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Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 3:04 PM

I work as a professional organist on the weekends. Organists wear shoes with short heels and a special sole covering designed to provide just enough grip that the shoes don't slip off the wood pedals, but also enough slide so a player can switch from toe to heel on the same pedal without lifting it.

My shoes are two years old, and the sole is worn enough that it's providing too much grip and not enough slide. The pics below show the wear on the toe as well as heel parts that I believe it causing the issue.

Can anyone think of a spray-on or very thin material that could repair these wear points? The bottom is supposed to be sort of a soft, fuzzy texture that provides the balance between grip and slide, but as you can see I've worn mine down to the actual sole, which is sticking hard to the wood.

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#1

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 3:29 PM

anything you spray on has to bind to the underlayment which would be too tacky for the pedals, unless you have a (2) part where the first part binds to the underlayment and finished coating. And I don't know of any.

so.... sole/heel replacement... go to a cobbler or a harness maker.

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#2

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 4:13 PM

Maybe you could just wax the pedals...

..."For the wooden "white key" long pedals - If the pedals have a lot of scuffs/dirt try some orange glo wood cleaner, and maybe some lemon oil to polish them up. Not sure what the smaller "black keys" are made of on your pedalboard but cleaning/polishing the "white keys" should do the trick. Just a little bit, and buff/dry them off well with a clean towel so you don't get any residue on your shoes. TO avoid messing up the finish, I wouldn't use steel wool - but that's just me. Find out what your church uses if you are happy with the heel-toe action on that pedalboard."...

http://www.organforum.com/forums/showthread.php?9340-Organ-Pedal-Question

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 6:49 PM
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#7
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Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 11:26 PM

Interesting! My mother played organ (mostly church) for about 50 years, and taught organ for most of that time. It could very well be my memory failing, but I don't ever remember her carrying around separate shoes for use on the organ. It makes lots of sense to do so.

Very unfortunately, I was not one of her successful students. I inherited her Wurlitzer ($2100 new in 1961), but finally conceded I would never learn to play, and gave it away.

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#3

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 4:50 PM

Do you play the same organ, or different ones?

Never having felt an organists shoes (visions of kneeling under an organ while the organist plays to feel their shoes come to mind here) I can't advise much in the way of shoe treatment.

Same with organ pedals. But, if it's the same organ, SE may be on to something.

There are spray-on Teflon® powders that would increase the slipperiness, temporarily. Steel wool may help, or sand paper if the pedals need to be sticker.

However treating pedals that others also use may cause consternation on their part.

Details?

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#4

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 4:56 PM

Here's a crazy idea. Would bowling shoes work? They're pretty tough and slippery on the toes to allow the bowler to slide after delivering the ball.

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#8
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Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 4:08 AM

That was my first thought. The soles are an untreated leather which has some grip but is designed to slide.

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#6

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/19/2018 11:19 PM

I never knew there were shoes for organists and I've played C3's, B3's for longer than I care to say - I've used whatever shoes and never had this issue - even playing toccata in Dminor with the pedals. Are there burn marks on the pedals? How fast you playing? Would love a small video demo aye.

I play synths now

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#9

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 4:58 AM

Suede?

You can buy offcuts really cheaply.

It's probably best to remove the existing soles/heels, and, replace them rather than "patching" them.

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#10

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 5:11 AM

Cobblers.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 7:37 AM

'Cobbler' you say?

There are a lot of different terms for those who weild a cross trying to mend a soul. Switch soul to sole and not we have them share a name with a baked fruit dessert.

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#11

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 7:20 AM

Those are ballroom dance shoes. The most famous source is Freed of London (catalog) but they carry a high price tag and your request was to repair. Many lower cost alternatives of new shoes are available on the Internet.

The suede soles can be removed and replaced. I have never done it but with the proper search terms you can find info online. I think you basically remove the old with sandpaper and glue on the new suede. Your local shoe repair shop can probably do it and if you are in a larger town they probably have already done it. Some helpful links are replacing soles, suede sheets, and dance shoe repair.

Ballroom dancers always carry shoes in a bag and never wear the shoes outside.

The suede soles are normally "cleaned" to get the proper grip by using one of the short bristle wire brushes called a "file card". Especially useful if you got forced to wear the shoes on a freshly waxed floor.

By the way, if you wear the shoes to a dance beautiful women in fancy evening gowns will come up to you and ask you to take them in your arms. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 8:47 AM

You're right: purpose-made organ shoes are nearly identical to dancing shoes, and many organists just buy dance shoes to begin with. It usually depends on the player's preference...I'll probably try dance or jazz shoes at some point.

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#13

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 8:45 AM

I appreciate the responses -- I will actually be playing two different instruments this weekend, so this is a good time to experiment with this. My primary instrument is 25 years old and I believe a few of the pedal surfaces are down to bare wood. They may need to be refinished.

Organists have their own shoes for two reasons: to keep dirt from the street off the pedals, and to use both your heels and toes for when music is too fast for your toes only. Maybe 5% of players play in socks or bare feet, but it's a huge strain on your ankles to try and play with your heels that way. Having a heel that's parallel to the front of the shoe is often very helpful.

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#15

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/20/2018 11:06 AM

I suggest gluing pieces of thin rough out leather to the bottoms of your shoes. Smooth side glued to the shoe. the leather industry uses barge cement. Rough out will last longer than a piece of suede.

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#16

Re: Materials Question: Shoes for Playing Organ

04/26/2019 8:50 AM

I know from my own experience that sometimes it is very difficult to choose material for shoes. I have a specific shape of the leg and because of this I have to do all the shoes with the master. You can look here the best options for shoes. There's even an article about volleyball shoes. Shoes are an important part of everyday life and should not cause any discomfort.

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