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  • Short Legs and Sitting Too Close to Manuals

    I see there's a thread on Bench Height and the participants seem to be long-legged people.

    I'm 5'7" but long in the torso and arms, short in the legs. My pants inseam is 28".

    I find myself needing to sit uncomfortably close to the keyboard in order to reach the expression pedals and the pedals themselves.

    Any solutions? Platform organ shoes, anyone? I'd wear if I could find.

    Brief background - finishing my third year as a church organist at age 63, using pedals and expression/crescendo pedals more and more in my playing and feeling like a penguin at the keyboard because my elbows feel like they're pinned to my sides, rather than a little in front of me as when I play piano. Note also that I'm 150 lbs and not very "thick" from front to back.

    Thanks in advance.

    -S-

  • #2
    Similar in size to you, and I just stretch my legs when it comes to the expression pedals.
    Allen MOS 1105 (1982)
    Allen ADC 5000 (1985) w/ MDS Expander II (drawer unit)
    Henry Reinich Pipe 2m/29ranks (1908)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by organman95 View Post
      Similar in size to you, and I just stretch my legs when it comes to the expression pedals.
      The expression pedals on the organ at church are loose, and I find I have to place my entire foot on them to have any control over moving them. My organ at home doesn't have a similar problem - maybe I should see about getting them tightened up a bit.

      -S-

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      • #4
        It's a wonder that the "standard" height of an organ bench fits anybody. While I find a standard Allen bench suitable, I have had customers who wanted it sawed off and made an inch shorter, as well as customers who put 2x4 blocks (which are 1.5" thick) under the legs. Adjustable benches with the crank or knob seem to cost a small fortune, so you do what you have to do!

        I used to try to play with the bench too far back, and often felt I was about to fall face-down onto the keyboards! Finally realized that I didn't need to be way back there.

        I'm only an inch or so taller than you, but perhaps I have longer legs. I don't know just what will work for you, but you might benefit from a very slightly shorter bench. If you can find a used bench from a Baldwin or Hammond or some other organ, it may be shorter than the one you're using. If it's too short, you can build up the height using strips of 1/4" plywood cut to fit under the legs.
        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
          Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
          If you can find a used bench from a Baldwin or Hammond or some other organ, it may be shorter than the one you're using. If it's too short, you can build up the height using strips of 1/4" plywood cut to fit under the legs.
          Excellent idea. I will measure what I have at church and at home, then poke around on ebay and craiglist and see what I can find. Thank you very much.

          -S-

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          • #6
            Here is a similar thread with and idea for some adjustable bench height sleeves that I want to make for my bench eventually.

            https://www.organforum.com/forums/sh...justable+bench

            p.s. Steve, I think you and I have the same length torso. I just have legs that are 10" longer.
            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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            • #7
              Ever sit in an old car with seats that aren't adjustable? They are always more comfortable than the best position of the adjustable seats of newer cars.

              Maybe this only works for me. I find my legs too long and arms too short for all newer cars.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by samibe View Post
                Here is a similar thread with and idea for some adjustable bench height sleeves that I want to make for my bench eventually.

                https://www.organforum.com/forums/sh...justable+bench

                p.s. Steve, I think you and I have the same length torso. I just have legs that are 10" longer.
                That adjustment solution looks good to me, but it’s way beyond my skill level to make.

                I should have picked longer-legged parents ...

                Re: cars - as one might expect I have the same issue. The pedals are too far away. When I drove a clutch I put a block on the clutch pedal. My wife and I have noticed that Japanese cars tend to fit us better than American or German and I now happily drive a Lexus.

                -S-

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                • #9
                  One of the churches I service got a new organist recently. The previous one had been there for years, and she had gotten one of the men in the church to cut about an inch off the legs of the Rodgers bench, because she is a very short lady. The new player of course couldn't use that bench like that!

                  I went to Lowe's and got scraps of plywood that were 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", and 3/4" thick, and cut them into pieces about 2" wide and 16" long. Just right to fit under the ends of bench legs and make it stable. I let her try various combinations of these until it was just right.

