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Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?

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  • Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?


    I am a fledgling church organist who stumbled upon a 1960s (or early 1970s) two manual Allen organ on craigslist for $200. I want to preface this saying that I have never played on an electric organ (although I grew up with digital keyboards) so I don't know much about them at all. The seller acquired it from a church years ago and therefore does not have a make and model or manual. It has been in storage and thus not played for the past 15+ years.

    I went to look at it last night, and I feel it is not in the best condition. The pedal wire connections had been taped to stay in place, and the volume pedal didn't work at all. It took almost 5 minutes for the organ to "warm up" -- why would this be with an electronic instrument?

    The seller's father is an electrician and will look at the pedal wiring to try and fix it as well as the volume pedal.

    Having just had an electrical fire in my rented home (landlord refuses to update fuse box and old light switches!) I am wary of bringing in a piece that could cause problems. How pertinent are my worries?

    Furthermore, the sound is "dated" -- I'm sure you know what I mean! Neither my husband nor I are handy with fixing things, so we would not be able to do this ourselves... how much would it cost to update the organ (have it updated by someone!) to include midi voices and possibly new wiring if it poses a fire hazard?

    We're in Pittsburgh if you are or know of anyone in the area! I'm a great cook ;-)

    Any other thoughts you can offer? We haven't agreed to purchase the instrument, but it would be nice to have a residence organ.

    Thanks so much for your time!


    P.S. I have a picture, but I'm not sure how to upload it -- the insert/edit image button asks for the image URL, and that would be my desktop.

  • #2
    Re: Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?

    Quick update: I think I have uploaded the image as my avatar.</p>


    The craigslist posting can be found here:</p>


    Again thank you for your time and any help you can provide!!


    • #3
      Re: Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?

      Upload the image to a hosting site like Photobucket. Then click the insert photo button and paste in the URL for your photo.
      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 -

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      • #4
        Re: Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?


        I'd pass on that one. Watch this forum for a while and you'll see thatnewer and better organs than thatare being given away or offered for very little.</P>

        It's generally a bad idea to purchase (or even accept free) an old organ that doesn't work correctly. Repairs and service areprobably going to cost you a lot more than the initial cost of the organ, unless you are able to do them yourself. Moving an organ is a big job and will cost a lot if you don't do it yourself.</P>

        Also, putting MIDI on an old organ isexpensive unless you are technically savvy and can do it yourself with one of the fairly cheap kits available from various on-line sources.</P>

        All that said, obtaining and fixing up almost any old organ is a lot cheaper than buying a new one! You'd certain spend $10K or more for even the cheapest new one.</P>

        Good luck and keep on looking. Best wishes for your organ-playing career too!</P>

        <P mce_keep="true"></P>
        *** 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!


        • #5
          Re: Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?

          That is a very basic Rondo (T12 family) and just guessing from the warm up time may be a tube model with very old tubes. I would say it could be worth saving by someone who is a restoring hobbyist but if that isn't your intention, then you should definitely pass on this organ.</P>

          One interesting note, if you look at the voicing tabs there is no division for pedal. Except as an old time novelty item, you would quickly tire of this instrument. It was designed for congregational singing so that a small chapel could have the "luxury" of an Allen organ which at that time was the benchmark.</P>

          If you are still interested the price should be more like $50 - 100. A qualified electrician should have no trouble rewiring the pedalboard, but you'll need to make a substantial investment in tubes (look for groups from organ partings on Ebay. They are much too high when purchased as single tubes).</P>


          • #6
            Re: Refurbishing a (very old) Allen organ... ? ? ?

            Thanks for your responses. The more I read about old organs, the more I see I'm getting in over my head. I really appreciate your thoughts and your frankness -- I am going to pass on it!!