Great story! I wonder if the organ was the Heathkit version of the Thomas? From your description (missing cathode resistor bypass cap) I suspect it was a build-it-yourself kit.
I started out similar working for a piano sales/repair shop when the owner got into selling Lowrey organs and needed someone to do part-time repairs and sales demos. My parents had a Lowrey vacuum tube model, but the shop carried the new transistor versions. Learned a lot about transistors working on those.
Good story indeed! Half your luck Mark, when I was that age all I could find was a job in a fish and chip shop! Nevertheless it did help pay for transistors and stuff I wanted. And in Rhodesia where I grew up, by the time I was 18 I was conscripted, fortunately into the police radio section where I got training and was in 7th heaven.
Those were the days - when electronics could be repaired. With modern electronics it is scary how a small failure requires scrapping the device. Not only is there an environmental burden but also the knowledge gained by repairing things is being lost when monolithic devices must be discarded when they fail. I guess the tiny home businesses that repair iPhones are a ray of entrepreneurial hope.
Nothing about the Thomas struck me as being assembled from a kit. I spent a lot of time with Heathkits (I had a Heathkit VTVM and oscilloscope that I used repairing those organs) and I think I would have noticed anything that looked like a Heathkit product.
I remember an engineer from Lowrey telling me that I shouldn't take the oscilloscope on house calls because it makes the customer think that they are paying too much for repairs with such fancy equipment. My thought was that Hoot only charged customers the $7 plus parts so I don't think anyone was going to think they were overpaying. Hoot treated all repair calls as customer service and didn't make any money on them.
Yes, although at the time I thought he was paying too little. I felt I couldn't complain though, because he also had a guy that did TV repair as his day job repairing organs on the weekend. He was paid exactly the same as I was. So while I thought he was paying too little, I certainly couldn't say he was being unfair. I guess he figured the flat rate would work out better, since greater skill should get the job done faster, resulting in a higher effective hourly rate.
I did feel that I got some of the more challenging repairs from some of the tradeins. The Thomas was just the worst of them. Once Hoot got me out of school to do an emergency repair. He pretended to be my father when he called the office at the school!
There are so many cool electronic instruments being made these days. I was in Red Dog Music, a great instrument store in Edinburgh this week and saw a new line of Casio digital harpsichords and organs. The sounds they made were sweet!
Not sure you'd want to try repairing one of them as a first job though!
I didn't realize anyone actually made physical digital harpsichords. I checked around and found the Roland C-30 digital harpsichord, but couldn't find anything similar from Casio. But Casio has been making inroads into the digital piano market in recent years (and their pianos of course offer all sorts of built-in sounds including harpsichord), so I guess it wouldn't be surprising to see the company come out with something more specialized, and probably at a very competitive price point!