View Full Version : Allen Theater Compact
12-10-2008, 01:46 AM
This weekend I'm going to look at an Allen Theater Compact to be used as a practice organ and wondered what the members of the forum thought about this model.</p>
How is the tone generated? Is it a good model? How much should I pay for the instrument? I enjoy playing classical as well as theater organ and was wondering if the organ would be very versatile.</p>
I was told this organ has a tone cabinet and a 32 note pedal board. Would this be the princess pedalboard I hear about occasionally? I'm accustomed to the AGO 32 note pedals and wonder what other organists experiences have been using this type if it is the smaller pedalboard.</p>
The asking price was described as "well under $2000".</p>
Any replies are appreciated!
12-10-2008, 12:23 PM
The only Allen "Theatre Compact" models I'm aware of are all 44/44/13 spinets. Two models, "deluxe" & "special" date back to 1963, used single oscillator transistorised tone generation and came with an external cabinet. Three others, models MDC10, 11, & 12 , all digital instruments, date from 1977, but were all fully self contained.</P>
There was however, a "Theatre Deluxe" from 1962, full console, with AGO32 pedal board & external cabinet, again single osc. transistor.</P>
To my way of thinking if the instrument you're looking at is one of these, the price should be "well under $1000"</P>
12-10-2008, 05:29 PM
I remember the owner saying that this organ was a model 15 and was maintained by the Allen dealer.</p>
Does this information help??
12-10-2008, 06:57 PM
The first collectible organ I ever picked up was an S15 tube generator organ. Later the model became the T15 when Allen brought out transistor generators. Both of those had princess pedalboards (32) and the traditional church cabinet. I have seen on Ebay listings for the theater 15 and according to the literature I've seen it is a variant in theater (horseshoe)cabinet with slightly brighter voicing.</P>
My experience with the 15 was fabulous. I let it go for a Hammond when I decided organ repair wasn't for me. Those of you who know my post know that's a resolution long gone. (As with many others, I had family members who weren't as enthusiastic as I was. I still get the curious looks and, "Not another organ?") Even in a church cabinet the gyro was so lush that there was the unmistakable sense of riding high on a true theater organ when you closed your eyes. There was a solo number for the gamba stop that I've never been able to capture on another organ.</P>
You will be delighted. Prices are very low right now so you are also likely to get a bargain! Most brands aremuch lower than I'm going to quote for this piece, but Allen still has support available and the organs are extremely reliable so you may have to pay $300 - $500 if there are others interested in the sale. You can tell that I am biased -- I would still pay more for an Allen. Last year I paid $900 after tax a delivery for an early computer organ.</P>
12-11-2008, 07:07 AM
There is an Allen Theatre T 15. According to the list it dates from '62, 2 manual, 32 note pedalboard with a single set of independent transistor tone generators. I've got some documentation on it and it's got a self contained speaker system that includes fixed as well as gyro speakers.
I haven't seen one but I can speak for the Allen Theatre Deluxe that dates from the same year. I picked up one less than a year ago to save it from getting dismantled and discarded. It also has 2 manuals, a 32 note pedalboard, three sets of independent tone generators (flute, string, string celeste) and a traps sound generator. No self contained speakers on the one I've got but plenty of speaker cabinets, two gyros one with horn speakers for the reeds, a bass cabinet and a separate traps speaker cabinet. My particular instrument has a hand held traps controller that seems to be quite unique, never have found any information on how it's supposd to be used. I've got a soft spot for the vintage analog organs and this old Allen fits in well with the rest of my "collection".</p>
I've also got documentation for a Theatre Compact. This appears to be the spinet model that some mentioned. Two 44 note manuals lined up just like a console (not staggered like a typical spinet). 13 spinet style pedals, self contained as well as an external gyrophonic speaker. Looks like one set of independent tone generators with a separate one-note-at-a-time generator for the pedal.</p>
If you do end up picking up one of these and need some documentation let me know. Allen does sell the technical documentation for the older analog organs so I picked up a set for my Theatre Deluxe. The package included documentation for all of the above models as well as a few other analog oldies.</p>
I've seen quite a few similar Allen's offered for sale in the $75-500 range so unless it's a rare model or love at first sight/listen I'd be inclined to offer at most $200-300.
Let us know what you find out and end up doing...</p>
Philip the organist
12-11-2008, 02:54 PM
As I have mentioned on this forum before, I play a Theatre Compact at church (the spinet model). I posted a pic and some information on this thread:
Personally, if you want to practice classical music or anything more than "Oh, Susanna" I would go for something else, if it is truly a spinet you are looking at. The sound is very un-organlike, even worse than a Hammond. The higher-pitched stops (2' and up) really can grate on one's ears if used for more than a few seconds. Also, the mutations are voiced as loud as the fundamentals, because they use the same generators, so registration becomes an issue. Let us know what you do.
06-03-2009, 01:31 AM
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you about the organ.</P>
Your comments were spot on about the sound of the theatre compact. Very unorganistic sound unless the tone cabinet was activated and then I couldn't kill the vibrato if the tone cabinet is on. To boot, the toy counter didn't work at all and the owner said Allen wanted more to repair it than the organ was worth.</P>
Since I'd never seen I one I didn't have any idea of what to offer him. The owner wanted $1500 more than I was willing to pay. I have made a mental note to ask for a certificate of sanity from any other owners of organs I am driving to look at!!</P>
Thanks for your interest.</P>
Philip the organist
06-03-2009, 06:08 PM
...The owner wanted $1500 more than I was willing to pay...
That should mean that it was for sale for $1,500. [:D]
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.0 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.