pipe organ controls: Syndyne vs Peterson vs Artisan vs??
  • We currently are doing a major overhaul of our 3 manual + pedal 1875 Henry Erben organ (electrified in 1923). The stop action and combination action are going to need upgrading, so I’m interested in hearing from people who have experience with digital systems versus traditional ‘analog’ systems. ALSO we’re looking at comparing new draw knobs: Klann vs OSI vs Syndyne vs?
    Thanks.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 488
    https://ssosystems.com/

    SSL. Never, ever had one bad experience after innumerable hours playing on instruments they control. Simple, no ugly LCD screen, just what you beee.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    We went with Peterson and never had any problems. NO LCD screen, either. Gained 120 channels of memory and many more finger and toe studs.
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  • GerardH
    Posts: 294
    Ours has Peterson. It has caused us some trouble once or twice, including cutting out during an orchestral concert, but otherwise has been very serviceable.
    Thanked by 1ChristopherS
  • Have used them all and they’ve all been flexible. (I like peterson's interface the least, second only to Walker's byzantine controls. Try subbing on a walker and changing the memory level bank. Good luck figuring it out on your own without help!)

    Do some research; I cannot remember which of the three (Artisan, I believe) allows for custom scoping, which is a neat feature I used a lot in grad school. I tried looking up the spec of the organ I played, but it doesn't say what system it's running, and its been about 6 years since I played that organ.

    (For those who aren't sure what I mean: you can define exactly what parameters any given piston or toe stud controls, so if you reallllllly need a general right *there!* or a reed ventil right *here*, or whatever the case may be, you can do that. You enter the scoping function, and pull out all the stops you want that piston to control, and set it. Once you've exited out of that mode, you can then set a combination to that piston, and only the scoped stops will be affected.)
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  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 488
    ServiamScores

    100% agree about the utility of the Scope feature! Happily, all the major control companies include it now; sometimes it is called Range.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    What I liked about the Peterson was that it behaves like a standard, traditional combination action. I did not want, nor would I have paid for, a sequencer. I have generally considered those somewhat "gimmicky" and wondered if they could eventually be a source of maintenance issues. If I had so many registration changes I needed a sequencer, I would get a registrant.
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  • I did not want, nor would I have paid for, a sequencer.

    If I had to guess, I’d bet you’re in the minority here.

    Sequencers are invaluable if you plan on doing any sort of recital work. They are also useful during liturgies: take a long setting of a Gloria, for instance, where you might change registrations at major sections. Just kicking “next” is very useful. You only have to practice a single motion, rather than reaching for various specific toe studs or pistons in the heat of the moment.

    Honestly, I think sequencers are an absolute must on any modern instrument with a combination action. Almost all modern builders are placing ➡️ studs adjacent to the swell pedal these days.

    You also need to think about any organist who may inherit your instrument after you. You may not use that particular feature but it’s good to have it included so that the person after you has the flexibility if they want it. I have seen many organs in my life that were very peculiar as a result of the incumbent at the time of installation. There is no swell oboe 8 because there is a 4' flute celest the pedal… don’t do that, lol. Similarly, I'd advise against a principled stand against sequencers, which are becoming de rigeur on modern instruments.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    Along with the sequencer, would come the recorder. I didn't need it either, since there is a prohibition against recorded music during mass. I was in a situation during the console rebuild where I needed the money elsewhere to fix problem areas. There was a fixed amount of money and that was all that was available. I had some ranks a formerly Baptist organist had messed with during a rebuild/releathering during the mid-nineties. I also had a mixture that could rip nails from the floor and which overpowered everything else on the organ. I spent the money on more important things like revoicing and making the instrument more useable.

    They are also useful during liturgies: take a long setting of a Gloria, for instance, where you might change registrations at major sections. Just kicking “next” is very useful


    Careful you don't make the congregation sea sick with all those registration changes.

    These days, I think you may be fortunate to have any mechanical or electrical aids. The trend seems to be to get a tracker pared down to no accessories other than a pedal to open/close swell shades. I have seen some of those historic approximations to the point the instrument is almost unplayable without an army of registrants and assistants. The key things are do what works best for you and what fits the allocated money you have available.
  • I have used the Peterson ICS4000, but while Peterson's customer service/tech support is excellent, the product is sort of dated. One of my organ builder friends said he's had a lot of bad luck with SSOS/SSL and one of my friends has had to have the processor on their organ replaced several times because half the organ would go out or certain octaves of the manuals would just stop playing. Another friend had his organ rebuilt and used the IOTI Virutoso system, and he raved about it.
  • These days, I think you may be fortunate to have any mechanical or electrical aids. The trend seems to be to get a tracker pared down to no accessories other than a pedal to open/close swell shades. I have seen some of those historic approximations to the point the instrument is almost unplayable without an army of registrants and assistants

    This is indeed a problem. I certainly understand the desire for historically-informed builds, as well as for tracker actions, however I will never understand the desire for completely analogue stop control. It really does hamper the instrument. I teach on a north-german-styled T&B, and while the instrument is an absolute gem, it is very hampered by the lack of electronic stop control. I cannot teach any of those more-advanced registration & manual changing techniques to my students, because there is no combination action, and it's impossible to do without registrants, as you say. The instrument would be substantially more flexible in performance if it had modern stop controls, and it would still be as north-german-baroque as ever.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    If it isn't French, it isn't a real organ. LOL.

    I know exactly what you mean. I watched a video of Daniel Roth playing the Reubke 94th Psalm. Two registrants were pushing and pulling stops, operating pedals, all the while Roth was playing and barking orders to them on what to do next. Feet and hands were flying everywhere. While some of those old organs are beautiful, they are often very difficult to play. Some modern aids would be helpful, to be sure.
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  • So does anyone have a "ballpark figure" for what the most basic of these systems typically costs?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    I paid (or rather a donor did most of it) $45,000 for a console rebuild on the mighty 1953 Schantz. That was for a new Peterson combination action with new toe and thumb studs, revoicing a 3-rank-mixture, adding a 32' resultant and restoring/replacing a half a dozen or so ivory keys. Also, replacing the pedal board with new naturals and all new contacts. $3,500 of that $45 K was for a new adjustable bench. I paid for and donated a Zimbelstern because there had been one on the organ in 1953. When that organist left, he took it with him. Said it was his which I always questioned.

    So to answer your question, it depends on how much work you want done.

    I should add that this was in 2015 and I would suspect prices have gone up since.

    Additional Note: Talk with a builder/restorer you trust and ask for an estimate specific to your organ.
    Thanked by 1ChristopherS
  • Thanks @CharlesW I'm doing much of the current work (which for the most part involves some basic carpentry and basic DC wiring) but we definitely will hire a pro for the control system. By the end of this month the Swell division will be playable for the first time in decades. I'll post an update at that time.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW