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Thread: What is the worst classical electronic organ you have played?

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    Seaman, Mezzoforte hauptwerkIII's Avatar
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    Exclamation What is the worst classical electronic organ you have played?

    The worst ones by far has to be the old Livingstone analogues. They didn't have any nice soft stops, they were all loud and hard and artificial.

    What are your worst electronic organs you have played?

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    Since I am SO OLD, if would be difficult to pick out any of the old analogues as being any worse than the next. And if I played them 50 years ago in the '60s, they were already 10 to 20 years older than that.

    With only 16' pedal stops, I'm not sure if any of these could be condsidered "classical" organs. An old Allen I played at a church back in the early 60s was memorably booooring! With 50 0r 60 stops that ALL sounded the same, this relic was definitely not a winner.

    Move on to the early 70s to a church that had Conn's first version of the Artist model with 32 note pedal board. While I tend to regard Conn instruments as the very best of the early analogue instruments; in fact they were beautiful musical instruments in their own right; but this early Conn Artist was somewhat less than remarkable.

    So what to do?? I the early 70s I bought a Hammond H100 for the simple reason that it was the ONLY electronic organ in the world that offered anything other than muddy 16' stops. It actually had the equivalent of 8' reed stops, which was exactly what I needed for purposeful practice. That Hammond H100 had to be one of the most obnoxious instruments of torture I've ever encountered; yet it offered me an opportunity to practice and develop my pedal technic.

    For sure, the Hammond H100 had to be the most horrible sounding instrument I've ever owned. I finally gave it away to a church; and came back to bite me when they 'played' that organ at my father's funeral.

    Within such a disenchanting world of analogue "organs" it's rather difficult to pick out one above the others as being total crap! Basically, they were all crap!

    Then in the '90s with the advent of the digital-sampling age, we started to see some rather attractive instruments appearing on the market; notwithstanding that in the '00s, we started to witness the advent of some rather awesomely credible digital organs being offered to the organ-buying world.

    And from my own perspective, it difficult to imagine anything better emerging any time soon.

    It just gets better and better each and every year.
    Last edited by Clarion; Nov-07-2009 at 05:10.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Without any doubt, it was an old Hammond model - one that had the 25 note pedalboard, two full manuals and the drawbars as well as the reverse color preset keys.

    For whatever reason, the vibrato was stuck permanently on ... ya know, that sickly vibrato typical of some Hammonds (not a leslie) ... wasn't too bad for the pre-nuptial music, but for the Trumpet Voluntary in D ... eeuuuuucchhhhh!

    The next worst was a brand "R" analog with the sterile reeds .. even the oboe sounded (to me) like a clarinet with allergies.

    I had a long time association with Allen, doing service and installations along with some sales work. I recall the TC-1 model Clarion makes reference to - yes, with only one tone generator board, it was horrible sounding. The TC-3 was better, as were the TC-4, TC-5 and the larger "custom" ones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Without any doubt, it was an old Hammond model - one that had the 25 note pedalboard, two full manuals and the drawbars as well as the reverse color preset keys.

    For whatever reason, the vibrato was stuck permanently on ... ya know, that sickly vibrato typical of some Hammonds (not a leslie) ... wasn't too bad for the pre-nuptial music, but for the Trumpet Voluntary in D ... eeuuuuucchhhhh!
    Wow!! Talk about déjà vu!! Many, many years ago, like . . 50 years ago! I attended a recital sponsored by the Toronto area Hammond Organ Club. The featured artist was a well known and respected theatre organ recitalist. He was ever so wonderful when playing a real organ; but this Hammond Organ Club thing was the worst disaster I've ever witnessed on the the organ stage. From the beginning of the "concert", for whatever reason, he never changed nor turned off the vibrato; nor did he ever change the initial drawbar setup. Some have said he was so drunk, he could hardly stand up; while others viewed the effort as his revenge on an instrument he considered intolerably odious. Nevertheless, and unforgetable evening with an artist I still hold in high regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    The next worst was a brand "R" analog with the sterile reeds .. even the oboe sounded (to me) like a clarinet with allergies.
    I often used to think that Virgil had depreciated his stature by playing cheap ill-sounding analogue instruments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    I had a long time association with Allen, doing service and installations along with some sales work. I recall the TC-1 model Clarion makes reference to - yes, with only one tone generator board, it was horrible sounding.
    Haaar! You must be old like me!

    Of the old analogue organs, I am still of the opinion that most of the Conns, and especially their theatre organs, were true musical instruments in their own right; and to actually own one, was one of the unattainable dreams of my more youthful years.

