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New pipe organ for my parish

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  • New pipe organ for my parish

    My local RC church is undergoing renovation and with the leftover money they are buying a pipe organ in replacement of the 1980 Allen. I need to know who we should choose to build it. I was thinking Casavant, Schoenstein, or Ruffatti.

    BTW, The church raised $4.5m for the renovation so we will probably have enough for a pipe organ after it's finished.

  • #2
    Re: New pipe organ for my parish

    What is the budget likely to be? (ballpark...)

    Also, the seating capacity. What sort of reverberation does the room have?

    Are there chambers?Lots ofroom for pipes?


    • #3
      Re: New pipe organ for my parish

      I'm guessing it could seat about 1000, maybe less. I don't know how much the renovation will be, but we might have $200-400,000 (maybe 500,000) leftover. As for the acoustics, I can't be sure , they are replacing the carpet with stone, and some wood. I'm not sure about chambers or space for pipes but we might be able have to get something like this.


      • #4
        Re: New pipe organ for my parish

        bethards at schoenstein built a new 17 rank organ in nyc for 600k

        dobson is charging over 5 mil to wnc for 75-90 rks

        the canadian dollar is higher than the usa buck

        go with the new austin if they will cut u a break to help re-establish their reputation


        • #5
          Re: New pipe organ for my parish

          1000 is a pretty good-sized church. $500k won't buy too large of an instrument, but it doesn't have to be large in order to be effective.

          A remodel is the perfect time to negotiate for adequate organ space; ideally the organ builder should be brought in during the remodel planning stage.

          Glad to hear the carpet is going into the dumpster! I was beginning to despair...

          More thoughts later...


          • #6
            Re: New pipe organ for my parish

            Depending on the shape of the space, ceiling height, and materials used, a 1000-seat nave ought to get about 2 seconds reverberation. To achieve that it is essential that hard surfaces be used as much as possible. Stone walls are great but few churches have them. My church has walls of 3 layers of plasterboard, well supported. Floors should be bare. Pew cushions are controversial: few churches will do without them because bare pews are less comfortable to sit on; our organ builder actually said cushions get covered up by parishioners sitting on them and their presence just evens out the acoustics between an empty space and one that has many congregants in place. I suspect he is correct, but sometimes it would be nice to have more reverb in an empty space (for recording purposes, for example).

            $400,000 to $500,000 is not a lot of money for a new pipe organ--I think even a modest builder charges about $25,000 per stop and the better builders charge a lot more. That being the case, your budget would be hard-pressed to buy a 20-rank instrument and you'd probably have a lot of unification. Not to despair--a lot can be done with 20 ranks and many churches make do with a lot less.

            Have you considered buying a second-hand instrument? This forum often publishes listings of real deals in used organs, and there are several web sites devoted to finding new locations for excellent instruments removed or replaced.



            • #7
              Re: New pipe organ for my parish

              Darn you David, I wanted to be the one to suggest a second-hand instrument. one of the best places to check for used instruments is the Organ Clearing House, they frequently have very nice instruments for sale, and to my knowledge everything they sell is in pretty good shape. There is also Ebay, but the trouble with Ebay is, well, that it is Ebay.


              • #8
                Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                I was thinking Casavant, Schoenstein, or Ruffatti.

                This sounds like a job for Casavant; especially if you are in the northeast. You may also want to consider Schantz and Charles Kegg. In fact, given your budget, Charles Kegg might be the best choice.

                Glad to hear that your church is thinking "pipe organ" and good luck!



                • #9
                  Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                  I'm not sure on our budget. The renovation should be costly. We might have half a cent leftover,or $1.5m. Nobody knows yet. We want a 3 manual if we can afford it. I'm in CA.


                  • #10
                    Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                    [quote user="davidecasteel"]our organ builder actually said cushions get covered up by parishioners sitting on them and their presence just evens out the acoustics between an empty space and one that has many congregants in place.[/quote]

                    I'm surprised that an organ builder would concede that point. The argument I've heard against pew cushions is that when the congregants rise to sing they are doubling the amount of absorbtive material, at just the momentsound needs to be reflected back to the singers.

                    I would opt for individual pew cushions - parishioners can pick one up at the door if they feel they must have one, but then they can be removed for recitals or recording sessions.

                    Schoenstein-organist, what is your responsibility in this process - are you involved in the selection?

                    Folks are throwing out names of a few builders as if they are the only appropriate ones for the job,case closed.

                    It is not that easy! There are many dozens of builders to consider... some much more qualified than others;each one has a different tonal objective.

                    I know everyone here hasthe bestintentions, but this is not the sort of decisionthat shouldbe made by anonymous folks on an online forum. When spending that kind of money, the church absolutely must go through a process to select a builder that will be the most appropriate for that particular situation - lots of factors should be considered.Representative new organs from a short-list of builders should be auditioned in person.


                    • #11
                      Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                      I would recommend that you hire a very qualified organ consultant to assist you in your quest for a new pipe organ. You should set up an organ committee, preferably a small one, and make sure you areon it as well. Choose your committee members carefully. You need people who are open-minded, trustworthy, and objective. Try to have at least one person on this committee who is able to make a sizeable donation to the organ fund. Make sure everyone is clear and in aggreeance with what the role of the committee is, what authorityyou have, etc. Set an agenda and stick with it so that you don't get sidetracked.

