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  • How to identify reeds

    I am new to the forum and to reed organs. I have inherited an unmarked organ. There is no label, writing or other such anywhere on it. It is in reasonably good condition having been stored inside for decades. Have it down to the bare bones and am stumped by the reeds. It has 176 reeds (3 are missing). Interestingly there are no identifying marks on the reeds that would indicate what note they may play or what position they would occupy in the reed cells if one did not see them come out. The only obvious difference I see between them is their length. Is this how it was done? Were they sets?

    Is there any way to determine what reeds would be needed to replace the missing ones?

    The people I got it from say it last played in 1945. I am bound and determined to make it play again.

    Any help or advice greatly appreciated.

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  • #2
    Hi, CDM - Welcome to the forum.

    I'm not an expert with these machines, but I might be able to help you get started. First of all, let's identify it. Here's the Reed Organ Society website - http://www.reedsoc.org/ - At left on that page, you'll see two links. You want "ROS Database" and "Gellerman Database." Both have lists and many pictures of reed organs owned by members (and ex-members). You may find a similar organ there.

    Are you sure that the reeds aren't stamped with their position? From my famous Kimball thread linked below (if I'm doing this right) you should be able to find a picture of the reeds from my organ here: http://www.organforum.com/forums/sho...l=1#post456203

    As you can just barely make out from the picture, some of them were very faint.

    So are you saying that the reeds have already been removed and you didn't do it?
    -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
    -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
    -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
    -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

    Comment


    • #3
      Reeds are either stamped with a pitch (a, a#, b, c, c#, etc) or a number (1-12). But obviously over the span of a 5 octave organ, these numbers/letters repeat every octave. So you're sorting by how it's labeled, and then by length to determine if it's in 1st, 2nd, 3rd octave, etc..
      The marks are very easily obscured by dirt and corrosion.

      If numbered, 1 = f, 2 = f#, and so on.

      Comment


      • #4
        And CDM, from time to time you see box sets of reeds on eBay, but I've observed that they are seldom well described as to what organ/year they came from, and I think you takes your chances with these.
        -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
        -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
        -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
        -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
        -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

        Comment


        • #5
          Welcome to the Forum. That looks like a very solidly built organ. Right off it seems obvious that both pedals have collapsed, indicating broken straps. Before the beast can breathe again that will need to be looked at. Be careful cleaning those reeds, soft brush and delicate care - no vacuum cleaner! At least at first. Please post a couple more pictures - the guys on here are always picture hungry!

          Nico
          "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

          Comment


          • #6
            Welcome cdm! Once you hear an instruments sing again after so many years of silence, it is pretty exciting. Depending who the supplier of the reeds and reed boards are, they can vary between time periods of the same builder. I have found the most common are Hammond reeds, the rivets will have a crosshatch on them.

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            Also, your organ is made by Kimball, likely early 1900s. This will mean that the reeds you are looking for will be easily found, as they will likely be Hammond Reed Co.

            All the best in your restoration!

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            Rodney
            To play a reed organ or harmonium, it helps to disconnect your feet from your brain and connect them to your emotions.
            Most of all, be creative, make music and have fun...


            Website: http://www.rodneyjantzi.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              thanks SubBase; I very carefully brush the heels of the reeds as I pull them and like magic there is a stamp on each one indicating note. Think I can now figure out what's missing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by cdm View Post
                thanks SubBase; I very carefully brush the heels of the reeds as I pull them and like magic there is a stamp on each one indicating note. Think I can now figure out what's missing.
                CDM,

                Welcome to the Forum! I'm assuming you've seen the empty reed cells and are referring to those, rather than reeds that don't speak. If there is a reed in the cell for a not that doesn't speak, it can often be a speck of dust causing the issue. As already advised in this thread, be careful. Often a puff of air will be enough to dislodge the obstruction. I just blow on them--but not too close because the breath can also cause issues.

                Best with your organ.

                Michael
                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)
                • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Organfella View Post
                  Welcome to the Forum. That looks like a very solidly built organ. Right off it seems obvious that both pedals have collapsed, indicating broken straps. Before the beast can breathe again that will need to be looked at. Be careful cleaning those reeds, soft brush and delicate care - no vacuum cleaner! At least at first. Please post a couple more pictures - the guys on here are always picture hungry!

                  Nico
                  Yes, the case is very solid. It was stored indoors for many decades. The pedals are 'collapsed' because I have the entire action out in the shop. Not that not being collapsed would have made any difference; the exhausters and large vacuum chamber material was so brittle that when I touched it, it disintegrated. Also the boards are warped pretty badly and someone used a very aggressive glue on them at some point in history so I am using them as patterns to make new ones.

