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  • The Loss of a Wonderful Organ Tech

    Lost my mentor and good friend of fifty years last Thursday. William "Bill" Reineck, a wonderful tech and sweet guy who took me under his wing when I was fourteen, teaching me much of what I know about electronics. Bill serviced organs and keyboards in the northwest Ohio and southern Michigan area for fourth plus years. Rest in peace, my friend.
    Over the years: Hammond M3, BC, M102, B3, four X77s and three PR-40s, a Thomas Electra and a Celebrity, three Fender Rhodes, Roland HS-10, HP-2000, HP-600, RD-600, JV-880, a thing made by Korg (?), two Leslie 910s, 122, 257, 258, 247, two 142s, and three custom-built Leslies. Wow, way too much money spent!

  • #2
    I have an 85 year old organ tech friend who knows Hammonds like the back of his hand, and wired up my 147 and 21H to the same moon switch. This was a maze of wires which were tamed and taken through the conduits on the 55 B3 2 years ago. He easily remedied problems, showed me things and gave me advice, but when he goes, it will be a hole in the world.

    I think that this is an entirely appropriate place to pay tribute. Thanks for sharing.

    Dave
    1955 B3, Leslie 21H and 147. Hammond A100 with weird Leslie 205. 1976 Rhodes. Wurlitzer 200A. Yamaha DX7/TX7. Korg M1. Yamaha C3 grand, 67 Tele blond neck, Les Paul Standard, PRS 24, Gibson classical electric, Breedlove acoustic electric, Strat, P Bass, Rogers drum kit, Roland TD 12 digital drums, Apollo quad, older blackfaced Fender Twin, other amps, mics and bits and pieces cluttering up the "studio."

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    • #3
      I think that this is an entirely appropriate place to pay tribute. Thanks for sharing.

      Dave
      Kind words, Dave.
      Thank you.
      Last edited by Admin; 06-20-2018, 07:32 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags
      Over the years: Hammond M3, BC, M102, B3, four X77s and three PR-40s, a Thomas Electra and a Celebrity, three Fender Rhodes, Roland HS-10, HP-2000, HP-600, RD-600, JV-880, a thing made by Korg (?), two Leslie 910s, 122, 257, 258, 247, two 142s, and three custom-built Leslies. Wow, way too much money spent!

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      • #4
        I am sorry I did not have the opportunity to meet, learn from, and appreciate your late friend. Any time we lose someone with such vast knowledge, love, and commitment to organs, all of us lose in a very mighty way. Rest in peace, kind sir.

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        • #5
          After Sal died it kind of took the wind out of my sails. All of Western NY and part of Canada still misses him. It's a shame these guys have to pass away...

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          • #6
            Had the pleasure of meeting Sal back in the late 90s when I still had my shop. We chatted for an hour or so before he tore up one of my C3s with Sister Sadie. Miss him too.
            Over the years: Hammond M3, BC, M102, B3, four X77s and three PR-40s, a Thomas Electra and a Celebrity, three Fender Rhodes, Roland HS-10, HP-2000, HP-600, RD-600, JV-880, a thing made by Korg (?), two Leslie 910s, 122, 257, 258, 247, two 142s, and three custom-built Leslies. Wow, way too much money spent!

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            • #7
              He could look at a rig and tell you everything about it...stuff a lot of people couldn't notice on first glance.

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              • #8
                Ervin Steinhauser is our senior retired tech who is still around at 87! I visit him weekly and we have had some interesting talks. He was describing how he got in the organ repair business. After leaving the Navy at the end of the Korean war, (1953) he took his new electronic knowledge and got a job doing geological survey work where they would set out vibration sensors and set off a charge while recording the sensors. Apparently this was big business in the early 50's all over the place. One day while in the water on a barge a storm rolled in and he and his co-workers were hit by lightning! He decided to change careers right then and there. He got a job at a TV repair company. TV was new in the early 50's. Some radio repair shops were converting to doing TV but there weren't many at that time. The local university began offering TV repair classes so he attended. A weird coincidence was the owner of his TV shop was named Hammond so occasionally they would get a call about repairing a Hammond organ which of course they didn't do.

