Author Topic: So, what happened to home organs?  (Read 1695 times)

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Offline SciNote

So, what happened to home organs?
« on: October 08, 2017, 01:06:26 AM »
I've read where the arranger keyboard has essentially replaced the home organ.  So, why was the home organ replaced?  I have some theories, which I'll get to in a moment.  I remember in the 1970's and 1980's, you could hardly walk through a mall without encountering an organ store.  Now, I don't think I've seen one since the 1990's or early 2000's.  I learned to play keyboard on home organs -- first, a small Wurlitzer 375, then a Yamaha D80.  A home organ typically has multiple manuals (keyboards), as well as bass pedals.  An arranger has one keyboard, and while it can usually be split, the resulting parts are usually smaller than a home organ's manuals.  And a home organ is also a piece of furniture.  If you have a traditional living room with fancy furniture, then a home organ would likely fit in the décor, while an arranger keyboard on a keyboard stand, and with separate speakers, might look quite out of place -- looking more like something that belongs in a studio, not a living room.  However, an arranger keyboard, stand, and speakers may go well with a more modern décor, if the wires are hidden as much as possible.

So... what are my theories as to what happened to the home organs?  Well, for one thing, they got EXPENSIVE... and I mean REALLY expensive!  I remember that in the 1990's, I was in an organ store (I think it was Lowrey), and they were selling an organ for $50,000!  FIFTY GRAND!  In the 1990's!  I heard it demoed, and I honestly did not think the quality of the sounds was any better than what I had assembled at home for less than $2000 with keyboards like the PSR-520.  I recall it had backgrounds for hundreds of songs programmed into it, and of course, it had cabinetry that made it a nice piece of furniture.  But I wouldn't say that was worth the extra $48,000!

Now, granted, that was a top of the line organ, but still... $50,000?  And even small organs were going for over $10,000.  I'm sure a Genos would blow those smaller organs away at half the price (not even accounting for inflation).  For comparison, in 1978, the Wurlitzer I had (which was a spinet with a 3rd monophonic synth keyboard) cost about $1600, and the Yamaha D80, a much higher-end spinet also with a 3rd mono/solo synth-type keyboard, cost about $4000.

And, I would also say that another attraction to the arranger keyboard is that, what you give up in cabinetry, you gain in portability, so that even if you don't play professionally, you still have the ability to bring it to a friend's home to play at a party or something similar.

So, any other thoughts on this?
Bob
Yamaha PSR-E433
Yamaha PSR-520
 

Offline DerekA

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2017, 02:24:47 AM »
I started out with a GEM Wizard 320. I had 2 manuals + pedals, and boasted about 8 'sounds' and 8 beats. It took pride of place in the hallway, and was loud. The neighbours used to sit in their gardens and listen to me playing.

I remember going to see Max Takano demonstrating the new Yamaha home organs at our local theatre and absolutely longed to have one. As you say though, even my S770 would totally blow them away in terms of sound quality and flexibility. If I had had my hands on something like that when I was 10 ....
S770
 

Offline motekmusic

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2017, 03:01:22 AM »
 :)Hi Soundnote,

Growing up several aunties always had an organ gracing their living room areas.   My Mom got the bug and brought home
an organ as well to perch in the living room area.   As a teen I took piano lessons from a cocktail playing gentlemen who
also had an organ in his studio.  So learned a little on how to diddle around.  My mom still has a technics organ in her
home which I will have to find the model number,, circa early 80's so I can help her re¨register it when am there to visit.
I myself had a technics as well a U60 which just died one day when was playing Hello Dolly,  The leslie speakers gave a full
robust sound.
Perhaps the theory of the advent of the super arranger with all those organ sounds may have displaced the "home organ"
which was the focal point of a room just as perhaps a baby grand piano would look nice in a room.
I wonder how many folks would splurge for that Wersi that Claudia plays.
Also years ago music stores and dealers, at least where I lived , always a had full calendar of organ playing events.
Personal incomes,  home decors, and musical tastes have all contriubed IMO to a decline in home organ buyers.
The arranger made it easy for organ player wannabes to get the sounds and music without learning to manage 2 keyboards
and the bass pedals.   