    My very first organ which I purchased right after I got married and bought/mortgaged a house, was a Conn Prelude; a horrible little frequency-divider instrument of torture. Two months later, it was replaced with a Conn Rhapsody: a two manual, 25 note pedalboard instrument.

    While I have managed to resist the temptation of taking on an old Conn as a project; I have indeed mentioned to the guys at Phoenix, that it would be a nice touch to have some of these ancient instruments sampled and recorded for posterity. I would really love to sit down at my organ and play one of those lovely Conn theatre organs I was only able to dream about a half century ago. Not that it's something that's ever likely to happen; but I remain thrilled while listening to some of these delightful old relics on Youtube.
    Last edited by Clarion; Nov-07-2009 at 06:48.

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    Commodore con Forza
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    You could also get some really annoyinging faults with old electronic instruments. Ones I have experienced personally include losing every single "A" on the organ, the organ deciding without warning to transpose itself to a different key in the middle of a verse of a hymn, and the pedals playing a semitone higher than the manuals.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    . . . I often used to think that Virgil had depreciated his stature by playing cheap ill-sounding analogue instruments.
    I think part of Virgil's quest was to educate every living being about organ music; as we know, not every city has an organ worthy of this mans excellence, hence his desire to have his own touring instrument. In so doing, and in conjunction with his "Heavy Organ" program, he literally brought thousands of people into appreciating JS Bach, people who would not have previously even given two hoots about a baroque composer.

    In later years he bought the Allen digital (the Rodgers was never owned by Fox) ... Being the Allen Technician for all of Los Angeles/Ventura/Santa Barbara County's at that time, I was on the setup crew for his concert on that Allen in Pasadena (CA) ... it was a massive setup and took us half the day to hook-up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    Haaar! You must be old like me!
    We're not "old" you see, just more experienced .

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    Of the old analogue organs, I am still of the opinion that most of the Conns, and especially their theatre organs, were true musical instruments in their own right; and to actually own one, was one of the unattainable dreams of my more youthful years.
    I remember those - the Conn 651, a 3 manual horseshoe console along with its external sound cabinets was an impressive sound in its day. They made a spinet version, a model 552 I think, it had 3 manuals (44 note) and the 12 broomstick pedals, and internal speakers along with a leslie-type rotating one, that packed a powerhouse of features and sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    My very first organ which I purchased right after I got married and bought/mortgaged a house, was a Conn Prelude; a horrible little frequency-divider instrument of torture.
    Yup - it was the bread and butter of our dealership ... everyone could afford it, and we sold a ton of them every year. We also took them back when people traded up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    Two months later, it was replaced with a Conn Rhapsody: a two manual, 25 note pedalboard instrument.
    I played many of those older Conns for weddings/funerals in my younger days.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post
    While I have managed to resist the temptation of taking on an old Conn as a project; I have indeed mentioned to the guys at Phoenix, that it would be a nice touch to have some of these ancient instruments sampled and recorded for posterity. I would really love to sit down at my organ and play one of those lovely Conn theatre organs I was only able to dream about a half century ago. Not that it's something that's ever likely to happen; but I remain thrilled while listening to some of these delightful old relics on Youtube.
    I think our ears have adjusted to the sounds of the organs today and hearing that old analog sound might be as enjoyable as fingernails being dragged along the surface of a blackboard. Technology has come a long way in these digital instruments.

    Quote Originally Posted by jhnbrbr View Post
    You could also get some really annoyinging faults with old electronic instruments. Ones I have experienced personally include losing every single "A" on the organ, the organ deciding without warning to transpose itself to a different key in the middle of a verse of a hymn, and the pedals playing a semitone higher than the manuals.
    Yikes !! Instant transposition - and of course when that happened, all eyes look toward the organist thinking it was "our mistake!"
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    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster SilverLuna's Avatar
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    I think my worst organ was the one i had prior to the one I have now. It was a GEM H400 model and it was in such bad condition (we bought it at a thrift store. That's where I got my current on also)!! I was horribly SHARP out of pitch, basiclly all the tibias (or flutes) didn't work, and the last two pedals, B and C, kept on getting stuck.

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    I think I must have a tie for this one. The first contender was, I believe, and old Hammond in St. Peter's on the Rock in Stoney Lake near Peterborough. The second is the absolute piece of junk I'm playing now in a church just outside Ottawa - it's a Crescendo. What in God's name is a Crescendo?!! Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? It has no external audio, and blares to no end. Added to that, the organ sits in a bit of a recession in the wall, so the sound goes nowhere, but gets very loud for the organist.

    I really can't decide which of these qualifies as the worst.

