A Little History

I thought of writing this weeks ago and today I realized that I never got around to it – Whoops!

So who the hell am I anyway? My name is Curt Magura and I’m the site admin / owner of the WersiClubUSA site. Our main mission is to both inform you and also learn from you about the Wersi product line. But before we talk about Saturn’s, Delta’s, Spectra’s, Sonic’s and OAX, how did we get here anyway?

It all started way back when my father built our first organ from a kit. The name of that company? Schboer Organs. Now, I was about knee high to a grasshopper at the time and have no idea which model my dad built, but no question, that was the start of it all. I can say that we did have the “Schober Reverbatape Unit“. I remember it well. Quite the piece of technology in it’s day. It used a magnetic tape loop that would record and then playback what it recorded a short time later as in “reverb”. WOW! (Or would that be OUCH?)

Along the way we were able to meet Jimmy Boyce and play the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ located at the Alexandria Skating Rink in Alexandria Virginia. As it turns out, my parents met each other at that skating rink. You know – when I was just a wink in my dads eye! 🙂

Wurlitzer4500

Keeping with the Wurlitzer theme, my parents purchased a Wurlitzer 4500 console organ. This was big step up from the Schober. It had two 61 note keyboards and a 25 note pedal board. It even had two presets per manual! You were not able to pick what the preset did and they were mechanical. When you pushed the preset the tabs would physically move. It took a bit of pressure to actually push in the preset “button”. Still, quite magical at the time. The one feature I remember the most was “Shh-Boom”. This was a precursor to automatic rhythm units. It gave you the ability to add a bass drum and cymbal sound to the pedals and also a cymbal sound to the lower manual. You could mix and match those sounds via rocker switches located over on the left check block. Man, we are are rocking now! Of course, it all was based on your ability to play a rhythm “in-time” using your left foot and left hand and at the same time play a melody line with your right hand. Dad never got the hang of “shh-booming” it…

 

 

Wurlitzerapt

A few years later and it’s time to move out on my own. My first apartment and a new organ! Sadly, I don’t remember the model but it had an “automatic” rhythm unit along with a small third keyboard – the “Orbit Synth”. Can’t really see it in this picture but it was there and had a whopping 25 notes. (Note, three manuals… more on that later). One thing that you can see on the lower right cheek block, is the builtin cassette recorder. Wow, we could record ourselves and even play it back right on the organ. We now had rhythms called Latin, March, Band and I’m sure a few others. No more “Shh-Boom”. Dad still had trouble following along with the automatic rhythms – 🙂

 

 

 

 

Conn_644One thing for sure. I missed those two 61 note keyboards and a 25 note pedal board that we had on the Wurlitzer 4500. Time for a new organ! This time we jumped ship and went from Wurlitzer to a Conn 644 “Martinique”. And of course we had to add the Conn Electric Band to use as what else? A third manual. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Band_Dayz

Oh yea, Can’t forget my days playing keyboards in a rock band. Here we are playing my Hammond M100 with the Conn Electric Band added (there’s those three manuals again) and a Farfisa model “???” electric piano off to the side. Wow, now we are at four manuals! Look just to the right of the organ and you can see the Heathkit amplifier we built and were using as part of the setup (Hint – building things from kits). I still had the Conn 644 at home but it was a tad heavy to carry around. Not that the Hammond was much lighter but it was small enough to fit in the back of a van with the other band equipment. Think we paid $500 for that Hammond and sold it for $500 after a year and loads of “Band Fun” later. That also tells you how long I was in the band.

 

 

WersiGalaxy_CurtBack to the opening few paragraphs about my dad building our first organ, the Schober, from a kit. As a kid I watched by dad build a number of electronic things from kits. Who remembers a company called Heathkit? Like father like son, so I ended up building a ham radio, a color TV and a stereo, all from Heathkit. Flipping through a magazine one day I see an ad for Wersi Organs… Hey Dad, check this out. These things come in kits that you can build!

Pack up the car it’s time for a road-trip to Wersi Music located in Lancaster Pa. where were introduced to the Wersi Galaxy, Ralph Conti and Ric Iannone. (Hey, this Ric guy can play pretty good. More on that in a second). Wow – Now, this was it! Not only three manuals (see I told you that would come up again!) but they were all “built-in”. No more of this adding something on top of the organ. That being said, this thing was truly massive. No question about it – Had to have one. Not sure, but I guess the fascination with three manuals all started when I got to play the Wurlitzer Pipe organ years earlier?

Well, it turns out we never did get that Galaxy but dad did build a Saturn. At the time I still had the Conn 644. A big heavy horseshoe shaped full console organ. Dad had this cool contemporary looking Saturn with Chrome posts separating the console from the pedal board and a set of external speakers. This wasn’t going to end well for my bank account. Next thing you know I ordered my own Saturn and starting building it.

We are plugging away and on kitpack #4 maybe 5, don’t really remember, and Wersi announces a new line of “digital” instruments – The flagship model, the Delta DX-500.  Ok, got to have one of these! Cancel the rest of the Saturn kitpacks and order a Delta. What a difference in building the Delta vs. the Saturn! Those they have gone down that path will understand.

