advice on buying an organ--what's out there?

Posted by: Chopinlover49

advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 04/26/13 10:43 AM

I played organ in the sixties and seventies, but now strictly playing piano (Mason-Hamlin BB from 2004). I would like to venture into the used organ territory but not really sure what's out there anymore. I know the older organs used to have a lot of problems after a while. What holds up best in the newer ones? What is the digital/pipe difference? (This is for a home.) Best used choices? How much should I expect to pay? I already talked my wife into a very expensive piano, so I have to take it a little easy to convince her. You get the idea. I would like to play a lot of classical, but also some more popular, or even some jazz.
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 04/30/13 04:39 PM

In MY humble opinion, I go for the vintage hammonds. If it has both a start and run switch it is vintage in my book. If it only has a single on/off switch I stay away from them. I have no trouble finding any parts I need for these organs.

Allen and Rodgers seem to have good support for their products, even the older ones. But you have to go through the company to get those parts. Check craigslist and ebay.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 05/09/13 09:11 AM

Thanks, Ken, for the information. I guess there aren't many people paying attention to the organ site these days. If this was a piano forum question I would have a ton of answers by now. Having had one of the older organs (a Thomas horseshoe type just like the one on Lawrence Welk in the day), I don't think I want a very old organ. I realize parts may be available, but I don't want to have something that's going to need a lot of repairs if I can avoid it. Are any of the newer ones any good? I see a few slightly used organs on Craigslist for $19,000--originally $60,000, etc. and that is not the way I can go, but what would $1500 or $2000 get me?
Posted by: ludwig123

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 05/13/13 01:17 AM

I agree with Ken about the vintage Hammonds. I'm approaching this from a jazz standpoint so your mileage may vary, but in the $1500-2000 price range, you probably could find an A100 series (A100, 102, 105, etc.). You might also find a C3. The difference is that the A100 has a built-in speaker, but the C3 needs has no built-in speaker and requires an external one--usually a Leslie, but it could also be a Hammond tone cabinet--so the C3s usually go for a bit more.

Both the A100 and the C3 have all the features of a B3 for quite a bit less money.

For even less money, you could pick up an E100 series Hammond. These can often be found in the $300-500 range or even less. They also have a built in speaker but lack the Hammond percussion, which is important to jazz players but perhaps not so critical for classical players.

My suggestion would be to avoid Hammond spinets (the M3 and the M100, for example). The smaller manuals and especially the smaller foot pedals make these less enjoyable IMHO.

Best of luck in your search!
Posted by: RickG1

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 06/08/13 06:47 PM

I had a Hammond A-100 which I used to get through grad school. The main problem with them is that they don't have AGO pedal board( 32 note) and are difficult get used to. I would agree, for a Hammond, the vintage ones are the best but be prepared to pay. Old Allens and Rodgers are available . What kind of music are you wanting to play? Jazz, Church, Bach?
Posted by: Ken Knapp

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 06/10/13 05:55 AM

Generally speaking, the vintage Hammonds (with both a "start" and "Run" switch) are the way to go for more than parts availability. Don't be deceived that on these old=many repairs. They are WAY over engineered and if they have been properly serviced and maintained they are trouble free. And by properly serviced and maintained, I mean oiled per specifications and any repairs done the right way and not by a butcher.

Newer organs? If I were forced into considering one, I would not consider one any older than 1995 or so, plus any made by a defunct company. This eliminates a lot of them, such as Kimball, Conn, Wurlitzer, Gem, Galanti, Technics, and probably a few others. You are generally left with Hammond-Suzuki, Allen, Rodgers, and Roland. Now with any of these brands and post 1995 vintage, the problem is integrated circuits (chips). The organs use many specialized ones. And once the chips are obsolete, you cannot get them for love nor money. Literally, you could spend a couple thousand for a used organ and next week a chip pops and you cannot replace it because it is no longer available. I know a dealer who took in an organ on trade and before he sold it something went bad and the company said, Sorry, we don't support it anymore. He ended up giving it away.

I think Allen Organ has an option I find interesting. I have heard that when something goes obsolete in a model of their organs they have an upgrade available which replaces the problem section with a new and current upgrade. This might not be available in all cases. And when it is, bear in mind that the only people they deal with are factory authorized technicians. Plus the upgrade is usually pretty costly. But at least there are options. I don't know if any of the other companies do such a thing or not.

And RickG1 is right, different organs are more suitable for different kinds of music. If you want to play jazz, rock, or gospel, a hammond is the way to go. Classical or church, then maybe a rodgers or allen.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 06/14/13 09:44 PM

I have been away so I just got a chance to read your posts. Thanks for the help. I play some Bach, a lot of light-jazz standards, and so on. I am not very advanced in skills yet, so that is about it although I am progressing nicely due to being retired and playing a lot now. The Allen and Rodgers organs sound like my best choice, but aren't they extremely expensive? Are there any models in my price range? (Used, of course.)
Posted by: Thomas Williams

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 06/15/13 12:29 AM

I fairly commonly see used Allen and Rodgers organs on Craigslist in the range of $2-3K (USD), and sometimes less than this. A really nice one (relatively new) will cost much more. They may a good number of years old by this point, but you can probably find something that would be acceptable for home use in that price range, and for considerably less depending on your criteria. Sometimes you'll find other *old* electronic organs that could work for your purposes. Baldwin comes to mind; an old Baldwin (with a 32-note AGO pedalboard) may be a "toaster" as far as real organ sound is concerned, but they can sometimes be had quite cheaply. Heck, I wouldn't mind having one of them to practice on at my residence.
Posted by: gsmonks

Re: advice on buying an organ--what's out there? - 04/12/14 05:49 AM

There's no reason to spend money. Organs are being given away free these days. No one wants them.