Questions & Answers

The following answers have in mind the typical church organ of 12 to 50 ranks of pipes.

Does an organ use much electricity?
No. The ordinary church organ uses less electricity than does a vacuum cleaner.
How is wind for the organ generated?
The organ has a centrifugal blower powered by an electric motor, usually 1/3 to 1 horsepower. Modern blowers are quiet enough to be placed near the pipes.
How often should an organ be tuned?
An organ should have one or two thorough goings-over annually. Churches with large organs or many programs usually request more frequent tunings.
What is the cost of upkeep?
Most churches spend an amount annually equal to from 0.15% to 0.5% of the replacement value of the organ. ($100,000 organ gets attention costing $150 to $500 annually.)
Organs with electro-pneumatic action, which employs a considerable amount of leather, may need re-leathering every 40 to 70 years. Cost of releathering is something like 10% of the replacement value of the organ. Since electro-pneumatic action was so widely used between 1910 and 1960, many organs built during that time now need considerable work. The expense of that work is sometimes exaggerated by persons who want a new organ or those who do not like electro-pneumatic action for other reasons.
What is the difference between an electronic organ and a pipe organ with electric action?
An electronic organ generates tone electronically and produces the tone through loud speakers.
A pipe organ generates tone by blowing wind through pipes.
Wind is admitted to the pipes by valves which are controlled by the keys. If the keys are connected directly to the valves via mechanical linkage, it is called a “tracker-action organ”. If, however, the keys send electric signals to magnets which open the valves, the organ is said to have “electric action.”
There are 2 categories of electric action: all electric and electro-pneumatic. In the all electric type, magnets open valves under the pipes directly. In the electro-pneumatic type, magnets open valves which send wind to leather covered bellows which operate valves under the pipes.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of action. The type of action should be chosen after considering other factors affecting the organ, such as placement of the pipes, placement of the keyboards, relation of the organ to the choir, size of the organ, etc.
What special air-conditioning is necessary?
Nothing special is needed other than good airflow. The organ does not need to be heated or cooled except for public events. (Organs were in churches hundreds of years before churches were air-conditioned.) However, it is important that all parts of an organ receive tempered air equally and promptly after the cooling or heating is turned on. A return-air register or a quiet ventilation blower should be installed inside the organ if there is a possibility of temperature stratification.