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Just wondering if anyone in the UK is thinking of disposing of a small 2-manual and pedal organ suitable for home use. My son wants to take up the organ and I realised (40+ years too late) that I would have progressed much quicker had I been able to practice more than once a week between my organ lessons. We have a limited budget. The pipe organ advertised in the latest Organists Review is out of our range at £20k. After years of being pipe-purist, well, tracker-pipe-purist actually, I’m now willing to consider any type even a harmonium (with electric blower) as long as it has a proper pedalboard, or even a pedal piano.

 
 
 
 

 

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I know what you mean about being able to practice more than once a week between lessons: I wish that I'd had access to a small organ for home use. As it was I started learning at school and, to begin with, used the organ in the school hall (1986 by unknown builder; extension ranks; II+P/18 - NPOR E00643) which my teacher referred to more than once as a "squeezebox" (well, the cases are rather cramped... 😁). Later I was able to use the organ in the school chapel (IV+P/49, H&H 1911/1947/1994/2017 - NPOR A00255) but I then changed schools and had to use the local church in the end which made practice somewhat tricky, especially in the wedding season, and that became trickier after the verger - who used to give me the key out of hours - was made redundant.

Anyway does the school your son is at not have a chapel (or school hall) with an organ in? Either way I wish him much luck.

Dave

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6 minutes ago, DaveHarries said:

Anyway does the school your son is at not have a chapel (or school hall) with an organ in? Either way I wish him much luck.

Dave

Thanks for your good wishes, Dave. Sadly his school has nothing approaching either a chapel or an organ but you’ve made me think that he could maybe use the nearby parish church. I’ll get in touch with them post-lockdown.

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33 minutes ago, innate said:

Thanks for your good wishes, Dave. Sadly his school has nothing approaching either a chapel or an organ but you’ve made me think that he could maybe use the nearby parish church. I’ll get in touch with them post-lockdown.

Good luck with getting permission from the church. Some churches, such as my local one - St. Mary's, Stoke Bishop, Bristol (III+P, 1979 Daniel of Clevedon (NPOR D07728) - charge a small fee for it which is understandable.

Purely OOI which church is it? Will look them up on the NPOR. 

Dave

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12 minutes ago, DaveHarries said:

Good luck with getting permission from the church. Some churches, such as my local one - St. Mary's, Stoke Bishop, Bristol (III+P, 1979 Daniel of Clevedon (NPOR D07728) - charge a small fee for it which is understandable.

Purely OOI which church is it? Will look them up on the NPOR. 

Dave

I was going to mention the area but then realised there might be child protection issues so I’d rather not.

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I enquired to this one a few months back http://www.pipeorgansirl.com/kennethjones

and the figure of 16,000 eur was floated but transport and reassembly would be on top.

I stopped subscribing to Organists’ Review a long while ago when a letter to the editor which I’d written was edited to half length but in such way as to change its meaning and make it unpleasant! What are they advertising? My heart is set on something like a double decker Collins, though space and funds mean I need to wait another few years probably.

In my younger days, when I’d more time and enthusiasm than now, I was blocked or rationed for practice which stifled my development. I was a tracker snob and didn’t want to touch anything else. In retrospect I regret that stance!

I’ve a Hammond RT3 at home and up to about 8+4 type of tone it is acceptable if you want to note bash to learn repertoire that you can take and hear and play properly somewhere else. The pedal board is to American dimensions so a bit different to UK conventional but not enough to make a difference. There’s a lot going for unplanned snatched frequent sessions in the warm without having to negotiate for keys, and a dead acoustic helps develop technique more than a forgiving one.

 

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Hi

Small pipe organs do tend to be rather costly - which is why I don't have one.  I recently purchased a 2mp digital portable to use at church - a Content 224 Compact.  It's about the cheapest 2mp classical organ around - albeit modular in construction rather than in a full cabinet.  I hadn't seen it at the time (and not yet heard one in the flesh) the Viscount Cantorum Duo is similar.  Beware pricing in ads - they tend to just  publish the price for the keyboard unit (this applies to both brands) and you then have to add on stand, pedalboard & bench.  I got a very good deal on the Content from UK representatives Promenade Music - it's worth looking at their web site & talking to them (Dave or Steve- tell them I sent you).  They deliver, and even set up the Content for me.  Whilst not as good, sound-wise, as the real thing, it's not too bad.

2mp reed organs do come up at times, but will often be in need of restoration - an expensive business, and not many people/firms around doing that sort of work either.  Other than that, there's always the second-hand market, but given the typical reliable life-span of electronics, that  may or may not be a wise investment of funds.

If anyone would like to give me a (very) small pipe organ ......