                  With those four thicknesses, you can add anywhere from 1/4" to 1-7/8" height to the bench. Since it had been cut off about an inch, she needed several of the boards on each end to make it right. Once she had it right, I left the boards with her, and presumably she had someone glue them into a solid block and secure them in some way so the bench couldn't fall off.
                  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


                  • #10
                    I read this thread two months ago and found it interesting. However, I just got my Content M5800 organ so I re-read the posts because my console is NOT built to AGO standards. I have only had it for two weeks, but I found it uncomfortable and I was getting aches and pains from playing it. It felt like I had to reach for the pedals and it was uncomfortable to use my heels. I checked the measurements with the Console Specifications published by AGO and found considerable diviation. Specifically:

                    1. AGO standard from Middle D to the top of the lowest manual should be 29.5 inches. My instrument is 30.5 inches.

                    2. AGO standard height from Middle E of the pedal to the top of the bench is 20.5. My instrument is 22 inches

                    First I thought I could have 1.5 inches taken off of the legs of the bench, but that would make a longer reach for the manuals.

                    Second I thought I could raise the pedal by putting it on a platform, however, if I did that, it would no longer fit under the console and it would raise the pedal rail by the sharps enough so that I could no longer close the swell boxes and crescendo.

                    While these deviations may sound small, it makes a considerable difference for someone accustomed to the AGO standard. To put it another way, if your pants were 1.5 inches too long, you would be walking on them with your heels.

                    Finally, I decided to raise the back edge of the pedals 1.5 inches. While this solution does not completely bring things into AGO compliance, it brings it closer and I feel I can live with this.
                    Bill

                    My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
                      I'm 5'7" but long in the torso and arms, short in the legs. My pants inseam is 28".
                      My measurements exactly (except 1" longer in the legs, and 1" shorter overall). While the following may sound self-deprecating, it is the truth. A few years ago when I lost 60 lbs. in about 5 months, I found it was so much easier to play any of my Allen organs--there was no big bulge in the middle to keep my arms from the center of the Choir manual.:embarrassed: It's amazing how much my playing, dexterity, facility, and balance improved as well. Fortunately, it was not a major adjustment because I continued to play weekly for a church, and occasionally for other groups.

                      My wife cannot play organ because of PFD interference (she calls it that), and because she has difficulty reaching the pedals. Surely, organ companies took into consideration the little, old lady who was pressed into service, while figuring out the dimensions to build.

                      Originally posted by voet View Post
                      I checked the measurements with the Console Specifications published by AGO and found considerable diviation[sic]. Specifically:

                      1. AGO standard from Middle D to the top of the lowest manual should be 29.5 inches. My instrument is 30.5 inches.

                      2. AGO standard height from Middle E of the pedal to the top of the bench is 20.5. My instrument is 22 inches.
                      [snip]
                      Finally, I decided to raise the back edge of the pedals 1.5 inches. While this solution does not completely bring things into AGO compliance, it brings it closer and I feel I can live with this.
                      Voet,

                      While AGO standards are (arguably) the industry standard, they do tend to fit the general majority of organists. I've used chocks on various pipe organs, and had to remove stilts from others. People in other geographic locations may prefer differing dimensions, but I've found the measurements don't vary significantly on the other side of the pond--perhaps an inch or so. at most.

                      Now that I mention it, I've noticed the older the pipe organ, the shorter the bench. I wonder if it has anything to do with the average human height gain over the last century or two?

                      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)
                      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by voet View Post
                        I read this thread two months ago and found it interesting. However, I just got my Content M5800 organ so I re-read the posts because my console is NOT built to AGO standards. I have only had it for two weeks, but I found it uncomfortable and I was getting aches and pains from playing it. It felt like I had to reach for the pedals and it was uncomfortable to use my heels. I checked the measurements with the Console Specifications published by AGO and found considerable diviation. Specifically:

                        1. AGO standard from Middle D to the top of the lowest manual should be 29.5 inches. My instrument is 30.5 inches.

                        2. AGO standard height from Middle E of the pedal to the top of the bench is 20.5. My instrument is 22 inches

                        First I thought I could have 1.5 inches taken off of the legs of the bench, but that would make a longer reach for the manuals.

