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Help in determining which used organ to purchase for home use

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  • Help in determining which used organ to purchase for home use

    My wife and I are interested in purchasing a used organ. It has been many years that we have been without one in the home. We would like it primarily for playing hymns or Christian music. We have narrowed in down to two organs

    1976 Baldwin Cinema 2 organ. It is in pristine condition. It has full pedals.

    Yamaha E-30 organ. I believe it dates back to about the late 70's or early 80's. It also has full pedals in is in excellent condition

    Both organs are being sold for around $250. Our biggest cost will be hiring a mover to transport them (we don't want to try to do that ourselves). One if 15 miles away the other is 70 miles. Which one of these organs would hold up better mechanically? Which one would be better for playing hymns or Christian music?

    Any input would be much appreciated.

    Ken Burrill

  • #2
    I would go with the Baldwin. A Cinema organ is voiced for the theater, but I'm sure you could get a nice church sound from it since theater organs can play all types of music. I think it would be easier to use stops instead of levers or just push buttons for the various changes in tones. As I see it organ have stops that are labeled, and not gimmicks to control the changes in tones.

    Baldwin Church Organ Model 48C
    Baldwin Spinet 58R
    Lowrey Spinet SCL
    Wurlitzer 4100A
    Crown Pump Organ by Geo. P. Bent, Chicago, Illinois

    Organs I hope to obtain in the future:

    Conn Tube Minuet or Caprice even a transistor Caprice with the color coded tabs
    Gulbransen H3 or G3, or V.
    Wurlitzer 44, 4410, 4420, ES Reed Models, 4300, 4500, Transistor Models


    • #3
      Welcome to the forum Ken !

      When you say it has been many years since you had an organ in your home, I get the impression that you obviously know how to play one to some degree or another. So this it written with that thought in mind. What make and model organ did you have previously ?

      The Yamaha will be more reliable than the Baldwin, even though they are both fairly old, and may both have age related issues. I'm a huge Yamaha fan, but I don't use any of mine for playing church / classical / hymns and so on. They are usable for that of course, and with the flute levers on the E-30, you can come up with some very nice settings.

      When you use the term " Christian Music " , do you mean CCM ( IE : Happy Clappy ) type songs, or something else ? The term "hymns" is pretty self explanatory I suppose, and I'm figuring you mean real hymns from a hymnal. When trying to find the right instrument, these distinctions are kinda important.

      One instrument probably is not going to do both of those styles equally well. If you want more of the real church organ sound, then get an Allen. If you want more of the Happy Clappy style, then the Yamaha will do that pretty well - they have a good built in rhythm unit, and you can "be the whole band" with that organ.

      Don't rush into selecting from only these two instruments just because they are close to you. In today's used market, all sorts of organs are plentiful at really low prices. Some further thoughts on what you ideally want the organ to do best will help us advise you better.

      Transportation of organs is always a bit of an issue, but there are many of us here who do it regularly and can advise you on ways to do it yourself. Sometimes one has to travel to find the right organ for ones intended use, but by doing so you will land up with one that fits your needs better than just grabbing one because it is nearby. If you expand your search radius to approximately 100 miles from your place, you will likely find an organ that fits your desires in a matter of a month or two.
      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.


      • #4
        In general, I would not go for a 70s or 80s organ. They might be plenty and cheap ($250 isn't I would say), but if something breaks, the question is how can it be fixed at a reasonable cost if you aren't handy yourself. I probably would be looking for an organ not older than 10-15 years. Ateliers produce great organ sounds of all kinds (certainly suffices hymn playing).


        • #5
          Actually, it's often easier (and in some cases simply 'possible') to fix and maintain a 1960s/early 1970s organ than a digital instrument from the 80s/90s onwards. If a board goes in a digital organ and it's no longer available, then you have a boat anchor. If I were looking at a digital organ I'd certainly keep within that 10 year limit. An old analogue organ may give a little trouble, sure, but it will probably be fixable. The main factor is going to be costs of repairs. Unless you can do the work yourself, then you soon get to the point where it's cheaper to get another organ than to fix the one you have - crazy situation, but that's how it is.

          Larry's advice is very sound. Different organs will be better at different types of music. For traditional hymns, an Allen of almost any era will do fine - and Allen carry spares right back to Day One. Rodgers is another fine maker of classical models, as are Baldwin and Conn.

          Both the organs you mentioned are overpriced in today's market. I'd keep looking and as Larry said, widen the search area and something is bound to come up.
          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 -

          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


          • #6
            I think I would go with the Yamaha.

            I have the next model up which is the E50 that I bought a year ago. Using levers and slides instead of preset stops does take a bit of getting used to. As far as Happy Clappy my E50 is good for that and it will produce a full sound suitable to congregational hymns. It sound better than the Hammond 820 I played in my previous church.

            I would imagine the Yamaha you're looking at is a little lighter than the Baldwin. There is a flat bottom and casters that allow for side to side moving on a hard surface or short weave carpet. I paid $200 which was too much but it is in pristine condition with no issues. The E30 probably has a fall board as well.

            One thing I like about my Yamaha is that I can blend tones with the levers and make some nice solo voices that work well with non-happy clappy tunes. I particularly enjoy taking piano music and adapting it for organ use.