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Pipe Organ in da (church) house!


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Okies, got tired of doing without the instrument to record I spent 3 years of my life on at my old parish in DFW. My new parish is much smaller and not so "smells, bells, and chants" as my old one, but they are great people. Nonetheless, I never realistically believed I'd ever get them to go for a pipe organ. However, without getting too religious here, there was intervention. Our 40 year old Allen electronic nasty box began to die and I found that it was worth zero, and the cost to repair would put it underwater as well as still 40 years old and subject to more failure. I looked at options from converting it to MIDI for Hauptwerk, other used ones, and such...and then on Ebay there appeared an instrument that if we had built from the ground up would cost us 160,000.00 and result in my being burned at the stake on Easter if I even brought it up.

So, I found this on Monday morning. 7,500.00 in Akron, Ohio. To good to be true. By noon, I'd contacted Dr. George Ellis Mims, the guy whose magnificent design for the 2.5 million dollar 4500 pipe, double expression, 68 stop, 80 rank Schoenstein at St. Martins and his recordings I praised here serveral years ago. In the time since, we've become good friends. He took a look at the provenance, stop list, and description and said "It's too good to be true and perfect for your small church." By 5 pm I'd put together a prospectus, some of which is below and the rest will follow (edited slightly since) and presented it to the clergy and vestry that night, which JUST HAPPENED to be the monthly meeting of that group which approves money expenditures and budgets in churches of the Anglican catholic tradition. I was asking myself "Why am I doing this, it's INSANE! It's budget time, and were six percent short for the year and have a major leak in the roof. I sit through the "where are we going to get the money" and general gloom and doom waiting my turn and getting increasingly stressed. Not even the Rector knows what I am about to spring except an "unscheduled" agenda item.

Handed out the handouts and made the pitch pretty solidly, though I had no real plan and no time to really consider a strategy. The debate was short. Our junior warden, the guy whose job it is to keep the leaks fixed and such, and who'd accepted a temporary patch as we didn't have the money for the new roof at the moment he'd asked for, finally said "I'd rather have the organ than a new roof." I shut up, and was authorized to make the purchase unanimously.

Now, I come home and am hovering over the BIN button asking myself "What kind of idiot makes a purchase like this off Ebay, without even a phone call to the seller, trusting in the item description." I knew if I had a mirror I'd be looking at him. I hit the button and went to bed.

Turns out it had been given to a Mormon organist, a fine man with extraordinary credentials both as a perfomer and organ expert, who'd re-wired and rebuilt it from the ground up over 20 years. Totally straight up. He wants to come down and play a recital with his wife, a flautist, once it's installed. We've become friends already. Between he and George, we've decided to make this a double expression instrument. It had no swell box, and George said it's not optional for church use. I'd learned from Brian that the instrument had originally been entirely enclosed. That isn't really ideal. He and George felt we could inclose only the few stops, strings and flutes, that really would benefit most. Then, I thought "Why not enclose it all, then build a smaller one inside like the Schoenstein?" The both thought it an awesome idea that will provide a huge difference in expression for the instrument. Then, I asked Brian about whether we might be able to MIDIfy the manuals and pedel for Hauptwerk to extend the resources. I really didn't think it practical as this was a 1942 instrument. Turns out he'd added a solid state Peterson switching unit to it that can be easily and inexpensively MIDIfied. Wow. So, I am going to donate my huge Frazier Elevens for use with the instrument to extend it's resourses with Hauptwerke. George will be able to pick and choose precisely the right stops to add to the "real" pipework to allow way more than we could do otherwise. I am trully excited. All considered, this instrument is going to be a lot like the Tardis...way bigger on the inside than on the outside! And it's going to be very unique with the double expression, hitherto found on only a few instruments in the world, as well as the Hauptwerk extensions with are 24/96 pipe for pipe samples from some of the greatest instruments on the planet.

Me? I get something to record again!

