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  • Baldwin Marquee

    Good evening all, I am pondering over a Baldwin Marquee organ. I asked the owner if it was any good for theatre sounds and got a one word answer - "yes". I don`t have a lot of faith in that so could someone on here give me their views please? His idea of theatre sounds and mine may not be the same. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    The Marquee was Baldwin's last "theatre-style" spinet. It uses their MCO hybrid digital technology, which does a credible job with theatre voicing for the time. Not as mellow as Conn, but not nearly as chirpy as Lowrey. (Nothing from that era is going to sound like a modern sampled instrument.) Tibias and strings are well represented on both manuals (more on the solo, naturally). A passable vox exists at 8' on the solo, as well as an 8' accordion. The other reeds are at 16' only on the solo. A single generic "horn" stop at 8' is on the accompaniment, along with an 8' diapason go with the tibia and strings (no diapason on the solo).

    There are no couplers.

    Tuned percussions are synthetic "presets" derived from the standard voices along with combinations of percussive attack, reiteration, and sustain. Again, Ok for the era, but you won't mistake them for modern sampled voices. (Note - not on the stop list, but you can build up a VERY passable Chrystoglot with the 8+2 tibia and sustain.) Except for the piano/tibia combo tab, you can't use standard voices concurrently with the percussions on the solo.

    There is a set of monophinic "Syntha Sounds" playable from the solo. They can be isolated, or combined with the rest of the stops. Not bad for the era, and usable.

    It does not have any moving speakers - all tremulant effects are digitally formed, including the "syntha-rotors". A fair Leslie simulation, but nothing to write home about. In particular, there is no fast/slow transition - just a binary cutover. The Tibia and Vox are run through the same processing channels, which include the fast/slow rotor simulation, theater-style trem, and "Panoramic", which is a very celeste-y/reverb-y/shimmery sound (not unattractive, but definitely unique). Panoramic can also be applied to the Strings independently. There is a "instrumental vibrato" tab for all of the non-tibia/vox voices. It features a slight delay effect.

    There are 3 general preset pistons. They come factory programmed, but can be session-modified (i.e. they revert to original programming after turning off the power). You have some flexibility to modify registration selected during play (mostly the Syntha Solo and Fun Machine settings - basically, anything with a lighted control instead of physical switches).

    The Fun Machine features are interesting in that most of them can also be used manually to varying degrees. For example, you can get a set of tuned percussions on the accompaniment that is fully combinable with the regular stops (unlike on the solo). You can also play the traps associated with each particular rhythm manually on the accomp and pedal, and (with some effort) use "the arranger" to leverage the rhythm section as another set of (non-programmable) presets. (you just have to be prepared to turn the solo chords back off if you change rhythms mid-piece to use the preset voicing.)

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    • #3
      p.s. I had some familiarity with the line from a long time ago, but I've only had my Marquee for a couple weeks, so I'm still learning the ins and outs.

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      • #4
        Good lord, for someone learning the ins and outs you seem to have swallowed the manual. Reading between the lines I think I may be better off with the Conn 552 I hope to be picking up tomorrow. Thanks for all of that, it is very helpful. Take care.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cinema Dreamer View Post
          Good lord, for someone learning the ins and outs you seem to have swallowed the manual. Reading between the lines I think I may be better off with the Conn 552 I hope to be picking up tomorrow. Thanks for all of that, it is very helpful. Take care.
          I had a Conn 552 for many years, and loved it, but had to let it go about 10 years ago. It was only now that I had the opportunity to get a "new" instrument, and I was deeply torn between my finalists (which included a Conn 580). The decision point was self-awareness: I'm really not that good of a player, and as much as I love the Conn sound, and the idea of the 3rd manual, I play more for fun and my own enjoyment, and the Fun Machine features of the Marquee tipped the balance. As I said above, the sound is not the same, but it isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. There are far more tibia pitches on the Baldwin (all the way up to 1', with both x/3 and x/5 mutations on the solo, and a 2' on the accomp), so you have some good color options there.

          In all, as long as everything is fully functional, I don't think you would be disappointed in either instrument from a playability standpoint. But I do understand your thinking - there was a true and consistent difference between the major makers' voicing, and different folks have different tastes. if you're looking for The Conn Sound, no other brand of the era can deliver that.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cinema Dreamer View Post
            Good lord, for someone learning the ins and outs you seem to have swallowed the manual.
            I guess you could say that, while I'm totally up on the specs, and tried out the individual parts, I'm still working through how the pieces work and play together, which sounds work "for me" and what combinations I'll probably never try again. ;) One man's quirk is another woman's deal-breaker, and it is all in the ear of the player and listener.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cinema Dreamer View Post
              the Conn 552 I hope to be picking up tomorrow.
              So, inquiring minds want to know, did you get the Conn?

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              • #8
                Historically, I'd put Baldwin in the group of makers who built 'theatre style' instruments. You could group Lowrey, Gulbransen and Thomas in there as well. Go back to the 60s and you'd find Baldwins like the HT2, Lowreys like the H25 and Thomases like the Impresario, which were pretty much theatre based. But then, as the public demanded more features, they added them. Things like auto rhythm and accompaniment, auto arpeggios, slow attack, reiteration and so on. All very neat features, and great fun, but starting to move away from the pure theatre organ.

                Allen and Rodgers were probably the two that stuck very closely to emulating pipe sounds, though even they did stoop to adding auto rhythm! Conn were somewhere in between, I think. Not as true a pipe sound as Allen and Rodgers but closer than Baldwin, Lowrey and Thomas.

