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Balwin Organ

Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Balwin Organ - 11/29/10 03:13 AM

I inherited a rather large Baldwin organ. I got home from church tonight and my shop light is on and the door open. (My wife was home due to being sick so she let them in)

Sitting inside my shop is a large Baldwin Organ. Full pedal board, two keyboards, lots of buttons.

A local church bought a new (newer) organ because this one quit. This one is 17 years old. Bought new.

They say sometimes is works, sometimes parts of it works, sometimes none of it works.

I know nothing about electric organs. Any ideas what to do with this one? Looks nice. But really is kinda useless to me.

Can anyone tell me what I might look for to fix it, or anyone interested in it?
Posted By: Brandon_W_T

Re: Balwin Organ - 11/29/10 03:08 PM

Post some pictures of your instrument. The later model baldwins are actually quite good instruments. I believe they were built by wurlitzer, or Viscount. Cant recall which, but decent organs non the less.

I sure would love an instrument like that if I could afford it.

What did they upgrade to? Hopefully something good. like an Allen. smile
Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 11/29/10 05:56 PM


See if this picture link works.

Here is another link for the pedal board.


You might be surprised what I would take for it. It is in my way, but too nice to just throw away.

I plugged it in, it does power up. But it sounds like it is trying to play several notes at once even when not pressing any keys.

Someone that knows what they are doing might could fix it fairly easily.

Brandon W. T. I see you live in Omaha, NE. My sister lives there. Might help with gas for me to get there and back and this thing could be yours. I need to go see my sister anyways.

Any one a little closer that's interested let me know.

I'm about 2 hours west of Dallas, TX on I 20.

Posted By: Brandon_W_T

Re: Balwin Organ - 11/29/10 06:26 PM

Sounds like a typical baldwin issue. Its a cipher. Common with these later model baldwins. its reparable, but can cost several hundred dollars.

I once played a baldwin similar to that. It has that silent touch keyboard. One nice organ. Yours appears to be the home model of that line. The church line had tabs about the size of your thumbs, that you would press to turn them on, and a little light would turn on above the tab. Pressing it again would switch it off. The console was more boxy. The roll top lid came out and down at 90 degrees, rather than sloped.

But its the same organ almost exactly. The one I played was I believe a 635. Nice nice instrument. Ill have to definitely think about your offer. Probably would have to sell a piano first.

Posted By: Ken Knapp

Re: Balwin Organ - 12/01/10 10:06 PM

When you turn it on, see if switching any of the tabs make any difference in the sound as the cipher plays. I repaired one with that symptom about a year ago. The pedal board had the switches built into it and plugged into the organ. One of the actuators inside the pedal board had come apart and I had to put it back together.

Other troubleshooting ideas for you if you're fairly handy...

First off, remember that there are high voltages exposed when the back is removed. I usually try playing notes to see if I can find the one that is constantly playing. You just try keys until you find one that does not change the sound. Sometimes that gives you a clue, sometimes it doesn't.

MANY older solid state organs suffer from bad connections. These can be connections as in the plugs inside, or perhaps ones that connect the circuits to a motherboard. I will usually poke around on the boards with some sort of insulated stick. If you get to an area where you poke (don't be afraid to use some reasonable pressure - you want to flex it a little) and the symptom goes away or changes you are probably in the right area. There can also be bad solder joints on the circuit boards. Some Baldwins are FAMOUS for that. Being that the organ sometimes works a connection problem is likely.

Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 12/01/10 11:14 PM

Thanks Ken,

I will take a look inside.

When you turn this organ on, it sounds like several notes playing at the same time. With all the presets off pressing any key makes no difference. However, whether upper or lower keyboard if you turn on any preset to either keyboard it won't change the sound until you press a key, then in the background you can hear the note sound even though the "noise" is still prevelant.

At this time the pedal board is not plugged into the organ, it is not even under the organ for now. (Is that an oops?) (I'm real good at oops on things I know little about.) No real room to set them up.

Does that make any sense? Once the organ powers up it has notes playing without pressing any key. Even turning all the presets or "stops" off it still has noise. Not static type noise, but notes playing.

I found on the power cord where mice had chewed on it, so makes me think there may be some mice damage inside.

I'll take a look inside next week when I have a few moments and see what I can see.

Where and how do I find out for certain a model or serial number on it to identify it. If I can find a schematic for it would be a great help.

I have a way of recording the sound it makes with presets off vs prests on and could e-mail ihe recording to you.
Thanks again,

Posted By: Ken Knapp

Re: Balwin Organ - 12/05/10 09:51 PM

Mice have a way of destroying pianos and organs for sure. Your troubles might be the results of a mouse invasion. The mouse pee can do a number on the electronics too.

A few months ago a friend got a 'free' Hammond B3. It had been invaded by mice. It was the first B3 I ever declared too far gone to repair. Very little of it was even good for parts.

Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 12/07/10 10:10 PM

Okay, found the Model number under the keyboard where your knees would be.

This is a model 520 Baldwin organ. If that helps.

Thanks, Roy
Posted By: Ken Knapp

Re: Balwin Organ - 12/08/10 12:55 PM

Let me see.. Here is what I would do if I were there working on it...