just a few thoughts
interesting thread

cheers
elaine
\\\"I have suffered for my music, now it\\\'s your turn\\\"   Neil Innes
 

Offline EileenL

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 03:55:04 AM »
Hi Elaine,
  Many people have added another keyboard and Bass peddles and called it a twin set. You set it up so that it acts like an organ plus you get all the latest advances in sound Technology and Styles.
   I think organs became less popular when people started moving into smaller properties when the children left and just had not the room plus also the price went silly. I remember buying my first Hammond organ for £375. The last one I had was a Tecnics GN7 which I think was around £5000.   

Offline motekmusic

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2017, 04:24:47 AM »
Eileen,

Yes, now folks can have those pedals and additional keyboards to set up.
What a nice boost.

all the best
elaine
\\\"I have suffered for my music, now it\\\'s your turn\\\"   Neil Innes
 

Offline Del B

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2017, 04:33:23 AM »
I agree with Eileen also some of the organs I had were too heavy and large to move, Whilst I was living with my mother I had over the years 4 organs Starting with an Elka Orla Prestige, Wurlitzer Orbit 3, Rhia Philharmonic, and the 4th being a Hohner D98, and on the 4th organ I got my own 2 up 2 down place it seemed huge. When I moved from that home to the home I am in now the D98 went and I got a Technics KN3000, followed by a Technics KN7000 and now the Tyros 5/76.
Also as SciNote stated portability of arranger type keyboards was appealing for me not that I did gig's at that time but the option was there and that you could move it anywhere in the home.
 

Offline Toril S

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2017, 09:55:35 AM »
Hi friends! Portability and "stowawayability!" When not in use, take the keyboard, put it in a protective bag, and stand it up in a corner, out of the way! (Maybe not Tyros/Genos :) )So, take it with you to all rooms in your house, to gigs, to your friends house etc! I remember buying an organ, and then I got a little panic when it was installed in my small living room. It took so much space, so I sent it back and got a keyboard instead. But organs, and pianos, are stylish furniture.
Toril S

PSR S970, PSR 2100 and PSR-47.

http://psrtutorial.com/perf/torilSusegg.html
 
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Offline Keyboardist

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2017, 09:58:16 AM »
Its a sign of the current times
I remember my uncle had several ones ,super heavy and pretty expensive too; and he had so much fun playing it and people would pass by and hear him, but now they are becoming so obsolete !
Stores used to carry a lot of them but now very little or none; same with the modules as they used to be everywhere in the music shops racks and now none.
We now have the technology with the genos tyro's which far surpass with what they can do compared to the yesteryear organs. Very popular for the times but now a thing of the past.
I'm sure it will again change like everything usually does in the future but this is what is offered for us now.
At least we don't need a fork lift to carry our boards around.

Craig
Arranger Workstations
My Performer Page
 

Offline SciNote

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 11:53:14 PM »
Okay, so it seems like it's pretty much what I was thinking -- the rapidly escalating price, and the lack of portability and flexibility.  And just simply a change in consumer preferences.  I wouldn't say its the technology, because as with most things, if home organs were still as popular today as they used to be, I'm sure the latest technology would be put into them.

In fact, though they are not as popular as they once were, there are still a few companies making them.  Notably, Wersi is one.  And while they're not cheap (with their top model also being over $50,000 -- but of course, it's now two decades later than when I saw the $50k Lowrey), they definitely have a sleek, modern design.  It looks like their "cheaper" ones go for about $16000, and they also have portable, arranger-type keyboards in the range of $4000 to $9000.  Someone else on here mentioned them, and that's how I found their website, though I have heard of the brand for quite some time now.  Definitely some interesting items on their website.
Bob
Yamaha PSR-E433
Yamaha PSR-520
 

Offline andyg

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2017, 12:46:10 PM »
If you really want to know what happened to the home organ business, and why it happened, then I'd suggest a visit to www.organforum.com

The subject has been done to death many times over in the Home Organs section! Our experts (including me) were there, inside the business when it all started to go downhill, and we know the facts! I won't go into them all again here.

