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Which Used Organ Should I Get?

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  • Which Used Organ Should I Get?

    Hello, I am in the process of choosing a used organ. A little background on myself...I played for 5 years as a child. Haven't played the organ in over 30 years. The organ I get will be used for fun at home. I kept all my old music books and, hopefully, it will all come back to me eventually.

    Here are my choices: Thomas Symphony Royale 782, Yamaha Electone(?) spinet, Wurlitzer (model unknown, spinet), Hammond Colonnade 33314, Lowrey GX-325,. Attached are pics. I learned on a Hammond Phoenix spinet but have always wanted to play one with the full pedal board. Now is my chance as these are all free.

    Repair problems or other reasons to avoid certain models? There is an organ repairman in my area, thankfully. Any advice on which one to choose or eliminate would be very much appreciated! Thank you kindly.

    P.S. Do I need to (should I) hire a professional piano mover to move an organ? Or is it ok if I hire my strong neighbors with a truck?
    Last edited by MaryK; 11-08-2020, 12:49 AM.

  • #2
    I understand that these instruments are free, but I personally would be looking for something with a little more accountability. You really don't want to have to repair one of these at your own expense. And I could easily see any one of them not being repairable for any number of reasons. I don't know what style of music you want to play but I would want to see and hear these instruments first before taking one home. I think you could get more done with a late model digital keyboard, or a couple of them stacked, and an independent pedal board. Keep us posted.

    Comment


    • #3
      All of these organs, while fairly old now (they look to be of mid to late 1970's vintage, apart from the Lowrey which is a good bit newer) are still new enough to contain lots of custom ICs (integrated circuits), but still old enough that these parts almost certainly can no longer be got should any of them fail. The Yamaha. while only so-so in terms of sound, is the least likely of these to develop a fault, all things being equal. So if I had to pick one, I would take that for now & maybe move onto something better at a later stage. Free is in or around the right price for one.

      Is there any particular style or genre of music that you have in mind?

      Comment


      • #4
        Personally I would avoid the spinets, especially if you would like to play on a full pedal board. You can't really develop good heel-toe technique on spinet pedals, and a lot of repertoire requires more pedals than 13 (especially if you are interested in classical organ pieces). It's true as John says that the Yamaha has the best build quality, but I would still prefer a better pedalboard. For the organs with bigger pedalboards, I would say Hammond is more reliable than Thomas is more reliable than Lowrey. However, the Lowrey may have the best pedalboard (if it is 32 pedals). That being said, as the others have mentioned, all of them are prone to failure, and all of them have parts that are no longer obtainable. Also as they have said, you may have an organ tech in your area, however it may still be an expensive proposition keeping any one of these running. I would test the three with the decent pedalboards, and only take one if it is 100% playable. If none of them are playable to your satisfaction, it may well be better to get a MIDI pedal board and a keyboard with MIDI in and organ sounds as John says.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi it's me, the original poster MaryK. Thank you Leisesturm, John Joe Jr, and Larason2. I tried to reply individually to you 3 but I kept getting an error message. So, I will reply to you collectively here.

          Repair costs have crossed my mind as well. They could be very high and possibly not even doable. Thank you John Joe Jr. for the suggestion of the Yamaha. Today I tried the Lowrey and the Hammond. The Lowrey is off the list. It had at least 5 keys that don't work, so I didn't even finish trying all the buttons on it.

          On the Hammond all the keys and buttons work, however, 3 pedals don't work--middle C, middle F# and high C. (Not sure if my pedal terminology is correct. There are 25 pedals.) We took off the pedal board and it appears that there is a slightly bent metal piece on the ends of the 3 pedals that don't work. I don't know if those metal pieces just need bent back into place or what. Otherwise, the Hammond sounded great to me.

          I like the feel of playing on a traditional organ as opposed to a keyboard (which I have now). That is what I am looking for. I would really like to have a full pedal board although I haven't ruled out a spinet. The type of music I like to play includes light classical, some pop and rock, church hymns and Christmas songs. I'm at a beginner-intermediate level. I'll be playing just for fun amongst my family only.

          Do I need to (should I) hire a professional piano mover to move an organ? Or is it ok if I hire my strong neighbors with a truck?
          Last edited by MaryK; 11-08-2020, 12:51 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            If its just the metal contact that is the problem on the hammond then thats not a massive task to sort. It is a good organ if working and can sound good so certainly one i would consider. Moving them just takes some transport and few people to do the lifting its not that difficult just make sure they can go through any doors !

