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Our Tidwell Residence Pipe Organ... (A good read - A trip down memory lane)

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Chops

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I started typing this up in the "What Are You Listening To Right Now?" thread, but soon realized it was way too large of a post and way off topic, so made it its own topic thread as I'm sure a lot of you might enjoy reading about it and possibly have questions.

Anyway, this is exactly what I had written in that thread...


No reel to reel?! Growing up in the 70s, my father had a collection of reel to reel recordings. Pretty cool how you still can listen to cassettes if you want. I liked my 8 track.

I do have about a dozen Maxell 7" RTR tapes from my father from when we had a 19 rank pipe organ in our house (that we built over a very long period of time). it was one of, if not the very first pipe organ to be fully controlled by a computer (late 1980's) with control boards from Peterson Electro-Musical that we had to hand wire into the console and all of its controls, keys and pedals, custom control circuits and servos designed and built by my father, and the computer with a 386DX processor running DOS 6.0 and Cakewalk Pro 1.0, where every single note had to be manually entered in along with its duration, timing, expression, stop choice, etc, etc. All of this was driven from the computer through a early, primitive version of midi (was not the midi standard of today) to a control/driver device that had to be custom built with bits from Peterson and bits of my father's own design.

We then upgraded to a Roland Sound Canvas SC-55 to not only listen to what we were entering into the software via headphones or through the stereo, but to also use it as the driver via midi to the control boards in the console, eliminating that clunky, cobbled together controller/driver device discussed above. It was a very complex, if not cumbersome setup by today's standards, but it was TOTL pioneering/leading technology back in 1987 - 1991 when the SC-55 came out.

I was 7 years old when I got heavily involved in helping my father EVERY DAY working on this organ. I was 21 when it was fully completed. All built into the 2-car garage which was walled off from the shop area, full sound insulated, temperature insulated and climate controlled. A large closet size opening was made in the wall in the foyer, covered on the outside with two folding closet doors, and a pneumatic swell shades on the inside to control expression, again, fully controlled via the computer and directly by the console of course.

Speaking of expression, while playing the organ, or the computer playing it, my father built a device that was directly connected to the swell shades (little silver box in top left of last photo above the chimes with RCA cables coming out of the top of it). This intercepted the signal between a dbx 760x mic preamp for the two Shure 48v phantom powered mics in the organ chamber (garage) to a pair of Alesis MicroVerb (I and II) reverb units in the living room, one for the front of the room, the other for the back end of the room. Finally, a Yamaha REV100 reverb piped into the main stereo for recording purposes. He had at his disposal a Tascam 112 Mk II, a Tascam 122 Mk II a Pioneer RT-707, all purchased new, and my oldest brother's Nakamichi DR-1. Lastly, the two of them went in half and half for a brand new Panasonic SV-3700 professional DAT recorder (which I have).























One thing is certain, I can definitely listen to cassettes any time I want to as I have this lovely vintage stack behind my listening seat in the back corner of the room.

The silver JVC KD-A8 is the deck my father bought new back in 1978. Probably the best 2-head deck ever built, and the thing weighs 27 lbs! He sold his original one after it issues that could not be fixed. This one he purchased a few years ago in mint condition, though it needs to be served. Everything about it works perfectly, but the belt(s) need to be replaced and it could probably use an alignment. It plays for about 6 minutes then stops (luckily, before it damages tapes).

The Nakamichi DR-1 on top is the deck my oldest brother bought new in 1992, after selling his DRAGON which was struck by lightning and destroyed. It was recently fully serviced and works perfectly.

The Nakamichi 582 below it is a deck my father always wanted, but never got back in the day. Instead, he purchased brand new a couple of 680ZX's which were ultimately better decks. Unfortunately, he sold both of them off later on. The 582 has also been fully serviced and works perfectly. He purchased a few years ago as well, around the same time as the JVC.

The Yamaha K-1020 on top of the JVC is a deck I purchased a few years ago as it was a deck I always wanted but could never afford new because I was 11 years old when it came out. LOL It has Dolby B & C, HX Pro, and dbx Noise Reduction. Either my father or one of my brothers had the broacher for it and I just really liked the looks of it. You know, kid priorities, though with that being said, I was no dummy when it came to stereo equipment as a kid.

The two dbx 400x "Program Route Selectors" I purchased recently specifically for this stack. Reason one because my father had the dbx 200x in his system and my oldest brother had the 400x in his system back in the 80's. I bought two because they only have 3 tape inputs each and I have four decks, and plan on getting two RTR decks eventually which will take up all six inputs.

Below that is a dbx 224x Nosie Reduction System which I also purchased. Since Dolby can vary from deck to deck, brand to brand, and actually is more aggressive, if I make any recordings of my own, I'll use the dbx 224x between all decks. Not to mention, the dbx noise reduction just sounds much better than Dolby.

On the very top, a Rane Balance Buddy BB44x which has been upgraded to BB88x status, meaning two 44x units in one chassis. This is to connect the full stack to my system in the front of the room via XLR to play and record,

To finish off the stack, I want to eventually purchase a mint Pioneer RT-707 like my father had, as well as eventually get the Revox A77 that he wants to give me. But since the whole stupid Covid thing, we haven't been able to see him since his 80th birthday last March.











