Stinson Band Organ Company
Designers of Magnificent Band Organs since 1965
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Don Stinson's Band Organ Notes
Stinson Band Organ notes are authored by band organ architect and builder Mr. Donald Stinson. Stories includes experiences, past and present, encountered during design and repair of mechanical band organs, along with Don's unique experiences during his early days with the New York Central Railroad.

Here at Stinson Organ Company we have just finished a verylarge model 187 organ for an amusement company. An organ that had to be capable of beingheard over the many sounds of the midway.

Over the last few years we have been leaning toward thesofter voiced organs utilizing the Stinson music rolls which most clients agreeare superior and more musical than the Wurlitzer rolls.

I have been asked how to judge how loud an organ is and thereare several answers.

Number one is to check with a meter.

Number two is to just listen and number three is the one Iusually give to get some humor in the situation: I sometimes tell people you can tell how loud an organ is bysimply counting the bullet holes in the facade.

Volume is one of the things which bothers me the most, and Iwill give some illustrations.

It is not always that the organ is too loud but the type ofmusic it is playing does not always agree with some members of the youngergeneration. Many years back we were at a steam show with a Stinson Calliola andseveral people complained to the management that the organ was too loud.

Shortly after that we were asked to move to a differentlocation and the same people came out with a large pile of speakers and audioequipment and started playing rock music at twice the volume we were using.

On two other occasions I have built small organs with onlytwo ranks of pipes in melody and voiced them at five inches, which is consideredlow for band organs. After the first hour or so the operators simply say that itis too loud even at the low volume level. My opinion is that operators are paid to do a job and shoulddo it or move over and let someone who likes organs take the job.

There was no way I could ask the owners of the factory Iworked at in the early years to turn off the machines because they were tooloud. It was my job and I did not complain.

The first thing we organ people hear many times over is thefollowing question"

IS THERE A VOLUME CONTROL ON THAT THING?"

Now I am sure many of you organ owners have had to answerthis question many times and I will give you a standard answer, which seems towork in almost all instances.

When a person comes up angry and asks this question simply dothe following: Put your arm around them and tell the following lie, whichgoes this way.

OUT OF RESPECT FOR YOU PEOPLE

WHO DO NOT CARE FOR OUR KIND OF MUSIC

WE ARE OPERATING THIS ORGAN AT ONE QUARTER VOLUME

AND DO NOT WANT TO CAUSE PROBLEMS

BY TURNING IT UP ALL THE WAY

They usually just say thank you and walk off thinking theyhave won the battle.

It is a much more diplomatic way than saying what you thinkand hanging a sign on the organ stating

ANYONE ASKING FOR A VOLUME CONTROL WILLBE SENT TO THE SOUTH POLE FOR A NICE THREE YEAR VACATION.

These are isolated cases and most of the people we havedealings with have respect for the organs and music they provide.

Stinson Organ Company will be introducing our NEW GENERATIONORGAN LINE in the near future and are very exited about the manynew items coming out.

Look for them on our web site. www.stinsonorganco.com


BACK AT THE OLD RAILROAD SHOP

I was reminded again of our electrical supervisor who taught me to climb thefloodlight towers. I was talking to an old friend last week and we werediscussing the driving habits of our supervisor. Now I am not saying he was a bad driver but I did refuse togo on a service trip with him in his own car one time and had to pay my ownexpense to follow him to a town about 60 miles away.

Before we left he borrowed the chain saw and gas can which Imentioned in an earlier episode and before we returned he ran over the gas canand stuck the chain saw in a pole and ruined the blade.

On this trip he was running in front of me and decided topass another car. It took him almost a mile to get around, as he did not like togas it hard and waste gas money.

To save the company money we had two electric lines runningbetween buildings made up with spliced wire with no section longer than abouteight feet. He never put anything in the scrap dump.

He is the same one who borrowed the car from a supervisor andwrecked it only to tell the man to go pick out a new one, which he paid for. He is also the same one who pulled in a filling station andhit three cars before he was able to get back on the road.

Returning from this trip I followed him into a small townwhere he pulled up in front of a bakeshop and asked me to come in with him. In this shop were many different kinds of cookies all atdifferent prices. He would ask for odd numbers of each one and have the girlput them in the bag until he had a dozen or more different kinds. He then asked the girl how much he owed her and she could notbegin to figure out the bill.

He just looked at her and named the prices and amount of eachcookie until he had them all listed and totaled them up in his head and askedher if that was right and was told it would be just fine with her. I think this might have been one of his ways of entertainmentas he was very good with figures.

He was also the man who would do anything to help you if youshowed interest in your work.

I miss the old boys who have gone before me at the New YorkCentral Railroad.

And so it was at the old roundhouse.

 
Next Band Organ Note No. 20, October 2000
Previous Band Organ Note No. 18, July/August 2000

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