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MMD > Archives > November 2001 > 2001.11.01 > 02Prev  Next

Johnson Style 163 Band Organ in Salem, Oregon
By Glenn Morris

Hi all:  Some of you may have heard of the new band organ in Salem,
Oregon.  This is located in the Riverfront Park Carousel building.
Several months ago, this organ was installed and built by the Johnson
Organ Company, which is located in North Dakota.

The folks at Johnson Organ call it "Style 163," which has to be their
top of the line instrument.  It is installed in a loft high above the
floor area on the south wall of the enclosed building that houses the
newly built carousel.  A gift and souvenir shop adjoins this area.
To gain access to the instrument, there is a stairway behind the gift
shop and general offices to an attic area.  The organ is quite visible
from the carousel and adjacent areas.

The instrument appears just magnificent with its highly polished
trumpets and other pipe work which is housed in gorgeous casework.
Since the approximate cost was near $70,000.00, plus shipping, it
is not the usual installation found today.

However, one major problem still exists: they cannot use the organ!
It is painfully loud!  I have visited this project several times and
have never heard the organ to date.  They are using canned music.
About a month ago, I was told by an employee that they were considering
a Plexiglas wall to muffle the sound and make it usable.

I am absolutely amazed that this project has ended in this fashion.
Hopefully an engineering study was performed before the design and
sale of the instrument took place.  In addition, many people are
disappointed with this project.

During one of my visits there, I was able to meet the Manager of the
facility and she provided me with a letter that describes their intent
and instrument capability:

  "Since this style has fewer pipes than its Wurlitzer counterpart,
we call it the Style 163. ... The pipe work is not so powerful so as
to overwhelm the carousel riders but all the essential tone colors are
present.  Also, you can control the volume by shutting off certain
ranks. ... The original Wurlitzer bass went down to 8 foot c.  This
model goes down one octave lower to 16' CCC.  It also has many
automatic registers that were present only in the 165 and larger

Perhaps we will hear it in the future?


Glenn Morris

(Message sent Thu 1 Nov 2001, 10:10:06 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  163, Band, Johnson, Oregon, Organ, Salem, Style

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