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  • Electone EL-25 Chop Job / 2M + Ped MIDI Controller

    Hi all, Ive been reading about folks looking for a MIDI controller type organ, and also about people chopping organs to make them portable. I thought I would share some info about one I just completed. I mainly built this rig so that I have a portable organ / MIDI controller for doing weddings, funerals, and suchlike. I now do not have to rely on a church having a decent organ ( some do here, but not the vast majority ), for me to say yes to a job. Also, lots of folks have weddings outdoors and at chapels with no decent instrument. So now I can bring the church organ sound ( and tons of others too ) with me when the need arises. I've done some weddings with just a keyboard or two, but I NEED pedals, even if they are short ones.

    I started with a normal Yamaha EL-25 that I got for way cheap, at a music store that had a bunch of Electones from when they used to give group lessons. They were on Craigslist to just get them gone. They had about 8 EL-15s and just this one EL-25. So, I nabbed it for $40.00.

    I started by taking the speaker box out from under it, then took the top unit off, and then the sides off of the pedalboard. Yamaha is pretty good about making things modular these days, so the top unit is pretty much the whole works of the organ. I had to get rid of the famous Yamaha knee lever ( I own some really nice Electones and have NEVER used that feature ! ) from the underside, so I opened it up ( and that is straightforward to do) and started removing things I did not need and relocating things I did. The EL-25 has all the Aux connections on the bottom side of the keydesk - not too handy for this use. All of those got relocated to the rear panel where they belong. I had to move one circuit board on the inside to make the wires fit without lengthening them, but that is no big deal as there is a lot of empty space inside there.

    For the pedalboard connection I used DB25 computer cable connectors instead of the stock plastic ones. That worked out fine but the terminals sure are TINY to crimp on! I figured that was a more useful type connector for plugging in and out regularly.

    I installed carrying handles on both sides of the keyboard unit, and one in the center back of the pedalboard. It's not real light, but no two manual synth is I would guess.

    I now have a pretty nice portable organ / MIDI controller rig with pedals. I have decent enough organ sounds for weddings and the like, between the EL-25 and the Roland Sound Canvas module. But I also have great strings, and decent pianos, brass sections, chimes, and Etc. And also the built in Yamaha drum machine for Happy Clappy music .

    I put up a photo album of the Chop Job on this unit. I thought I was putting it in the Gallery section, but it seems that you need to click on my name to find it. Not sure what I goofed up there, but the photos are on this site.

    This might be the direct link to the album ?

    http://www.organforum.com/forums/album.php?albumid=155

    Attached to this post is before and after photos.

    Regards, Larry
    Attached Files
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

  • #2
    That's a nice job. I'm looking to do the same thing with a Roland Atelier AT-80s. However, the cabinet is pressboard which is both heavy and fragile. To that end I have bought a couple of very large Anvil type trunk cases and plan to build a new case from scratch in which to transplant the Roland klaviers and electronics. The set-up will be just like before, with the top clamping to the bottom and the speakers still built in. I'm deliberating about turning the speakers around to play out the rear instead of at my knees/ankles. The Roland keyboard cover will be replaced with one made of the Anvil hardware. The main benefit I expect is to have something that can be readily handled by one person. I can corner walk it, slide it up over a tail gate, etc. Metal edges and plastic covered wood everywhere. You certainly picked the right model for your project. Very little guts and wood to deal with.
    Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
    Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
    Moved on:
    Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
    Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

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    • #3
      NICE!!!

      That's the kind of thing I am planning for my EL-40 ... though I may just make that a "Sidecar" minus the keyboards. The reason? I can then build a separate (but equal) small portable console with two 61-note keyboards. 61-notes playing the EL-40 (or your EL-25) make all the difference, playing wise, to me.

      Nice job on the chop!!

      Any videos of this (or of you at a gig) for YouTube? Cheers.

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      • #4
        those pictures are excellent - telling the story. ... but not the hours .. how many hours from start to completion? And what was the worst part, the unexpected 'oops' moment ... ? I always encounter those, but they are part of the journey and learning.