            Comment


            • MaryK
              MaryK commented
              Editing a comment
              Thank you for your input. Yes, I was wondering if bending the metal contact back into place would solve the problem. I spoke with an organ repairman and he said it could be as simple as that, however it could be a different problem altogether. He also advised me (as other members on here have) that future repairs could require parts that are no longer available. He said it just depends. So I have a lot to consider.

              As for the moving, I just figured that piano movers would be good at moving organs as well. I don't know if anything inside the organ needs to be secured during the move. I think I'll call the repairman again and ask him what he thinks. Yes, I've already measured our door but thank you for mentioning that. Very important!

          • #7
            Originally posted by MaryK View Post
            I like the feel of playing on a traditional organ as opposed to a keyboard (which I have now). That is what I am looking for. I would really like to have a full pedal board although I haven't ruled out a spinet. The type of music I like to play includes light classical, some pop and rock, church hymns and Christmas songs. I'm at a beginner-intermediate level. I'll be playing just for fun amongst my family only.

            Do I need to (should I) hire a professional piano mover to move an organ? Or is it ok if I hire my strong neighbors with a truck?
            MaryK,

            Welcome to the Forum! From your description above, it sounds like the Hammond might be the organ for you. Of course, you do need to look at repairability and future-proofing the organ.

            I've moved a concert organ myself before (like the one as my avatar), but I don't recommend that as a rule. With a few good bodies who can follow detailed directions, you should be able to move any organ you get with a dolly and straps to hold blankets and the organ in position.

            As far as locking things down, the only organ I'm aware of that requires such care is the tonewheel Hammond organs. Most other organs will be fine if kept upright, and OK if transported on their back. I highly recommend upright. Be aware, though, that most organs are front-heavy, meaning they will fall toward the front of the organ when rounding a corner or starting/stopping.

            Hope this helps, and again, welcome!

            Michael
            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
            • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

            Comment


            • MaryK
              MaryK commented
              Editing a comment
              Hi Michael, thank you for your advice regarding moving an organ. It's good to know that it isn't necessary to hire piano movers. It sounds like as long as the organ is securely held in place and transported upright it should be fine. Thanks for the warning about organs being front-heavy. I looked up what a tonewheel is and I doubt I'll get that kind of organ, so no worries there. Thanks again!

          • #8
            The Colonnade can be just fine if not abused. There is nothing inside that needs to be secured. Remember this is 70's 60's technology and it does not like to be bounced around. A pro can be too rough and your friends may be more careful if no more than 3 or 4 steps are involved. The pedal prongs are easy to gently flex ito place, but they are a standard Hammond part, attached with 2 screws, and are always found for a couple of bucks on Ebay. Temporarily you could swap a couple of higher ones for a while. This model can require going over the connectors that lead to all the circuit boards inside, plugging and unplugging to them. Requires meticulous patience and courage, but not difficult once you get the hang of it. No offence, but we who were there selling these new disliked the Phoenix which evolved from the N series. The Colonnade is a better generation, and I owned one myself. Its pretty complex so you should try to find an owners manual, or we here can help you understand running it, especially if it has the auto vari 64 uit on top.
            Larry K

            Hammond BV+22H+DR-20, Celviano for piano practice
            Retired: Hammond L-102, M-3, S-6, H-112, B-2+21H+PR-40, B-3+21H, Hammond Aurora Custom, Colonnade.

            Comment


            • MaryK
              MaryK commented
              Editing a comment
              Hi, thank you for your tips and advice. I'm glad to hear that it's safe to have friends move it instead of hiring a pro. Fortunately, there are only a few steps to our front door so that's a good thing. Great to hear that the pedal prongs are easy to flex. You wrote about going over the connectors, circuit boards, etc...that's something I will pay the organ repairman to do since that's not in my repertoire. Thank you again.

          • #9
            MaryK Cleaning the connectors is something that you'll be doing semi-regularly, so it's worth seeing if you can do this yourself. Paying the repairman will soon outweigh the value of the organ! It's not hard to do and we can guide you!
            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


            • MaryK
              MaryK commented
              Editing a comment
              andyg Thank you for letting me know it's something I can probably do myself. Incidentally, I have decided not to get any of the organs in my original post. Still looking. No rush. When I get one, I'll be back on here. Thank you!

