Month: May 2019

All The Bells And Whistles

I found out yesterday that the Hammond B3 organ I play every Sunday was made in 1958. It is in pristine condition. Over the years it has needed a vacuum tube or 2 changed (yes, it runs on vacuum tubes), but otherwise it has been faithfully whirring on demand for the past 60 years. 

I recently borrowed a coffee pot from my in-laws. People were coming over and I needed to make both decaf and regular. I only have my little 4-cup cheapie coffee maker. (By the way, who defined a “cup”? A pixie? A leprechaun? Because I need several “cups.”) My mother-in-law informed me that it was a wedding present for them about 48 years ago. I used it. It still worked. 

Also recently I have had to replace a few appliances, and they’re telling me that I should expect 10 years out of any appliance now. 

My mother owned the same dryer for 40ish years with no problem. My in-laws owned a deep freeze for a similar amount of time. 

But no, now we should expect to replace everything electrical in our house about every 10 years, including the water heater, A/C compressor, garbage disposal, fridge… everything. 

I know that doesn’t mean they WILL have to be replaced, but if they are, well, sorry, that’s just how it is. So we should be GLAD we squeezed a whole extra 2 years out and got a whopping 12 years out of the several-thousand-dollar whatever. 

Here’s the problem. We are the problem.

I borrowed this coffee pot from my in-laws that worked great. It made a whole 12 cups of coffee just as well as my newer one. The coffee tasted great. It wasn’t slower or anything. 

There was just one problem.

The machine didn’t have the little knobby on top of the pot to allow you to take the pot out in the middle of a brewing cycle and get a cup of coffee without it continuing to drip freshly-brewed coffee all over everywhere.

So I had guests who had to wait in the kitchen for it to finish brewing the whole pot before anyone could get a cup of coffee. It was awful. We had to stand around and talk and interact until the coffee was done. And our meeting was late getting started, probably a whole 2 minutes. (That’s sarcasm, in case you missed it)

You know what I did? I went on Amazon that night and bought a new coffee pot. 

Why? Because I want the fastest, most convenient features on my appliances. Oh, I pride myself on being frugal. I act it doesn’t matter. I will ride something until it dies, like repair-guy-says-there’s-no-hope dies. But even with my frugality, I have come to expect my dryer to keep tossing my clothes to prevent wrinkles until I am good and ready to take them out. I want my stove to have a timer that allows me to put dinner in the oven while it’s cold, set the timer to come on at a certain time at a certain temp and cook for a certain amount of time so I can go run an errand or attend a meeting or even take a nap. I really like the ice-maker & water filter built into the front of my fridge. And I suspect you expect similar things too.

Back to the Hammond Organ, though. Manufacturers have tried to recreate digitally the sound of the Hammond B3’s. They have failed. Nothing else gives that warm sound that we have grown to know and love and expect to accompany all the great gospel singers and choirs. If someone offered me the best and newest organ with all the bells and whistles (literally in this case) I would turn them down flat. There is a whole industry built around maintaining these organs. There are many technicians that take pieces of this and that organ and put them together to make something similar, and they sell. There are also counterfeits you have to be aware of when you’re buying one (used of course). If you open the back of the organ it looks very different from what you’d see in, say, a modern digital piano or keyboard.

Yes folks, there are some things that it’s fine to replace, even though I think every 10 years might be a bit soon to have to replace a very expensive A/C unit or even my washer and dryer. 

But there are some things that cannot be replaced except with a cheap counterfeit knock-off that won’t do the job nearly as well. 

It’s important that we know the difference.