Where are all the organs?

catdaddy

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I don't know where all the other organs are, but this late 1800s pump organ which we inherited from my wife's parents, sits near the front door to my home. Apologies about the poor picture quality, but it is in good condition (except for the red velvet that has been worn off of the pumping pedals) and quite playable-but you better be in pretty good shape to be able to keep pumping those pedals! The carved wood frame and detail work (which are hard to see in the photo) are really incredible).

organ.jpg
 

mexicanyella

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@ping-ping-clicka is trying to pull some kind of fast one, sneaking that Vox Continental organ pic in here. Those things are quite desirable to a certain strain of rapscallion.

The home spinet organs come up on Craigslist a lot, often for “...free, you move.” I have been tempted more than once, but have resisted so far. Space is a consideration.
 

bebopbrain

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During the shutdown I picked up a Gulbransen organ from a Methodist church in New Jersey. After my kid started playing it in the reverberant church, it was hard to say no.

There were relays inside the organ protected by a cardboard box to be finger safe. Enterprising rodents had stolen communion wafers and stashed them in the box!


gulbransen_wafers.jpg


The assets were:
1. A wooden box
2. A pedal board (AGO, 32 pedals)
3. A dogleg bench

There is a program called Hauptwerk that plays midi samples of famous organs of the world. I installed new (used) MIDI keyboards, MIDI-fied the pedals with magnet switches, and used Novation Launchpads for stops.


gulbransen.jpg


It is a challenge to play the 32' pedal stops (that go down to 16 Hz!!!) in my apartment with smaller dimensions than the wavelength of the sound. As an alternative to subwoofers, I want to install bass shakers in the bench, which should be fun.
 

O- Fender

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Around here, they are advised for free and on rare occasions they are curbside with a "free" sign. I would like one or even a few for the mancave but I guess I just don't want one bad enough.

As a kid, we had one. Hours of fun.
 

Prairie Phoenix

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My mom has an old pump organ in the house. A couple of the stops don't work but it's playable. Not as elaborate as catdaddy's but a nice piece. The spinning stool was many hours of fun growing up.
She has one of the electronic wonders from the '80s as well. She's been a church organist for decades and once upon a time used it to practice. She used only a couple of pipe organ settings but I had a blast with all the automatic stuff. All the lighted buttons and switches were pure joy.
Fortunately, we have musicians in the family who can play them for a least a couple more generations.
 

MarkieMark

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A local estate liquidator contacted me a while back, about a piano and organ in a house they were clearing out.
I went to look at the piano because deep in my heart, I just feel a proper studio space/music room really needs a baby grand. You know, cant help the emotion. :cry:
But the piano was junk. Destroyed by time and humidity. Strings rusty, soundboard junk, cabinet junk. Gone.
So I went upstairs to take a peek at this organ.
OMG, maybe the worst case of GAS in my life.
I have no idea what it was. Huge. 3 level keyboard in a wrap around console in pristine condition, huge pedal array, tube amp, Leslie speaker cabinet. Beautiful.
Huge. Sitting on a stage/riser in the middle of a large family room surrounded by contemporary full room height windows.
HUGE! Like church organ huge. I was looking around for a set of pipes huge.
I think the thing must weigh about the same as a small car.
Free for the taking. If I was to arrange a contractor to remove a window wall and transport via flatbed and I had space to put it somewhere...

I dont even want to think about what happened to the thing. I could cry. 😎
 

Synchro

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That’s a great question. Go back a generation or so and it took a fairly large piece of gear to make musical sounds. Organs were sold in shopping centers and customers were wowed by demonstrations of how easy it was to make all sorts of music, using all the gadgets built in to the newest organ. I remember seeing one that would arpeggiate automatically, which would be impressive to someone imagining themselves as becoming overnight musical virtuosos, thanks to some solid state trickery.

The next step was to sign a finance agreement, and for just “pennies per day” (for the rest of time) someone that stopped by the mall to pick up some risqué playing cards at Spencers now will be taking delivery of a large piece of furniture, which will be played a handful of times and collect dust thereafter.

So where do these end up? Undoubtedly these organs end up somewhere, but in view of the size and weight involved, they don’t move easily. I have a friend who has bought some older home organs from the tube era, just to harvest the tubes and transformers.

Nowadays, a sampled sound system can make an electric piano sound pretty close to the real thing and with the push of a button, it can become a Fender Rhodes or an organ of virtually any description. I have an 88 key, weighted action keyboard that is fairly compact and a lot easier to move around than a home organ. I would imagine that the sales of home organs have decreased a lot.
 

nojazzhere

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Awhile back I came across an old organ in a charity shop....one of the ones from the 60s/70s with lots of buttons. Different voice options including piccolo, violin, guitar, clarinette, and built-in percussion with choices such as bossa-nova, tango, salsa, march, etc. I'll insert a photo below so you can zoom in and explore the marvels.

