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  • Broken Johannus Opus 220 questions - possible Hauptwerk conversion?

    Hi all… new to the forums here.

    I have an issue and several possibilities on how to address it and was wondering if anyone here could provide some valuable input and insight?

    I have an Johannus Opus 220 organ. It was purchased new in the mid 80s by my grandfather and gifted to me a few years ago. For awhile its served as a good home organ and functioned well. However, in the last year, the speakers have started to “crackle” and make popping sounds. It’s gotten worse and worse and it’s getting to the point now where the organ is unplayable due to the noises... sometimes quite loud.

    While I want to fix this, I want to also have an organ that will be relevant and be playable for quite awhile into the future. The Johannus has OK sound, but some instruments on the swell and great sound a bit fake “i.e. synthesized”. A friend also recently introduced me to Hauptwerk organs, and my interest is piqued. The way I see it I have several options to get a playable organ again:

    1. Fix the organ as it exists. Also service techs are few and far between in my area so even a quote to fix may incur a fee. No clue how much this will cost and how long other components will last once fixed since it is nearing 40 years old….

    2. Sell the organ as is and use the funds to start to build a Hauptwerk console

    3. Sell the organ as is and use the funds to buy another electric home organ of equal or greater quality

    4. Keep the organ, and rewire the existing keyboards and pedalboards to use MIDI. ( I contacted Johannus to verify… this organ is completely analog and uses a closed contact system so would need to be converted over)

    5. Remove keyboards and stops, and purchased midified keyboards and install them in the current cabinet.

    A bit about me… I’m an mechanical engineer by trade, but have no experience with converting anything to MIDI. I am however pretty handy and can figure most things out given the right resources and time. Is converting the existing system to MIDI something I could handle?


    Which of the above options will grant me the best “bang for my buck” and also provide me with an organ to play for the next 20 -30 years? Thanks in advance for the help. If I can provide any more info let me know.

    Mods please feel free to move to more relevant forum if necessary

  • #2
    Hello and welcome to this Forum.

    I have an Opus 15N, older than yours but probably with similar insides. The outside also looks very similar. I just love the sound of the old Johannus and did my best to repair it and keeping it going. Old ones like these need some TLC - often and I try to keep my hand on it so it will please my aging ears for a bit longer.

    Crackling noise on the speakers can be easily fixed (if the insides of yours is similar to mine). If you remove the back panel, you will notice one or two screws on the upper and lower extremes of the electronic board table (probably on the right hand side facing the back). Undo them and the entire table will swing open so one can get to both sides of this table. There should be two (or more) sub pc boards each housing a different organ segment mounted on this swing table. On these you will see several adjusting knobs. You may not even have to swing the table out to reach them. Fiddle a little with these, one at a time, with the organ switched on. (Be very careful of the live current in there!). If the pods are dirty, you will hear the crackles. Mark the original position with a pencil and then turn them this way and then the other way, try to get them back eventually to the original position. After a few turns back and forth you may notice the crackle disappearing as the action cleans the pod contacts. If this is the problem, you will have a perfectly singing old Johannus with this simple fix. Again: BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH ANY OTHER PART INSIDE - LIVE AND LETHAL VOLTAGES ROAM AROUND IN THERE!

    If you can post some pictures one can see better what goes.

    Luck!

    Nico
    "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request... B-)

    Comment


    • #3
      I've moved this to Classic Electronic Organs as Home Organs is for entertainment style instruments. Should get more attention there! AndyG - moderator

      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 - www.andrew-gilbert.com

      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

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't have direct experience with this model, but I've been an organ tech for 40+ years and agree with the poster above that you should try TLC. Most older organs are full of vulnerable switches, pots, and other electronic control devices that can develop intermittencies and thus produce noise. Another vulnerable area is connectors -- everywhere there is a removable or unpluggable cable or socket of any kind, there is the potential for noise as the connections become corroded and thus unreliable. Cleaning up all such parts could result in restoring perfect operation to this old beast.

        If this doesn't work, you'll find that an old broken organ has zero value, in fact the value is negative, as it will cost money to dispose of it unless you have your own back lot where you can open a hole and bury it yourself (which might even be illegal in your area). So sadly, you will have a second dilemma.