There are still new organs available. Lowrey (though they are Kawai instruments with Lowrey voicing, styles and high prices), Wersi, Bohm, Ringway and Bemore. Plus Kawai and Yamaha on special import via Tarotrade in Australia. And there are some Brazilian makes - the market there is still good.

Ironically, there's a good interest in home organ playing again, as high quality, once expensive, used instruments are available for peanuts and people are willing to take a chance that they won't pack up before they've had their money's worth.

As for home organ buying, well that's still in decline for new instruments. Maybe it will level off, even pick up a little, but the glory days are long, long gone.
It's not what you play, it's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

www.andrew-gilbert.com
 

Offline SciNote

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2017, 01:20:38 PM »
Yep... I mentioned the Wersi brand above.  But some of those are over $50,000 US, which even today seems like an awful lot of money.  And you're right about the depreciation.  Out of curiosity, I checked out my local Craigslist, and some of these organs that had to at least have been about $6000 or more new were going for just $150-300.  Granted, these were pretty old, but they were still high-end models for their time.  The newer used organs often go for a few thousand dollars, but that is still probably quite a bit off their original prices.  Like you said, it really makes it good for people who want to try it out and see if they like it without spending a whole lot of money.

I guess if interest does start to increase again, we could see prices start to go up.  This is what has happened with vintage analog synthesizers.  Back in the mid-1980's, when the DX-7 and other digital synthesizers were "all the rage", I saw a used Sequential Circuits Prophet 10 dual-keyboard synthesizer in a music store for about $700.  $700!  Check out what they cost now!  However, I played around with it, and I couldn't get it to do much, so it may have been damaged, but I didn't mess around with it enough to know for sure (I had just bought a DX-7 at the time, so I really wasn't in the market for a new keyboard and was just browsing), and I would hope that a music store would not be selling defective merchandise without making it clear on the labeling.  You can also check other classic synths on eBay, like a Yamaha CS-80 or vintage Arps and Moogs, and see that their prices have gone crazy for 30-40 year old hardware.
Bob
Yamaha PSR-E433
Yamaha PSR-520
 

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2017, 04:23:13 AM »
An interesting discussion topic and one where there's so much to say, that one could write a detailed essay. Anyway, here are some of my rambling thoughts on the subject.

Electronic home organs don't really lend themselves that well to contemporary pop and dance music, unless you're really clever at taking a piece of music and capable of rearranging it into something completely different, for example as in the Postmodern Jukebox genre. This usually involves a waif-like young girl giving a slowed-down, emotional, and slightly depressing vocal performance of a previously upbeat number (think the John Lewis Christmas tv ads).
Home organs are arguably far more suited to Latin, Ballads, Easy Listening and a dozen other genres of 'oldies'. The problem is there aren't many under the age of 50 who actually like that sort of stuff, the majority consider it rather dull and unfamiliar. Of course, there will always be the cheesy Christmas classics and a few other exceptions like movie themes and soundtracks.

I can see the few home organs that are actually left, ending up like classic cars - cherished by an ever decreasing minority of enthusiasts and ever dwindling in popularity, as those enthusiasts pass.

But enough of the morbidness! On the bright side we still have:

Bemore
Bohm
Hammond
Lowrey
Ringway (Orla)
Wersi
Yamaha (limited to the SE Asian market, but available as a grey import)

. . . and those are manufacturers I can think of off the top of my head, feel free to add others you may know of.

