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  • Conn Theatrette model # 552



    Folks, I am new to the site and although 67 years old have never been on any message forum before. So, I ask your indulgence and patience as I learn the ropes.




    I am considering buying a Conn Theatrette model #552 with pipes. I have had a # of organs (all spinets) before, but do not consider myself an organist. I play chord style piano but have not had any organ for many years. So I said "sweetheart, I think that I would like to have a theatre organ" and she agreed (if it is small enough). I once had a Lowery HR98 which I liked very much, but it was destroyed in a flood. I am a fan of the horseshoe arrangement of tounge depressors.




    So, my question is: Is this organ a total waste of my time? (It is only a little over $100) If any of you could suggest alternatives while I get my feet wet, I would be most appreciative. I am somewhat electronically talented.




    I am looking at this as a stepping stone.





    Thanks, Royal


  • #2
    Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552

    I've been watching Ebay auctions of the Conn Pipes for some time and they almost always sell above the price you quote. You can't beat getting an organ with them, especially the 552. It has fabulous voicing and many features large console organs don't have. Has great auto play features as well that may complement the skills you already posess. As far as chord playing, most of the 1970's organs were sold on the basis of how easy it was to play chords. If this organ is clean, plays well, and you have the help to move it -- GRAB that organ fast!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



      In my opinion, it is definately worth getting. Especially with the pipes. Those pipes can sometimes fetch more than the organ itself. What operating shape is the organ in? If it hasn't been played in awhile it may have dirty contacts - ie - missing/scratchy notes.You shouldget a can of electrical contact cleaner (deoxit is a favorite around here - a tad expensive but quite effective).

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



        Thanks guys. I think this organ has not been played for many years and I expect a lot of noise from contacts and pots. If that is all I encounter, - no problem.




        Are there any peculiarities of Conn that I should be aware of? You know, the "whatever you do, don't do this" type.




        I said that I play chords, but I really like to play the chords and have sat at what I think of as toy organs that guess at the chord for you. I don't like those chord genie thingies any more than all the syncopated bass/rhythm things. I just hope this Conn sounds decent as I have had some pretty fancy organs (Yamaha for example) that I really didn't like at all.


        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552

          Yamaha organs try to do everything at once, and often with mediocrity. There are only a few vintage electones I've heard that I like, and they're starting to go up in price as people realize their potential as analog synthesizers. I have heard that the volume pot on Conns can go kaput (I can't remember if it's a potentiometer or an air variable cap like a Hammond), but the part can be a bit tricky to find. Also make sure the Leslie is in it. Guitarists havebeen knownto have speaker kleptomania.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



            Royal,




            Be careful of buying any brand of organ that has been sitting unplayed for a very long time. They are prone to all kinds of problems. I bought a Hammond T200 which looked like it was on the showroom floor. The wealthy people who had it could not learn to play it, and when they were moving they decided to sell it rather than move something they didn't need or use.




            I paid a decent price for a Hammond, but I bought more headaches with that one organ than any others I have bought. Remember all those electrical componets can wear out with the passing of time. However, organs can amaze you even those from the 1960's, and to think I don't guess any of us are using a TV from that time era.




            Conn has a good many people who really like them. I just don't care for them at all. However, this seems like a good buy IF all matters work or can be repaired easily. I would check it out carefully, then make a decision. Keep us posted! Many on here know a lot to guide you in a proper selection.




            James

            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

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



              James,




              Thanks

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              • #8
                Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                James,




                Thanks

                for

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                  James,




                  Thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                    James,




                    Thanks

                    for

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                      Royal,




                      If the organ comes with pipe speakers--Go-For-It! I have 2 model 146's-symetrical, 2 model 145's-symetrical




                      and 2 model 145's asymetrical. My wife says that it feels like she is going into church with my speakers




                      setting on a large shelf above the console. The pipe speakers do add a subtle brilliance to the reeds and




                      strings. Each speaker box has 4 - 6 X 9's generating the sound waves up through the pipes. My 1983-84




                      Conn 653 is also hooked up to a Leslie 720/540 stack. I'm running the pipe speakers off of the 540.