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        • #5
          Larry - - just a couple questions. On the EL-25 ... do they have that large glass music stand that slides back? That space is currently baffling me, as in how do I get rid of it in my chop/sidecar build? Under, or behind that space is the power supply and amp. Did you get rid of the amp ? Cheers

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          • #6
            Hi Kurzweil and Fred, I'll try to answer some of your questions. It's kinda tough to say everything in the first write up, and I'm happy to elaborate on the details.

            Kurz, I think doing the Roland will be a bigger job than the one I just did, but it seems that you have a good plan. I'm sure it will be quite a bit heavier and more trouble to move than mine. But, it will have way more options at the same time ! Turning the speakers to face out seems to me a good plan. But, that would be more determined by where you might want to use it, and how it will sit when you play it. For me, when I have a need for a portable job like this, I tend to set up in the back of the room with my back near a wall. So that I can see what is going on and the like. But if you tend to set up so that people can see you play the keys, then leaving the speakers as they are might be better. When I use mine, I will be using a pair of Yamaha MS150 amplified PA / speakers at whatever distance away from the rig is available / appropriate for the venue. That is why I took the original EL speakers and put them in the small enclosure to keep near me as my monitor. I also could plug directly into the venues PA system ( if they have one ) and still have my monitor close by.

            Fred, I think you will do well doing the same thing to an EL-40. I wish I had been able to get a larger spec EL series to make mine from. Particularly one with pistons between the manuals. But, I got this one at a very sweet price, and it had the 20 note pedals, so I went with what was available. ELs of any model are not very easy to come by ( at least here in central WI ) , so I nabbed it when it came up. I don't quite understand what you mean by a "sidecar" setup. Do you mean using the guts of the EL-40 and not the keyboards? Then making a separate keydesk with two 61 note manuals ? I'm sure that would work, but be a lot more involved than what I did. My thought here was to make a special use instrument for certain limited purposes. 61 note manuals are great, but for what I expect this rig to do, I can get along with the 49 note ones. That keeps the rig to less pieces and lighter to have to load in / out of places.

            I just finished this Chop Job a week or so ago, and am still working out the details of using it with the Sound Canvas module to get it all working happy together. So, no videos have been made yet. If there is enough interest, and I like how it all works, I will try to make some vids to put on You Tube. As of now, I have not used it for any jobs yet. Wedding season is still a couple of months away. That is good though, so that I can get used to all the functions and sounds I have available on the rig, before doing paying jobs with it. I am planning on using it ( maybe for the first time ? ) for a wedding on April 14th at a church that has No organ, but the bride wants Real organ music for the ceremony. If the situation allows, I might set up the camcorder at that one as well.

            As far as hours invested in doing this job goes, it's sorta hard to say for sure. There was some time of thinking involved before doing any of the physical work, and I guess that counts too. I did it over the course of a few nights, and just left it on the bench in between. I would guess that the actual time of doing the job is no more than 6 hours. It is pretty self evident how things needed to be moved about inside the unit, and where the holes for the connectors could be located. So, it was a matter of just marking out and making the holes, then installing the parts in them. The biggest problem I had was deciding on, and locating the parts for the cable connection between the pedalboard and keydesk. I wanted a cable that was hardy enough for repeated plugging and unplugging, and had a bunch of old DB25 cables here, so I chose that style. Well, with 22 gauge wires and the closeness of the contacts in that connector, I had to search some to find a place to get the pins and connectors and so on. The Computer Cable Store dot Com had what I needed. I'm not sure I would use that sort of connector again, but they did work just fine. I surfed around looking for other styles of cables and connectors, but really did not find anything more suitable. Any suggestions for future jobs would be welcome.

            The EL-25 did not have that full plastic cover/ music rack combination. It just had a pretty flimsy plastic plug into two holes on the top style. I know the style you mean, and I would think it is easy to remove, but probably from the inside of the unit once you have it opened up. Because I was going to use my existing aluminum music rack on the Ultimate A frame, I gave no thought to using the stock one.

