To help ensure the success of an organ project

  • Involve the organbuilder with the architect at the earliest stages of planning.
  • Think about the functions of the organ in the particular situation: What is the importance of congregational singing?  Choral accompaniment?  Teaching?  Service music?  Is the organ thought of as a solo instrument or a partner in a total music program?  How important is it to attract qualified music staff members?


The most important factor in the success of congregational singing is the acoustics of the room.  A room that in its acoustics, layout, and appearance encourages congregation members to participate, as distinct from, say, a library or parlor that, in those details, encourages people to keep to themselves.  Example:  Temporary worship rooms such as Fellowship Halls usually have non-absorbent floors, walls, and ceilings.  Those rooms build enthusiasm in a congregation because they encourage people to participate, and they make people feel at ease in them.

Organ Layout:  General Principles

Location of pipes

Pipes should be

  • In the main room with the listeners, not in a side chamber.
  • On the center axis of a room, similar to where a choir singer would stand.
  • Behind and above a choir, with mouths (lower portion) of pipes no lower than 8’ above highest choir riser.
  • In a wooden case, not standing exposed.
  • Large pipes at front, nearest auditors. Small pipes behind large pipes.
  • Not in direct sunlight.
  • Not where air is blowing on them.
  • All on the same level, not double-decked with some pipes below others.

Location of console (keys, etc.) and mechanism

  • Keys should be placed so that organist is facing the pipes.
  • Organ mechanism, including blower, can usually be placed in the pipe cabinet below the pipes.


  • All room surfaces stiff and hard, non-absorbent. This is more important for congregational singing than for the sound of the organ.  Surfaces to avoid:  carpet, acoustical tile, acoustical sheetrock finishes, single layers of sheetrock, drapes.
  • Solid stiff walls, especially behind organ and behind choir singers.  Avoid ¼” plywood paneling.  Better:  ¾” paneling fastened directly (no air  space) to 5/8” sheetrock.


For organ to sound in tune, it is good if:

  • All pipes are located at the same elevation so that there is no temperature stratification.
  • Supply registers are higher than the highest part of the organ; Return Air registers lower than the lowest part.
  • There is a Return Air register behind the pipes drawing tempered air through all parts of the organ.

It is not necessary to heat or cool an organ other than when it is used for public events.

Electrical requirements

Typical for small to medium size organ:

Organ blower motor:  ½ to 1 h.p. 3 phase 220-volt a.c.

Organ control equipment:  115-volt a.c. single-phase 10 to 20 amp

Console equipment:  115-volt a.c. single phase 3 to 10 amp

Typical weight:  60 lbs per square foot

Footprint, typical floor area required

Console:  5’ x 5’ minimum