Unlike so many products in our throw-away, Dixie Cup society, the pipe organ is meant to be a permanent investment.
Pipe organs are made to be rebuilt, either restored to their original condition, or recycled into a new instrument that can serve your congregation’s musical needs far into the future.
An organ that has served a church for six, seven, or even eight decades can be a sorry sight! This sometimes confuses and discourages a congregation, a situation that is often used by professional salespeople as justification for scrapping it. In fact, your old organ can be reborn into an instrument that far surpasses the original in musicality and flexibility, at only a fraction of the cost of a new pipe organ.
Since each instrument is different, we can thoroughly evaluate the condition of your organ, and prepare a professional proposal that suggests the most artistic and cost effective alternatives for your congregation. A set of vintage pipes in an older organ that looks and sounds dark and dusty can, with renewal and careful voicing, become a magnificent voice – a real “star” in the new organ. Many organ pipes improve with age. This is particularly true of wood pipes, since the wood tends to harden and become more resonant over time.
Although some salespeople will claim an almost endless life for an electronic (digital) organ, there is no basis in fact for any longevity claims for these instruments. In fact, although advances have been made in digital sound technology, the longevity of an electronic organ is about the same today as it was 50 or 75 years ago.
Although electronic organ manufacturers have been around since about 1935, the modern digital organs use a computer-driven technology that is about the age of a college freshman. And, regardless of the condition of the computer that generates the sound (which was usually sampled from a pipe organ to begin with), digital organs still rely on amplifiers and speakers to broadcast that sound into the room. Anyone who has had to live or worship with an electronic organ that is in decline knows that these instruments suffer a long and painful death. An old electronic organ can remind the worshiper of the familiar breakfast cereal – Snap! Crackle! Pop! At the end of its life, the fate of an electronic organ is to be heaped into a dumpster. There is nothing to rebuild – nothing worth saving.
On the other hand, it is sometimes difficult to convince the average person in the pew that a pipe organ needs attention, since, even though it may be in poor mechanical shape, it still sounds like it always did!
Saving and rebuilding your pipe organ helps you be a faithful steward of our environment. Materials that are saved do not go to the landfill. So, a tree that was cut down in 1920, and became a part of your organ, may continue to be a part of your pipe organ for another 100 years. Wood and metal organ pipes can often be cleaned, repaired, and revoiced, conserving resources and preserving history.
Sometimes, the best course is to restore a pipe organ to its original sound. Other times, additions or adjustments can be made to improve its usefulness in worship. And, finally, there are situations in which the best course is to create an entirely new organ, with a whole new voice, but still retaining much of the old. This all depends on how the organ serves your church now, and how you want it to serve in the future. Your old organ, which has been a voice in your church for decades, can continue to serve for more decades – or even centuries!
Share your vision with us, and let us use our experience and craftsmanship to make it a reality. Inside your old pipe organ is a new instrument waiting to be reborn! Financially, environmentally, historically, and spiritually, it’s the right thing to do!