Another aspect seems to me that there are not enough up and coming youngsters who are actually interested enough to make an effort to learn to play organ, because a lot of (but not all) kids today are of the instant-results, quick-fix-for-everything generation and are too distracted by phones, tablets and other technology. Also today there is less disposable income and those who have it would spend on something else, and as said upstream in this thread, peoples' ideas of home decor have changed a lot. They don't want an imposing, old-fashioned lump of wood that looks like Grandma's old dresser cluttering up their living rooms.

Also we have to ask, where are home organs going? We've pretty much reached the peak of realism as far as sound replication is concerned, yet still some say that it's far too cheesy to play a sax solo on your T5 - why not get someone who can actually play a real saxophone? (I've actually had that said to me at a gig.) Organs and keyboards have tons of minimum-effort-required functions to make them easier to play, for the beginners. But what else can be done to entice the new buyer? In the end, it boils down to the fact that you just have to take the bull by the horns and learn music and playing technique the old fashioned way, as it has been for hundreds of years. This is the point when many get bored with the whole thing and give up.

So the bottom line is I guess, times change, fads come and go, and things move on. Thanks for staying with it.  ;)
Keyboards: Tyros 3, Roland E-70.

Organs: Yamaha HS8, Yamaha D-85, Technics U90 Pro, Wersi Helios W2S.
 

Offline SciNote

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2017, 04:50:29 PM »
Check out this beast!

https://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/msg/d/lowrey-sterling-organ-price/6336698576.html

I don't know how long it will be advertised, so I guess that link could be removed at any time.  This thing looks like the Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT, from the TV show Knight Rider) for keyboards!  The ad said the original price was $77995, and the asking price is $8900!  This thing has a color touch screen, USB capability, and a CD recorder.  So while it could be a few years old, it's certainly no relic from the 1970's or 1980's.  And for it to be reduced by so much!  If I had the room, and an extra nine grand sitting around collecting dust, I'd be tempted to get it just to have it.  Looks like a magnificent instrument.
Bob
Yamaha PSR-E433
Yamaha PSR-520
 

Offline vbdx66

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2017, 02:36:51 AM »
Hi Bob,

This thing surely looks impressive. It would be an interesting buy for a higher end hotel, a concert venue or an art cinema (this organ must be brilliant to accompany silent movies).

Is one limited to the 260+ internal styles or is there a possibility either to tweak the internal styles or to upload new ones into the instrument?

In my area, someone is trying to sell a top-notch Roland Music Atelier for € 2,000 and it won’t sell at that price...  :o

And with the Genos coming out, I guess we will see plenty of Tyros for sale at a bargain price... not only the Tyros 5 but also older models, since it could very well occur that someone would directly upgrade from any older Tyros to a Genos.

Best Regards,

Vinciane.
Past keyboards: PSR E313, PSR E413, PSR E433, PSR S550, DGX 640, upright piano.
Now: DGX 650
 

Offline SciNote

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2017, 04:06:17 AM »
Yep!  I'm seeing a Tyros 5/76 for sale for $2000 around here.
Bob
Yamaha PSR-E433
Yamaha PSR-520
 

Offline vbdx66

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2017, 07:24:11 AM »
Well... maybe it is the right time to buy a Tyros and we should leave the Genos to the "beautiful people" for the time being...  8) 8) 8)

Vinciane.
Past keyboards: PSR E313, PSR E413, PSR E433, PSR S550, DGX 640, upright piano.
Now: DGX 650
 

Offline Mjm

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2017, 09:58:59 AM »

Ahhh, the home organ. I got my first (and only) organ in 1971 when I was 13 years old. It was a Thomas "Belair" and I absolutely loved it! I still have it, but it doesn't really work anymore. I thought it sounded quite good at the time, but if you consider the sounds
It could make to what a Tyros,or Genos can-there's just no comparison. About the only comparable sound would be the organ, because of the built in Leslie speaker.

When I was 15, my brother got married, and wanted me to play for his wedding. So we loaded up the Thomas, and hauled it to the church! Did the same thing a few years later when a friend of mine got married. Thankfully, after that, I purchased a more portable keyboard ( an Ensoniq ESQ8) which made it much easier to play for people's weddings! Lol.

