britson

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Who builds the best electronic organ?

Your question is certainly a common concern and I receive many such questions. However, the answer is not as cut and dried as you may have hoped for.

Organs have been built down through the centuries by hundreds of different builders, with each builder designing into their instrument their own unique sound. Now days, a Wicks pipe organ has a peculiar sound that is definitely "Wicks". A Moller, sounds like a Moller. A Schantz sounds like a Schantz and an Austin sounds like an Austin, to name just a few. The point here is although all these organs are pipe organs, each one has a distinctively different quality which sets them apart tonally from each other. So, the question becomes not necessarily which is the best, but which one sounds the best to you, because it is a simple matter of your opinion which sounds better. Aside from workmanship, the sound is considered by many to be the most important aspect of an organ. If everything else is superb about an organ except for the sound, then the organ can be regarded as a failure or at best mediocre.

Having said this, every electronic organ dealer's claim is that their instruments sound most like a pipe organ. But this is really not a significant statement because we would need to ask, "Which pipe organ does it sound like?" To your ear, is it a good pipe organ or a bad pipe organ that they have chosen to sample? If the chosen pipe organ is an "Aeolian-Skinner" for instance, then the questions would be, "Fine...how do you like that particular Aeolian-Skinner?" And, "Does the electronic organ reproduce the Aeolian-Skinner faithfully?" Even then the questions are mute because the fact is, each electronic organ builder has their own peculiar sound created through each builder's proprietary technology, the voicing biases and tonal philosophies of the tonal directors and even the speaker designs all contribute to creating a unique sound.

In other words, a Johannus has a distinctive sound as as does Rodgers, as does Allen, Galanti, MusiCom, or Walker...to name a few. As a technician I must deal with clients who have very strong opinions regarding which instruments are acceptable and which are not...and I must respect their opinions. However, very few clients would agree with each other. Therefore, I know people that hate Rodgers and love Allens and I know people who love Rodgers and hate Allens. I consider this phenomenon similar to the old tiff regarding the Chevy guys who would rather push their Chevys than drive a Ford and vice versa.

As in a pipe organ, I suggest one never measure an electronic organ based solely on its technology. If you become convinced a certain manufacturer's instrument has the "best" technology, but the sound is not necessarily to your liking, then I contend that that technology is not the best for you. When you find an instrument that sounds simply awesome to you, then the technology that is used to attain that sound becomes the best in the world for you because it is that technology that is required to produce the sound that pleases you, and none other.

There are many fine electronic instruments being built today. Most all top end models are good in my opinion regardless of the manufacturer. The question is then, which one do you prefer? And I wouldn't limit your choice to just one or two...