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Re: Wicks

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  • Re: Wicks

    Can't you re-use the pipes that are okay?

  • #2
    Re: Wicks

    It is my belief that pipes could be reused. It's also my wish.

    I have nothing at all against trackers. I just don't understand why the committee seems to think that's the only way to go.

    Of course none of this will do any good at all if the accoustical problems are not dealt with: carpeting, cottage cheese ceilings, heavily cushioned pews, and the elimination of the closet in which the current organ resides. The sanctuary is over 100 years old, and the congregation desires to retain it. It's in pretty good condition, except for the alterations made in the 70s. During the renovation, the pressed tin ceiling was replaced with a drywall/sprayed glue ceiling that looks like cottage cheese (you know, the stuff everyone today is trying to eliminate from their homes).

    At one point, the great organ was exposed. I'm not sure why someone decided (in the late 50s) to build a wall to enclose the whole organ. That wall, if eliminated, would also expose two stained glass windows that are now covered over.

    I think the real reason why the committee is now dormant is the big fat cost of the new organ coupled with the big fat cost of undoing the last renovation of the sanctuary. The monumental project cost shocked the congregation. This congregation of slightly less than 800 has outlayed large sums of money before for building a new educational building and a gymnasium, but I guess the 1.5 million (that's the price I heard) for the organ and sanctuary alterations was too much at the time.

    We now have new pastors, and attendance is picking up. Maybe things will get rolling again.


    • #3
      Re: Wicks

      carpeting, cottage cheese ceilings, heavily cushioned pews, ...closet in which the current organ resides.


      I wish your church the best of luck with your organ project!


      • #4
        Re: Wicks

        Is it really true that those Wicks D-E chests are more reliable than Pitman chests? I LOVE Moller pitman chests and any other company with the profound exception of Schlicker.


        • #5
          Re: Wicks

          I'm in this same position where everyone thinks the organ is broken and such.

          Only thing I can say is play the organ for the congregation and let them make the decision.


          • #6
            Re: Wicks

            Is there a limit to how many ranks a tracker instrument can be built?

            As stops are added, does the pressure applied to the keys increased?


            • #7
              Re: Wicks

              Largest Tracker Thread


              • #8
                Re: Wicks


                I think before your Church goes down the Tracker road too far they should listen to quite a few instruments. In your situation, you have a bit of a challenge because the room must be as dead as a doornail. My sense is that most builders (of any kind) today lack the discipline to build a proper organ for a dead space, which is why you find certain aspects of the Wicks (Scharff for instance) to be unacceptable.

                My belief is that foundational organs do much better in a space such as yours. Instead of a Scharf you might have a 12-15 Grave mixture, or perhaps a Dolce Cornet - these are not strident yet when well voiced add a nice clarity to the ensemble. Instead of a French Trompette with parallel shallots you might use a nice Cornopean. These refined stops will not only blend well with your current acoustic, but they will function even better should your Church decide to rip up the carpet some day.

                The challenge then with modifying your Wicks is figuring out whether you can shift the direction of the organ without making it incohesive; which is exactly what the vast majority of builders did to symphonic organs during the reform movement.

                Bear in mind that most modern-day trackers are on wind pressures very similar to yours; so it is important to select a builder that can generate a good, foundational sound given those pressures. Just to put two names out, I would say that Dobson and J.W. Walker (England) are of a mindset to build you an appropriate tracker instrument.

                Of course if I were on your committee, being bent on getting a tracker organ, I would take a long look at some of the beautiful late 19th Century trackers available. A nice, restored Hook organ would not only be pretty economical but probably quite appropriate for the space and beautiful to listen to.

                Whether you are looking for an E-P instrument or Tracker, definitely check out www.organclearinghouse.com and see what's out there.

                One more word of warning - with the Tracker organs, particularly if the builder isn't nearby (ie: England or Germany), be sure to take a close look at the warranty and any maintenance agreement with the builder.

                As far as Wicks is concerned, I would simply state that reputations are not always without merit. Here are two exercises one can put Wicks in a nutshell with:

                1 - Name one notable Wicks (besides St. Mary's Peoria which is notable for other reasons)

                2 - If Wicks actions are so wonderful, why is National Cathedral throwing theirs out?




                • #9
                  Re: Wicks

                  Thanks, Nathan, for the thoughtful input.

                  It's interesting that you brought up the Organ Clearning House. There are several instruments on that site that would probably serve us well. The organ committee, however, feels that an used instrument would be a crapshoot at best. I of course disagree. I have asked to be on the organ committee if and when it resumes its activities. I've also asked to join the music committee.

                  I believe one of the finalists for a tracker organ was Richards, Fowkes and Company of Tennessee. They may in fact have been THE finalist. From what I've heard, their facility, presentation, recommendation, and organs were pretty darned impressive.

                  I think what sent the organ committee to the inactive list was the projected cost of the organ plus the projected cost of making a 110 year old building accoustically friendly again. I've heard the price tag for the total project was 1.5 million. Lately, things have been looking up, and attendance and membership are on a rebound after years of a slow and painful decline. It's believed the committee will resume activity in the near future, but nothing is for certain.