                In later years, Lowrey et al went much further away, adding preset or 'synth' voices, symphonic strings, brass, orchestrated accompaniments and so on. Conn were 'modernised' and then 'Kimballised' towards the end and there were some shockers from them at that time.

                The Marquee, when working, is a fine sounding instrument, but I'd still class it as 'theatre style' rather than pure theatre. Keeping it working is probably the hardest part. Not super reliable from new.

                The Conn 552 is a sweet sounding instrument, independent oscillators for each note giving it a warmth that 'tune locked' instruments just can't match. It will 'out-theatre' the Marquee, IMHO. Vinyl keying rods are the main reliability issue, and there are plenty of threads on that subject. It's also likely that some of those independent oscillators will drift off pitch. Providing its not too far, this will be fine and once you put the tremulants on, you won't notice it much anyway. Tuning a way out oscillator isn't hard to do - tuning all of them just takes a long time!
                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 - www.andrew-gilbert.com

                Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, 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

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                • #9
                  My son and I were able to tune my Conn 552 in less than an hour. We used android tablet with a free app called "Universal Tuner". I pressed a key, while he held the tablet and brought the oscillator up to the correct pitch. Neither of us had any prior experience. Easy. There is a complete 552 service manual in the gallery.
                  P.S. I made a non magnetic tuning wrench from a piece of aluminum scrap using a hacksaw and a file.
                  Floyd

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by andyg View Post
                    ... as the public demanded more features, they added them. Things like auto rhythm and accompaniment, auto arpeggios, slow attack, reiteration and so on. All very neat features, and great fun, but starting to move away from the pure theatre organ.

                    Allen and Rodgers were probably the two that stuck very closely to emulating pipe sounds, though even they did stoop to adding auto rhythm! Conn were somewhere in between, I think. Not as true a pipe sound as Allen and Rodgers but closer than Baldwin, Lowrey and Thomas.
                    If you want to create a spectrum of "purity", based on the addition of various features, that might be an interesting exercise. I do find it a little ironic, though, considering how theatre organs themselves (as a class) are considered by classical organ "purists", with their complaints of them being nothing but "bells and whistles" (in case you wondered where that little idiom came from...).

                    I personally make some distinction, not so much with added features, as with actual play/registration mechanic. For example, I would place a drawbar organ (i.e Hammond) in a different class from a tab-based organ (most of what we've been discussing here), and different again from the instruments that don't let you register stops by footage and traditional pipe-type at all, but rather give you canned things like "Theater 1", "Jazz 3", etc... (e.g. most later Yamaha, and smaller late-model Lowrey instruments). Even these are really overlapping, as some instruments combine features from multiple categories (big Kawai's for example).

                    In the end, your ability to use the instrument to make beautiful (to your own ears) music is the only metric that really matters. :)

                    Comment


                    • afuller5
                      afuller5 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Woody,

                      The Roland Ateliers fall into the category with "Theater 1, " etc. However, the larger ones did have footage tabs at first and later drawbars for flutes, classical flutes/diapasons, and tibias. Using the footage tabs for tibias and the other theater stops (tuba, sax, etc.), it does a great job for theater organ. It can be hand-registered when using it like this. Here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQsLNEvxaIw) is a medley I did on my AT-90 using only the theater sounds. I'm not the best player but not the worst either.

                      Later,
                      Allen

                    • Admin
                      Admin commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The term "bells & whistles" predates theatre organs by at least a century and is a possible reference to fairground organs although the actual origin is unknown.

                  • #11
                    Originally posted by WoodyWindy View Post

                    I had a Conn 552 for many years, and loved it, but had to let it go about 10 years ago. It was only now that I had the opportunity to get a "new" instrument, and I was deeply torn between my finalists (which included a Conn 580). The decision point was self-awareness: I'm really not that good of a player, and as much as I love the Conn sound, and the idea of the 3rd manual, I play more for fun and my own enjoyment, and the Fun Machine features of the Marquee tipped the balance. As I said above, the sound is not the same, but it isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. There are far more tibia pitches on the Baldwin (all the way up to 1', with both x/3 and x/5 mutations on the solo, and a 2' on the accomp), so you have some good color options there.

                    In all, as long as everything is fully functional, I don't think you would be disappointed in either instrument from a playability standpoint. But I do understand your thinking - there was a true and consistent difference between the major makers' voicing, and different folks have different tastes. if you're looking for The Conn Sound, no other brand of the era can deliver that.
                    Where did you find the Conn 580? I have been looking all over for a 3 manual job but can`t find one anywhere. Thanks.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by Cinema Dreamer View Post

                      Where did you find the Conn 580? I have been looking all over for a 3 manual job but can`t find one anywhere. Thanks.
                      As I said on the FB group, they are out there, but people tend to hang on to them and, if they do come up for sale, they go fast. That's because they are that good. I've never owned one, but played plenty, for fun and in concert. I had a 652 but I would have loved the 580's Solo manual spec rather than the plain reeds and tibias on the 652. (Mind you, the ability to couple the 16' English Horn from the Solo to the Great was very handy! :) )
                      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 - www.andrew-gilbert.com

                      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, 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

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Cinema Dreamer View Post

                        Where did you find the Conn 580? I have been looking all over for a 3 manual job but can`t find one anywhere. Thanks.
                        This is the one i was looking at. It was an old listing, but still available at the time - 580, Leslie, and pipes!
                        https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...4543217222907/

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