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Baldwin MCO Overture 172 questions

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  • Baldwin MCO Overture 172 questions

    I recently picked one of these up on craigslist, but I can't find much information about it. It can be played, but a lot of the functions are clearly broken now. It has lots of switches to change the sound, but only a few actually work. The default state of of the instrument is that the upper row sounds like a piano while the lower sounds vaguely like a guitar, but hitting the "Arranger" button (not sure what this was ever supposed to do) causes the upper row to change to a nice organ sound, and the lower becomes a piano. I got it for free and I'm really not looking to get too much out of it, but is there anything I could reasonably do to fix it? Is there a manual floating around anywhere that could tell me a little more about it? And is there anyone who still services these MCO Overtures?

  • #2
    OK, the news is not good, just as well it was free.

    Firstly, the MCO series wasn't wonderfully reliable when new, so after maybe 40 years it's not surprising that this one has issues. At that age there are no spares available. There are probably several things wrong with it and if any one of them involves a custom chip or a digital circuit board, that's terminal. Once digital things go wrong, all sorts of odd faults can occur. The default state with no switches turned on should be that there is no sound from either manual or the pedals. The 'Arranger' is the automatic accompaniment unit (drums and backing) and I don't think that should change any sounds on its own.

    There are very few organ service engineers around these days and I doubt if any of the ones that are left would even agree to take a look. That visit alone would cost more than the organ would ever be worth, fully working and that figure is zero.

    About the only thing I could suggest is to open it up and look for any cables or ribbon cables connecting circuit boards. Unplug and reconnect them, one at a time. This should clean any tarnished contacts and that may make a difference. Other than that, without schematics, tools and the skills to use them, the organ is a boat anchor. Probably landfill time, sorry.

    If you want an organ to play, then keep looking on Craigslist and ebay. There are lots of good working ones out there, free or very low cost. If you find one, try it. If there are faults, the advice is usually to just walk away and find another one.
    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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    • #3
      Adding to that, the Overture was probably Baldwin's top seller - it is the only spinet model they didn't rename going from MCO Generation 1 (171) to Generation 2 (172), with almost identical specs. For Gen 3 it changed to the Tempo (175), adding the Orchestra and Super Syntha Solo voices.

      In any case, if you like it, there are lots of them out there, so you could even just get one that works, and keep the other for spare parts.

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