        If you have a sentimental attachment to the old organ, you might enjoy converting it to MIDI. Many older organs actually have quite good keyboards and pedals with contact systems that are accessible and easy to wire up to a MIDI encoder (which can be bought from many sources for not much money). Or you can buy ready-made MIDI keyboard stacks that ought to drop right into the space if you remove the old keyboards (assuming they are AGO standard keyboards).

        But the cheapest and quickest option may be to find a different used organ. Really decent Allen and Rodgers organs, along with certain other brands, from the 1970's to the present are out there, sometimes for free or very little cost, though it often takes quite an effort or some cash outlay to get one moved because of the size and weight of an organ.

        While an Allen, for example, from the 70's or 80's might be as old as the Johannus you have, if not older, the big difference is that Allen organs, no matter how old, are fully supported by the manufacturer with a full range of parts. And not only that, there is a very large base of owners, such as many of us on this forum, who have undertaken all kinds of repairs and upgrades to these older Allens, so you would have no shortage of experienced advisors for getting one fully restored, if you are inclined to do that yourself.

        Bottom line, my advice would be to start with TLC on the old one. That may be all you need to do. While the sounds of an organ that old are not up to modern standards, many people find them pleasing. If you are looking for the ultimate in pipe organ authenticity, you may eventually want to go the MIDI route and use Hauptwerk. But that isn't the route for everyone, as there is a steep learning curve. So unless you are passionate about getting that totally authentic pipe sound, you may be perfectly satisfied with the old organ or with a different used organ.
        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

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
          I don't have direct experience with this model, but I've been an organ tech for 40+ years and agree with the poster above that you should try TLC. Most older organs are full of vulnerable switches, pots, and other electronic control devices that can develop intermittencies and thus produce noise. Another vulnerable area is connectors -- everywhere there is a removable or unpluggable cable or socket of any kind, there is the potential for noise as the connections become corroded and thus unreliable. Cleaning up all such parts could result in restoring perfect operation to this old beast.

          If this doesn't work, you'll find that an old broken organ has zero value, in fact the value is negative, as it will cost money to dispose of it unless you have your own back lot where you can open a hole and bury it yourself (which might even be illegal in your area). So sadly, you will have a second dilemma.

          If you have a sentimental attachment to the old organ, you might enjoy converting it to MIDI. Many older organs actually have quite good keyboards and pedals with contact systems that are accessible and easy to wire up to a MIDI encoder (which can be bought from many sources for not much money). Or you can buy ready-made MIDI keyboard stacks that ought to drop right into the space if you remove the old keyboards (assuming they are AGO standard keyboards).

          But the cheapest and quickest option may be to find a different used organ. Really decent Allen and Rodgers organs, along with certain other brands, from the 1970's to the present are out there, sometimes for free or very little cost, though it often takes quite an effort or some cash outlay to get one moved because of the size and weight of an organ.

          While an Allen, for example, from the 70's or 80's might be as old as the Johannus you have, if not older, the big difference is that Allen organs, no matter how old, are fully supported by the manufacturer with a full range of parts. And not only that, there is a very large base of owners, such as many of us on this forum, who have undertaken all kinds of repairs and upgrades to these older Allens, so you would have no shortage of experienced advisors for getting one fully restored, if you are inclined to do that yourself.

          Bottom line, my advice would be to start with TLC on the old one. That may be all you need to do. While the sounds of an organ that old are not up to modern standards, many people find them pleasing. If you are looking for the ultimate in pipe organ authenticity, you may eventually want to go the MIDI route and use Hauptwerk. But that isn't the route for everyone, as there is a steep learning curve. So unless you are passionate about getting that totally authentic pipe sound, you may be perfectly satisfied with the old organ or with a different used organ.
          I'd go with Allen all because the availability of parts!
          Late 1980's Rodgers Essex 640

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dewey643 View Post
            I'd go with Allen all because the availability of parts!
            I don't know what Rodgers approach to service parts is, but Johannus repeatedly advertises - and has for years - that they still stock replacement parts for every organ they have ever built.