          • #10
            MaryK - I have a similar story. I first took lessons for organ when I was 6 or 7, but gave that up for the more interesting (at the time) piano. I have stuck with that - along with different synthesizers and keyboards over the years. However, I recently became interested in organ again - specifically the pipe sound of a large church organ. While I don't have space for pipes, I was amazed to see that people were nearly (or actually) giving away these beautiful instruments. I started out looking at theater organs (because I decided I really wanted 3 manuals), but after research and hearing some of them I decided against that. I looked (online) at several Allen and Rogers organs, but ultimately found a beautiful Wurlitzer (made by Viscount). It's 5 hours away and decided to buy it without ever seeing or playing it in person. (Wow am I worried!!) Arranging the move has been the most frustrating part with the first crew just not showing up and the second going to the right address - but in the WRONG TOWN! They will try again this coming Sunday (the organ is in a small church and Sunday and Wednesday are the only options). I am now expecting the organ to arrive at my house this coming Monday. Fingers crossed all will go well. Oh - the other big reason I bought this organ is because I has MIDI ports. I plan to setup a Hauptwerks system using this as the controller. Stay tuned...photos and updates will come as things progress.

            Best of luck to you and your search as well!

            Comment


            • jbird604
              jbird604 commented
              Editing a comment
              Be sure to post some pics and give some info about the organ when you get it!

          • #11
            jbird604 OK - here you go! My organ arrived this morning...after a couple of challenges with the shipper. Overall it seems to be in great condition. Minimal nicks and scuffs for 30 year old instrument. I gave the wood a good polishing (as it was quite dusty) and confirmed that it powers on and makes sounds I have found that two keys are currently inop and there are a couple of the toe 'buttons' that work, but do not light up. I haven't tried the external speaker and midi connections yet (which I plan to very soon), but otherwise it seems to be in great shape - and I am very satisfied with my purchase. Now on to learning to play it (much different than my piano experiences)!Click image for larger version

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            • #12
              Congratulations on the new system! I like the 3 manuals. I wish you many happy hours of playing!

              Comment


              • #13
                A Wurlitzer-made classical organ? I didn't think they were still branding organs as Wurlitzer. Now you have my curiosity piqued, and I'm wondering about the stoplist and/or model.

                Thank you for sharing the photo!

                Michael
                Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                Comment


                • #14
                  myorgan This is a Wurlitzer C-380 (I believe made by Viscount, but I need to confirm that.). It's very similar to the model C-400 (which has pull stops instead of the traditional style on mine. I'll take some additional photos of the stops and post soon. I'm really enjoying it, but have a lot to learn about the 'pistons' on each manual and the foot board.

                  Dave


                  p.s. - by the way, I'm impressed with the list of organs and pianos that you own! You must have a big house for all of those!!


                  Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                  A Wurlitzer-made classical organ? I didn't think they were still branding organs as Wurlitzer. Now you have my curiosity piqued, and I'm wondering about the stoplist and/or model.

                  Thank you for sharing the photo!

                  Michael

                  Comment


                  • jbird604
                    jbird604 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yes, somewhere back in the 80's Baldwin bought out what remained of the Wurlitzer company (a piano factory and the brand name, basically). Then about 1989 Baldwin stopped trying to build organs in the USA and opted to have them built for them in Italy. First they had some made by Galanti, then switched to Viscount. They had them variously branded as Baldwin, Wurlitzer, or Howard. Later on the Baldwin organ division was separated from the Baldwin Piano Company and became a new company called "Church Organ Systems," which continued to sell organs made by Viscount and used both the Baldwin and Wurlitzer names on some of their models.

                    But it has been a very long time since any actual church organs were built by the actual Wurlitzer company.

                • #15
                  Very nice buy! I think you'll enjoy it very much. Eventually you may want to fix the two silent keys. Probably just need contacts cleaned or adjusted. The two toe pistons that don't light up might need new lamps in them, but I'd consider that a very low priority. Overall, an excellent organ for your home. It should have all the resources you'd need to play just about any kind of music, and the sound is pretty darn good for the age.
                  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

                  Comment


                  • Dave Land
                    Dave Land commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks! Yes, I agree. The sounds is great even with the 30-year old speakers in the cabinet. I am working on connections to my amplified sound system and MIDI. That should make it 'worthy' of any music I can throw at it.
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