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#703561 - 12/13/07 10:38 AM converting an older organ to midi
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3847
Loc: Virginia, USA
I noticed in the want ads of the local shoppers guide there are several home organs for sale fairly cheap. Usually they are two or three manual with pedal.

I've been planning to attempt building a midi organ to use a simulator like Hauptwerk more or less from scratch. But I'm wondering if any of these would be an easier route.

Any special brand to look for? Or just forget the whole idea?
gotta go practice

#703562 - 12/19/07 02:18 PM Re: converting an older organ to midi
Tom Tuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 246
Loc: Bainbridge, OH
It ought to be possible, in principle, to do this as it can be done for acoustic pianos, but the expense and effort are likely to exceed the results. It would be simpler and less expensive to pick up a midi-capable keyboard from a pawnshop or SallieAnn unless you really want 2m/p capability.


#703563 - 12/27/07 12:37 PM Re: converting an older organ to midi
Tom Tuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 246
Loc: Bainbridge, OH
You might check Moog Music for their midi-keyboard adapters.

#703564 - 04/04/08 08:59 PM Re: converting an older organ to midi
bruceee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/05
Posts: 317
Loc: Wellington, New Zealand
Sorry for the late reply, but thanks to RatMan, I only just found out that this forum exists. :rolleyes:

Unless you are an electronics whizz, forget about building your own midi. Some later model electronic organs already have midi built into them -- watch out for buzz-words like "digital" and "PCM", so if you haven't bought yet, go shopping for one of those.

A lot of owners don't know if their organ has midi, so you will need to check for yourself from the owners manual (should you be so lucky!) or look up the Brand and Model Number on the Internet. I remember one organ I bought where the owner said, in response to someone else's question, that the organ didn't have a headphone jack. But it did actually, and midi too, tucked away in the usual place under the manuals.

#703565 - 04/05/08 07:29 AM Re: converting an older organ to midi
RatMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 243
Loc: Bonneville Salt Flats
I found that my cheap Casio (WK-3300) has a fine midi port and that midi isn't very hardware dependent so it didn't seem to matter where the signal was coming from. I paid about $250 for it, since zZounds.com was selling it as a "blem."

Then I found Red Dot Midi Recorder and I was off and running...straight into the arms of the dreaded "Recording Anxiety" issues. I'm dealing with that as it comes up.

I've read about midi conversions for Hammonds, but most Hammond nuts (like me) seem to view them with disdain. The analog sound from a Hammond is so beautiful, there's little reason to constrain it with midi issues.

I agree with Bruceee (since we share a common root of electronics hardware tech-ism) that building your own, unless you're already a proficient musician and know a whole lot about electronics and have a lotta money to spend, probably will only end in frustration. It did for me in the 70s when I started a project like that. I gave up after about 6 months...and I'd only begun a power supply and realized it would be woefully inadequate.

So if midi is what ya want, there are tons of digital keyboards out there and a whole lotta midi recording and editing software to experiment with.

Sorry to rain on yer parade, but it's the sad truth.
1961 Hammond M-101, Casio Digital kb, a coupla basses and some other stuff.
Canon 40D and a half-full camera bag.
If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing (I ain't thru doin the camera thing.)

#703566 - 04/15/08 03:59 AM Re: converting an older organ to midi
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3847
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally posted by RatMan:

Sorry to rain on yer parade, but it's the sad truth. [/b]
It's actually the other way around. I want a practice organ as I don't get much time at the church.

I reasoned that any old clunker of a home organ might work IF it already had MIDI out, because sound wouldn't be an issue, just run MIDI through software. No, I had no intention of adding MIDI to an organ that didn't have one - I might be able to handle a pedal board, but not 122 keys.

However, I've now found several thrift shop home organs, and this idea was obviously very bad. These things aren't very playable, with or without MIDI.

Back to the drawing board. If I can find a set of real pedals it would be worth the effort, otherwise no.
gotta go practice

#703567 - 08/02/08 01:16 PM Re: converting an older organ to midi
sgreene123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Boston Area
"You will always be able to hear more than you can play." Miles Davis


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