I don't consider myself a super proficient player, my strong point is arranging songs. People always tell me that they like my "style of playing". That being said, ohhhh how I would have loooved to have had a keyboard of today, with their 16 track recorders, authentic sounds, and incredible backing styles, when I was 13...but that's ok, I still love my Thomas, and had many hours of fun playing it.

Cheers,

Mark

Online Roger Brenizer

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2017, 10:12:02 AM »
I've never owned a Lowrey Sterling Organ before, Bob, but I've played one.  It's a magnificent organ!  :)

If I had room in our home for this Lowrey, I would buy it in a heartbeat.  I have two Yamaha HS-8T organs, a Tyros 4 keyboard and a piano.  I'm also restoring a Lowrey organ at the present time, so I'll need to make room somewhere for this when the restoration is completed.  :)  ;D
"Music Is My Life"
My best regards,
Roger

(The older I get...the better I used to be...LOL!!!)
Roger’s PSR Performer Page
 

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2017, 01:23:50 PM »
Good luck with the restoration, Roger. May I ask which model Lowrey it is?

As a kid, I used to visit the local music store and be utterly fascinated by the Lowrey's. All those coloured switches . . . I wonder what that does . . . Why can't my boring piano sound as good as this . . . Good times.  :D
Keyboards: Tyros 3, Roland E-70.

Organs: Yamaha HS8, Yamaha D-85, Technics U90 Pro, Wersi Helios W2S.
 

Online Roger Brenizer

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2017, 01:52:51 PM »
Hi Neil,

I'm restoring a Lowrey Virtuoso spinet Organ, which was owned by my parents.  It was a very low end keyboard in its day, but it has a great deal of sentimental value to me.

My dad passed in 1982 and mom kept the organ.  I taught both of them how to play on this Lowrey and on a Magnovox organ they owned prior to the Lowrey.

When mom passed in 2003, my sister wanted the organ and she didn't even play an organ or a piano.  About two years ago my sister called me to ask if I would like to have the organ.  Of course, I said yes.  I later found out that she had been storing the organ in a storage building without heating or air conditioning.  This organ is a mess and the mice have not been very kind to it while making it their home for a number of years now.  LOL!!!

I only work on it as I find the time.  Every time I touch it, I remember all the good times I had with my mom and dad teaching them how to play.  :)
"Music Is My Life"
My best regards,
Roger

(The older I get...the better I used to be...LOL!!!)
Roger’s PSR Performer Page
 

Offline Del B

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2017, 02:54:34 PM »


I only work on it as I find the time.  Every time I touch it, I remember all the good times I had with my mom and dad teaching them how to play.  :)

 What a lovely way to restore the organ Roger with good memories and I am sure once fully restored you will hear and see the memories again over and over :)
regards Del

Offline mikf

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2017, 06:45:45 PM »
What a great looking instrument that Lowrey Sterling is and at that price a bargain for an enthusiast. I am even tempted myself to give it a good home even although I am not an enthusiast! What a great piece of technology, even although it is outdated - a bit like steam locomotives.
There are many reasons that home organs drifted out of favor, and I think that one of them is that the organ sound itself is not really fashionable any more. It could be impressive though in the right hands ( and feet!). I once had the pleasure of listening to a recital by a really talented player on the iconic Wurlitzer theater organ in the in the Castro theater in San Francisco, which rises out of the stage, and it was quite something.
Mike
 
 

Offline SciNote

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2017, 08:36:08 PM »
I wouldn't even say it's outdated.  It has a touch screen, USB port, and CD recorder.  From what I read, it has over 6000 sounds!  And, it has 260 styles, though I do not know if any can be added.  But, yes, I think you're right that just the traditional sound of an organ has kind of fallen out of favor, and that it doesn't really matter than an instrument like this can sound like just about anything, not just a traditional organ.  Multi-manual organs are just not "cool" at this time, and keyboards like arrangers and synths can do everything the organ can do, but with much more portability and at a fraction of the cost.  That $77000 price tag is a monster.  Even if a person bought a Genos AND a Montage, that would only cost about 1/8 the original cost of this organ.  Add another grand for a good stand, amp, and speakers, and you're still at about 1/7 of the cost.
Bob
Yamaha PSR-E433
Yamaha PSR-520
 