                      The sound! Magnificent!!!!!!




                      I'm unable to post a pic here, so---send me a PM with your email and I well send you a pic of my




                      console with pipe speakers.




                      Yes, Get a couple of cans of contact cleaner and a box of Q-Tips. It is time consuming to clean the key,




                      pedal and stopcontacts-- But -- it is well worth the effort![:D]




                      Have Fun!




                      Al




                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                        Al, Thanks for the reply. It does come with the small pipes only. The pyramid shaped collection. I have decided that I will go ahead and buy it if only for the pipes and an introduction to mini theatre organs. Another fellow called his Conn Theatrette a theatre organ "sampler". That will probably keep me happy for quite a while. I have to go a little easy on size and cost, lest my wife cut short the whole experiment. Thanks again, I will let you know how it all works out. I won't be picking it up for a few weeks (I have to travel a bit to get it).




                        Thanks again, Roy




                        I have owned 6 or so lesser organs and am quite familiar with contact cleaning, just not on a Conn.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                          Hey Royal,




                          As for chords, the Theaterette won't play one finger bass and chords. It will however "strum"any chord you make with the non-tibia voices. It won't do any kind of arpeggio or other chord variations either. The pedal will also keep time but does not alternate between the root and the fifth unless its a real late model. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the One Man Band offer 22 rythums but does not offer much in automatic accompaniment. It does have nice tibias though and the Leslie controls are good too. The biggest negative about thoe organ are the percussion voices. They have a plenky sound and all sound much alike.The upper keyboard is shortened by the horseshoe styling as well.




                          I played one for a while in a small rural church. The oneI used was a tube ampmodel and had noauto-rythum features or percussionat all. It did sound good though and served well for hymns and country gospel.




                          I'm just speaking from many years of Conn ownership experience. I'd wouldn't hesitate to buy it. It's a nice looking instrument especially with the pipes on top.It dosen't have any cheap looking tonguedepressors or odd colored switxches like the toy organs do.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                            Hello organists,




                            This is truly a great site and your comments have helped me make up my mind. I will be traveling to pick up my new toy sometime within the next 3 weeks. I am trying to coordinate with the seller and a visit to my son's new house.




                            I have had a few organs. Started late in life (1974) after the doctor told me that I had a choice of either learn the piano/organ, become a secretary, or loose ability to move my fingers (a bad burn). The choice was obvious. So, while healing, I studied the mechanics of music from books and learned that a major 7th was 1,3,5 and 7th etc. I do not like any of the auto chord features and am proud of the fact that I can figgure out the notes in any chord that God ever made. I have yet to hear an auto rhythmer that I was impressed with but do believe that I just havn't looked hard enough. So, for the last 15 years I have been playing the piano (also self taught). Iam working on technique, but have very little finger speed.




                            I play for my own enjoyment only. I realized that I would feel bad if someone didn't like my playing, and that it would probably ruin my fun. I play about 1 hour a day or more, every day. Othershave heard me play, but I wasn't aware of it.




                            Roy




                            So my instrumentsto date have been: Lowery HR98, Yamaha small, Conn spinet, Yamaha3 keyboard,RolandKR4500, HammondM100 and a bunch of pianos,- including twoplayers that I brought back from the dead.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Conn Theatrette model # 552



                              I have refurbished three of these now, the last came to me without an Amplifier so I designed one using 50W LM3886 chips and a purpose built power supply. This was all assembled on a constructed chassis. A tweeter was fitted to the console to give the strings & reeds a little more high order harmonic power. The same CONN amplifier is used in the 650, 651 theatre models. These instruments would sound a lot better using this revamped amplifier. I sold the organ for $49 , too cheap I know but organs don't sell well in the little part of Australia I come from, Tasmania.





                              Regards Robert [email protected]

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