February 21, 2001 Bellefontaine, Ohio

Magnificent Stinson Band Organs
Bring Yesteryear into the 21st Century
Written by M. "Skip" Doyle March 2, 2002 - Sarasota, Florida USA

Band Organ Architect Donald Stinson
Meticulously Voicing Wooden Organ Pipe

Bellefontaine Ohio - February 21, 2001.  Many years ago, in a workshop within rural Ohio, a music hobbyist by the name of Donald Stinson produced his first mechanical musical instrument, a Circus Calliope. Today, the amazing history unfolds to tell how the Stinson Band Organ Company, designers of magnificent and traditional mechanical band organs since 1965, became a significant player in the International business world.

Don Stinson, like many residents of rural farm communities in the 50's and 60's, was a secure employee of one of the nations then renowned railroads. However, as the result of what many might refer to as fate, Don's career changed. In 1960, railroads were suffering a steady decline and the division that Don worked for was in the process of downsizing. Steam locomotives at the Bellefontaine Ohio yard were being transferred to Toledo Ohio. Handwriting on the wall reflected the uncomfortable likelihood that lifetime employment with the railroad was becoming slim to none. When Don's number came up he was offered an opportunity to relocate with the railroad to Toledo or Cleveland, or go on furlough. Furlough was simply a nice manner to say unemployment. At the time, it did not appear feasible to Don, and his wife Phyllis, to sell their home and relocate to a strange city without assurance that job longevity with the railroad was in the cards. So, fright, and uncertainty of unemployment, became a scary reality.

Don reflects upon being a young lad, and being required to take several years of piano lessons where the teacher offered half-hour lessons weekly. On Saturdays, the students returned to the studio for a lengthy class on music theory. When Don became unemployed, and uncertainty came into play, the possibly to make use of his music knowledge entered his mind. Having a hobbyist interest in player pianos and pump organs brought forth the thought to try his hand at repairing pianos and organs part time. Soon after, Don decided to learn the specialized art of piano tuning. This was to become the beginning of a small piano tuning and pipe organ restoration business. During the same period of time, it was still necessary for Don to find part-time work doing anything that would assist to feed his growing family. Fortunately, an opportunity presented itself for Don to work part-time for a local factory doing electrical, welding, and plumbing jobs. Don now recalls that this work allowed for the opportunity to learn trades and techniques that turned out to be of tremendous value to his yet at that time unknown future endeavors.

While tuning a player piano at a local amusement park ballroom, the owner asked Don if he would repair a band organ. Don's reply was promptly affirmative regardless that he had never seen a band organ in his life! Soon after this opportunity, by chance, Don found himself with a healthy list of mechanical band organs in the area that required annual maintenance and repair. However, this stroke of fortune lived a short life lasting until 1965. At that time, many romantically magnificent band organs of yesteryear within amusement parks started to disappear.

Maintenance costs to repair mechanical band organ devices, which could be said to be somewhat self-destructive, were continually climbing. For a while, it became necessary for Don to return to part time work on band organs and pianos, plus work part time at a local factory, to make ends meet. Ultimately, two jobs started to take their toll on Don, and his family, so a brave decision was made to abandon the security of factory work, and go headfirst into designing and producing new more modern mechanical band organs similar to those enjoyed within yesteryear's amusement parks, carousels, boardwalks, dance halls, and skating rinks, and the living rooms of the more fortunate.

Don's initial approach was to resolve one situation that plagued mechanical band organs of yesteryear which was the necessity to dismantle band organs to bare basics to effectively repair and maintain them. High maintenance and repair costs had started to become responsible for many magnificent mechanical band organs to slip into the background. Don became more determined than ever to design and produce magnificent new mechanical band organs that would overcome fallacies of the past. New designs facilitated replacement of components without major disassembly. This reduced maintenance costs and more repairs were facilitated with ease in the field. Brushless air and vacuum motors were introduced to overcome maintenance of bellows and crankshafts. Demand started to return.

In the year 2000, Stinson's line of MIDI controlled carousel and orchestral concert band organ were introduced to eliminate cumbersome paper roll music systems. Fourteen different and magnificent MIDI controlled mechanical band organs grace Stinson's product line of today. An abundance of beautifully arranged music, to include waltzes, foxtrots, polkas, marches, musicals, classical, Christmas, European, Spanish and more are readily available for Stinson's ornate MIDI controlled orchestral band organs that are designed to play 75 note scales. A large library of tunes is available for Stinson's MIDI controlled traditional 46 Note carousel band organs. Not to be overlooked is Stinson's wooden pipe band organ designed specifically to play circus calliope music that is not shrill and wonderfully pleasing to listener's ears.

As this story comes to a close, the Stinson Band Organ Company recently finished the largest orchestral band organ ever designed by Stinson, and the largest band organ presentation said to be built in North America. The "Mighty 3000M" was shipped in October 2001 to the Largest Hotel in the World, the First World Hotel and Resort in Pahang Malaysia, which advertises 6,300 rooms! The Stinson "Mighty 3000M" is appropriately named "Broadway" since it will be situated as a focal attraction within a Las Vegas Style Complex which it known as "Times Square". The new "Mighty 3000M" debuts Stinson's System Monitoring Panel, the first of its kind incorporated into a mechanical band organ to diagnose systems for optimum performance. The innovation of MIDI operation also allows for switches to be installed capable to turn off and on certain instrumentation at will. Fairground, and shopping mall, applications deal with low ambient noise levels early in the day, which increase in decibel level later in the day, and then, later in the evening, the noise levels again diminish. By turning off certain instruments during quite hours magical attitude adjusting band organ music can be enjoyed without being offensive. A new line of coin-operated capabilities was introduced in November 2001 with the shipment of Stinson's new Style 35M band organ which is available in either 46, or 75, note versions. Stinson's first Style 35M was incorporated into a Christmas Display within a Shopping Mall in the Eastern USA.

According to the Stinson Band Organ Company's marketing department, the rebirth of 21st Century mechanical band organs has arrived. The latest new Stinson Band Organ is a custom designed "Mighty 2000M" being built for the Easter States Exposition in Springfield Massachusetts and scheduled to be delivered in July 2002. This magnificent 21st century Stinson band organ will tour the New England States and New York within a custom designed show trailer promoting the Eastern States Exposition when not gracing "The Big E's" main gate during their annual September exposition.

For more information please contact:

(937) 593-5709 Phone • (937) 593-5553 Fax