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W. Zimmer and Sons

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  • W. Zimmer and Sons

    General Discussion Topic

    ---What are your thoughts on W. Zimmer and Sons organs?---

    If I'm honest, I don't have much knowledge on Zimmer's instruments. I've only played one, at our diocesan cathedral, in OKC (a 4 manual 40 something rank instrument). It does its job of filling the space very nicely, and leads the congregation very well, and has an extremely talented, and gifted man, commanding it, making it sound its best. But as wonderful of a job he does playing it, it just doesn't seem to have a particularly pleasing sound (this coming from someone who ENJOYS the "Legacy Holtkamp Organs", with their screaming mixtures, that have been described as "shattering glass".) I really don't know HOW describe the way that it doesn't sound too pleasant, I guess the best way I can think of is to say, it just kind of has a sound that suggests its always slightly out of tune. Slight enough that ordinary people most likely wouldn't catch it, but organists, or anyone more involved with organs, than said "ordinary people" are, would catch it pretty much instantly. If my description is still not clear, then I'm providing a link to a short Facebook video taken at the cathedral, from an ordination mass entrance. (Spare me the comments on the "ghastly vestments, I've already heard it from members of a FB organ group I'm a member of...)

    I don't really know, its just an odd sort of sound to me.
    On a different note, when I've sat upstairs for the masses there, its unfortunate the design of the cases to fit in the balcony. Its a split case, on either side of the rose window, and the choir seats are between the two cases, and the en chamdes are obviously mounted facing the front of the cathedral, which means they're a bit hard to hear over the rest of the organ right next to you.

    Share your thoughts on anything you know, or have opinions on about Zimmers organs, and a possible explanation for the odd tuning type issue I swear I'm not imagining.

  • #2
    I am not familiar with this particular instrument. I tried to find some online recordings and there is not much out there. I did look at the specification and pictures on the OHS Database. The spec looks serviceable, if not very imaginative, IMO. I have always thought of Zimmer as a "low bid" builder. There is nothing wrong with that; it makes pipe organs more accessible. Many of their instruments are unit organs, although that is not the case in the Cathedral in Oklahoma City.

    Regarding the tuning, I wonder if the organ is possibly difficult to access for tuning. I have always done touch up tunings on organs that I have played if their was an errant note here or there. From the look of the photograph, it could be that there the two pipe chambers are a bit crowded. If that is the case (and I am merely speculating) it would discourage the organist from touch ups. Also, some organists do not have the interest or skill to do this.

    My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk


    • #3
      I regularly practiced on, and occasionally performed on a Zimmer in SC. It was a 3-manual in a 2900 seat auditorium. It spoke from chambers on one side of the auditorium, high up in the wall, and it was "pencil scaled." It certainly wasn't overpowering, but it did fill the space. I especially loved the sound of the Erzähler and Erzähler Celeste on the Choir–my favorite stop on the organ!

      There was also a unit organ with no Swell pedal in the organ instructor's office, but it was highly unified and totally unenclosed. I preferred not to use that instrument due to the limited stoplist (3 or 4 ranks), so I rarely played it except for my first lessons in college. That organ was replaced by a mechanical-action Zimmer I played a couple of summers ago, and it was a much-improved instrument over the prior organ, even if it was a bit strident. I believe it was probably built for a larger space than the office, in which it was placed, so that could account for the strident sound.

      Hope that helps.

      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos


      • #4
        I have mixed feelings about W Zimmer & Sons and the organs they built.

        The very first W Zimmer & Sons organ I ever heard/played was quite a nice organ in a reasonable acoustic setting. It was spread out in the room, 2 divisions in what was the rear gallery with a divided Positiv division above/behind the altar. It filled the room nicely without being oppressive or shrill.

        The next W Zimmer & Sons was a totally different animal. It was in a smallish, acoustically "challenged" room, and was (to my ears) harsh and overly-bright for the room it was in. I have heard a couple of W Zimmer organs like that, in fact.

        W Zimmer & Sons is no more, but the family continues to build both all-pipe and hybrid organs in North Carolina.

        Rick in VA