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What is a reasonable price range for an Allen MDS-25?

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  • What is a reasonable price range for an Allen MDS-25?

    I have seen in my area an MDS-25 for sale at $17,000. I'm not sure if price includes external speakers. Are all MDS-25s created equal? This one has three expression shoes, two alterable voice stops and drawknobs. From what I've seen, this seems pretty expensive for a 1990 model. I do not play but am helping to find an Allen we can use with external speakers in a 40-ft x 80-ft auditorium, and was encouraged by John's (jbird604) 5/12/2017 comments about the MDS series being desirable. I welcome any responses. Thanks.

  • #2
    I have seen that one advertised and guess it is probably being offered by a dealer. It is overpriced probably by at least $10K. The MDS instruments are wonderful instruments. While it may have been possible to order one with some customization, the technology was the same. MDS instruments allow for some voicing so you may well find two MDS25s that don't sound exactly the same. Of course the environment can also effect the way they sound. I remembering playing an MDS35 n a large church with only two channels. It was awful because of the way it was installed. Properly installed it would have made a wonderful sound.

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    • #3
      You're right - it is from a dealer. Thanks for the info.

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      • #4
        If that were not a dealer, I'd say the seller was living in a fantasy world, but in fact a competent (emphasis on that word) dealer or renovator might actually price such a nice organ near that range, at least if he or she offers a lot of "extras" with it.

        To compare, at my shop in central Arkansas, we renovate and re-sell mostly Allen and Rodgers organs, and typically sell them in the range of $5K to $10K -- for a typical 2-manual AGO model with two or more speaker cabinets. We only get more than $10K when it's either an unusually fine model, or larger model (super deluxe 2-manual or a 3-manual), or has genuine moving drawknobs or multiple audio channels, or if it's a very new model.

        An MDS-25 with DRAWKNOBS might well fall into the category of extra-nice, and command a price well above $10K, with all it has going for it -- premium brand, relatively recent technology, moving drawknobs, divided expression + crescendo, very elaborate and complete capture action, a 32' stop in the pedals, four or five audio channels, and MIDI.

        HOWEVER -- a used organ, even if it's only 5 years old, is not worth a whole lot of money "as is where is." It is worthy of a solid retail price, ONLY if the seller is a competent dealer or reseller who is providing (1) delivery (2) complete professional installation (3) professional voicing (4) and a warranty. Such a dealer will have thoroughly checked out the organ, repaired anything that is not 100% perfect, replaced any speaker cones that are torn, rotted, or aging, regulated keyboards, pedalboard, and everything else that is adjustable to restore it to factory-fresh operating and playing order.

        Not every dealer actually does all these things, and some will even pass off a used organ without a warranty, failing to do a proper voicing, not even checking for obvious faults. So be sure you are getting a true professional installation with all the extras, or else don't pay a premium price for it.

        With all that said, you might still negotiate the price down just a tad, unless the dealer is having to deliver it quite some distance away or taking on a particularly difficult installation. It never hurts to ask.
        John
        ----------
        *** 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!

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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        • #5
          John,

          Thank you for the detailed reply. I need to learn more about this particular organ to better understand what it and the seller offers. Maybe then I'll have a few more pointed questions.

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          • #6
            I certainly do not know every model that Allen made, but I believe the MDS-25 was only built with tongue tablets. The similar drawknob model was the MDS-35. The MDS-25 was an external speaker model (as was the MDS-35), with two channels--the MDS-35 had 4 channels. I suspect the 25 could be expanded to 4 channels, but don't have the tech info on its audio mixing. The 35 had a 32 ft Contra Bourdon, but the 25 did not. The stop count on the MDS-35 was a little bigger than the 25.

            I believe late models of the MDS-25 include a console controller, but early models do not. I suspect the same for the MDS-35.

            It could be this organ was mis-identified, and is, in fact, an MDS-35. Or, maybe Allen would provide drawknobs with the MDS-25 if you wanted to pay an upgrade cost.