            Tony
            Home: Johannus Opus 370

            Comment


            • #7
              I won't dispute the claims that Johannus may have made concerning the availability of parts for all their organs. That may well be the case. The fact that I have been connected with Allen since the early 80's makes me biased, and having an open account with the parts department, I never have any trouble getting any parts.

              I'm not so closely connected with Johannus, and in fact have found it necessary at different times to go through different channels to obtain parts, but I can't recall NOT being able to get any parts that I asked for. I understand that they are now making a new effort to provide parts to US techs and owners in a more timely and transparent manner. I suspect that parts for the more recent models are readily available, but may be harder to get for older models.

              As I see it, the advantage that Allen has over most other makers lies in the consistency and simplicity of their product lines. During the 60's they produced one basic organ technology -- transistor oscillator -- and every organ they made is covered in one service manual, with only minor details separating one model from another. Vast numbers of parts are interchangeable among all the models.

              And from 1971 to 1981, virtually every organ out the door was built using the basic building blocks of the MOS system (with the exception of the quirky "MDC" models, of course). A pair of service manuals cover the entire line built over that decade, with organs differing only in details such as number of MOS boards used, type of piston system, tabs or knobs.

              Likewise during each of the succeeding model eras -- MOS2, ADC, MDS, Renn -- as models in each period were all built up from the same building block components. One or two tech manuals cover each series in full, and most parts are interchangeable. Nearly everything is modular, pluggable, easily swapped out.

              I doubt that any other builder can come close to matching this degree of consistency and interchangeability of parts, or simplicity of the model lines. What this means is that parts are quite readily available for all these organs, and not just from Allen parts department, as one can usually locate used parts on ebay or elsewhere, as organs are gradually being parted out and sold in pieces for repair spares. You certainly can't find very many spare parts on ebay for any other brand of organ of any age from any builder. Not that there are NONE available, but very few in comparison to the large selection of used Allen parts for sale.

              All this combines to make Allen a very viable brand to buy used and even to fix up yourself, if you're inclined to tinker and have minimal skills with electronic repairs. Not that you can't fix up an older Johannus or Rodgers or whatever. It's just going to be harder in many ways, to get parts, to get advice or help, to get schematics or service literature.

              And before I get reminded -- yes, I know Allen parts are often VERY expensive from the factory, sometimes outrageously so. And yes, qualified Allen organ techs are sometimes hard to find in some parts of the country, and are sometimes expensive. I understand that because I am one, and I have to travel an area that extends out over 200 miles in every direction from my home base. Travel is expensive, and we techs have only our time and expertise to sell, so we have to charge for our time, even when it's just travel time. Otherwise we'd be better off to just stay home!

              All that said, I applaud anyone who wants to try to save ANY old organ. There are some that I personally wouldn't spend any time on, given the poor history I've had fixing certain brands and models. But I love to hear that someone is working on and having success with one of the legacy instruments. All these older organs can make good music in the right hands!
              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

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jbird604 View Post

                All that said, I applaud anyone who wants to try to save ANY old organ. There are some that I personally wouldn't spend any time on, given the poor history I've had fixing certain brands and models. But I love to hear that someone is working on and having success with one of the legacy instruments. All these older organs can make good music in the right hands!
                John et al,
                Since my exposure to the older Johannus and one of its predecessors (RiHA) I have come to love the sound. Often Hammond lovers and owners (of which I am one also) are kind of talking about the so-called "Hammond growl". I have not been able to exactly distinguish from all the other pleasing Hammond sounds just what that growl should be. All I know is that at full blast, or even less, the Hammond sound is unique and very pleasing to the discerning ear.

                However, the Johannus Opus 15N is probably about 50 years old by now and the sounds coming from it are indeed very good, considering the technology available when it was first produced. When the appropriate presets are activated this model produces a distinct growl of its own. I would imagine that with external speakers it will come close to imitating a pipe organ. Another good point in my view is the cabinet made from solid wood, no compressed stuff and perhaps this also enhances the sound.

                Just needed to say this as perhaps the OP is now a little confused regarding making a decision on the future of this nice instrument.

                Nico
                "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request... B-)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes, this could be confusing to the OP! Sorry to carry the conversation so far afield!