 

Lightloopy

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Utterly amazing. Love the cassette decks. What a unique and fantastic experience to share with your dad.
Thanks for sharing!
My reel to reel experience was listening to my dad recording something off the radio with his Grundig using microphones. God forbid we kids made noise while that was happening....
 

Lightloopy

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I have a Nakamichi 480 that I have thought about getting repaired. Sounds like you have a number of these done. Any recommendations ?
 

Brad225

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That is truly amazing Charles. The entire structure must have vibrated with the pressure that was created from it.
I realize it has been a while but does it still exist? I hope so.
 

Chops

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That is truly amazing Charles. The entire structure must have vibrated with the pressure that was created from it.
I realize it has been a while but does it still exist? I hope so.
Thank you. And yes, that organ had no problems at all rattling the entire house when asked to.

Sadly, we ended up having the sell the organ about 20 years ago as “life” happened. None of us wanted to, but in the end, it was our father’s inability to maneuver around in the organ chamber anymore with issues with his leg from a motorcycle accident back in 1978. And since us boys didn’t live at home anymore, the organ just sat, eventually needing repairs that couldn’t be done.
 

Chops

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I have a Nakamichi 480 that I have thought about getting repaired. Sounds like you have a number of these done. Any recommendations ?
Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to suggest. My father serviced all of these decks except for the Yamaha. Though during that time, he was starting to get a little forgetful and simple things would stump him, which in turn would aggravate the heck out of him. Things that were so simple, things that he'd had known ever since he was a kid. It's highly upsetting getting forgetful of stuff like that. Heck, he literally built a tube radio out of a cigar box, spare used parts and old TV tubes when he was 6 years old! The electronics/communications instructor in the Army used to have dad teach the class because he knew more than the instructor did! The instructor went to school for it, dad just learned it on his own growing up on the farm, as an only child.

Anyway, dad went on like that for about a year working on cassette decks and old military radios, then gave up on doing such things. He still dabbles in it every now and then. But now, if he gets stumped on something, he just drops it and goes and does something else for the rest of the day, then comes back to it the next day.
 

twich54

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Charles, as I said over at the 'Shark', well done ,well done !
 

Brad225

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I can't imagine the memories you must have of that many years working with your father and sibling building that masterpiece.
 

Lightloopy

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Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to suggest. My father serviced all of these decks except for the Yamaha. Though during that time, he was starting to get a little forgetful and simple things would stump him, which in turn would aggravate the heck out of him. Things that were so simple, things that he'd had known ever since he was a kid. It's highly upsetting getting forgetful of stuff like that. Heck, he literally built a tube radio out of a cigar box, spare used parts and old TV tubes when he was 6 years old! The electronics/communications instructor in the Army used to have dad teach the class because he knew more than the instructor did! The instructor went to school for it, dad just learned it on his own growing up on the farm, as an only child.

Anyway, dad went on like that for about a year working on cassette decks and old military radios, then gave up on doing such things. He still dabbles in it every now and then. But now, if he gets stumped on something, he just drops it and goes and does something else for the rest of the day, then comes back to it the next day.
Thanks for the information. He sounds like an incredibly gifted and talented person. Those tape decks look like they are new.
Thank you for sharing. Much appreciated.
 

Chops

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Thanks everyone for the wonderful kind words. I've just been thinking about dad and our times together lately since his birthday is coming up on March 15th, which is exactly the last time we saw him in person last year. The very next day, the place they live locked down the joint thanks to Covid. I still remember those days out there with dad working on the organ just like it was yesterday.



Just like this old "Electro Brand" shortwave radio my parents got me for Christmas as a kid just before I started getting stereo equipment hand-me-downs from my brothers and father.

Once I had a Technics cassette deck and receiver from my oldest two brothers, I brought this radio out into the shop so dad and I had something to listen to. When we didn't feel like listening to whatever was on the radio, we would pop in cassettes of various albums that we had all recorded onto tape. I can't even begin to remember how many times we listened to all of the P.D.Q. Bach albums, The Muppets album, all of the various Tomita albums, and of course countless classical and pipe organ cassettes, all from vinyl naturally. And yes, we still have all of those cassettes and albums.

Of course, it was my responsibility to pop this into the radio once a month, which I was happy to do...

 

Robert D

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Thanks everyone for the wonderful kind words. I've just been thinking about dad and our times together lately since his birthday is coming up on March 15th, which is exactly the last time we saw him in person last year. The very next day, the place they live locked down the joint thanks to Covid. I still remember those days out there with dad working on the organ just like it was yesterday.



Just like this old "Electro Brand" shortwave radio my parents got me for Christmas as a kid just before I started getting stereo equipment hand-me-downs from my brothers and father.

Once I had a Technics cassette deck and receiver from my oldest two brothers, I brought this radio out into the shop so dad and I had something to listen to. When we didn't feel like listening to whatever was on the radio, we would pop in cassettes of various albums that we had all recorded onto tape. I can't even begin to remember how many times we listened to all of the P.D.Q. Bach albums, The Muppets album, all of the various Tomita albums, and of course countless classical and pipe organ cassettes, all from vinyl naturally. And yes, we still have all of those cassettes and albums.

Of course, it was my responsibility to pop this into the radio once a month, which I was happy to do...

I had a shortwave radio much like that once! So cool to play around with! I remember how amazed I was to be able to listen to a foreign country's radio.

We had a cassette deck cleaner like that too.
 
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