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What is the voicing difrences between English and US wurlitzer?

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  • What is the voicing difrences between English and US wurlitzer?

    The reason why i bring this up is because, when i am listening to some tracks i can hear diffrence between the English wurlitzer and the US wurlitzer.

    English wurlitzers are mello than their US counterparts US wurlitzers seem brighter.

    Is this diffrence rather preceptional or is their a true diffrence between the voicings of USA wurlitzers and UK based wurlitzers?
    22/8 Button accordion.

  • #2

    I can't speak from direct experience with Wurlitzers in both countries, but that would make sense, as English classical organs in general could be described as more "mellow" than those of some other countries. Not that there aren't any brilliant English organs, or powerful English reeds. Just that English classical organs continue as a rule to be voiced in the traditional English manner, with more fundamental tone, more of an emphasis on the 8' ranks, less chiff perhaps, more modest mixtures than the organs traditionally voiced in some other countries.

    By contrast, American classical organs generally tend to be more eclectic, thus partaking of certain characteristics associated with other organ schools, such as Dutch or North German -- both of which often include more harmonically developed and less fundamental stops, higher-pitched mixtures, keener reeds, more chiff. With this eclectic mix of organ tones, a typical American organ is thus likely to be more brilliant than a comparable English organ.

    Whether or not this is true even in the theater organ world, I can't say. But it wouldn't be surprising.
    *** 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!


    • #3
      Different Compositions of the Ranks used, Registrations, Playing Style and Pipe Voicing all play a part in the differences. Plus extra Quint and Tierce couplers* in the case of UK organs emulating the Tower Ballroom WurliTzer(s) bounce.

      UK organists also don't tend to use too much of the horn ranks that are more associated with US organists playing styles. Thus leading to much more softer compositions and therefore not so harsh on the ears.

      * QUINT & TIERCE COUPLERS: When the QUINT (meaning five) COUPLER is engaged, a note one fifth higher is played. For example,if the C-note is played with the QUINT COUPLER engaged, the G-note above will also sound. The TIERCE COUPLER works in a similar manner, but engages a tenth above the note engaged. Therefore, if the C-note is played with the TIERCE COUPLER engaged, the E-note will sound from the octave above (i.e. ten notes);
      Neil Jenson 'Connoisseur' 3/35 VTPO. Gulbransen Rialto II.
      Building a full set of WERSI W3 voice filters and designing new Hammond X-66 voice filters for a new MIDI controlled organ.
      Various Leslie speaker projects including 'Rotosonic' L102, L103, L212S and building a new L122 cabinet.


      • #4
        Though I can't speak from knowledge of specific organs, early Wurlitzer organs for the US market were voiced for a more lyrical style of playing suitable for silent movie accompaniment--later voicing became bolder end especially with modern rebuilds and respecifications.

        Here's a good article of Wurly's in the UK.

        As Doddy indicated, the Blackpool Wurlitzer became an archetype of the cinema organ sound for the UK, as played by Reginald Dixon. In the USA, Jesse Crawford was the organist whose sound first became well associated with the theatre organ, and his music was a very different style from Dixon's, of course: Different venues, different audiences, different purposes.


        • #5
          Ok, so the consensus on this thread so far seems to validate my observation. The next question is that follows would british composition sound correct on a us wuritzer and is its possible to attach a melotone to a wurlitzer or is the melotone better off kept with the compton.
          22/8 Button accordion.


          • #6
            Wurlitzer was not all that popular in England during the 1920s. They were twice as expensive as all the other American builders. To top it off, there were tariffs and overseas shipping costs to add to the purchase price by the time it arrived on an English theatre's doorstep. Compton was always a heavy competitor. The
            Wurlitzer Blackpool organ and Reginald Dixon made a huge impression on thousands upon thousands of seaside visitors, where they danced, sang, and listened to his upbeat playing. His style of playing included lots of 1 3/5" Tierce registrations, as well as the other mutations, usually fully coupled to Sub octave and Octave. Add to these highly coupled mutations, a Kinura, Vox Humana, Trumpet and Post Horn....a sound that could peel wallpaper, and you have the "Blackpool" kind of sound.

            By the time Wurlitzer was beginning to become popular in England, thanks to the Blackpool sounds of Reginal Dixon, the theatre organ market in the USA had begun it's rapid decline in factory orders (1928 - 1929). The British orders that came into Wurlitzer sales headquarters during the late 20s and on into the 30s, paid no attention to Wurlitzer's standard stop lists for their various styles of organs, and due to Wurlitzer's desperate financial condition during these years, the organs shipped to England were some of the most bizarre toned instruments one could possibly imagine.

            When Compton invented their "Mellowtone" electronic organ, and placed it within their theatre pipe organs, it was an instant success with theatre owners, due to it's unique new sound, as well as an overall cheaper sales price, compared to Wurlitzer's offerings. Wurlitzer's sales office in England, pleaded with the home
            office, in North Tonawanda, N. Y., to try to combine the Hammond organ into a Wurlitzer model, but even if possible to embrace Hammond, the idea was so far out of Wurlitzer's thinking, that it was dismissed by company leaders. Two years later, it didn't matter if the Mellowtone was going to put Wurlitzer out of business in England, anyhow....war had come to England, and the organ business for everyone, was over for the duration of the war.

            Wurlitzer didn't change their voicing policies in organs shipped to England (as far as is known in existing archives), but their tone quality was very much affected by the elimination of so many "in between, tonal binding" stops, like concert flutes, diapasons, and tubas. As a result, many of these organs were equipped with a 97 note tibia, solo string, vox humana, trumpet, and post horn. The Blackpool sound.


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              very informative!