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MMD > Archives > June 2001 > 2001.06.05 > 02Prev  Next

Johnson Organ Company Band Organs
By Matthew Caulfield

I spoke on the phone today to Lance Johnson, president of the Johnson
Organ Company, about his band organs and roll arranging.  Mr. Johnson
himself has arranged a few dozen tunes, mostly waltzes, for the 125
scale.  He sends the masters to Mike Grant for copying.  He explained
that he doesn't arrange for other scales because he has nothing on
which to audition the masters.  All the style 164 organs that he makes
go out immediately to customers, like the one he most recently shipped
to Salem, Ore.   His shop organ is one playing the style 125 roll.

I mentioned the expense and difficulty of finding good tracker frames,
a factor which has influenced the Stinson Organ Company to equip its
organs with MIDI-play systems, relegating roll-play to an optional
feature.  Mr. Johnson replied, "A band organ without rolls is not a
band organ."

His company used to make their own roll frames, but has switched
to using PPCo's Coinola frame, which Mr. Johnson says is well-made,
reliable, and cheaper -- even after being equipped with new tracker
bar -- than what they used to produce in-house.

The short supply of band organ rolls is apparently a problem for buyers
of the company's larger organs.  I mentioned that Play-Rite seems now
to be in a position to cut Wurlitzer rolls on a long-term basis for
individuals or companies willing to take a full run (ca. 18 copies) of
a roll.   I, myself, am having a few newly discovered or newly arranged
style 165 rolls cut by Play-Rite; but for new copies of already recut
rolls, Mike Grant is a better source because of his smaller, 4-copy

From the report I received yesterday that Don Rand is in the process
of liquidating his collection of original rolls, it appears that he has
abandoned his plan to produce copies of those rolls for sale.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Tue 5 Jun 2001, 16:23:53 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, Company, Johnson, Organ, Organs

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