How to Select a Pre-owned Organ

Finding and buying a pre-owned organ can be a rewarding experience that yields good value at a lower price than a similar new organ….or it can be a costly and disappointing fiasco waiting to happen.  We’ve provided the following guidelines to help improve your chances of success and minimize the risk of expensive mistakes.

When considering a pre-owned organ, the same level of care is called for as when making a substantial investment in any other pre-owned technology product.

While the principal motivation of buying pre-owned is usually to spend less, you are still making an investment of some amount and expecting to receive an equal value in return.  In other words, the organ needs to fulfill the musical needs of your church, institution or home for some number of years.  If the organ fails to function reliably and/or requires on-going costly repairs, you’re not getting the value you expected.  What’s more, you could end up spending more than you would have for a new organ—maybe of more modest proportions, but certainly one that delivers quality, reliability and value.

Keep the following in mind when buying a pre-owned Rodgers organ:

  • The useful life of the instrument is less than a new Rodgers organ.  Well, of course—that’s why it costs less.  However, this needs to be part of the thought process right up front: what is the remaining useful life?  A good guess: 40 years less the age of the instrument.  But realize too that you may end up deciding to replace sooner to upgrade to new or newer organ with more advanced features and capabilities available in the future.
  • Generally, look for a pre-owned organ that is less than twenty years old.  In addition to having enough remaining life to be useful for many more years, a newer model will generally provide a number of advantages: better sound quality, more features, more sophisticated voicing ability, and so on.  Avoid any analog technology organ–these organs are obsolete, will have limited life left, may require costly repairs now or soon, and will likely cost more to move and install than it is worth.  Pre-owned organs available from church Keyboard Center are assured to have a substantial remaining life and represent a good value for any worship center.
  • Plan for maintenance and repair costs—hopefully not extraordinary, but be prepared.  A pre-owned Rodgers purchased from Church Keyboard Center has been fully serviced and checked with our 79-point checklist, and includes a limited warranty that ensures that any issues arising within a reasonable period of time following installation will be taken care of.  A pre-owned organ acquired from a private party can have existing or impending service issues that are not currently manifesting symptoms.

If you wish to maximize your odds for success, the single most important factor in your search for a pre-owned organ is WHO you acquire the organ from.  Work with a reputable organ dealer.  A reputable dealer doesn’t simply minimize disasters, they aim to prevent them.  A reputable dealer has learned how to select and prepare pre-owned organs to minimize the likelihood of any major issues, and in the event there is a serious issue even after all precautions, they’ll make things right for you.

How to find a reputable dealer?  Ask around amongst your colleagues at other churches.  There aren’t that many organ dealers in any given area….you should be able to quickly determine a consensus of the ones with the best reputation for taking care of their customers over the long term.

Click here to see available pre-owned organs

Assuring success

Even an excellent pre-owned Rodgers organ can end up being a great disappointment if improperly installed and voiced.  There are many factors and variables involved in successfully installing a modern digital organ.  Using the right audio equipment, properly installed and finished by an experienced “voicer,” makes the difference between a successful, exciting result and disappointment and continuing issues.

Any pre-owned organ offered by Church Keyboard Center is, of course, a complete package including installation and finishing.  We also work with churches that have acquired a pre-owned Rodgers organ through other channels to provide with moving, installation and finishing as needed.

Click here to see available pre-owned organs

What about getting an organ on eBay or Craig’s List?

eBay and Craig’s List are rarely the source of an excellent value in a pre-owned organ.  The vast majority of organs found here are very old and not viable options for worship use.  Occasionally you will find a newer organ in good condition online or outside of a dealer’s showroom.  You can still get a “good deal” and avail yourself of the advantages of working with a reputable organ dealer simply by getting the dealer involved.

Any organ dealer that has your best interest at heart should have no problem working with you to evaluate the organ you have found and, if it is indeed a good value, handle the moving and installation for a reasonable fee.

The value of an experienced dealer installing the organ in your church cannot be understated.  There are many variables involved in ensuring a successful installation—a fine quality instrument poorly installed will be a disappointment.  You could even request that the dealer service the organ and provide a limited warranty, the same as if they were selling the pre-owned organ.  The additional investment is worth the peace of mind that your dealer will stand behind the organ and ensure a successful result.