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Circuit Bending - 1960s Baldwin Organ???
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Circuit Bending - 1960s Baldwin Organ???
m33pz0r
Hello,

I was simply curious if anyone has ever attempted to circuit bend an older organ or not? I was considering maybe giving it a shot but want opinions if I should waste my time or not. Here is the organ I am referring too.....



Thanks!
Jaytee
Not ideal for circuit-bending IMHO. You might find a distortion bend if you get lucky, but there’s a reason most people are circuit bending digital stuff from the 80s.
snercle
You should be able to add an external input jack for that speaker (which doubles its uses in the studio) and maybe changing some capacitor values, like the one for the tremelo should give you audio range modulation which could be interesting hmmm.....
astrosound
Agree with Jaytee. Plenty of cool things to do with old organs but circuit bending isn't one of them.

Ideas:

Rip out the drum unit. It's probably on a dedicated PCB or chassis and you might just find trigger inputs or individual outs which are nice when the fox trot and waltz no longer cut the mustard. The drums may also have trimmers for tuning and/or volume. I suggest probing the board *before* ripping it out of the organ. Find out the power supply voltage at the board and what wire goes where. One old organ I took apart even had a rhythm ace voice board for the drums...

Some organs have chorus/"rotary" effects on dedicated PCBs.

Yank out the volume pedal and make... A volume pedal

Repurpose pedal bass keys for midi controller or something

Reuse the spring reverb tank

Chop the bottom off to make an ugly semi portable combo organ.

Salvage the longer bits of wire for future projects.
JimY
Sadly, they are rather more useful for some of the parts inside.

Sample it to death first. Some of the drum patterns often have one particular tempo where they actually groove.
Grumble
I got one of those years back for free.
Thought I removed the drum section and make a stand alone module out of it.
Didn't worked out very well, to say the least.
At least I made a nice Midi base foot pedal out of the organ...
Jaytee
I’ll be the odd one out and mention that these organs are usually pretty awesome as-is. My vote is to keep it in one piece. I feel like it’s pretty rare that I see someone actually do something cool by taking an organ apart; it’s an ambitious project without much payoff.

If you really want to dig in, see what you can do without affecting the base functionality. Give it an external input to the spring reverb. Add trigger jacks for the drums. MIDIfy the keyboard. Etc.
Grumble
Too late MY ASS IS BLEEDING
JimY
Depends on the technical age. From '60's into the 70's, more and more IC's were used. MOS chips for octave dividers are valuable as spares. As are master top octave chip and drum pattern chips. Older it is, the less likely it is to have those parts. However, those early MOS chips are fragile and don't live forever.
Organs made with discrete silicon transistor based oscillators and flip flop dividers are not particularly valuable, but are maybe more likely to sound like a Vox.
Any old enough to have some germanium transistors and diodes which can be valuable, especially to guitar fx builders.

Keep an eye out for Eminent organs and see if they have a String Ensemble tab - there is a Solina in there. I saw one for £30 but it was in Nottingham, too far for me but if it was closer, I'd have made room for it.
astrosound
I should add that unless you have schematics or the boards are very clearly labeled, attempting to repurpose the drum unit or chorus board like I suggested can be more trouble than it's worth.

Jaytee wrote:
I’ll be the odd one out and mention that these organs are usually pretty awesome as-is. My vote is to keep it in one piece. I feel like it’s pretty rare that I see someone actually do something cool by taking an organ apart; it’s an ambitious project without much payoff.


Agreed, again. Those console organs can be just as capable as a farfisa or vox combo. In fact certain models by the likes of farfisa and yamaha share like 90% of their electronics with their portable counterparts (which also makes them a great source for parts...). For anyone who wants a combo sound and doesn't plan to lug it around to shows, the console organs can be a *much* less costly alternative. I have a couple chopped consoles I keep around because they have certain sounds that none of my other keys/organs can do.
fuzzbass
Jaytee wrote:
I’ll be the odd one out and mention that these organs are usually pretty awesome as-is.


You may indeed be the odd one out. I have never before heard praise of a 1970s Baldwin branded home organ. One can't even be sure who made it or where (my guess is Italy), since Baldwin is a brand that has been endlessly licensed out to whatever factory wherever, whenever. Is that wood tone plastic laminate flanking the keybed, or just some vinyl shelf paper? Schweet!

Meepzor:
My suggestion is to see what Jaytee will give you for it and make sure he picks it up too! razz
Jaytee
fuzzbass wrote:
Jaytee wrote:
I’ll be the odd one out and mention that these organs are usually pretty awesome as-is.


You may indeed be the odd one out. I have never before heard praise of a 1970s Baldwin branded home organ. One can't even be sure who made it or where (my guess is Italy), since Baldwin is a brand that has been endlessly licensed out to whatever factory wherever, whenever. Is that wood tone plastic laminate flanking the keybed, or just some vinyl shelf paper? Schweet!


By coincidence, one of my favorite instruments of all time was a Baldwin home organ I grabbed for $35 at a thrift store. Thing just oozed charm. Nice sounds, good reverb, you could assign drum sounds to keys/pedals (putting a kick drum on the pedals made for an absolutely thundering bass). I eventually donated it to a church when I moved across an ocean and sold all my stuff. Miss that old organ a lot.

I doubt OP’s organ is anything like that one, since like you say, a *lot* of different home organs were released under that brand. All the same, lots of these old organs are much cooler left intact as opposed to salvaged for parts. I always see people with really ambitious plans for what they’re gonna do with their ripped-up organs, but I never see finished projects wink

That all said, it’s not like it’s a rare or particularly valuable instrument. It doesn’t bug me too much to see them ripped up. I’m just saying that they’re cooler intact wink
JimY
Bass pedals in my sig are from a Farfisa home organ with DIY midi & onboard synth. The lower manual from that organ is currently growing into a string machine sorta like the Arp Omni string section. Where else was I going to find a keybed with real wire contacts? Both manuals are 44key F to C like many classic synths, play like butter and built like tanks.
That particular organ didn't have combo-like voicing, except the upper manual had some decent "string" footages. The Flute and others were too smooth & midrange for rock

All that said, it took the progressive increase of failure of the divider chips & other bits in an instrument dating from 1978 that forced the decision to scrap it. I did have some fun experimenting with some add ons. I put a 4046 pll and some other logic between the master oscillator and TOG chip so I could do a glide up or down an octave and even "bomb the tonewheel" all the way down to zero. The upper had a mono solo voicing - so another 4046 added portamento. I added jacks so I could plug a guitar into the cheesewheel rotary speaker and some separate outputs.
fuzzbass
Now, if you can find one of these babies, t'would be whole nother matter...

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