Thread Number: 40543  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Biggest home project - updating old Conn organ.
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Post# 430683   8/26/2020 at 11:11 (290 days old) by Brando_husky (Las Vegas Nevada)        

Warning! Contains classic Conn carnage


Been working on the biggest project I've taken on for electronic work. 


I picked up this late 70s Conn 652 theatre organ on the curb outside a church in Los Angeles were it sat for quite some time. My partner and I loaded it into the back of a uhaul giving ourselves near hernias. Thought we could use a skateboard and those moving shoulder straps. NOPE


The organ functions. About half the great manual stops were ciphering if used. Created a very unpleasant noise that made it unplayable. 

The rest of the organ functioned but was decently out of tune and the Leslie was very noisy


Lots of damages wiring for the pedal board had made it about half functional. 


The case is very tired as well. Lots of wear and staining that I wasn't able to get off 


After a board failure recently and not wanting to dismantle and clean and resolder the massivly outdated and worn electronics, I decided I am going to gut the organ and convert to a hauptwerk instrument


I've removed everything from the console minus the stop tabs. Ordering midi boards from DTS and will rewire the complex matrixed keyboards to the new boards and build a custom pc inside the case with new audio system.


Decided to go with a black and gold theme on the case. I am no painter. Trying my best. Got a lot to touch up and finish still.. 


The case is nearing half complete now. Just testing gold paint now. I am removing the speaker cloths and putting mdf up since no internal speakers will be utilized


Also pictured is one of the new boards. This is the pedal and swell shoe controllers 

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Post# 430692 , Reply# 1   8/26/2020 at 13:17 (289 days old) by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        

gottahaveahoove's profile picture
I love theatre organs, and impressed you'd even attempt something like this restoration.
I'm sure it will be amazing.

Post# 430707 , Reply# 2   8/26/2020 at 19:53 (289 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Wow - that thing is a beast - and beautiful!
I would love to have one, IF I had the space.
A purist would be disappointed, but given its condition when found, it is lucky to be saved.
The difficulty and expense of restoring this to original condition can be very costly and time consuming, so converting to midi is good option to at least make it functional.
I would highly suggest keeping the original amps and speakers in it for use on its own as well as having an external outputs.
Listing the original removed boards and parts on ebay may help out someone who is restoring one of these.
I will say, if the amps and speakers are heading for the trash, I would certainly repurpose them.
Keep this thread updated and hopefully do a video when it is done and playing!

Post# 430731 , Reply# 3   8/26/2020 at 22:31 (289 days old) by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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>me: that organ can't be that complicat-
>sees picture

So if you're not using the speakers, what're you doing? External speakers?

Post# 430733 , Reply# 4   8/26/2020 at 22:41 (289 days old) by Brando_husky (Las Vegas Nevada)        

Yeaaaaaa its very intimidating on the inside. With many of the chips custom made for conns and no longer available for decades. 


I'll be using a nice audio interface with my pc and some good quality modern external speakers. Likely two subs and 4-6 mid and tweeters 

Post# 430806 , Reply# 5   8/27/2020 at 21:11 (288 days old) by Brando_husky (Las Vegas Nevada)        

Top painted minus the gold accents and some touchups 

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Post# 430891 , Reply# 6   8/29/2020 at 01:20 (287 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Beautiful organ and resto job!GREAT that this cost NOTHING but some bullwork,repainting ,and the retrofit MIDI boards.Did this organ have a Leslie speaker built into it-looks like it has a rather husky power amp/power supply.Are we going to hear this organ-would love to hear it play!I know someone that had a Conn similar to this one-his was a "throwaway" from a church.His was tubed.Kept it that way-and had an external tone cabinet/speaker with 6L6 tube amp.Sounded great!It moved with him to Tennessee.He used to work at the transmitter-the fellow collected old radios and restored them.

Post# 433786 , Reply# 7   10/19/2020 at 11:22 (236 days old) by Brando_husky (Las Vegas Nevada)        

Been a while since I've updated. Lots of other things going on at home.

Got most of the console prepared.

Finished pedal board restoration.

Awaiting midi boards to arrive so I can rewire keyboard and stops and install the pc within.

Also picked up a neat new toy. A behringer poly d analog synthesizer. Great fun

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Post# 433807 , Reply# 8   10/19/2020 at 20:17 (235 days old) by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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Remember next time - rent Penske. Their trucks have hydraulic liftgates. No need to drag something so monstrous up a steep ramp.

My Restore has 3 electric organs for like $35 each, but I don't know what make and model, just seen them.

Post# 433835 , Reply# 9   10/20/2020 at 00:36 (235 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

A friend of mine that moved away had a tubed Conn organ sort of like the one shown.And it had an external tone-speaker cabinet with an impressive PP 6L6 GC tube amp!Sounded GREAT-but too expensive for me to buy.He mainly collected older radios-he had a really impressive collection!The LEETLE-TEENY-radio would have interested him that was in another thread.

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