So, here's the writeup and pix extracted from my pitch:

The Schantz Organ Company, founded in 1873 by A.J. Tschantz, (later changed to Schantz) is the largest and oldest American pipe organ builder still under management of the founding family. Combining his inventive skills with a love of music, Tschantz began building pipe organs after a brief venture into the construction of reed (parlor) organs.

Schantz remains one of the major active builders under the management of the fourth generation of the Schantz family. Commissions for the firm include projects ranging in scope from restoration of existing instruments to the construction of entirely new pipe organs, and in size from modest organs of a few ranks of pipes, to complex designs for some of the largest churches, cathedrals, and public spaces in the world. St. Christophers 8 rank Schantz, built in 1942 for Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, was removed in 1994 and restored/revoiced. The revoicing was completed by the late Robert Maye, chief flue voicer at Schantz for some 35 years. Peterson Diode Matrix relay added in 1997. Original Zephyr blower was professionally rebuilt in 1996. Astron RS35A rectifier, 1997. Pedalboard refinished, new springs, several new pedals installed, 2005. This instrument will serve our parish for decades to come. Note the organ is nearly twice as old as our dying electronic instrument. If that concerns you, consider that the oldest playable instrument in the world was installed in 1435, almost twenty years before the final fall of the last Roman emperor in Constantinople. It’s in regular use, and paid for.

From the seller’s description:

“Currently set up, tuned, and playing! Great sound. Powerful enough for a sanctuary. Good warm principal and chiffy flutes. Strings are narrow scale, very warm with celeste. In a unique design, both 16' pedal stops utilize the same pipe, using two feet and two mouths. This rank employs a larger foot and wider mouth for the Bourdon, and a smaller foot and smaller mouth for the Leiblich Gedackt.”

For the use at St. Christopher, we will need to add a swell box and controller. A swell box contains several sets of pipes and has shutters, like vertical Venetian blinds, that can be opened to various degrees by the organist. The result is both a subtle change in the quality of the sound, as well as control of the volume.

This instrument was endorsed for our application by the eminent organist and organ architect Dr. George Ellis Mims, MM Emeritus of St. Martin’s Episcopal in Houston and tonal director of the massive 4,555 pipe, 80 rank, 68 stop Schoenstein instrument there. George is a close personal friend who will advise us on placement, swell installation, and other issues and has agreed to play a dedicatory recital when the instrument is complete, schedule permitting.

--Horseshoe Console with fine wood carvings
--Simple Combination Action: 3 general pistons,
3 manual pistons each manual
--Crescendo, Tutti
--Couplers at 16, 8, 4, Unison Off
--Chests completely rewired
--Reisner C-17 Magnets, all new armatures 1997
--4" of wind
--Ivory keyboards in excellent condition

Unit Ranks:
--Stopped Diapason 16' - 2'
--Open Diapason 16' - 4'
Individual Ranks:
--Salicional 8'
--Celeste 8'
--Trumpet 8'
--Capped Oboe 8'
--Vox Humana 8'
--Nazard 2-2/3'

--16 Bourdon
--8 Open Diapason
--8 Stopped Diapason
--8 Salicional
--8 Celeste
--4 Flute d'amour
--2-2/3 Nazard
--2 Flautina
--8 Trumpet

--8 Open Diapason
--8 Stopped Diapason
--4 Octave
--4 Harmonic Flute
--8 Vox Humana
--8 Capped Oboe

--16 Bourdon
--16 Leiblich Gedackt
--8 Major Flute
--8 Stopped Diapason

--Sw/Sw 16, 4 Unison Off
--Sw/Gt 16, 8, 4
--Gt/Gt 16, 4, Unison Off
--Sw/Pd 8
--Gt/Pd 8, 4
Toe Studs
--Gt/Pd Reversible
Swell Pedal with linkage (no
shades or swell engine)

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However, without getting too religious here, there was intervention.

As George S. Patton once was quoted in a movie: "he's in good with the Lord, and I'm going to give him a medal..." (Of course, we won't talk about the imprecatory nature of the interventionist request from that chaplain.)

Congrats and many good future recording sessions to you!

Now...where are you going to get an organist? [8-)]

Chris [Y]

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Checked the links properties, and the jpgs are definitely on the Klipsch server, so I really don't know what's up with that.

To all, just let me ensure you that I am PSYCHED and remain in a state that must be similar to that of a lottery winner.

As to "Where am I going to get an organist..." please note I mentioned that George Ellis Mims has already accepted to play the dedication and the seller, Brain Ebie, has said he'd love to come play as well. I suspect there will be others.

Our staff organist manages pretty well, considering the princely sum (that's a joke, friends) he gets paid.

Given I'm past any "It will never happen here..." BS at this point my biggest dream would be to have the entire organ expression box made with a front and shutters of plex so the instrument could always be seen. I rather suspect that's out of our budget given the thickness we'd need to ensure no absorption of sound, but it would be wicked cool!


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Great Googly Moogly what a fine tale!

In honor of the great Henry da 8th (I am), founder of the Anglican church, I do believe such spirit should be rewarded. Please PM me your Paypal email address. I do believe a $25 donation is in order to assist in this most auspicious endeavor. Also, should you require any tubes for the organ, let me know.

Your a fine man Dave. Good, scratch that, great work.

So whose with me?

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Sheesh, Marty. While certainly awed by your interest in the project I am not entirely comfortable with accepting such things in this forum. If you really want to this, here is a link to the church address. Send those checks and bullion bars in support of the Memorial Organ project. There won't be any sign of it on the site yet as it's only a week old, but anything sent to that will get where it needs to go.

I am more than a little touched. I am sure that can be interpreted in more than one way.


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Well, with the warmth and support I feel from this place I think I should report on today's formative meeting of the organ committee.

First, our Rector opened and gave us the charge of moving it, re-configuring the loft as required, adding resources as we saw fit, and getting it installed. However, the main thing that made me feel good was a decision I'd already made: Don't worry about the money, just reach consensus and recommend. Then he left.

Most of it was spent educating the members about pipe organs. Our organist was there and he helped. Explaining the nature of a pipe organ was hard enough, but then came double expression and MIDI. However, they got it. MIDI conversion will be 1,000.00 or less. That's an incredible bargain. So, looks like my Frazier's will have a new home and career. All things considered, I'll probably get to hear and appreciate them more there than I have at home. Job one will be to get them up there and to the loft, get a computer built for Hauptwerk, and beg, borrow, or hit a pawn shop to get a couple of MIDI keyboards. I am also hoping to get the pedalboard from the instrument down here at the same time. That way, I can rig up an all MIDI organ so we can get that old Allen out of there and still have something to work with on Sundays until the instrument is ready.

One suggestion about the move was that if the trucking segment was too much, use PODS. I've not really looked into that, but apparently they work sort of like a UPS for moving stuff in have a national network of delivery routes.

So much to do!

The seller is going to record a bit of it and upload it for me and I am really looking forward to that.

I'll continue to post updates as stuff starts to happen.


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Moved once using a pod and it is worth considering. Pods come in a couple of sizes. You order one or more of the size you want and it's delivered to site. Loading and packing is at your own time frame. They are just light weight mini containers with an overhead door. Call them to pick it up and it is delivered when and where you say. I thought the lifting apparatus on the truck was thoughtfully engineered.

The pod worked for me because I needed for my stuff to be stored a few weeks in between houses. No unloading and reloading was nice. I thought it was a bit pricey, but that's convenience for you and a subjective opinion.

One other option, ABF used to have a u-move-it (or some such thing) option where they would drop a trailer at your location. You load and pack it then call for pick up and drop off at your new location. Same sort of user convenience. I thought it was priced competitively last I checked, about 7 years ago.

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DD, from all I have heard PODS will be my backup if the point to point move is more that I think it should be. If there is an issue, it may be that the local moving company declines to load another carriers box as they are Red Ball agents.

Burn that bridge when I get to it...


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