THE CONSOLE: “THE HEART OF ANY PIPE ORGAN INSTRUMENT”
When the console does not function properly, the instrument and the organist suffer. The congregation really never knows what’s wrong when the music doesn’t sound quite right, but automatically blames the organist for playing wrong notes within the music, when in reality, the console is malfunctioning and causing the problem. This can be very embarrassing to any organist or organ builder during an organ concert.
What important questions should an organist or church music committees ask?
1. What constitutes a good rebuild or upgrading of a pipe organ console?
2. In order to accomplish a good job, does the console need to be removed from the church?
3. Does the wood shell need to be refinished in order for the congregation to see a difference
when spending this much money?
4. Is fixing just the console DC electric system enough? Or should the chamber relay systems be
upgraded at the same time?
5. How do we know our organ technician is using good quality equipment? Is it used by other
organ builders or do we have a “hybrid” system that only one company knows how to repair:
rendering we are “stuck” with that technician?
All these questions are very important and sometimes very difficult to get the proper answers before entering into a rebuild project. Just a little “home-work” can answer most of your questions via your computer. Asking questions directly to the manufacturers being used or quoted is a great start, they all have websites and generally offer contact people. Ask these manufacturers if they have ever done business with your organ technician, what is their warranty offered, and do they offer field support for your technician.
What puts Fabry Inc. console rebuilds above the competition?
When Fabry Inc. quotes a console rebuild, we quote replacing the entire DC controlling system to the pipe organ instrument. Everything within the console and all chamber relay systems will get replaced. From our experience, completing only a part of any system ends up costing the client much more money in the long run when trying to adapt older systems with newer systems and thereby sometimes losing the ability to convert to the new technology offered.
Most instruments have smaller items such as piston buttons, toe studs, expression shoes, a crescendo shoe, manual contacts, and pedal contacts that all have mechanical, moving contacts all produced at the same time as everything else within that console and chamber relay system. Fabry Inc. rebuilds include all of these items new! These smaller items are not “big ticket” items as far as cost factors to replace with any major rebuild project. Therefore, if part of the console system is failing now, eventually these smaller items will fail at different times of its lifetime, too. Repairing these smaller items one at a time becomes a nightmare with conflicting warranties and over-lapping labor costs. Most congregations get a little upset when they have spent a considerable amount of money on what they assumed was a rebuild project and then in 2 years or so later, need more money to replace the remainder of these smaller items, which ends up costing the church over twice as much if the builder would have completed these with the basic rebuild project.
The new solid state draw knob assemblies, or rocker tablet assemblies or tongue tablet assemblies, or piston buttons units very seldom fit into the existing wood surfaces and thus, in a Fabry rebuild, are all replaced with new. Now, if we are producing new wood surfaces for all these items, we can now offer our clients more pistons buttons, more toe studs, more couplers for the console specification, and even “enhance” the present pipe organ specification via wiring changes.
Generally, all of Fabry Inc. console rebuild projects include a total pedal key rebuild. We cut the old pedal key tops off and install new maple naturals and walnut or ebony sharps. A new contoured pedal key contact rail is produced to hold new pedal key contacts and striker plates.
Generally the mounting board around the expression pedal and crescendo shoe needs to be replaced to accommodate additional toe studs and/or contoured mounting wood bolsters to hold the toe studs in proper AGO standard spacing.
To answer some of the important questions in the above text:
1. We feel the only way to produce a quality product and complete a professional and beautifully rebuilt
console is to remove it and return it to our factory in Antioch, Illinois. There we have the wood working
machines that can accomplish any changes necessary.
2. Fabry Inc. has our own fully insured portable fork-lift if required to remove your console from its present
location within a reasonable normal balcony height.
3. Fabry Inc. has our own fully insured trucks and trailers to transport your console safely to and from the church.
4. The solid state equipment we use has a ten year warranty and the manufacturer offers field help for any
technician taking care of their equipment.
5. The equipment we use is used by eighty five per cent of all American organ builders. Therefore, you as
the client are not “stuck” with any one technician or service organization.
6. Refinishing the outside console wood shell? This cost factor is up to the client, if you want it refinished,
we’ll do it. If the console wood shell is in great shape and does not require any attention, then save the
money and don’t have it refinished. This item is generally quoted separately anyway.
7. New or Rebuilt keyboards? Again, this is up to the organist. But to be real honest, by the time the client
pays for us to remove the keys from the church, remove the keys from the slips, strip keys of any
hardware for resurfacing, ship out, pay the manufacturer for his work, return ship, reassemble in our
shop, and reinstall at your church…we can purchase new keyboards for less money!
8. Moveable Console? When converting to the new systems we use, only an Ethernet cable is required
from the console to the new chamber relays. Thus, making a console portable would be extremely easy.
Fabry Inc. can build a wood console platform, stained to match the existing console that would hold the
console, pedal keys, and bench. Or, we can install console “glide” pads on the bottom in order to slide
the console around; this method is a little more difficult to accomplish for the client.
As you can clearly see on our website, Fabry Inc. has completed numerous console solid state conversions, numerous console rebuilds, and have produced numerous new consoles of all styles.
Fabry Inc. offers to bring your instrument into the twenty-first century with new technology like the Peterson ICS-4000 system that includes such items as the MIDI Resource System with record and playback capabilities, automatic transposing, and multi-level combination action, just to mention a few. This new system offers a tremendous amount of versatility for any organist, making the instrument desirable and a pleasure to play. The instrument will once again be reliable, dependable, and can lead congregational singing for many more years to come.
If you have an older instrument or if you just want to update your instrument with new technology, please do not hesitate to give us a call, email, or write our office.