                  Older organs have charms and qualities that make them worth saving whenever possible -- such as the high quality woodwork often found in them. And I am frequently pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy hearing an old organ played. I have heard many old analog organs from the 50s and 60s installed in organ-friendly acoustics that sound simply amazing. They can be VERY pipelike, and that is largely because the ROOM is the most important stop on any organ and matters much more than the type of technology behind the tone production.

                  I always talk too much, but my original advice to the OP remains -- try TLC first. You might revive the beast and find it to be all you need. Only if that fails do you need to consider other routes.
                  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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                    Yes, this could be confusing to the OP! Sorry to carry the conversation so far afield!

                    Older organs have charms and qualities that make them worth saving whenever possible -- such as the high quality woodwork often found in them. And I am frequently pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy hearing an old organ played. I have heard many old analog organs from the 50s and 60s installed in organ-friendly acoustics that sound simply amazing. They can be VERY pipelike, and that is largely because the ROOM is the most important stop on any organ and matters much more than the type of technology behind the tone production.

                    I always talk too much, but my original advice to the OP remains -- try TLC first. You might revive the beast and find it to be all you need. Only if that fails do you need to consider other routes.
                    But your information is ALWAYS helpful!
                    Late 1980's Rodgers Essex 640

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Dewy, if it helps, I am attaching a pic of the pc boards in mine. The organ was manufactured in 1968. The adjusting pods are clearly visible. Do not fiddle with the small ones which need a screwdriver. Some or all those adjust frequencies other than volume. The suspected pods I am referring to all only adjust volume and you will hear it when you turn them while pressing a key. They are simply just volume controls like found on the sixties radios and tape players. The pods on mine are accessible from the back without swinging the table out. The table swings outwards when undoing the wingnut in the upper right hand corner of the pic. Yours may look different but should contain some of these adjustable volume pods.

                      Luck
                      Nico

                      Click image for larger version

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                      John, mine sits in a small studio cluttered with all kinds of boxes and three other organs. This alone will have a dampening effect on the acoustics and sound but at full blast on this Johannus the windows rattle and the unmusical neighbors reach for their shotguns.... :->. One day when I am grown up, maybe I will attempt to connect to some kind of external speaker....
                      "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request... B-)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Nico,

                        I doubt your organ was made in 1968, as Johannus did not go into production till 1970. If your organ pre-dates 1970 you may have a prototype. Johannus ramped up production in the mid 70s, and their peak production was 6,000 units per year. That figure is higher than every body together these days.

                        AV

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Arie,
                          Johannus is having their 50th anniversary in 2018, which means production started in 1968 using the name Johannus on the products. The company owner at that time was Johannus Versteegt, who had bought out various smaller organ manufacturers one of which was Riha. The current Johannus owners bought the company about mid 80's and began expanding by the yeaer 2000 or so by buying up smaller non-profitable organ manufacturers in Europe and then in America, the latest of which is (our own) Rodgers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just additional info:

                            The brands of Rodgers, Johannus, Makin and Copeman-Hart are now under one corporate banner as the "Global Organ Group". Rogers and Johannus need no further introduction, Makin is a heavily British slanted variation of the Johannus line, and Copeman-Hart is like Johannus "Monarke" line: Very large instruments for auditoriiums, concert halls and very large churches.

                            Tony
                            Home: Johannus Opus 370

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by arie v View Post
                              Hi Nico,

                              I doubt your organ was made in 1968, as Johannus did not go into production till 1970. If your organ pre-dates 1970 you may have a prototype. Johannus ramped up production in the mid 70s, and their peak production was 6,000 units per year. That figure is higher than every body together these days.

                              AV
                              Thanks Arie. I have worked from the serial number which indicates 1968. Johannes Versteegt as you rightly point out, was an active organ builder from before that year so perhaps this one is a prototype. I say this in agreement with your suggestion as I cannot get any schematics or service manual from Johannes. All they had for me was the operation manual but only four pages showing the selectors and some suggested registrations. Also the dear old gal I got the organ from told me she purchased it new in 1968.

                              This is the plate:

                              Click image for larger version

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                              Perhaps the coding is not the same as the other models.

                              Nico
                              "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request... B-)

                              Comment

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