                        Second I thought I could raise the pedal by putting it on a platform, however, if I did that, it would no longer fit under the console and it would raise the pedal rail by the sharps enough so that I could no longer close the swell boxes and crescendo.

                        While these deviations may sound small, it makes a considerable difference for someone accustomed to the AGO standard. To put it another way, if your pants were 1.5 inches too long, you would be walking on them with your heels.

                        Finally, I decided to raise the back edge of the pedals 1.5 inches. While this solution does not completely bring things into AGO compliance, it brings it closer and I feel I can live with this.
                        Unlike you, I did not see this thread two months ago but it is an interesting one, and your post has given me a great idea to try! The AGO/RCO specifications are mainly for the English speaking world. Content, Eminent and Johannus organs are designed for Europeans. Contents especially are made by (for?) Dutch people and they are now officially the tallest Caucasian people on earth. 6'7" is a routinely attained height for Dutch men. Our local Mass Transit system purchased a fleet of 'light rail' trains from a Scandinavian supplier and they have seats that are very uncomfortable, even for 5'10" me. The Eminent (Dutch) instrument that I bought has exactly the same problem that your Content does. Upon examining the bench (which has 'AGO' stamped under the seat) I see an added on extension, obviously (?) done by someone for the benefit of the organist. You might want to check your bench. Either yours was not for export, or was modified later on??

                        My instrument does not play, and is being gutted for use as a VPO. That will make the console a LOT lighter, and I plan on raising it somehow. I thought about cutting the bench where the extension begins, but that seems like way more precision work than I have talent for. Your idea of raising just the back end of the pedalboard is a stroke of genius. I do think that most people are far more adaptable to varying heights of the lowest manual than they are to the height of the bench above the pedalboard. I happily play piano from benches of wildly varying heights. I am much less adaptable to organ benches of differing heights. I think I am about the tallest of those who have posted so far in the thread. It intrigues me that most of my colleagues whose heights cluster around the 5'7" talked about in this thread, all of them prefer their benches to be quite high. Way too high for me. I play regularly for a church where the organist is a tiny thing and was not able to use the bench supplied with the organ, although it is adjustable. Someone found her an extra small bench and they leave the big bench behind it, for 'normal people' who use the organ. I use her bench! As for Steve's issues with his bench, the solution I feel, is to have it chopped by someone in the congregation that can do it. If no one handy in the congregation, then a posting in Craigslist for a local woodworker will turn up someone who can quickly chop 2" (no less, make the project worth the effort) off each side of the bench. Then a system of graduated blocks like John described can take the bench up to any height needed for guests.

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                        • #13
                          Michael,

                          You make some excellent points. One thing that occurred to me is that people in the Netherlands are, on average, the tallest in the world, I wonder if that has influenced Content. It would be nice if organ builders would make things more adjustable. While that would be difficult on a tracker organ, it should be much easier for electronics. For example if the pedal and swell boxes could be raised or lowered say 2 inches, that might accommodate many more people. It is easy to raise a bench with blocks, but someone with long legs can't do much about that.

                          - - - Updated - - -

                          Leisesturm,

                          We have a very good wood worker in our area who built custom cabinets for our kitchen remodel a number of years ago. I thought of having him modify the bench, but then I would have the problem of feeling like I had to reach for the manuals. As it is I often couple the swell to the choir if I don't need to use all three manuals. Because the lowest manual is already one inch higher than AGO standard, if the bench were lowered 1.5 inches to meet the AGO standard, the bottom manual would feel 2.5 inches too high.

                          So far raising the back edge of the pedals 1.5 inches seems to be working.

                          Bill
                          Bill

                          My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

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