Every Blessing

Tony

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I have to say that I agree with all Tony says and I worry you will end up waiting and waiting for the perfect pipe organ or harmonium to come along and the moment will have passed. I'm sure it would be best to swallow your pride on this one, if you possibly can. There are some pretty cheap (as these things go) second hand options on the Viscount website all around the £2000 mark, and I think you would get good advice about longevity etc from them - David Mason, the MD at Viscount would be very helpful if you got hold of him. Let's face it, home pipe organs are really pretty rare - many professional organists have more than 'made do' with their home digital instruments of all makes and whilst completely different from a pipe organ in many respects, obviously, there are pluses as well as minuses. And you are dead right about the need to practise between lessons, of course as nothing will hinder progress (and probably interest) more than scarce opportunity to play and practise. (Sorry, just to go back to Viscount - I read somewhere that Viscount Wales have a rent to own scheme - worth a look on their website.)

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Surprised the Hauptwerk organ sampling software hasn't been mentioned yet?  If you're prepared for a project and have a head for computers/electronics/MIDI and woodwork then you could go the hauptwerk route.    People have done very cheap things with Ikea tables, gutted roland keyboards, basic PCs, self-wired pedal-boards, touch-screens, behringer studio monitor speakers (or even just headphones) etc. The best sample sets sound much better than the cheapest commercial digital organs (IMO, others might disagree).  But a very cheap set-up like that won't look pretty, and it can be a long journey to a satisfactory set-up, with lots of trial and error along the way!

Or (crazy idea alert!) - perhaps if you've already got a digital piano, a decent-ish laptop and some reasonable headphones, then it might even be possible to add a pedalboard to that (assuming some DIY cleverness...), together with a £150 USB midi interface, a sample set and a hauptwerk license to get hauptwerk running with minimal outlay?  It's what I do (minus the pedalboard because my wife won't have anything which looks like an organ in the house!).

Equally, existing digital organ consoles can be connected to hauptwerk* via MIDI (this is what Richard McVeigh does for his excellent lockdown organ music youtube channel - do have a listen if you're not familiar), and even old pre-digital electronic organ consoles can be 'midified' by someone with electronics expertise.    There are (almost too) many possibilities.

* This video is actually one of the simplest introductions to Hauptwerk I've seen.

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Yes, thank you for mentioning Hauptwerk, SomeChap. There are some very neat self-made set-ups around. I’ve also been looking at OrganTeq from Modartt, which is not sample based but physically modelled to recreate a Cavaillé-Coll type instrument. 

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10 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

And as a bit of inspiration - (to us all, maybe?) - have a watch at this very competent sixth former, Miriam Reveley, playing a recital on a Viscount... 'broadcast' yesterday. Here it is. And very well done to Miriam!

Yes, absolutely "well done Miriam." Indeed an inspiration.

However from the first millisecond of putting down the first chord just so electronic. Again get what you pay for in that price range class of instrument. Attend full recital on that? no thankyou go home or the pub early.

But here we have in so many instances young peoples first experience of the classical "pipe organ." So I guess good on it of course.

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Hi

There are even cheaper options for virtual organs than Hauptwerk - take a look at Grande Orgue - not as advanced as HW, but still pretty reasonable, and free!

Until 18 months ago when I got the Content to use at church I was running a similar, now discontinued, piece of freeware and a modest 2mp sample set at church, controlled from a Yamaha HS8 home organ that I picked up for about £50.  Not ideal - spinet console layout with 2 4-octave manuals (Tenor-C Swell!!!), and an octave & a half of short stick pedals - but it did the job.

I'm in the process of setting up a basic 3mp system using Grande Orgue (digital piano as manual 1, & a Nord C2D for the other 2 manuals)  Nord 27 note pedals - at least for now. I'm planning on running a theatre organ sample set, and if I can find one, an early English sample set to give me GG- compass for playing that repertoire.  The Nord is basically a "clone" of a Hammond C-3, but it has some reasonable classical organ voices on board as well, the drawback being the need to use drawbars as stops.  It also means I don't have to go out to my rather cold music room in the depths of winter if I don't have to!

Incidentally, membership of The Electronic Organ Constructors' Society (http://www.eocs.org.uk/) could be worthwhile if you go more than a couppole of steps down the DIY route - plenty of expertise among the members.

Good luck with sorting something out.

Every Blessing

Tony

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Tony Newnham is right to mention GrandeOrgue (note that some see it as a rip-off of Hauptwerk, but let's not get into that; I've certainly used it in the past so am in no position to criticise!). 

In response I just wanted to flag that Hauptwerk too has a free license tier [CORRECTION: it used to have a free tier before V5 but doesn't now, thanks DHM] which, though limiting in some respects (numbers of stops being the most obvious), could well be enough to get you going for a 2-man practice organ. I've managed to get it to load some nice free / cheap sample sets including [most of] Menesterol (£70ish) and Lipiny (free) among others.  And one beauty of using smaller sample sets is that you don't need such a pricy computer to go with them ...

I'm dimly aware of OrganTeq but haven't got round to having a play with it yet.  I gather it's promising, but early days, and needs a monster CPU?

