May. 11, 2016

Step Up Instruments, Part I

When a spinet organ with two split manuals and 13 stub pedals proves too small finally [See blog, The Spinet Organ] and the playing of the novice organist develops into a more serious study, and not having enough keys, pedals, and stops are holding back progress, it becomes necessary to think about a step up instrument for home practice.
A small pipe organ would be the ideal practice instrument, but many families typically cannot supply the necessary funds or physical space to install this type of instrument in their residences.
It becomes then a search for the best electronic instrument that the available space and funds can accommodate.
It's probably a fair statement to say that during the analog electronic organ days of the 1960's the Conn Company was leading the field in the low price range of home organs, although other companies such as Lowery, Wurlitzer, Thomas, Baldwin, Gulbransen, and Allen also were producing some fine and entirely satisfactory instruments for the home.
The Conn Rhapsody Model 625 (photo) for example, which back in 1964 sold for under $2K, came equipped with two full size (61-note) manuals, a 40-watt vacuum tube amplifier, self-contained loudspeakers, and a 25 note flat, radiating pedalboard.
Like all Conn organs of that time, this instrument incorporated independent tone generation for each note and all 4 families of organ tone ... diapasons, strings, flutes, reeds ... in its stop list.
This model also came with sub and super couplers on the Solo manual and a little broader range of voices with better tone quality than most spinet organs of the day, although it was, for all practical purposes, a Conn Minuet 460 spinet organ in terms of voices but playable from a larger cabinet having more keys and pedals.
Instruments of this size and description have their place as the first step up instrument from the spinet level for continuing one's journey in organ playing.
(con't in Part II)