For many years after building my Maplin MES51-55 series organ and then-on hankering about building a Devtronix theatre organ, the time has arrived to get to business building a new combined analogue and digital studio organ.
My musical interest lies in recreating the sound of Eddie Dunstedters commercial recordings, which reflect a different taste than usual for organ musicality. Therefore this topic may not be down your street - but lets see!
Eddie used Hammond tonewheels, Gulbransen Rialtos and the Robert-Morton theatre pipe organ with Gottfried and Skinner pipework amongst the WurliTzer components for his recordings in the Loren Whitney Studio Los Angeles. Loren Whitney used the Robert-Morton in particular for recording significant numbers of church and classical organ related music LP's, Eddie was more entertainment orientated.
My new virtual organ build has WurliTzer samples from Neil Jenson, and you may ask "why imitate the imitators?" Simply that I like the sound of these old analogue instruments and would like to replicate the sounds in virtual form. With this in mind and using skills gained from recording and sampling locomotive sounds for model sound decoders over the last six years, I am applying the processes and technology to sample electronic organs.
With several Hammond and Gulbransen organs scrapped over the last two weeks alone, this has spurred me into writing this topic to gauge interest in sampling old analogue organs for posterity. It helped that in meeting David Pinnegar at the last EOCS meeting found a kindred spirit who understands the issues surrounding the preservation of organs in all forms particularly with the Percy Vickery Classical/Theatre organ made in the 1950's and whilst operational may not remain that way for ever due to its age.
I have found that in enquiring with various owners about sampling Hammond X-66's and X-77's, Gulbransen Rialto K's and Rialto II's, without exception all their instruments were unserviceable in some shape or form. In one or two cases I think they did not have the time to spare to help sample an organ and were being polite - it's a lot of work!, but in the other hand they were genuinely interested in having their organ sampled once it was working properly. The reason being that they knew from the problems they were experiencing that they were a headache to repair and get parts for whilst they did not want to loose beautifully made wooden consoles they were happy with, or the sounds from the organ. Plus once the sounds were on a Laptop they were portable unlike the originals.
Well it's at that level that I wrote to David recently and he suggested writing an opening topic - so here it is! your reading it!
With the first Gulbransen Rialto II replica voice filters being made on new PCB's I intend to sample the tones for use in Hauptwerk. The individual tones will be derived from free-phase oscillators and not locked by divider circuits. thereby allowing a greater number of pitches to be available than on the original organ, thus increasing musicality. David picked up on this and stated that "Wouldn't it be amazing to do a sampled Hammond but with a host of extra upper harmonics!" Well David picked up on what I want to achieve immediately and we now have some plans in that area.
Whilst I am building new voice filters I'd still rather sample the originals where possible. Being based in the UK, if you know of any of these organ types and owners willing to allow access for me to make samples please write to me.
- Compton Electrostatic
- Conn 642
- Gulbransen Rialto K
- Gulbransen Rialto II
- Hammond Elegante
- Hammond Tonewheel B3/C3 or similar
- Hammond X-66
- Hammond X-77
- Rodgers 340
- WurliTzer 4500
Already in hand is an extended pitch WurliTzer 625T allowing the keyboard/pedalboard range to be extended from the spinets 2x44(1x25)+13 to a 3x61+32 based console, and the opportunity to sample many ranks from a Devtronix Theatre organ.
The Hammond X series and the Gulbransen Rialto's use variations of Leslie 'Rotosonic' organ speaker cabinets, if anybody has a pair unused Leslie 102/103 Rotosonic organ speakers in the UK I'd be interested to hear from them as I am looking to acquire a pair for my project. They utilise 'space generators' to create the vibrato chorus on both the Hammond X-66/X-77 and the Gulbransen Rialto's which require Isomonic sound mixing.
I would welcome any feedback on this entire topic particularly in terms of increasing the musical capability of old analogue organs be they entertainment like mine or classically orientated.
thanks for reading.