DISCOVERING THE ELECTRONIC ORGAN
In the 1960s music stores in my town, in common with those in many other towns, were starting to organise promotional concerts in association with electronic organ companies like Hammond, Lowrey and Yamaha. I was fascinated by the sound of these instruments and their versatility over the pipe organ. Eventually I acquired a second hand A100 Hammond organ, an electro-mechanical tone wheel model with valve amplifier. This I continued to play for a number of years but advances in electronics were enabling other makes of organ to become more orchestral and the tonal limitations of the Hammond were starting to become apparent.
Then I heard about the WERSI company and their electronic organ kits. I decided to go for the Concerto model and ordered the first half dozen kits. Assembly was quite tedious, every cable had to be individually wired and connected and every component on each circuit board had to be be soldered in. Only the keyboards, pedalboard and cabinet came ready assembled. The assembly instructions however were clear and accurate and there were test procedures to follow at various stages in the construction. Eventually after the first set of kits had been built the organ miraculously sprang into life with the sound of the drawbars. From then on additional kits provided the orchestral sounds, reverberation unit, special effects unit, accompaniment unit and total preset memory. All in all, working most nights and weekends it took 9 months to complete the build, if I had known that when I began I think I might not have started!
I held on to the Concerto for many years until I felt that developments in digital technology were able to produce instruments that matched the warm, rich sounds of my analogue model. By comparison with the Concerto, my current organ the Scala with its sampling technology produces very realistic instrumental sounds which unlike the analogue model can be edited for tonal quality and also layered together to produce complex sounds and ensembles. The digital technology is able to offer many more features than were possible in analogue technology but best of all is the ability to expand the capabilities of the instrument. Unlike the Concerto, no additional circuit boards are required, it’s all there in the software.