Decisions about hardware will massively affect the cost of any software-based practice instrument of course.

Currently enjoying the Cortege et Litanie from Miriam Reveley's recital - lovely stuff!

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20 hours ago, SomeChap said:

I'm dimly aware of OrganTeq but haven't got round to having a play with it yet.  I gather it's promising, but early days, and needs a monster CPU?

Hi

Organteq may well need a fairly powerful processor, but it should run on a fairly modest modern computer as it requires very little disc space or RAM.  There's no samples to store (it uses real-time synthesis).  

Every Blessing

Tony

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I expect most of us could only dream at the thought of a home practice pipe organ. I know very few people who have done that and I do wonder about the logistics - not just the upfront cost (especially if new) but the cost of transporting and assembly if you every moved house, not to mention whether you would need to strengthen your floor to take the weight, or soundproof the house to avoid upsetting your neighbours. Then of course there's the maintenance. Small redundant church organs are quite plentiful - for instance on the BIOS website - but tend to be much taller than the typical living room so unless you already live in a converted church they probably wouldn't suit your needs even if it was being given away.

Two (or even three) manual and pedal harmoniums can be very grand affairs and occasionally come up for sale but there must be a vanishingly small number of people who can advise on or repair them. And that's aside from the difficulty of getting through the average door (tip - always measure your doorframe at multiple points - I took delivery of my first home electronic organ and the frame was a couple of mm narrower in the middle than at the top or bottom which was the difference between getting it in the house and leaving it outside!) I guess at the time they were built and electronic organs didn't exist, they were for professional organists what an electronic organ is now, if you can't afford a pipe organ.

As this is a forum for the pipe organ discussion of instruments that generate their sound electronically is understandably frowned upon. However, I wouldn't discount them for domestic use given they have value as a teaching and practice instrument. I had a student who in his mid teens built his own three manual virtual organ (second hand pedalboard, keyboards surgically excised from 61 note controller keyboards). He's now at university doing organ performance studies so it doesn't seem to have harmed him in any way. I teach at my home on my own four manual, self built Hauptwerk console, which again uses a second hand bench and pedals plus Fatar keyboards (which are of much higher quality than the typical electronic "organ"). Both he and I learnt a great deal about organ design by having to think through console ergonomics, placement of manuals, pedals, pistons, music desk etc.

When learning a new piece of music I can practice on the sound of an organ of the period the music was written for which affords a much better understanding from the start of the effect the composer would have been expecting. For home practice and indeed to an extent for teaching, I have come to think that the virtual pipe organ (VPO) route is well worth exploring. Assuming you already have a computer (ideally with a touch sensitive screen), a basic three manual console could be built for only a few hundred pounds, or you could use a second hand console to generate MIDI which would control the computer program. Hauptwerk does have a licence cost but there are a number of free alternatives including j-organ and Grande orgue which have a smaller (and arguably somewhat lower sound quality) range of sample sets.

 

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It depends on what your lowest manual is. The BDO standard is 850mm, +/- 10mm

 

If you look here, you can check the British Standard for organ consoles:

https://www.midiboutique.com/index.php?route=download/download/get&did=196

and if you look here (Page 27 / Seite 27) you can see the German BDO standard for organ consoles:

https://www.midiboutique.com/index.php?route=download/download/get&did=158

 

Many home organ builders simply look in the Laukhuff catalogue :-) It's very informative.

My pipe organ, being built in Holland, has dimensions which are close to the BDO standard. My portable-ish digital organ, which came with a not particularly suitable, off the shelf, Z-stand, has been set up by me to be close to the BDO standard. Both have straight, flat 30-note pedal boards.

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On 24/11/2020 at 16:33, innate said:

Can anyone that has a home organ tell me how high the lowest manual is from the floor? Many thanks.

Off the floor can be whatever you want and depends on the thickness or height of the pedalboard - by definition a straight flat will be lower than the edges of a concave radiating.

I assume you meant between top of middle D on lowest keyboard to top of middle D on pedalboard (middle D of the one being directly over middle D of the other).

Some of the history books give a figure of 29 1/2 inches which even with my short legs feels way too crunched up. I settled for 30 inches or 76cm. But the beauty of designing and building your own organ is that you can design it around your body. I sat at and measured a dozen four manual consoles before building my own, at which point I had a pretty good idea of what I would find comfortable. The result is that my Fatar manuals are slightly closer together both in height and front to back than they were designed to be, and they are all parallel rather than sloping away from me. That made fitting thumb pistons slightly tricker (probably the hardest part of any DIY organ console build!) but means that even with my short arms I can reach and play the Solo with great ease and comfort.

It would be fascinating to know more about the height of the first organist of the magnificent Binns at St Mary's Shrewsbury. You virtually need stilts to play it - I normally play in socks but can't reach the pedals unless I wear thick soled shoes. When I measured the console the gap to the Choir was over 33 inches!

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