New Trift Shop Toys!


Got one of these for 9.99 USA dollars yesterday:

An Optigon! In working condition!

Info at:

then I had to go get a cheap direct box that can handle amp output levels to take the signal right off the Optigon speakers (the organ is “stereophonic” and I only have one DI with an amp level input ability). While I was at our local guitar Satan, I noticed a used Blueberry for 350 usa dollars. Hmmm… Credit card?

What a mic it is.

You’re a glutton for punishment Tom. Good score. Hope it doesn’t drive you to drink keeping it running. You’ll call me when you find a mellotron in a thrift shop, right?

I can only come close with the EMT 140 plate reverb I was given 2 weeks ago. “Free for the taking” has a different meaning when the item weighs 420 lbs and is in a 7 foot by 4 foot box. The fact that it has $500 worth of Telefunken and Siemens tubes in it is a little bonus to salve my aching back…

A plate! I just wish! Tell us all about it when it’s up and running!

That’s only 100 pounds or so for 4 guys! :D I dunno, I’d rather have the plate than the opitgon. But a used mellotron… :)

the optigon seems to work pretty well - gotta open it up and look at the motor, it is a little wheezy, but I think the amp is solid state and it seems just fine. Also, some of the buttons need cleaning, contacts are obiously messed up, but there is no evidence that the organ was in a house with a lot of smoking, e.g. - the last organ I got, from which I pulled the silvertone amp, was absolutely sticky with cigarette tar. yuck.

clava , you must have had some experience with the BLUE mics. What’ja think?

I’m hoping to do a photo log of the plate rebuild for the new studio website, so I’ll post that if and when it happens. I already have a working EMT 140, and I’m here to tell you that nothing…no solid state box, no plug in I’ve ever heard…nothing sounds like the real deal. I’m going to try calibrating the 2 units a bit differently so they don’t sound much alike. The working one has a solid state driver amp with more tone adjustment than the tube amps in the new one. August bookings are very light, so I should have time to delve into it shortly.

I’ve not used any of the B.L.U.E. mics actually. My first call engineer doesn’t like 'em, for what that’s worth. Expensive for what they do, he says. One of the freelancers brought in a Dragonfly a few years ago, but I never had any time with it. Cool design…same with the Mouse…I just don’t know how they stack up against stuff I’m familiar with. I’m sure you’ve maybe seen some of the pissing match about who took what intellectual property, designs, etc when one of the supposedly principal guys split a few years ago. If I could find a real Latvian made mic from before 1999 or so I might be tempted, but the talk, inuendo and such that’s out there about recent quality and who is making the “real” B.L.U.E. designs has made me shy away.

On a related note, I recently rebuilt the amp in MY Silvertone chord organ and now that thing signs (except for the buzzy G chord button). That now makes…um…12? Yeah…12 working keyboards in the live room. O.K. 11, since one of the Wurlie 200’s is currently down, but still…

I got WAY too much stuff…

Yes, you have way too much stuff. Send some to me, general delivery, Flint, MI.

See, for you it is justified. You have good reasons to collect all that stuff. You are a real working musical person. I’m just a shlub with a basement who likes wanderign around in thrift shops for entertainment… :)

But…I really, really, really, really can’t wait till school starts again and the kids are out of the house. I have two whole days a week free and clear this fall. :D

Hey, by the way, I saved the keyboard and reed box from the silvertone chord organ. PM me if you want it. Dunno if it might be useful for parts.

Clava, you don’t by any chance have the “optigon dealer’s service manual” do you?

edit: found one! :)

I have a fairly nice mellotron VSTi. Sounds better than the real thing. If someone tells me how, I can post it.

By the way, anybody know if the mellotron sound on Faith No More - Zombie Eaters, is a real one? It sounds too clean and too much in tune.

Which one is it, Palooka?

Thing is, we all want the real one. Like you said, even the sample-based VSTi don’t quite get it. :)

MTron, the early freeware version.

It’s not around anymore because it’s now marketed for the evil dollar. But the freeware version sounds just as good as the commercial one to my old ears anyway.

And, you can use the commercial tapes for the freeware version…the interface ain’t as flashy, but it sounds just the same.

OK, the idler wheel on the Optigan has a dent in it, and pitch is predictably wobbly. The guy over at recommends filling it with super glue and then sanding it down. It’s a hard rubber wheel. One of my friends here who is a builder suggested epoxy. You guys have any ideas?

It’s like a pinch roller for a tape machine, this idler? Small diameter, kinda thick, mostly rubber on a thin arbor? Or more like a metal flywheel with a rubber rim, like a Leslie drive?

For the tape machine sort, surf the TapeOp board for “pinch roll repair”. There was a thread in the past year about a guy who does re-rubber work on all sizes of tape machine pinch rollers quick, and reportedly for cheap. Got some good feedback.

For a cheap DIY fix either type, if you do fill the dent with something like super glue or epoxy, you might try to fit a new rubber rim over the patch by cutting up a bit of bicycle innertube and contact cementing or rubber cementing it in place. It’s a friction drive…some fresher rubber at the contact point is liable to give you more gription…everybody likes gription…

AghghghghhgRgh…Gription… :cool:

Clava, it is called an idler whell in the manula, but it is a pinch roller exactly as you described. The superglue worked. Not brilliantly, but well enough. This is one weird instrument. It is so obviously a toy company product, cost cutting all over the place, e.g. a door stop placed to hold the volume pedal in position and the light source is the kind of bulb found in fishtanks, and yet it had some amazing technology in it for its day, several patents for the optical reader, for the way the key contacts work, for what look like ribbon connectors that are ubiquitous in computers these days, and for an optical tremolo. And the amplifiers (there are two, it is “stereophonic”) were made in Ireland!

Hey, glad you got it running Tom. Think about those poor Mattel designers…came up with somthing they thought would be innovative and it really didn’t get very far. “An optical data reader…what the heck was wrong with us? Pretty stupid idea…” Predated the Phillips technology by a buncha years, and now the concept is so ubiquitous that we don’t even think about about all the different eggs that were broken getting us to the CD era. Good luck with it, and enjoy!

Find me that mellotron yet? I’d take a chamberlain as an alternative…

Incandescent bulbs and photo-resistive cells go WAAAAYYY back. I was tinkering with stuff like that when I was about 10 years old and it goes back farther than that. I’m 43. Now think about this one: The impact the semi-conductor laser has had on technology in general. Mind boggling ain’t it?


Dang, another year older and you’d be my age, D. :)

Anyway, the disks I have are pretty beat - the sound quality is not quite at the level I hear on Sparklehorse CDs, for example. Or on the “Virtual Optigan” java thing someone over at cooked up. It runs in your web browser, and is a scream.

I found another “treasure” today - must be folks are doing spring cleaning - got an old Wurli electronic stage organ on the cheap - sounded like #### but all it needed was a bit of tuning - uses octave dividers I think, as phoo once described, and tuning was a matter of sticking an allen wrench into these little rectangular metal canisters and turnign a bit - what are those things? Wait - don’t reply, I want to start another thread, so I can get some help identifying the model - it has been recovered in teal vinyl. :)

BTW, everyone ought to get the B-TAR:



Dang, another year older and you’d be my age, D.

I truly hope we maintain that differential Tom! :D

You said not to… but anyway, you are adjusting an iron slug in/out of a ferrite core wrapped in wire. A variable inductor if you will. It changes the frequency at which the circuit oscillates… Sorry. Couldn’t help it.


PS TEAL Vinyl? Oh you know you just HAVE to post a pic…


BTW, everyone ought to get the B-TAR:

I checked that out… err… I’ll pass…