            The EL-25 still has the power supply and the internal 55 watt amp in it. I left the amp in because that is excellent for my monitor speaker. Pretty much the EL-25 remains stock issue except for being in parts, rather than a single unit.

            Regards, Larry
            Regards, Larry

            At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

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            • #7
              I'll probably stick with the conventional speaker locations. Strange that organ playing is about the only musical performance where the musician flagrantly faces away from his audience. Pianists are generally side on and keyboard players usually face the audience. When I play in bands or worship teams, I usually try and set up side on, so that anyone interested in the mechanics can see the playing. My least artistic feature is probably my face. I've certainly never been asked to perform based upon it.

              The set-up will be heavy, at least a hundred pounds per section. But it will give me a double manual keyboard of 76 and 56 notes, plus the 200 some watt sound system coupled to 20 note pedals, expression, and a sustain pedal below. (OK, the power amp is like yours, up in the top section, but you get the idea.) And I'll have a top notch acoustic piano sound (2003 vintage), a dozen pistons, all those lovely Roland sounds, and the very latest in 3.5" floppy disk technology to save registration set-ups and sequences on. You guys all know that one of the nice features of post 1995 organs is that most all of them have a stupidly simple, disk-based, sequence player/recorder, right?
              Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
              Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
              Moved on:
              Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
              Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi everyone, I thought I would update this thread a bit with a link to a video I made last night, of the Chop Job EL-25 set up and ready to go. I'll be using it for a job this weekend, so I set it up in my shop to make sure everything was working as planned. I'm glad to report that it IS all working just as my plan envisioned.

                I'll be using it for a church service this Sunday, and I'm not sure if the situation there will allow me make live videos or not. I will bring the video setup though, and hope they will be OK with the idea. I do believe they might, so that would be good. This congregation sings really well, and there are lots of good hymns on the menu for the day.

                This video is just an overview of how the chop job looks, in ready to go trim. It does not go in depth into the " how to " aspect of the modifications. Anyone who might want to do this, will have a pretty good idea of how to do the work anyhow.

                http://youtu.be/vnZDxWzFsf0
                Regards, Larry

                At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

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                • #9
                  Hi again everyone, here is an after action report of how the EL-25 Chop Job did yesterday. And a couple of video links. It had it's first public performance yesterday playing a church service. I'm well pleased with how it worked and sounded. I had no issues with it at all. It is so nice when a plan works !

                  I did the set-up of the rig on Saturday and did sound checks and so on. From the back of my minivan to set up and ready to go in the church took about 40 minutes. But, some of that time was spent looking for the church's ladder to get the speakers up where I wanted them. Tear-down and loading out was about the same time frame. I don't think that is too long at all. Also, I worked kinda slow in the 95 degree humid weather we are having.

                  The congregation was astounded by the sound and really liked it. Of course, they were comparing it to an old Baldwin 720T, and that is a bit of an unfair contest, I guess. I used most of the good settings available on the rig at some point during the service. Choir Ahhs and string section for the offertory, full out theater organ for parts of the prelude ( God Bless America / America the Beautiful mashup ) , and church organ for the hymns, with the brass section / trumpets where needed.

                  This church is really reverberant naturally with hard plaster walls and hardwood floors, and a high arched plaster ceiling. So, I turned the internal reverb on the rig almost completely off. Sounded excellent even with a full congregation.

                  The two things I will need to improve on this rig are a better music desk light ( LED maybe ? ), and perhaps someday a powered subwoofer ( I can't quite shake the floor with the MS 150 Yamaha 12" powered cabinets )

                  I did have some camcorder / mic issues yesterday, but I will start a new thread about what you all use for recording methods and hardware eventually. I did get some video though, so here is a link to the Chop Job in action :

                  http://youtu.be/zC0CfTgDJYA Closing Hymn - Before You, Lord, We Bow

                  http://youtu.be/271HB0bRoLo A tour of the pretty church / stained glass windows.
                  Regards, Larry

                  At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

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