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Thread: Conn Organs

  1. #1

    Conn Organs

    There seems to be varying opinons on Conn organs that go all over the map, so let's settle the score once and for all. Let's just consider the best of the Conns. Try not to base your answer of models like the Prelude.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Orgrinder010's Avatar
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    Re: Conn Organs



    My best friend has a big 3-manual 650, and it sounds fantastic. I played the 2-manual version with the dual leslie setup at a retirement home, and it sounded pretty good too -not extraordinary, but better than a lot of period models. In my opinion, however, I think Gulbranson (especially the Tibia rank) and Rodgers were leaps and bounds ahead at the time.</p>

    *</p>

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    ~1936 Hammond AV - Leslie 122 & PR40~ ~1954 Wurlitzer ElectroStatic 4602 - Leslie 125~

  3. #3
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Re: Conn Organs



    My favorite Conn was the old tube-type 720. I played one for years at church and always enjoyed it.</P>


    Biggest problem with most Conn models came from the direct-keyed pulse voices, which was everything but the flutes (which were transistor keyed)on most Conns. This meant the flutes weresmooth and cleanbut the strings, reeds, and even diapasons were subject toscratchiness and irregular volume when the vinyl rods began to deteriorate.</P>


    The 720 was one of the very few Conns that used transistor keying for the diapasons as well as the flutes. For this reason, and because of its truly classic stoplist, it was possible to put this model's sound right beside the Rodgers and Allen analogs of the same era. I actually think this one model had a slight edge over the R &amp; A models of that era (early to mid 60's), at least in the unit flute and unit diapason.</P>


    The 720 had its oscillators designed so that each one put out 3 distinct waveforms -- a sine wave for the flutes, a pulse for the strings and reeds, and a true triangle wave that was the basis of the unit diapason rank. This gave the organ very distinctly different tone colors. The one area where they skimped was on the strings and reeds that came from the direct-keyed pulse. Those stops wereoftenscratchy due to the faulty rods.</P>


    It also had a very nice pedal, though only the 16' stops were native to the pedal department. Since these16' stops were indepedent of the manuals, they could be regulated for some real oomph, and had more punch than the pedals on similar-sized Allen and Rodgers models.</P>


    Not that I'd go back to one of these now, and give upour Rodgers 890, of course. The 720 had no combination action, no crescendo pedal, no celeste, and puny reeds. But for what it was, it was a good organ.</P>


    John</P>
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    John
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    Church: Allen MDS-45 ........ at last!
    Home: Allen MADC-420 ...........finally!
    Shop: More organs than I can count.... some working, many not!
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
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  4. #4

    Re: Conn Organs

    I agree Ogrinder. I hadn't heard any Gulbransens until recently, and they are really amazing sounding.

  5. #5
    Moderator andyg's Avatar
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    Re: Conn Organs



    The analogue Conns, both tube and solid state, could make some great sounds and were fun to play. Mind you, this applies only to models above the Minuet. The smaller ones were nowhere near so good. </P>


    Personal favourite is the 580 3-manual spinet, a unique organ with a big sound. The 650, 651 and 652 came right behind. Not so keen on the 653, bit too much Kimball influence, I think.</P>


    Andy G</P>
    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

    New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com



    Current organ: Kawai SR6 + Leslie 760 Walnut
    Retired Organs: Lots! Including Hammond T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2012 Pacemaker. Kimball something-or-other.
    Retired Leslies, 147, 145, 760, 710, 415 x 2.

  6. #6

    Re: Conn Organs



    I will go ahead and put my two cents worth in on this topic regarding Conn Organs. I wished we could have had 4 choices regarding our like or dislike of them. I really have many mixed feelings about them, and have owned two previously. I was glad to get rid of them both. I hated the 650 model since I found the non flute voices were very poor imitations of anything, and I could literally hear their sound source in all the Diapasons, Strings, and Reeds.I found the same thingon the Conn Minut which was a transistor model. Also, the preset percussion voices were very poor in my honest opinion.These organs were also unified andduplexed within every inch of theirbeing. </P>


    When I was in my teens, I did find the Conn tube spinets to be most fascinating with those long narrow tabs to the left. They were interesting, and I didn't have too many opportunites to play on them since in my area Hammond was the big thing going as well as Baldwin locally. I think I played on one of the first Conn Minuets which I don't recall it having sustain. Back in those "good old days," organs had to go on their own tonal capactiy without the spinning Leslie speakers being added to them. I fully realized early on that I prefer an organ with tabs in lieu of drawbars or "drawbacks" as I have heard some Gulbransen fans say.</P>


    I did like the smooth touch, and to me the flutes sounded so hollow like blowing into an old soda pop bottle thus giving a youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu sound. Their overall sound to me was just too harsh, bold, penetrating to my ears, and I do not agree with sale brochures about all four families of tones should be at the same volume.</P>