1. Remove the back and top cover. Inspect for dirt and mouse damage.
2. If I found mouse damage - chewed wires, nest, etc, I would clean it up and repair any chewed wires. In cleaning this stuff up, I'll vacuum and even 'hose down' with a spray contact cleaner that leaves no residue. Home depot sells some in the electrical section that I use. I forget the name but it's a blue can for 8 bucks a can. You'll need it anyway to clean controls on the organ. If after doing this the cipher is gone you're home free.
3. Turn on organ. Set it up so you hear cipher. Do a chromatic scale to ID the notes involved. You'll know which ones because the cipher will not change at all when you strike the keys of the notes already playing. Make note of which notes are involved - it could give you an eureka moment later on.
4. With the organ playing the cipher use an insulated stick and poke around on the circuit boards in the back. You're looking to disturb them enough to identify bad connections or bad solder joints. You'll know if you find it because the cipher will suddenly stop or maybe some notes will drop out of it. You may even be able to make it come and go. If this happens, you've found the problem area. At this point it's either a bad solder joint on the board or poor contact where the board plugs in.

If it's a bad solder joint you may not even be able to see the problem. To address it, you need to be good at soldering and have a decent soldering iron because you could easily destroy the board by using too much heat, accidentally bridging connections with excess solder, or creating new bad solder joints. I go over the board and re-solder EVERY connection. The trouble spots are usually where they use solder to connect one side of the circuit board to the other, and also where connecting pins are soldered to the board.

When I am convinced I've fixed any bad solder joints I spray contact cleaner on the connecting pins and their sockets and plug the board back in while the contact clean is still wet if possible.

If this process does the trick you've got an organ to play. If not, then it's time for more serious troubleshooting. That will most likely involve getting a service manual for it (costing between $50-$80) and going from there. You're also going to be looking at board replacement or rebuild. Needless to say, boards are scarce for organs made by defunct companies.

There is a gentleman who rebuilds boards in organs - many techs take advantage of his services. His name is Robert Spoon and his email is musice03@yahoo.com. I've never done business with him but he a well respected member of our association.

But hopefully it's a bad connection. If you get into buying boards it can get expensive fast - especially if the trouble can be caused by more than one board. Nothing is worse than buying the wrong one because once you buy it, it's yours forever!!

Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 12/08/10 02:22 PM

Thanks Ken,

I'll dig into this and see what I find.

I get it working I may have to play it some before trying to find it a new home.

Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 04/09/11 01:00 PM

Looks like I will be traveling from Ranger, TX to Omaha, NE to move my sister back to Texas. I will have a trailer behind me and if someone along the way would like this organ, I would be happy to drop it off along the way. I'll basically follow I-35 from Ft. Worth up through Salina, KS then to I-80 in NE. I'll follow I-80 east past Lincoln and on to Omaha.

Brandon, if you would be interested, see your pm box.

Roy Rodgers
Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 05/03/11 10:46 PM

Finally had a nice enough day to get this organ out to where I could work on it. Found some old foam that kept the boards in place had fallen on the circuit boards that lie flat inside. There are flat metal braces that hold the circuit boards standing in place that have a sticky foam attached. This foam is what had fallen. Not real sure it was the foams fault, or just dirty.

Anyway, got the pieces removed, found some old floral wire inside and then blew all the dirt out of the organ.

Plugged it in and no extra curricular noises. Started playing and the old girl sounds nice. Had one note that didn't work and raised the key bed to get to the contacts and after cleaning the contact point of the key it now works.

Super nice playing and sounding organ, so now to figure out what to do with it.
Posted By: Ken Knapp

Re: Balwin Organ - 05/04/11 01:08 PM

Not sure if advertising would be the best way to go except for free ads like craigslist. Right now you've got a working organ that you could sell or keep. The thing to be really careful about is that since you're in business many may assume some sort of warranty on the organ. Problem is that if something goes wrong with it you could find it unfixable due to availability of parts.
Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 05/05/11 03:25 AM

I have almost made up my mind to keep it. I have a place to store it for now while I work on music room for the house. And it does sound nice. (For an organ)LOL

There are some smaller churches around that might could use it, so might donate it to them.

At least I don't have to be in a big hurry to try to move it.

I do have it listed on a local Craigslist, but if it doesn't show much interest I will pull the ad and do something else with it.

But I appreciate the advise. I'm not an electronic organ technician. So all I could look for was something obvious, maybe some wires chewed apart.

Thanks again.
Posted By: Roy Rodgers

Re: Balwin Organ - 07/15/11 04:00 AM

This organ finally sold. Went to a church about 30 minutes from here. The organist played on it nearly an hour trying it out. He kept saying "I like it I like it". After about an hour he decided he liked it well enough to buy it.

Sounds good in their church. Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted By: FarmGirl

Re: Balwin Organ - 04/28/14 02:53 PM

Does any of you know how to remove pedal board from an old Baldwin theater organ (1971?). I cannot move this thing with the pedals on. Please help. Thanks
Posted By: gsmonks

Re: Balwin Organ - 05/07/14 11:55 AM

The pedal board usually just lifts up and out. Works best with a person on each side.
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