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Unusual wiring in an automatic organ player

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  • Unusual wiring in an automatic organ player

    I am on the maintenance team for a 2/10 Wurlitzer theater pipe organ. I don't know music theory. Teams before ours (all members deceased, alas) added an accessory that allows the organ to play the middle 61 notes of a standard 88-note piano roll. That makes it possible to demonstrate the organ by non-playing members of the museum staff.

    Key 16 (C2) through Key 76 (C7) of the piano roll are wired to keys 1 through 61 of the Solo manual of the organ. But keys 13, 14, and 15 (A1, Bb1, and B1) of the piano roll are wired to keys 10,11, and 12 of the manual. I don't understand why. Is it better to play an otherwise unplayable piano note one octave higher rather than to just ignore it? If it's a reasonable thing to do, would it be reasonable to wire keys 77, 78, and 79 (Db7, D7, and Eb7) of the piano roll to keys 50, 51, and 52 of the solo manual as well? But this was not done. And why only map three notes? Why not more?

    I've been scratching my head about this for several years. Does anyone have an explanation?

    Thanks for any help you can offer,
    Bob Straub

  • #2
    Mr Stroud,

    While I'm not very familiar with theatre organs or their construction, I'll answer by saying that missing notes are less preferable than moving them up an octave in the left hand. Generally, bass notes come on the stressed beats of the measure, so they would be sorely missed.

    With treble notes, because they carry the melody, it would be more important to have them somewhere vs. silence. Personally, I wouldn't wire the extra notes to the Solo unless the Solo is used to play the same piano. Even then, you might have one keying calling for the key to be played while the other manual is also keying for it to be played at the same time. I'm not sure how the organ would interpret that.

    Why only 3 notes at either end of the keyboard? Beats me! Perhaps they ran out of wire?😜 Who knows. Just make it right from here on out is my best advice.


    P.S. Approximately where is this organ located?
    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


    • #3
      Time for my guess;
      Why were only the three bass notes were mapped an octave higher? Someone's favorite piano roll needed those 3 notes.
      Ed Kennedy
      Current Organ - Conn 645 Theater


      • #4
        For what it's worth, this post triggered a memory I had of seeing a diagram of hooking up a Wurlitzer 165 band organ tracker to a pipe organ. https://www.mmdigest.com/Gallery/Tech/W165spec.html