                The Hammond organ company really didn't have field techs in those days. The organ had only been around 18 or 19 years by then and likely most didn't need much in the way of service. Salesmen might go out and oil or even swap tubes in case of problems or otherwise, swap the organ out if needed. Hammond told their dealers, just go out and find a TV repairman, they can work on tube products and should be able to help. So the local Hammond dealer went to the university looking for a potential tech. The professor told them Ervin would be a great candidate so in 1957 he was offered a job at the music store. I came to work at that same store in 1975 and Ervin was my mentor of sorts as he taught me many thing you only learn by doing rather than in a book. They had 6 technicians at that time!

                I was fascinated to learn that he was, in a way, one of the pioneers of organ repair, at least in our area. That there was a time when there were no organ techs. I'm 20 years younger so while he was pioneering his way through the 60's I was just becoming a teen and discovering that electronics was my passion. I grew up in Pasadena, on the east side of Houston. He worked at Oaks TV which was located in Pasadena! Anyway he is a friend and colleague and we have fun talking about the good old days, weird organ problems and weird customers.

                Geo

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                • #9
                  You guys and gals on this forum are some of the last old school techs around. Sometimes you may say "find a tech". What you don't realize is there aren't many around anymore. I know circuit electricians, but they don't understand the concepts of the Hammond. That's why there are DIY ers. I have had to Google myself through some basic Hammond tech issues. Sumwalt's Music in North Royalton was a good place when I grew up. Living in WVA I am aware of only one tech, and he is 2 hours away.
                  Hammond M3, Leslie 46W with Hamptone motor control
                  Hammond BV, Leslie 147
                  Hammond CV
                  Hammond S6
                  Roland VK-7
                  custom Leslie 700
                  Williams electric piano
                  Korg Microkorg
                  Yamaha DJX II

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kurtisthall View Post
                    You guys and gals on this forum are some of the last old school techs around. Sometimes you may say "find a tech". What you don't realize is there aren't many around anymore.
                    We do realize this, and we know why there aren't many around anymore. Sorry to be so blunt, but part of the reason that there aren't many professional techs around anymore is that so many guys try to do all these repairs themselves with free help from places like this forum. People aren't going into the field because no one wants to pay them fair wages for a day's work.

                    It's all connected. The moral of the story is don't put people out of business and then complain because they aren't in business anymore.

                    While I'm being blunt, I'll just say it. Frustrated DIY'ers who have to ask for help can be some of the cheapest, most difficult customers to deal with. I think it's a psychological thing. They are frustrated because they can't do it themselves, so that transfers into anger about having to pay someone.
                    I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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                    • #11
                      Not complaining, just telling you my situation. Nobody around me to "take me under their wing". This stuff doesn't have to be institutional knowledge. It could be shared.
                      Hammond M3, Leslie 46W with Hamptone motor control
                      Hammond BV, Leslie 147
                      Hammond CV
                      Hammond S6
                      Roland VK-7
                      custom Leslie 700
                      Williams electric piano
                      Korg Microkorg
                      Yamaha DJX II

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have to say I agree with David 100%. The DIY craze is a relatively recent thing. Youtube has revolutionized the DIY world. One doesn't have to merely read pages of tech jargon they can't understand anymore, They simply go to youtube, type in a search and you can find almost anything and be shown how to do something with zero understanding into it. Take Bobman on this forum. He has some unbelievable videos of most of the major jobs entailed in maintaining the Hammond. I think it gives the false impression that with little or no knowledge base, we can all flawlessly maintain the organs. But there is some fundamental base knowledge that techs possess plus years of experience that we DIY's will never obtain. Yes we're following the videos, but we're not understanding all the consequences, nuances or details. I think there are some basic jobs that fit nicely in the DIY Hammond world like, cleaning keys, drawbars, scanners, changing Leslie Drivers, belts, rotors etc. But any electrical issues, modifications, Leslie hookup kits, rebuilding amps and crossovers etc are a different level in my opinion. That's what you guys are honoring and remembering so fondly on this thread. The techs that spent their lifetime working on a marvelous instrument. It was their lively hood, not a passing hobby. I wonder how we would fare if someone kept prodding us in our careers, for high level information of our craft only to use that against us and we ended up losing business because of it. I'm not saying we intentionally are trying to take business away from the techs, but in the end, David's right. We're trying to save a buck. Its an unintended consequence. Its a fine line no doubt. Probably unique to this skill set and others like it perhaps? Anyways, Grateful for all the Hammond Techs out there slugging it out every day. Appreciate your willingness to share info with us on a regular basis.
                        1964 A-122 / 21H
                        XK1-C / Neo Ventilator

