How to Tune a Conn Organ

Written by christine meyer
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How to Tune a Conn Organ
An electric organ (organ image by Laima Penekaite from

The Conn electric organ was produced by the C.G. Conn Company, best known throughout the 20th century for its quality band instruments. The company's first electric organ was manufactured in 1947, and its most famous and successful organ, the Model 700, was produced in 1951. The Model 700 had two 61-note manuals and 25 pedals. Its manual stops were all at 8-inch pitch and produced octave and mutation pitches through several couplers, making it a harmonic synthesis organ. The Model 700 was later revised and made into a 32-pedal organ with conventional stop control. Its intentional slow attack and bold voicing resulted in an instrument bearing an uncanny resemblance to a pipe organ. Conn even developed a special tuner for all its musical instruments, the Strobotuner.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • A Strobotuner
  • A Conn electric organ
  • Patch cord

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    Using a Strobotuner

  1. 1

    Turn on the Strobotuner. It works on an optical illusion called the stroboscopic effect, which is responsible for the apparent backward rotation of objects like wagon wheels when the wagon is moving forward. It also causes the wheel to appear to rotate slowly forward or to appear motionless when the wagon is at full speed. A synchronous motor in the Strobotuner turns a disc at twelve different speeds, and behind it is a neon lamp that is seen when the disc is turning.

  2. 2

    Play a tone into the microphone. When the neon lights and the disc are perfectly synchronised and a tone is played into the machine's microphone, the neon lights go on and off at exactly the same frequency as the tone. If the tone is sharp, the lines that appear around the disc revolve to the right or clockwise. If the tone is flat, the lines will revolve to the left or counter-clockwise. If the tone is in tune, the lines appear perfectly still.

  3. 3

    Allow the organ to warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before tuning it. Connect the organ speaker and the Strobotuner with a patch cord to eliminate a need for a microphone and to eliminate room noises that may interfere with the tuning process.

Tips and warnings

  • You should know the Strobotuner's history, since it will assist you in using it more effectively. The Strobotuner was an improvement of the Stroboconn, developed in 1936. It was an electronic method of tuning an instrument by counting beats with the sounds of a carefully tuned reed organ, and then measuring them. In other words, the Strobotuner mechanically emulated the beats of a tuned instrument, which was then used to tune all musical instruments.

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