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            • #7
              Oops.... Senior moment! Yes, if it has drawknobs it must be an MDS-35, as the 25 was only offered with moving tabs. The 25 does have the deluxe moving tab capture action, divided expression, crescendo, and other nice features, but no 32' stop and only two audio channels. It would be somewhat less valuable than a 32, though still an excellent choice.

              So, if it really does have drawknobs, it is a 35, and also has 4 channels (or five) and a 32' stop, in addition to all the nice features of the 25. My remarks about the price would apply to a 35, but I'd have to say if it is only a 25, it is not worth quite that much money, though it's still a very desirable model.
              John
              ----------
              *** 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!

              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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              • #8
                I don't know if I would pay $17k for a two-manual MDS organ. I think my base would be around $7k for the MDS-25 and speakers unless it was in extraordinary condition and the dealer offered other perks (midi expander, delivery, installation, voicing, etc.). Even with that, I wouldn't go over $10k.
                Sam
                Home: Allen ADC-4500 Church: Allen MDS-5
                Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, TC Mixer, ADC TC SF2, and MOS TC SF2, ADC TC Cad/Rvt, MOS TC Cad/Rvt, Organ Database, Music Library, etc. PM for unlinked files.

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                • #9
                  I will agree with the above. $17k for a 25-year old instrument with only two manuals (whether tabs or drawknobs) is high.

                  I seem to remember OrganStop selling an MDS-80S a year or two ago for $40k. But that model is absolutely massive in terms of number of stops, audio, and I *think* the particular one at OrganStop had double audio possibly? I also remember seeing a smaller 3-manual Larry Phelps-custom MDS in Texas for $40k or so. But that one had each voice on it's own TG board with something like 18 channels. I think those custom instruments like that are worth more.
                  Allen MOS 1105 (1982)
                  Allen ADC 5000 (1985) w/ MDS Expander II (drawer unit)
                  Henry Reinich Pipe 2m/29ranks (1908)

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                  • #10
                    I have since learned this is an MDS-35, 4-channels with four 15" HC-14-4F speakers, lots of nice features, and includes delivery, voicing & 1-year parts & labor warranty. The walnut console looks brand new, no signs of wear anywhere. It was privately owned. May be some $ adder for speaker installation. Don't know if any of that affects your thoughts on price - it's still an older 2-manual organ.

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                    • #11
                      Sounding more reasonable! As I said above, $17K might be a tad high, but as a professional restorer and reseller of Allen and Rodgers organs, I would be asking a good price for an organ like that.

                      It has many extras that qualify it as a "premium" organ and set it apart from typical "old organs." Among them:

                      The brand name Allen
                      MOVING drawknobs!
                      MDS technology, which means it has full MIDI capability
                      Four audio channels and premium HC-14-F speakers (furniture finish)
                      Allen's most elaborate capture action of the time -- full set of generals/divisionals/toe studs
                      Four memory banks
                      Divided expression plus crescendo
                      Card Reader (even though that's sort of an obsolete feature these days)

                      And it's offered by an actual dealer, who is including delivery and placement, voicing. And that one-year parts & labor warranty could be worth a LOT to you. Just one board failure during that year could cost you well over a thousand dollars.

                      Assuming that he has truly gone over it from end to end, and that the speaker cabinets have new or re-foamed midrange cones, and there are no compromises whatsoever, it's definitely a good one to consider. You might inquire as to whether or not the cage power supply has been swapped out for the latest version -- the "third party" switching supply. Many of the previous power supply versions that Allen used in the W4 cage eventually failed, and we're now upgrading all our customers to the switching supply when we can.

                      As to the price, it never hurts to negotiate. Make an offer. Ask him how much you could save if the warranty is reduced to just 30 days -- if he offers to take $5K off, that is a good thing! The likelihood is that anything that's wrong will fail right away.
                      John
                      ----------
                      *** 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!

                      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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