front of him.X-(

                Hope this helps, and I look forward to learning more specifics of your intentions.

                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

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                • #9
                  Thank you all so much for the responses. I am looking to buy but I will rent my max budget would be $1,000 - $1500 but I could go higher depending on a fundraiser I’m running right now. This will be a free admission concert with a donation requested. I’ve already spent $1600 on the music, $500 on the orchestra rental, and close to $1000 so far on the rest of the orchestra members some whom are playing for free as colleagues.

                  Going up to $2000 I might as well hire the rest of my brass section leaders, fill out the section with students and perform with the full orchestra version.

                  I have been in touch with our local Allen tech who steered me away from a Allen theater organ that didn’t have the type of stops I needed.

                  I have a locked storage space where we keep our baby grand piano.

                  I missed out on a Johannus Opus 3 for $1800 I just didn’t know what I was looking at.

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                  • #10
                    Just curious, what kind of stops are needed for the piece? We also have an Allen GW319EX outfitted for road work. It’s been used for classical performances even though it is a theatre model. Usually the organist finds enough resources.
                    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


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by John Vanderlee View Post
                      Just curious, what kind of stops are needed for the piece? We also have an Allen GW319EX outfitted for road work. It’s been used for classical performances even though it is a theatre model. Usually the organist finds enough resources.

                      John makes a good point. Just generally speaking, if you: 1) avoid the tibias, and 2) avoid the vibrato (unless it's specifically called for), you should be able to registrate pretty basically for most classical pieces on a theatre organ. The results can range from "acceptable" to "pretty darned good". Consider the movie soundtrack for "The Sound of Music". Maria's wedding processional sounds like it is played on a typical large church organ. It was actually performed on a Wurlitzer theatre organ, sans vibratos.

                      Tony
                      Home: Johannus Opus 370

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                      • #12
                        Unfortunately I don’t know if specific stops are called for, the music is a rental and I won’t see it till oct 8. But it sounds like fairly standard registration that the organist plays in church. I’m just concerned that the power is lacking for the big moments. Basically the organ is the brass section. Think of the Rutter Gloria for loud and mixed meter and the softer moments in a Vaugh Williams Five Mystical Songs, but as support to 15 strings and wood winds.

                        The organ that I passed on was a 1974 Allen 423-C. It had a punch card computer, coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. Still avaible

                        Basically I’m looking for something at this point that will be passable. Do large theater organs have the same registration/quality of sound as their classical cousins? Like the Hammond compose, the Conn 650, or the Lowery MX-2?

                        My goal is an Allen, Rogers, Viscount Or Johannus.
                        Last edited by Nigel Tangredi; 09-23-2018, 10:06 AM. Reason: Adding information

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nigel Tangredi View Post
                          Basically I’m looking for something at this point that will be passable. Do large theater organs have the same registration/quality of sound as their classical cousins? Like the Hammond compose, the Conn 650, or the Lowery MX-2?
                          Nigel,

                          I can only address Allens, but I believe the ADC/MDS era and later also had classical stops on their theatre organs. Therefore, they could reproduce both styles of music–sans vibrato. The fiery reeds may be able to complement the orchestra as the Brass section, but it would depend on how the piece is scored for organ, and how open you are to modifications to the score.

                          Of course, opt for a classical organ first, but in a pinch, an Allen theatre model will work as well, however, it may not have the punch or fullness you seem to be in need of. Best in your endeavor. As you find models available between now and then, check back here, and we will certainly weigh in on whether the organ will work or not for your needs.

                          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


                          • #14
                            I know I 'm not supposed to sell here, so I 'll just make a general mention here. We just got an ADC 4500 that will go for a little more than your rental. PM if interested.

                            John
                            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


                            • #15
                              The ADC 4500 is nice. It is pretty straight for a theatre organ. There are some classical voices in the Acc. There are enough mutations on the Great to produce a reasonable church organ sound. It also has several reeds (more than you would get on a similarly priced classical organ). If you get more funds later, midi can be added and a classical vpo can be used with it.
                              Sam
                              Home: Allen ADC-4500 Church: Allen MDS-5
                              Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, TC Mixer, ADC TC SF2, and MOS TC SF2, ADC TC Cad/Rvt, MOS TC Cad/Rvt, Organ Database, Music Library, etc. PM for unlinked files.

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