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Stop choices for a chest/continuo organ and other advice.

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  • Stop choices for a chest/continuo organ and other advice.

    I am thinking about building a small 1 manual chest/continuo organ.
    I am not an organist, more a woodworker. I do play a little piano, and am looking for advice.
    I am pretty sure I would want a Gedeckt 8, a Principal 4, and also a 2 foot stop. If I was to add a 4th stop what should it? A 2 2/3 Nazard stop, some kind or reed? other choices to investigate?
    This would mainly be for my pleasure but I would want it appropriate for Baroque and chamber music. What would be a good choice as far as the compass of the instrument? How important is the ability for it to play in 440 and 415?

  • #2
    Originally posted by dbarr15 View Post
    If I was to add a 4th stop what should it? A 2 2/3 Nazard stop, some kind or reed? other choices to investigate?

    You've asked and answered your own questions! I would agree those might be the additional stops to add, perhaps in the order you suggested. For the reed, I would think a Regal of some sort. If you want both tunings in the organ, maybe you could build it so the keyboard could slide 1/2 step lower?

    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


    • #3
      That sounds like a great project and you've asked some good questions, which attest to what you have learned so far.

      Considerations - Are you playing solo, accompanying soloists or small groups, or accompanying a group larger than 50 or so (no specific number)?
      - Do you know what kind of room this will be used in, or is the plan to have it available for use in various locations - with either good or bad acoustics and either no or lots of resonance?
      - I assume you are planning for all the pipework to be below the keyboards. There is an option to build a 1-manual, no-pedal instrument with all the pipework above the keyboards. That option would give you more height and, therefore, more freedom to use larger ranks.

      I ask this because I'd find the following more useful. 8' Gedackt (fully-stopped pipe), 4' Rohrflute/Chimney Flute (half-stopped pipe), 2' Flute or Principal (open pipe).

      Additional stops? Yes, the Nazard and Regal would work well, as would a 1 1/3' open pipe. Even a small, delicate, 2-rank mixture could be effective.


      • #4
        Here's a couple of links to high-end, historically-based America organ builders' continuo pages for reference what specifications notable firms advertise:

        Fisk continuo page

        Bedient continuo page

        Noack continuo links (Google)

        Fritts doesn't make continuo instruments (per their opus list) and Flentrop does but their Dutch-only site is hard to use.

        I'd say a reed is not a common choice but a regal can be great all by itself.

        Good Luck!


        • #5
          I agree with all said above. a 4' principal is going to be hard to fit under the manuals, a 4' rohr flute more practical. I'd love an 8' regal, but it's not for everybody. I'd go for the 2 2/3' before a 1 1/3', I find it more practical, but you might run into space problems. For more romantic repertoire a 2' salicet or a 2' flute could be nice. For Baroque, you need at least one principal. If you really like strings though, you can also do a spitz principal or gemshorn/spitzflute 2'.

          Personally I'd stick with a=440 unless you really need a=415. Those coupler mechanisms are fiddly and annoying to build and troubleshoot.

          I'd go for the full 5 octave compass if you can, at worst you can start at F a fourth up from the bottom and stop after the last F at the top. The middle 3 octaves is doable, but I would really miss a lot of keys.

          Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
          Former: Yamaha E3R


          • #6
            Here is the link to the website of the local pipe organ building describing the two chest organs he built some years ago. You may find the specs interesting.


            The smaller Opus III (pictured) is in my opinion the more successful instrument. When played in the local (empty) RC Cathedral, with the lid open, the sound just soars and actually fills the space. The Holz Regal in Opus IV was not successful and I believe has been removed. For a continuo organ that gets moved around a lot and has to be tuned before each performance to accommodate temperature changes, the last thing you want is a finicky reed to deal with.
            Packing 3 or 4 ranks into a chest organ is no mean feat and involves lots of mitred pipes filling up every nook and cranny. A positiv organ would be much simpler to build!

            Baroque groups will often expect to use 415 Hz and that capability is provided by adding an additional pipe B below bottom C and allowing the keyboard to slide left by one note over the stickers that open the valves.


            • #7
              Wow and thanks for all the advice. I will try to answer some of these questions.
              I would like it to be able to play some selected solo works. I would also like it able to accompany small groups and be available for various locations. I want all pipes to be contained in the chest. Regal is not for me.
              I can see how fast a project like this can grow out of hand. With this in mind hear is my current thoughts.

              I am thinking serene and contemplative sounds:

              1 transposing manual 440 & 415
              54 note compass.
              All pipes made from wood.
              8' Gedeckt
              4' Rohr Flute
              2' Flute
              above stops divided at middle c to provide more sound palette options
              2 2/3 (treble only)

              Any other thoughts?


              • myorgan
                myorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                The only thought I have at this point is that the continuo organs referenced above all have a 2' Principal vs. a 2' Flute. I wonder why? Perhaps to cut through an ensemble?


              • JeffW
                JeffW commented
                Editing a comment
                Re-reading Barbara Owen's very good The Registration of Baroque Organ Music, English organs (single manual to 3 and 4 manual cathedral organs) didn't start to have 2' Flutes until after the late Baroque/early Classical eras--only 4' Flutes and 8' Stopped Diapasons (flutes). myorgan is probably right that the 2' Principal would cut through the ensemble, but I would suggest that without the 2' Principal the most present/loudest the instrument could reach with only flute stops would be mezzo forte or medium loud. The principal would almost guarantee being heard in any early music ensemble.

                There is also the long convention of organs and divisions of organs typically having some principal rank--be it a 32', 16', or 8' Principal in the pedal division and the other smaller divisions having corresponding descreased sized principal basis. If the pedal's largest principal is 16', then the great should generally have an 8', the choir/ruckpositive a 4', and the swell/brustwerk a 2'. Principal sound is the distinctly (non-imitative) organ sound, so most organs have it.

              • regeron
                regeron commented
                Editing a comment
                Regarding the 2' Flute or Principal - We must remember that voicing has a lot to do with it. If I wanted an instrument like this for my modest home, I'd go with a lovely, singing Principal, with its characteristic tone, but I'd ask the organ builder to not let it get too loud or edgy.
                In any case, as I mentioned before, as long as it is a nice 2' open rank, the chances are good that it will work.

            • #8
              Sounds good to me! Just bear in mind that with all stops pulled it will probably sound like a cornet. If that's the sound you're going for, good, but if you want it a bit brighter, a 2' principal would brighten it up some.

              Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
              Former: Yamaha E3R


              • #9
                When it comes to the 2' stop with open pipes, remember that flutes and principals come in various kinds, Lots of choices once you start to deal with scale, cut up, mouth width, etc. In a way, the name of the stop will be less important than how it sounds.