A few years later the CD line is introduced and of course, we have to have one. Hey Ralph,  let’s work a trade! This time around the flagship is the Spectra CD-700. We also built our Spectra and went through all the various upgrades adding “Memory Tower”, “Livestyle” and “Golden Gate” as those upgrades were introduced. Without question, the Spectra was the finest instrument we had ever owned. We no longer replaced the organ when the latest model came out, we were able to update the one we had as new features were introduced by Wersi. When the Pegasus was introduced we added that to our collection which also included a Wersi Piano at the time. For awhile we had all three in the “music room”.

By this time I had a “big boy job” and was working for IBM as a programmer. Mix in my real life job with the many things you could do via “programming” on the Spectra. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe just one more thing and that thing was called MIDI . Guess what? The Spectra had MIDI ports. This opened up a whole new world.

Enter that Ric Iannone guy again. Wersi fans in the states know Ric well and the man must have 20 fingers vs. the 10 the rest of us have. Let’s just say he can play the hell out of any style music you like. One day I’m in Lancaster hanging out at Wersi Music and I say Ric, check this out. I show him the steps to record a bass line he played and we “record” it on a laptop computer connected to a Spectra via MIDI. Next, we play back that bass line and Ric plays along with it. We record that as a second track and then record and add in a third track of drums. Hmm, now this could get very interesting. Remember the comment above about the cassette recorder that was built into that Wurlitzer Spinet? Little did I know at the time where the concept of recording and playing along with yourself was going to take me.

A few months later and a small company called IMMusic is born. IMMusic produced a number of “Play-Along” MIDI disks and put on a number of workshops at the Dutchland Keyboard Show where we presented various topics on the Wersi CD line along with how you could incorporate MIDI connected devices into your musical world.

Over the next few years, things got pretty busy with kids, little league baseball, yard work and there simply wasn’t much time left for music – 🙁 . We missed out on the move from the CD to OAS line of Wersi instruments. Actually, other than in pictures we have never had a chance to see, much less play, an OAS based instrument.

That all changes October 2016 as we get our hands on a new OAX 700. The kids are grown and out on their own, the job is now called “Retired”. We have plenty of time to dig down inside of OAX, play with it, learn about it, what it can do and sharing that with you as we go. Join us for the ride – it’s going to be a blast!

We would love to hear about your musical journey and what you are learning about OAX.

Day_One

6 thoughts on “A Little History

  • 10/29/2016 at 06:59
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    Hey Chuck – Great to hear from you!

    Yes, I did order the optional “beer holder”. It’s a must have regardless of which instrument you have… 🙂

    I would prefer external speakers also but we simply don’t have the room so we are using the internals. It didn’t take long for me to find the same distortion that you observed. I’ll be writing up a post with more details. Under “settings” you will find both an input and output mixer along with an equalizer. A few changes there made noticeable improvements in the overall sound quality for us.

    I have zero history with OAS so not going to be much help there. All of my observations are based on what I remember from the Spectra that I had many years ago. OAX is a HUGE step up from the CD series. Not a ton of info in this video but in case you haven’t found it take a look.. https://youtu.be/EWwPKaOQ1JY

    Keep us posted if you go down that road. I, and I suspect others, would love to hear all the details and whatever you can share on the OAS to OAX upgrade options.

    Curt

    Reply
    • 10/29/2016 at 16:03
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      Hi Curt

      Congratulations on your new site and new Sonic. It’s been a long standing joke between Bill and I that the Sonic should have had a ‘Real Ale Dispenser’ as standard!! I suppose a optional bottle holder is getting as close as we will get with this.

      All the best

      Ken

      Reply
  • 10/29/2016 at 04:38
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    HI Chuck

    Make sure the input/output mixer settings are not too high, and it has the latest update, which should solve any problems.

    The soundboard in OAX (That replaces EA board in OAS) has much better DACs and circuitry which means you get less noise, distortion etc. so that even the old sounds of OAS (Which are included with OAX) sound better.

    If you upgrade from OAS then the speakers and power amplifier remain the same, as just the panels and electronics are replaced, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWwPKaOQ1JY

    Hope this helps

    Bill

    Reply
  • 10/29/2016 at 03:20
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    Chas, I found that too with my OAX 800 with factory default settings. I needed to play around with the output level sliders to mitigate the distortion. This also impacted the audio recorder function, which distorted on playback with factory default settings.

    However, once set up correctly, I am very happy with the result, and much better than my previous Verona in terms of sound. With the Verona, I had to plug in a separate set of Kef iQ7’s and disable the internaal speakers to get to a position I considered acceptable.

    I don’t know whether the improvement is to do with the speakers, the amps or the way the speakers are mounted, but had I upgraded the Verona to an OAX500 and still had the same sound quality, I would have been disappointed.

    Hope that helps
    Mark.

    Reply
  • 10/28/2016 at 20:32
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    I notice there’s a convenient beer bottle stand!! Excellent. Curt, are you playing just through internal speakers? Our OAS group met up in WV with Joann Young’s new Sonic and some of noticed some distortion when a number of voices were layered on upper and lower manuals. Wondered if you’ve experienced that at all. Also looking for input on new Sonic versus retrofit on a Scala if anyone has thoughts. Perhaps external speakers?

    Reply

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