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How to buy a digital organ

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In writing this article, at Viscount, we are trying to use our many years experience of digital organs to set out the major factors you should consider when choosing the supplier and instrument, whether this is for home practice, church or concert hall use.

As with almost any purchase there is probably nothing more important than a recommendation from other happy customers and of course visiting the importers own premises (or local retailer) to try the instruments for yourself. Any reputable supplier will be happy to put you in touch with past customers, church and private so you can get a first hand opinion of their product and service.

Sound

Perception of tonal quality will always be a matter of personal judgement and it is very difficult to carry effective ‘memory’ of the sound heard yesterday with the one you listen to today. Sound is personal and taste can change.  Many instruments today offer the user a variety of sound palettes and Viscount offer great flexibility of individual voice choices without the need to refer back to the manufacturer or time-consuming laptop manipulations of samples or physical models.

As well as offering the possibility of playing music on the sound pallet the composer originally intended – Baroque music on a bright chiffy tonal scheme and organ music of the French Romantic school on a Symphonic pallet, Viscount’s range provides additional flexibility so if after time you are not fully happy with the sound you have you can make changes to suit varied repertoire.

You might expect this capability to be limited to more expensive instruments but it is increasingly available today in instruments well under £10 000 and is a feature that should be investigated with your chosen suppliers.

Service and Repair

Instruments produced today are extremely reliable and seldom need a service visit. However when required by churches these are often time critical especially if a wedding or special service is imminent. Most, but not all firms carry at least one full time service engineer. You will be additionally reassured if you deal with a company that is adequately resourced to cover the unexpected.

Customer Relations

The private buyer

In this sector the relationship between supplier and customer is unusually personal.  A good supplier will realise that the customer is often making a significant financial commitment on a par with buying a car, and should sympathetically help you reach the correct decision without any timescale pressure. At Viscount the choice of instrument is particularly wide with now 28 individual instruments to choose from. This process should not feel pressured. Part of the fun should be the journey of choice. After all you will be living with your instrument and its features for many years to come and will want to enjoy it.

Church/Cathedral/Concert use

With church installations nothing can beat the experience of having done it successfully many times before. There is often a compromise to reach between the practical solution, the aesthetically best and the preferred for matters of sound distribution. Knowing how best to resolve these conflicts to give an installation that is affordable and will pass any faculty tests is something you should explore with your supplier. Most suppliers today offer loan instruments to demonstrate the potential in a church installation and you should be wary of supplier who will not offer this.

Investment and peace of mind

In a financially fragile environment the biggest of businesses have been seen to fail. No one is immune from that risk. It isn’t easy to measure this risk but there has never been a more important time to question the stability of any supplier and future prospects. No reputable supplier should be shy of sharing financial data with you to reassure you of their stability. Most UK companies are independent distributors of instruments manufactured abroad and the original manufacturer should willingly participate in this information if requested.

It is also worth noting that the market trend of late has shown digital organs to hold their values on the pre-owned and used retail sales market as well as part-exchange against newer instruments.

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I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.

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