                  As far as Wicks goes, I like their organs. But, when you look at how large their opus list is, you've got to wonder how mass-produced their organs are. I've bought one of their small unit organs for my home. I'm sure it will serve me very well. At the same time, I sort of think of Wicks as the Ford/Chevrolet/Pontiac of the organ world while Dobson might be the Buick, and *insert your favorite builder here* might be the Cadillac.



                  • #10
                    Re: Wicks


                    Ouch! Along with what IndianaBill says, despite how I might feel about some of the newer (nicer) Wicks installations, it does make sense concerning being mass-produced, or at least "cranked out"

                    I have only actually heard and played 3 Wicks organs. Two of them are at Christ Church, in Plano Texas, and the other is a practice organ at Baylor.

                    The two Wicks at Christ Church were installed just a few years ago, and are simply stunning. They did a performance of the Durufle Requiem there last year on Good Friday, and the organ played a major part (with an orchestra and huge choir). The organ was simply stunning... breathtaking. It had such a warm, rich sound... The bass was so prominent and made the floor shake (even downstairs) but it didn't make the chorus sound too muddy.

                    It was an amazing experience, and I wasn't even playing! (Oddly, I think the sanctuary organ is better at playing classical music and not so much leading hymns, and the chapel organ is the other way around).

                    Now, the other Wicks is the practice organ at Baylor. 5-6 ranks, in a big box from the 40s-50s. Nothing special about it. Unified off the wazoo. Not any special sound, but has been built solid, and everything still works just fine.

                    Possibly this is just that they have nicer electronics than pipes? (Christ Church has all electronics except for the Great in both the sanctuary and the chapel).


                    • #11
                      Re: Wicks

                      wicks builds nice solid reliable organs.

                      something to consider in "fasthionable" organ builders:

                      "fashionable" organ builders the elites favor come and go.... Indiana University PAID over a million dollars to the fashion boutique organ builder Rosales for a fancy schmancy tracker for IU. He won't finish the organ leaving IU high & dry with no organ and out all the money. ... its just a horrible situation and swept under the rug in the organ world... perhaps because it gives exposure to the risk taken with boutique builders.. i.e. having a organ actually completed.

                      Keep IU's experience in mind, especially in contract negotiations. Rosales stipulated a contract that basically gave him the money up front without IU being able to sue in court to have the organ completed... a big no no, but apparently he was able to have that contract because of his popularity in the organ world.

                      Be very careful, as in my opinion Rosales has given the "fashionable" organ builders a HUGE black eye.

                      Just my 2 cents. :) :) :) no one take offense, just giving my own opinions. :) :) :)

                      I'm sure there is another side to that story at IU, but that is what has been reported in the press to my knowledge.


                      • #12
                        Re: Wicks

                        as to Organ Clearing House, they usually have some Skinners on there from time to time.

                        If your accoustics are not so hot a E.M. Skinner would still sound about as good as you can get a organ to sound (in my opinion anyhow).

                        I'm keeping an eye out for a E.M. Skinner for my own church someday...possibly a Aeolian Skinner but I like the lush romantic sound that fell out of favor in the organ world but hopefully is making sort of a comeback.


                        • #13
                          Re: Wicks

                          I do wish to clarify that because I compared Wicks to Ford/Chevrolet/Pontiac that I meant exactly what soundboarddude and NYCFarmBoy have said quite nicely:

                          Wicks builds nice, solid, and reliable instruments.

                          Indeed, that's why I have chosen a Wicks organ for my home, main organ.

                          I've driven and/or owned Chevrolet, Fords, and Pontiac vehicles in the past. I found them to be solid performers and reasonably reliable. Nice, solid, but not terribly exotic or exciting.

                          I feel so much better!

                          By the way, does anyone have any opinion of Richards, Fowkes and Company?


                          • #14
                            Re: Wicks

                            Honestly, if you want a builder that does a fabulous job of voicing to a shoddy accoustic, and, knows how to improve the accoustics with very simple changes, look to Casavant. We have a 75 rank Casavant at First Baptist Church of McKinney down here. It is a completely carpeted room, with cushioned pews, etc etc etc, at least it has a high ceiling, and an octagonal room. Looks like it should be dry as a bone. But strangely, due to the voicing they did on the instrument, and, some changes they made to the room (Put a gloss finish on the walls, and did some other stuff) it is a VERY lush, reverberent sound. When you take your hands off of the keys, it doesnt "suck" the sound back in. They also did something similar at First MEthodist Dallas. It doesnt sound wonderful, but, you should have heard it BEFORE Casavant came in (I mean, BAD). Also, if you want a tracker, get a quote from C. B. Fisk. Im not sure what their pricing is, but, they build HIGH quality instruments, and trackers are their speciality (actually, I think they ONLY build trackers)


                            • #15
                              Re: Wicks

                              The only Wicks tha I have ever played is a 2/8 or 12 rank 1968 Wicks which was AWFUL! Whenever it was turned on, it ciphered!