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    Seaman, Mezzoforte hauptwerkIII's Avatar
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    I just remembered two more baddies:

    I used to play in a very tiny gorgeous 15th century church, so tiny the only 'thing' that would fit into was a 1980's Yamaha Electone. It was a disgusting aberration but I tolerated it for three years because the church was such a lucrative wedding fee generator

    I once turned up to play for a wedding in a Free Church only to find it was a horrid 70's home entertainment organ with those horrid stick pedal efforts. Not surprisingly, Andre Campra's Rigaudon and Widor's Toccata sounded like yellow runny horse poo. Those things only have 49 keys on each manual to save money. I kept running out of notes to play!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LastCorpseStanding View Post
    I think I must have a tie for this one. The first contender was, I believe, and old Hammond in St. Peter's on the Rock in Stoney Lake near Peterborough.
    Haaar! Have you played their new one??

    http://phoenixorgans.com/installatio...nstallation=54

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    I haven't really been to Peterborough for quite a while, certainly not to St. Pete's. I did a bit of digging, and the "Crescendo" is really a Viscount DK800. What a piece of crap. I'd like to push them towards a Hauptwerk system. It would cost about the same as a low level Rodgers, and be much better sound and more flexible. This church is really poor and can't afford much. Plus, I think they've gotten hosed on a couple deals in the past.

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    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Oh my Lord - To play a Conn Organ...Does that make one a Conn artist???

    Luckily I have not been the victim of such retrograde electronic turpitude - Just last week I visited an Army base in California where I got to launch an incendiary round from an M1 Abrams at a two-manual Conn...What a magnificent fireball that erupted - The Conn was instantly vaporised...

    Cheers,

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    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Ooh and ouch ... a Conn job no less, eh?


    Except for the theater models, the Conn "classical" line sounded (to me) like the sound was emitting from a megaphone - it was very brittle, and gotta love those insane gold key contacts which popped when they got dirty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LastCorpseStanding View Post
    I did a bit of digging, and the "Crescendo" is really a Viscount DK800. What a piece of crap. I'd like to push them towards a Hauptwerk system. It would cost about the same as a low level Rodgers, and be much better sound and more flexible. This church is really poor and can't afford much.
    I've heard about these Viscount DK800 'instruments' . . . . . nothing good! And I would doubt that the console is of sufficient quality to consider using it for a rebuild or Hauptwerk. With very limited funds, here's something that might be affordable, without compromising sound quality normally reserved for more expensive instruments:

    http://phoenixorgans.com/pdf/Tab_PT_219.pdf

    http://phoenixorgans.com/installatio...nstallation=15

    And a recording with the Baroque spec on one of these small 22 stop organs:

    http://phoenixorgans.com/audio/ciacona.mp3

    Although this organ has a limited number of stops, it still has the capacity to set up four independent organs within the one unit.

    The deficits include flat 30 note pedal board and limited pistons/toe studs. Of course any or all the the specs can be upgraded to correspond with your budget. Maybe it wouldn't cost that much extra to squeeze a reed chorus in their. ?

    The problem with a small low-level Allen or Rodgers is: that's what they sound like; as one organist commented after having their demos in his mid-sized church. By the time you pay for a decent sound system, they are no longer priced as low-level organs. With their limited budget, they went with a Phoenix, because even with smaller instruments, Phoenix doesn't cut costs on the sound system; one of their small organ will sound pretty much as good as the big guys, although with fewer stops etc.

    It wouldn't hurt to email them to at least find out what kind of budgetary considerations you would be dealing with here; not to mention the upcoming launch of their Hauptwerk line.
    Last edited by Clarion; Nov-16-2009 at 17:35.

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    Commodore con Forza
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    It seems that there was a time when stops that "all sound the same" was the common denominator. I've played electronics in two different Elks lodges on which the exact same sound for the "reed" tabs could be done by the right combinations of flute tabs, including some "mutation" ones.

    I'm currently the organist at Santa Maria, CA #1538. The organ is a Kimball of who knows what vintage, and "Trumpet" is nothing more than some of the flute tabs done together. It's a theatre-type organ, and God knows who originally selected it. There is a three-octave third manual that plays "special effect" sounds such as chimes. It even has four (general) pistons that can be set three different ways. Check that, one setting is 'factory' and the other two are adjustable. But you set them in exactly reverse from most organs -- you set the combination, then press the piston, then press "set". Any others I've ever seen, you press "set" first.

    But as is usually the case, there is only one other guy in the lodge (out of some 3,200 members) who will even touch the thing. He's the former organist, but is now one of the chair officers. That pretty much leaves me with no 'understudy'!!
    Last edited by dll927; Nov-16-2009 at 18:23.

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