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date: 04 August 2020

Makin organlocked

  • Hugh Davies


Electronic organ manufactured originally in Rochdale, Lancashire, by Compton-Makin, which became J.&J. Makin Organs Ltd in 1973. In 1970 John Makin Pilling (d 1996), an amateur organist and paper manufacturing executive, acquired assets of the failing Compton Organs Ltd, pipe organ builders, and pioneers in electronic reproduction of organ tones in the 1920s. The acquisition included the electrostatic tone-wheel system of sound generation (one wheel per note) of the Compton Electrone, which remained in use in combination with microprocessor technology. Additional electronic circuitry provided a more realistic pipe organ sound quality, such as attack and decay characteristics (including the ‘chiff’ attack found in some flute stops), and soft beats for certain stops produced by a ‘chorus generator’ that adds slightly out-of-tune frequencies. In the 1980s, Makin integrated the ‘Bradford System’ of digital synthesis and in the 1990s began using digital sampling.

In 1998 Makin was purchased by the Dutch electronics manufacturer Johannus; subsequently manufacturing and development moved to the Netherlands, which prompted some Makin employees to break off and found a competing entity, Phoenix. Nowadays, Makin’s custom-built organs, which aim to replicate specifically English Romantic sounds and ‘tracker touch’, are all versions of a basic ‘Westmorland’ model, and mostly have two or three manuals and pedals. They are designed for churches, and one, a four-manual instrument, is in Ripon Cathedral. Makin also produces three standard, off-the-shelf models offering a choice of English, French, or German Baroque sounds, at lower prices than the bespoke instruments. In addition, Makin offers the Johannus and (since ...

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