Offline bob4music

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2017, 10:42:26 PM »
My folks got a Hammond M3 spinet in 1959.  It came with 10 free lessons.   I got the lessons and hated it.  I even took from the music director at the Air Force Academy as we lived in Colo Spr for a year when I was 13 after the ten lessons...hated it.  I did then take a year of lessons from a lounge player before I left home to go to college, the Air Force and a career in business.   When I married Patty, we bought a cheap spinet at a fair...I never played it and it took up space.   Patty wanted to get me a bigger organ for our 2Oth anniversary.  I told her it was a waste as I was done playing but she insisted.  I think she wanted me to be around home and not off getting into,trouble somewhere.   I have since upgraded to a Lowrey Imperial.....great organ and I really enjoy it.   I go to the Lowrey home organ holiday convention every year for the past 7 years.   
THEN....I met a guy at the Lowrey convention 4 years ago and he talked about how he played a Yamaha keyboard in senior centers.....I looked into it ....talked with Gary Diamond to learn more about the forum and the keyboard.   Patterned a rig like Garys and now gig weekly in senior centers.  I LOVE it and find the playing by ear and knowing just enough about reading lead sheets gives me the tools to gig for the folks in senior centers.

OK....home organs vs keyboard.  Although I love my  Lowrey Imperial and can play the pedals, ki confess that if a choice between my Yamaha 950 or the Lowrey, the Yamaha would win leaving the Lowrey in the dust.   I plan on keeping the Lowrey and continue to go to the Lowrey conventions as long as they have them.....but I find I play the keyboard much more than the Lowrey.   
Quite frankly except for the pedals, the Yamaha has all the sounds and features of the home organ and with support on the forum,there is more help from Yamaha players than I would ever have from the home organ players. 

That said, I certainly understand why people round go the keyboard route to play....

Bob
Getting younger every day at the keyboard!!!!
 

Offline Bachus

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2017, 10:33:10 AM »
Organs are still alive
But way to expensive for most people

But except being expensive many of them indeed are more advanced then the home keyboards

Wersi, Böhm, and Bemore all allow the import of VST sounds
They have a huge touchscreen, like 13” on the wersi organs
They are based on high end pc technollogy

But they are organs first and foremost
Styles and midi files are not their prime asset.
Altough both wersi and bohm import yamaha styles
And the bemore imports styles of all brands
Yet after importing they require some edditing on all 3 brands

Wersi also sells an arranger keyboard version
But that is almost 2 times as expensive as the Genos..
But its easy adding a 2nd keyboard as lower one, and assigning sounds to it
Keyszone.boards.net for all the latest keyboard news and information.
 

Offline Mjm

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2017, 03:09:00 PM »
Quote from: Bachus link=topic=40252.msg318079#msg318079

But its easy adding a 2nd keyboard as lower one, and assigning sounds to it
[/quote

That's what I've been doing for years. I find having the second keyboard gives me much more flexibility.

Regards, 

Mark
 

Offline Ray

Re: So, what happened to home organs?
« Reply #26 on: October 25, 2017, 01:24:03 AM »
Hi Bob for music. I see you have a high end Lowrey, Imperial model. There is a small debate in my community ref the dimensions of the keys on the Lowrey compared with the Tyros/ Genos keyboards.
Can you please enlighten me, referring to the width of the white and black keys, hope you could measure them, width only. I’m of the opinion that the Lowrey keys are marginally wider than the keyboard, but others say they are exactly the same. Just an interesting point if you or another member can enlighten me.  Many thanks.