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                        • #13
                          David and BSquared make some excellent points, however, I wonder if there isn't a bit more to it.

                          There are many signs that the market for electronic organs is much smaller than it used to be. People on this forum have often mentioned that a used instrument goes for a very small fraction of its original price, even for some fairly recent models. There used to be a number of retail stores selling organs in my area. There is one piano dealer that sells Lowrys, and we do have an Allen dealer, although they do not have a retail store. There is no Rodgers, Hammond or any other brand that i am aware of selling in the 1 million plus metropolitan statistical area that I live in.

                          If there is no market for new organs any longer in most of the US, there certainly cannot be enough demand to support techs. Personally, I am not interested in trying to figure out how to do repairs on my instrument. However, if something goes wrong, I don't know what I will do. When I called the US distributor for the Dutch organ I own, they said "one of the best techs lives in your area." He used to be the Rodgers dealer here, but he retired a number of years ago. He is, to my knowledge, still living. Perhaps if I could reach him and twist his arm he might be willing to do repairs. A number of years ago when I had an Ahlborn, I found a tech about 50 miles from my home who did work for me. Hopefully he is still in business. I would much rather pay someone to do the work on my instrument than attempt to learn how to do it myself.

                          In my opinion, it is a gross oversimplification to say that there are no techs because DIYers are driving them out of business.
                          Bill

                          My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by voet View Post
                            David and BSquared make some excellent points, however, I wonder if there isn't a bit more to it.

                            In my opinion, it is a gross oversimplification to say that there are no techs because DIYers are driving them out of business.
                            I have to agree with you to some extent Bill. There's alot to this. But I think its safe to say DIYers have impacted alot of businesses in todays market place. As I said in my edit above, some of this is an unintended consequence. I also believe anything vintage whether it be cars, or guitars, or planes or organs, is not a cheap hobby. You will never (almost never) get out of it monitarily what you put into it. You do it for the satisfaction of owning something that was not of our era. I fully except that this endeavor will cost me additional money. I do appreciate your circumstance though. And I agree, I would much prefer to pay a tech $ than fiddle with something. I'd rather be playing or doing a dozen other things. I enjoy tinkering once and awhile, but I'd rather leave the work to professionals. Bottom line, and I believe we share the same sentiment, Thank you for all our techs. We do appreciate not only your abilities, but your willingness to share your experiences, your stories and your lives. Priceless.
                            1964 A-122 / 21H
                            XK1-C / Neo Ventilator

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                            • #15
                              When I started in ‘75, I worked on most brands. Eventually went independent in ‘78 and in ‘80 became the Lowery service center. Picked up Yamaha and Wurlitzer a few years later. Was set up with Conn, Kimball, Gulbransen, Baldwin etc. Well, today no one wants to pay to have any of those brands serviced. The only brands we see anymore are Hammond, Rodgers, and Lowery. Another guy serviced Allen and I quit with Rodgers once they stopped supporting independent techs.

                              There is no doubt the market has shrunk. I mentioned my friend Ervin being on the leading edge of this industry. I was in the hey day. I will have enough work for as long as I want to keep doing it but I wouldn’t think today would be a good time to get into this business unless as a side income if considering as a long term occupation.

                              I think the entire service industry is going through change as more and more products are considered disposable and with the spreading knowledge available to anyone willing to look for it.

                              Geo

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