    IMHO, I prefer a good Wurlitzer or Gulbransen over these anytime. I found so much of the boasting from the company brochures not to be as much as they claimed. Well, I could say the same thing about Hammond which I grew tired of when very young. I realized the Hammond didn't have the richness an organ should have, and yet with other instruments it could provide some nice tones.</P>


    So here goes the saga, to each his own. I guess by now you know I listed my choice about the Conn Organs. While not totally hating them, I didn't find them an OK organ for myself.</P>


    James</P>
    Baldwin Church Organ Model 48C
    Baldwin Spinet 58R
    Lowrey Spinet SCL
    Wurlitzer 4100A
    Crown Pump Organ by Geo. P. Bent, Chicago, Illinois


    Organs I hope to obtain in the future:

    Conn Tube Minuet or Caprice even a transistor Caprice with the color coded tabs
    Gulbransen H3 or G3, or V.
    Wurlitzer 44, 4410, 4420, ES Reed Models, 4300, 4500, Transistor Models

  7. #7

    Re: Conn Organs

    I've got a Conn Artist 721. It is a big step up from my Hammond M101. Lots of pedal, but no sustain. If all goes as planned it will be installed in a small chapel this summer.

  8. #8
    Member crossyinoz's Avatar
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    Re: Conn Organs



    I will state upfront that a Conn organ never has, &amp; never will be on my shopping list for another instrument. However in our community which is made up of small seaside towns &amp; semi rural areas an inordinately large number of them remain, the result ofefforts of a very active local dealer in the 70's. Most of them are larger instruments, many with Leslies and/or pipes. Our local Uniting Church (Aussie combination of Methodists &amp; Presbyterians) has a 611 church console which does all required of it for a smallish church with an elderly congregation. Our state capital 120k away has a dealer who continues to sell used Conns quite successfully - must be love of the instrument I guess.</P>


    Along with other posters on this thread I would also suggest that the tonal quality of the reeds &amp; strings left a lot to be desired. If I had to choose a favourite Conn it would be the 554 Trinidad an instrument that to me did not inherit the "muddy" sound of its predecessors ie. 552, 553, 580, and to my ears was the only Conn that had a half decent piano.</P>


    I believe the Conn organ had its place - in churches &amp; homes where the hip pocket could not extend to a Johannus, Allen or Rodgers, and if the company had stuck to that sort of niche marketing instead of unsuccessfully trying to conquer the low end &amp; gimmicky segments of the market with dog products like the woeful Electric Band and the Kimball/Conn spinets with their ab fab pink, purple, lime &amp; orange tabs, the brand may still be around today. We organ buffs across the Pacific at the timewere quite confused - to us "Starburst" is a confectionery made by M&amp;M Mars, "Caper" is a British colloquiallism for being involved in a questionable activity and "Martinique" is an island next to the one a late British royal with a fondness for G&amp;T and younger men used to holiday. </P>


    Makes me think, and speculation is possibly not a good thing - What, if the company had survived, would a digital Conn have been like? I shudder to think.</P>


    Cheers,</P>


    Ian</P>
    <P mce_keep="true"></P>

    Hammond X77GT & Leslie 77P
    Lowrey C500 & Leslie 720/540
    Hammond T524 & Leslie 710
    Gulbransen Theatrum & Leslie 700
    Yamaha EL90T

  9. #9
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Re: Conn Organs



    Ian,</P>


    A digital Connalmost happened. The story goes that North American Rockwell Corp, developers of the technology that ultimately became Allen MOS-1, tried to peddle this stuff all over the organ world before Allen grabbed it up, locked up the patents, and made everybody else wait 17 years.</P>


    A former engineer for the Conn organ division once purchased aused Conn organ from me, drove 400 miles to pick up this old 651,just because he wanted one. He was a jolly chap and we had a wonderful visit when he came. He told me about the Rockwell people making their presentation to Conn long before Allen adopted it. The Conn engineers weren't interested because it was definitely a poorer sounding scheme than the multiple oscillator systems Conn was using. He described the sound as "all coming out of the same knothole." </P>


    So, the closest Conn came to digital was those quasi-digital Starlite or Starburst or whatever those wretched things were. It was a close call.</P>


    John</P>
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    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 ........ at last!
    Home: Allen MADC-420 ...........finally!
    Shop: More organs than I can count.... some working, many not!
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  10. #10

    Re: Conn Organs

    I"ve only owned two Conn organs, the Prelude for a year and then jumped up to the 628 Rhapsody that I still have. I always thought the flutes were really nice and I also liked the strings. The Rhapsody model IMHO was under equipped I thought for a console size organ. The stoplists for both manuals was short and no 8' or coupler on the pedals. I seldom ever used the percussion and only recently figured out what the 2nd touch swithch did. It certainly did have a nice cabinet. That's the hardest part about letting it go. I wont miss the tuning though, it has really begun to fly south. My relationship with this instrument is ending this week. I'll let you all know how it goes.

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