The Setup Room
We always build the most artistic and reliable actions possible. Consistent with this policy, most of our organs have mechanical key action. Suspended action is used where feasible, and all tracker runs are self-adjusting to compensate for climatic changes. In locations where mechanical action is impractical, we will use slider chests with electric action.
Large pallets are fitted with helper pneumatics (balanciers) to achieve a light action even in the bass of large divisions.
A freestanding hardwood case is, as a rule, an integral part of our organs. We take particular pride in the exquisite workmanship, and the design of our cases. We design each organ case to suit its architectural environment.
of historic organs, while significant learning experiences, are the exception in our work.
Our usual contracts state that we will design, build and install the organ for a fixed price, except for adjustments due to major inflationary changes. Payments are 15% down, 70% progress payments and 15% upon completion.
vary, of course, but are usually between two and three years. We have a virtually perfect record of on-time delivery.
may be used with either electric or mechanical stop actions. Since with the mechanical system the combination action moves the sliders as well as the entire stop linkage, it is slower and noisier than the electric stop action. We have over thirty years of experience building electric stop actions and prefer to use all-electric stop actions with a large number of pistons (with multiple levels) for larger organs, using the best available, time-proven electric components. As a matter of caution, all electronic parts are easily accessible and clearly marked.
We set right any problem, beyond tuning and simple, action adjustment, that results from something we might have overlooked or misjudged in building the organ at any time, if it is pointed out to us. For the first five years this is done without charge.
We rarely use pure lead for our pipes but routinely employ common metal, consisting of 80% lead and 20% tin, for stops of the flute family.
We either serve our organs under a contract or assist our clients in finding the most competent service person in their vicinity. We service some of our small organs once every five years in cooperation with the local service firm.
We have our own completely equipped pipe shop (including a stone casting table and the original Skinner reed block molds) enabling us to make any flue or reed stop. We do, however, utilize the special skills and experience of a small pipe maker in the Czech Republic for much of our pipework beautifully made under our supervision, to our exacting specifications, and at a reasonable cost.
are used occasionally in larger organs. Where this is most practical, some large pipes are placed on pneumatic off-note chests to keep the key action crisp and neat.
We work hard to produce the best organ for a given budget. We will not sacrifice quality for the sake of a lower price, and we take great care not to waste any of our customers' money. We pride ourselves on the quality of our workmanship and believe it to be second to none.
We strive for a natural, bold reed sound, using resonator lengths that produce the clearest sound containing a substantial fundamental. Most of our reeds are voiced in the best French tradition, which I had the good fortune to learn during my training with Rudolf von Beckerath. A rather unique feature of our reeds is the use of wooden boot blocks. Proper boot cavity dimensions are thereby obtained and superb tuning stability results.
Ernest Skinner's old console dimensions feel comfortable to many people and today are the AGO's standard. These measurements, however, are far removed from those of classical organs. We have consistently tried to steer a course that takes into account a large range of performance styles, sound ergonomic reasoning and the comfort of the performer.
In small organs we use simple and sturdy mechanical stop actions, occasionally with adjustable forte and piano pedals for the Great and Pedal divisions. For large organs we prefer electric stop actions.
For about the last fifteen years, all our organs have been tuned in Valotti temperament. This 6th-comma system sounds to the uninitiated very much like equal temperament, in that all fifths are either perfect or tempered by 4 cents (as compared to 2 cents in equal temperament). The major thirds, though, are much better than in equal temperament in the keys with few accidentals. The Valotti temperament has proven itself to be an elegant solution to the problem inherent in playing music written for a variety of tuning systems and musical styles spanning over 300 years.
We feel that fairly high tin content metal (e. g. 70%) is desirable for most pipes of the Diapason chorus. The beauty of timbre of properly voiced tin pipes can hardly be disputed. In particularly "dry" buildings with limited low-frequency response we often use pipes with a higher lead content in order to increase fundamental tone.
We use cone-tuning and solder our stopped metal pipes shut. The funnel-shaped reeds are cut to length, rather than utilizing slots and the windways of flue pipes are not excessively narrow. In short, everything imaginable is done to keep the tuning as stable as possible.
All voicing is done in our shop, mostly by myself in our acoustically fine setup room. The tonal finishing is, of course, done at the installation site, often with the aid of a remote keyboard for listening from different locations.
We make our wood pipes from the best possible timber, with ash being used for most ranks, cherry for small pipes and Eastern Pine for open 16' ranks.
We use zinc or copper only occasionally, such as for very large pipes, the feet of large common metal pipes and the lower part of 16' reed resonators.
Fritz Noack