                      You have a lot to consider which is why I strongly recommend a professional organ consultant. Size of church, do you want the organ in the sanctuary or at the balcony, what kind of organ do you want, acoustics, etc. etc.

                      You need to decide what type of organ you want because some builders are better at building certain kinds of organs than others. Depending on the type of organ you want you should narrow your decision to three or four builders. Make sure you check out each builder's latest installation for yourself and check their references. When you review proposals, don't just jump at the one who gives you more pipes for your dollar. Consider location, future service, quality, etc.

                      Soubasse is right, you can still get a lot of organ for your space for $400-500,000. I know of a church that has a Casavant, about 25 ranks or so, worth $400,000 but paid about $150,000 or so for it, and it's a fine instrument. They were most fortunate.

                      Check these documentsout from the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America:,, and

                      There's a lot to say about something such as this, and a post would not be able to do it any justice. But we'll help steer you in the right direction and then it's up to you, the committee, and the consultant.

                      Best of luck, and you deserve a good pat on the back for choosing a pipe organ!!!


                      • #12
                        Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                        ur budget is too tite for consultants etc

                        from ur rc diocese there r qualified organ players u can talk to

                        in the rc i dont think u need an organ comm

                        from organ clearing there are several modern organs that will serve you well such as:

                        Builder: Austin
                        Date: 1957 Opus: 2264
                        Approximate location: Raleigh, NC
                        Asking price: 35,000
                        Price note:Antiphonal is 1982

                        Dimensions (in inches, unless specified):







                        Additional Info:








                        8' Diapason
                        8' Bourdon
                        8' Gemshorn
                        4' Octave
                        4' Nachthorn
                        2' Fifteenth
                        III Fourniture

                        8' Geigen
                        8' Hohl Flute
                        8' Viole de Gambe
                        8' Voix Celeste
                        4' Principal
                        4' Rohr Flöte
                        2' Flautino
                        III Plein Jeu
                        8' Trumpet
                        8' Hautbois

                        8' Nason Flute
                        8' Dolce
                        8' Dolce Celeste
                        4' Koppel Flöte
                        2 2/3' Nazard
                        2' Block Flöte
                        1 3/5' Tierce
                        8' Clarinet
                        8' Fanfare Trumpet

                        8' Bourdon
                        4' Prestant
                        2' Spitz Fifteenth
                        III Mixture
                        8' Cromorne

                        16' Diapason
                        16' Gemshorn (ext)
                        16' Gedackt (ext)
                        16' Bourdon (ext ant)
                        8' Principal
                        8' Gemshorn (gt)
                        8' Gedeckt (sw)
                        4' Fifteenth (ext)
                        16' Trumpet (ext sw)

                        Full complement of inter-manual and intra-manual couplers. All manual 8’ and 4’ stops have 73 notes except antiphonal and fanfare trumpet.


                        • #13
                          Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                          While there are exceptions....most organ consultants "think inside the box". The best consultant is a prominent builder with many organs that will be similar to what the new purchaser's needs are. He can take the prospective new client to a church, and an organ, that will demonstrate what particular choices will work inthe new purchaser's church. A good, independentconsultant, will usually have less than a hundred organs to his credit over his lifetime. A good builder will have several hundred. Three or four prominent builders (who are always happy to meet with an inquiring organist, or committee), are vastly more experienced and knowledgeable about how to builda successful instrument, for a particular church building. Especially when the church has limited funds.

                          I can say this with complete qualification....I've built several organs during my lifetime. I recognize the differences, and the challenges that are ever present from one instrument to another, and one church to another. I have the most profound respect for builders that are long on experience, and have forgotten more theory aboutbuilding organs than most of us could read in books over a lifetime.

                          There are several great American organbuilders. Three come to mind that typically build organs for an average price of $15,000 per rank. All three have thousands of organs to their credit, and their experience. The Canadians, and the American "Boutique" builders; both construct the most gorgeous organs inside and out that one can imagine. But they are expensive, and don't sound any better than the old builders that have been here for a hundred years.

                          Now, before I post this thread, I'm reading over what I have said. Funny, but the word "experience" keeps on popping up. That's my 2 cents.


                          • #14
                            Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                            I wouldn't necessarily condemn a "boutique" builder in favor of larger builders.

                            The behemothfactory may be just as likely to turn out a cookie-cutter installation devoid of personality. Doing something thousands of times doesn't equate to experience as much asmindless repetition and stock formulas.

                            Smaller buildersmust excel in order to stand out above the rest and to stay in business. There is no margin for error.

                            Some of the finest instruments being built today, are from these smaller concerns. My ears tell me so.

                            Schoenstein-organist, I've left you a PM.


                            • #15
                              Re: New pipe organ for my parish

                              Go thru the OHS and look thru what organs they have. For your budget you can get a nice BIG organ with vintage pipework and have enough money for the installation/repairs......or you'd get a much smaller instrument that would be more limiting....but then you could get exactly what you wanted!