Helpful Hints

The organ sounds really bad and you were just here. What happened?

This question is easily answered with two of our own questions.   Now, we don’t claim to be perfect in our tuning and we know things can happen, but usually, two things can help out diagnosing the ‘bad sound.’ 

1. Is the organ being played at the temperature it was tuned at?  Referring to hint no. 1, remember that the organ will sound bad if it’s being played at a temperature far off from the temperature at which it was tuned. 

2. Celestes are meant for being played with only their parent ranks.  They are purposely tuned sharp or flat to give the impression of multiple strings.  If used in large registrations, they will cause that registration to sound out of tune.



Do we really have need a service call to fix the problem?

How can we fix a problem with the organ temporarily so we don’t have to have you come on an emergency call?

There are two problems we encounter more than all others combined that necessitate an emergency call.  They are 1. Ciphers, and 2. The organ’s not turning on.  Here’s what you can do before you call us in a panic. 

1. Ciphers are simply a pipe that is playing and shouldn’t be.  It can happen for a whole host of reasons and there are just as many ways to fix them.  For you, the organist, the easiest way to stop the cipher is to pull the pipe.  You can try tapping the key to dislodge what might be causing the valve to stay open loose, or turning the stop on and off might do the trick.  Pulling the pipe will guarantee the cipher won’t return and allow you to use the organ without worry.  When we come for the scheduled service we can replace the pipe and repair the cause of the cipher.  Keep this in mind:  BE CAREFUL finding and pulling the pipe.  You can knock the other pipes out of tune if you’re not careful. 

2.  Two systems turn on when the key is turned or the button pushed or the toggle flipped.  The electrical system and the wind system each combine to provide the organ with power and wind.  Here’s what we would do when we come out.  Save yourself a trip by looking at these things and having answers to these questions: 

1.  Is the blower on but there’s no console control? 

2. Is the console on but there’s no wind?  First, look at all the breakers related to the organ.  Specifically, look at the breakers for the blower, the safety switch and the organ rectifier.  (The rectifier converts A/C electricity into D/C electricity.)  If the breakers have been tripped, reset them and then let us know.  If the breakers are fine, look at the fuses first for the blower switch (if there is one) and then the rectifier (if it is accessible).  Remember to remove the fuse to test it.  Some fuses are very easy to tell if they’re blown.  Find yourself a replacement, put it place and there you go. 

Please make sure to tell us of the problem when we do come for service so we can make sure there’s nothing else that might have caused the problem.  If you’ve checked all of the above and still are having a problem, call us and we’ll come out as soon as possible.


Organ Temperature

With today’s economy and with the prices of gas and oil fluctuating, what is the best temperature to keep the sanctuary so as to not damage the organ?


A.  Humidity:  Try to keep the Sanctuary humidity between 30 and 40 per cent relative humidity.

B.  Temperature:  It’s a known fact that if the church sets the temperature for tuning to the temperature they prefer for Sunday services, the organ will be in tune.  Turning the heat down during the week is fine.  The thing to remember is you must allow enough TIME for the organ to acclimate when the temperature is set to occupied temperature.  Not only does the Sanctuary need to warm up (or cool down), but the heated (or cooled) air has to get into the chambers, affect the air in the chambers, the pipes, AND the air inside of the pipes for proper pitch to be achieved.  You must allow enough TIME for the heated or cooled air to reach and affect the pipes.  We recommend turning the heat or air on at midnight before the organ will be used, in worship or for organ service. 

Turning on the heat, or air, when we walk into the church does the organ no good.  Here are a few things to consider: 

a. Cold air carries moisture, which is good; however it causes the tuning of the instrument to go flat to proper pitch of A=440.  How cold is too cold, you ask?  If you let the temperature in the Sanctuary go below 55 degrees, this can be dangerous.  With the humidity in the wood, not just in the organ, but the pews, platform furniture, etc, the heating process can cause the wood to crack. 

b. Too much heat causes the pitch of the organ to go sharp to proper pitch and excessive heat over a period of time can dry out the wood and leather in the organ.