It got me remembering when I was a kid and there would be stores with dozens of these things.
Did people really have these in their living rooms and spend evenings playing polkas and sambas? Did they play along to Lawrence Welk? View attachment 968962
And the big question......where are they all now? It's not like you could put them out on the curb for the garbage man to take away when you no longer wanted it. Is there an enormous organ landfill site somewhere?
Several comments have been made about the size of these, and the space in a home required to own one, but my first piano teacher, the late Q'Zella Jeffus, actually had a pipe organ installed in her home. The entire home was devoted to keyboards and teaching them.....three or four grand pianos, and a few uprights......plus all of her students' recitals were held in her house. One of the first "open concept" homes I ever saw. Walls had been removed to incorporate the living room, dining room, and a former bedroom, to accommodate everything. In a bathroom, there was what appeared to be a large wall-mounted cabinet, which actually gave access to the organ pipes for servicing. Mrs Jeffus taught a number of world-class pianists over the years, and I think my mom envisioned me as being one of them. (obviously not) Most home pianos are tuned and adjusted once or twice a year.....Mrs Jeffus' were tuned once a month. She died thirty or forty years ago.....and I wonder whatever happened to all her instruments.....especially the pipe organ.
 

Ricky D.

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Played in a soul top 40 cover band in the 70s. Keyboard man had a Wurlitzer EP, a Hammond Porta B, and a Leslie. Couldn’t ask for more or better. Load in and out was a chore, though.

A few years earlier, I came to rehearsal and there was a young guy there playing a Farfisa Duo with a Leslie. Just flat out burning it up. Like finding Jimmy Smith in your basement. Insane chops, and clearly no problem playing the bass lines on the pedals. So I set up real fast and asked him for an E to tune up, and he just looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Turned out he played entirely by ear, self taught, and did not know which note was which key. We played some songs, EWF, Isley Brothers, Ohio Players, etc. Sounded great, but a little awkward because we couldn’t even tell him what key we were in. “Just play, I got this”, he said. And he did. I never saw him again after that day. Turns out he was a hater, just couldn’t stand being around white people. Darn shame.
 

JL_LI

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The death knell for living room organs was the $300 Casio keyboard. That’s small enough to toss away at the curb. When I was in high school, the guy who played organ in my garage band had a Farfisa Combo Compact. Pretty cool and portable enough. He also had a solovox. That was a two octave keyboard thing that was propped up under the keyboard of a piano. The “solo” part was that it played one note at a time. No chords. It sounded organ like but different. It had to be mic’d to use with the band and was too big for what little it did. The keys were really short. Almost toy like.
 

FenderLover

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That is a good question. They seemed to be everywhere. It wasn't too long ago one would also see a stereo system with monkey coffin speakers in most living rooms. You could tell right away who was serious about what they were doing. Now, "What do you do for fun, anyway?"
 
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Jim_in_PA

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We always had one in my parents' home, both when I lived there as a kid and through college and for the rest of my father's life. He truly enjoyed playing. I was very sad to have to unload his instrument when emptying out the apartment that he and my mother lived in prior to her moving into assisted living a few years ago, but it was in very poor operational condition and I couldn't justify transporting it a thousand miles north. Fortunately, my Kurzweil 2000 has a few good organ sample setups for when I desire that kind of sound!

I like that to this day, Elvis Costello still incorporates that iconic combo organ sound into his music, too.
 

middy

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I imagine they’re still collecting dust in a lot of houses. Or rainwater down at the landfill.
 

archetype

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There's a Hammond A100 (like a B3/C3, but internal speaker) in the family that I'm not sure what to do with. I don't really play, but dig that touch-sensitive, percussive, tone wheel sound. I'd love to have it for learning just enough to record backing tracks, but... it's a monster of an object to put in a house where we're trying to minimize possessions. I'll probably organize donating it to a small church that can't afford one. I've tested it and it works 100%.
 

Toto'sDad

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Before they started doing funerals with piped music, (and boom boxes) they used to play an organ somewhere out of sight seemingly nonstop. The organ was playing softly at every stage of the funeral, you wondered when does that guy go to the bathroom? Maybe it was piped too, but I don't think so, it was eerie, you couldn't get away from it, you wanted to run, but it was hooked into you so badly, you just stood there and mourned like you should. (Probably the reason for the organ music.)
 

Sparky472

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Where have all the organs gone? Long time passing…

I see organs frequently on CL. Usually cheap or free, with the exception, of course, of Hammond tone wheels. Those have become super expensive. I’d love one myself, but need to be able to send my kids to college (at least that’s my hope).
 

schmee

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They are on Craig's List, often for free.
Too many nice ones are being scrapped for parts. Guilty as charged.
I guess the lightweight keyboards have taken the market and 250 lb organs are not handy.
Pianos ....ditto which is a real shame...
 




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