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Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

Building organ consoles for use with Hauptwerk, adding MIDI to existing consoles, obtaining parts, ...
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damuehlbauer

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Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostSun Aug 29, 2021 10:23 am

I have never formally studied organ, but have tinkered with electronic organs for years, and now Hauptwerk (Paramount 341). So if my question may seem basic (or perhaps dumb), but ...

Did the Wurlitzer or any other major Theatre Organ brand have tracker touch keyboards? For those who have built a virtual Theatre organ, did you use tracker touch or non-tracker? I understand that second touch (especially on accomp and great manuals) is usually a highly desirable feature, but not easy to do unless you find an older keyboard with that function. If you found a good source for appropriate keyboards (for Theatre Organ) in the US, can you share?

Thanks.
David Muehlbauer
Mesa, Arizona USA
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Coenraads

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostSun Aug 29, 2021 1:44 pm

Tracker touch on a theatre organ? Not likely.
How would you do a glissando, for example?
Also, two pressure points (first the tracker action, then the second touch) would feel funny and might be confusing.
It certainly wasn't on the three manual Kimball Theatre organ (Canada's largest) that I wired up many years ago.
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engrssc

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostSun Aug 29, 2021 4:06 pm

The electro-pneumatic action was invented by Robert Hope-Jones, and is considered by many to be the single most significant development in pipe organs. Up to the turn of the 20th century, all pipe organs were operated by a tracker, tubular pneumatic, or pneumatic Barker-lever action, where the keys and pedals were physically connected to the pipe valves via wooden trackers, except in the case of tubular pneumatic, where all actions were operated by air pressure. Hope-Jones' electro-pneumatic action eliminated this by using wind pressure, controlled by electric solenoids, to operate the pipe valves, and solenoids and pistons to control and operate the various stop tabs, controls, keys and pedals on the console. This action allowed the console to be physically detached from the organ. All signals from the console were transmitted by an electric cable to an electro-pneumatic relay, and from there to the pipes and effects in the organ chambers.[11]

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Theatre_organ

Rgds,
Ed
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damuehlbauer

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostMon Aug 30, 2021 11:08 am

Having never played an actual Theatre Pipe Organ, both responses make perfect sense. I sold my Conn 652 several years and 'assembled' various components to build my Hauptwerk setup. I have three M-Audio 61 keyboards, which I used because they felt somewhat like my Conn (I little stiffer, but comfortable). Someday, I'd like to upgrade to better keyboards and add combination pistons under each keyboard. But finding suitable keyboards in the US is not easy. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
David Muehlbauer
Mesa, Arizona USA
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Coenraads

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostMon Aug 30, 2021 5:48 pm

The Holy Grail for organ keyboards is finding an Allen Organ stack. They are great to play and the leaf switches work nicely with a 5 volt scanner.A friend let me salvage what I wanted from his Allen which was going to the dump, so of course I took the keyboards, music rack and the organ lid on which I mounted the keyboard stack. Making sure to keep all wiring intact, I was able to use the existing diode matrices and scan the keyboards and pistons using an Arduino and code available on my website. Sorry about the double spacing. This is what the New Google Sites does to perfectly good text with no way (yet) of undoing it.

https://sites.google.com/site/casavanto ... board-midi

For pictures, and the full story, you may wish to peruse:

https://organforum.com/forums/forum/org ... -revisited

and

https://organforum.com/forums/forum/blo ... et-by-with
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damuehlbauer

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostTue Aug 31, 2021 2:33 pm

Very hard to find three used Allen or Rodgers keyboards in good condition. I'd be happy with something new, but there doesn't really seem to be a source for a non-tracker-feel keyboard in the US. I've found what I think would be a good Fatar keyboard for my purposes, but there is no supplier that I am aware of in the US. If anyone has a good lead, please let me know. And I've emailed Fatar several times and never received a reply.
David Muehlbauer
Mesa, Arizona USA
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engrssc

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

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damuehlbauer

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostTue Aug 31, 2021 5:12 pm

I found my pedalboard on Ebay, but had it shipped (from Illinois to Arizona). I keep looking...
David Muehlbauer
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damuehlbauer

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostMon Sep 13, 2021 6:09 pm

One more question on this topic. Does anyone know if the 'tracker touch' or 'snap' function can be removed from a Fatar TP/60LF (or similar) keyboard?
David Muehlbauer
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engrssc

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostMon Sep 13, 2021 8:29 pm

Image

The bubble (under each key) to the right creates the tracker touch.

Rgds,
Ed
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damuehlbauer

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostMon Sep 13, 2021 10:21 pm

So it looks like they could be removed. Would the keys feel OK with them removed, other than the snap?
David Muehlbauer
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OrganoPleno

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostTue Sep 14, 2021 8:52 am

damuehlbauer wrote:So it looks like they could be removed. Would the keys feel OK with them removed, other than the snap?


The Contacts are inside the Bubbles. Yes, they can be removed (typically in strips covering an octave each) for purposes of replacement if they are worn out. But the keys cannot work without them.
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engrssc

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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostTue Sep 14, 2021 9:28 am

The tracker touch bubbles are not the contact strips. Totally separate. Look at the above picture.

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostTue Sep 14, 2021 1:34 pm

Removing the "bubbles" results in the keyboardcontacts still working.
But because of the absence of the resistance of the "bubbles", the attack of the keys is now very lite.
You can only compensate for this by replacing the springs for firmer ones.

Have fun,
Jack
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Re: Tracker Touch and Theatre Organ

PostTue Sep 14, 2021 2:45 pm

In principle you could remove the strip which shall simulate the "snap" point of tracker touch.
On the FATAR web site http://fatar.com/Pages/Intro_production.htm you can check which modles have got the "snap" and which not.
However, be aware that the touch (i.e. the key weight) of their models beginning with "TP/60L" is still very soft when you compare it to pipe organs with mechanical action. What I mean is that the keys sink in with little weight and there is not much more needed to pass the "snap" point.
Contrary, the key weight for real tracker touch is much harder - see for example some diagrams at the site for Schwindler keyboards http://www.fabiomancini.altervista.org/hauptwerk/tastieraENG.html.
My recommendation for a theatre organ:
If you plan to go with FATAR keyboards I would choose the TP/60LF model ("F" stands for the front shape of the keys).
I would not take out the strip for the "snap" effect as this assists a little your touch, i.e. it helps you to not only hear but also to feel when the key is halfway depressed an the sound is triggered via MIDI.
If you want to take out the strip (for a few keys as a test) you can do this. But note that the touch is extremely light and the keys may not quickly enough come up again. It might thuis be necessary to replace th 61 coil springs at the key ends by harder ones and also distinguish with their hardness between natural and sharp keys.
Of course, the keyboards of the original theatre organs with electro-pneumatic consoles did not possess a "snap", but since this is very soft with the above mentioned keyboards I do not consider this helpful rather than a disturbing addition.
Regards,
Frank
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