                  I am pulling the reed now and will post more pics of the internals once I have them out. I am not a musician (my wife is the keyboardist, I play all the tools in the shop very well) so I will need some help understanding this wondrous mechanism. I am excited to hear it sing again after 70 odd years. Stand by for pics...

                  - - - Updated - - -

                  Originally posted by Rodney View Post
                  Welcome cdm! Once you hear an instruments sing again after so many years of silence, it is pretty exciting. Depending who the supplier of the reeds and reed boards are, they can vary between time periods of the same builder. I have found the most common are Hammond reeds, the rivets will have a crosshatch on them.

                  [ATTACH=CONFIG]29967[/ATTACH]

                  Also, your organ is made by Kimball, likely early 1900s. This will mean that the reeds you are looking for will be easily found, as they will likely be Hammond Reed Co.

                  All the best in your restoration!

                  [ATTACH=CONFIG]29968[/ATTACH]

                  Rodney
                  Thanks so much for identifying the instrument Rodney. I have looked at a thousand pics with no luck. I hope I can find a serial number stamped somewhere in the case. I will post pics of the reeds. Most are Hammond with the crosshatch but there are some other manufacturers as well which stick out like a sore thumb. All in all they (what I have pulled so far) appear to be in good shape and not overly dirty or corroded. So far I can't see why this old thing can't make sound again.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ah. I thought I'd seen a Kimball on YouTube that that had that arch in the keyboard cover...

                    According to Wikipedia, W.W. Kimball purchased the reed presses from the Hammond Organ Co. (unrelated to the electric Hammonds).
                    -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
                    -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
                    -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
                    -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
                    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
                      Ah. I thought I'd seen a Kimball on YouTube that that had that arch in the keyboard cover...
                      All,

                      Is that arch on the keyboard cover unique to Kimball? I've only seen it approximately 2-3 times in the last half-century. However, that could be because I don't get out much.

                      Michael
                      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)
                      • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                        CDM,

                        Welcome to the Forum! I'm assuming you've seen the empty reed cells and are referring to those, rather than reeds that don't speak. If there is a reed in the cell for a not that doesn't speak, it can often be a speck of dust causing the issue. As already advised in this thread, be careful. Often a puff of air will be enough to dislodge the obstruction. I just blow on them--but not too close because the breath can also cause issues.

                        Best with your organ.

                        Michael
                        Yes, I am referring to empty cells as 'missing'. I have removed the reeds and have them mounted in order as can be seen on the attached pics. It's interesting that the lower rank 1-61 and the upper rank 116-176 are all Hammond reeds. As expected they decline in length uniformly toward the treble. However, the bass end of the middle rank, 62-115 looks like possible trouble to me. There is some other brand of reed mixed in. My inclination is to replace these oddballs and the missing reeds with Hammonds if I can find them in the correct octave (not sure where to begin to look).

                        In the meantime I will clean the existing reeds (with great care!) while beginning the search for replacements. Any hints where they might be found would be appreciated.
                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                          All,

                          Is that arch on the keyboard cover unique to Kimball? I've only seen it approximately 2-3 times in the last half-century. However, that could be because I don't get out much.

                          Michael
                          Well, I certainly don't know. I looked through all the Kimballs at rsoc, and not a single soul pictured theirs with the cover down.

                          #205629 near the bottom of that list is mine. It's actually a 1899 model, and the entry and membership number belonged to the previous owner. I saw the ad for that organ here on the forum. The guy's dog really liked me, too, but I suspect that it liked everybody.
                          -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
                          -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
                          -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
                          -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
                          -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            CDM,

                            I have seen some reed banks with out of place reeds and at the time put it down to the builders/designers inserting these "off-tune" reeds for special effects but I just don't know. Perhaps Casey has an explanation for this phenomenon. However, in the case of your Kimball, being that the off ones are non-standard (Hammond) perhaps someone just wanted to get rid of his spares reeds and shoved them in there. You might want to record their pitch and exactly where they came out of just in case - and for interest...

                            Look on EBay for reed sets. There are sometimes full of part sets on offer. Even if you should end up with some spare ones - you can always offer them here to some of us with ham hands which broke or damaged some in the fiddling process.... Luck.

                            Nico
                            "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Organfella View Post
                              CDM,

                              I have seen some reed banks with out of place reeds and at the time put it down to the builders/designers inserting these "off-tune" reeds for special effects but I just don't know. Perhaps Casey has an explanation for this phenomenon. However, in the case of your Kimball, being that the off ones are non-standard (Hammond) perhaps someone just wanted to get rid of his spares reeds and shoved them in there. You might want to record their pitch and exactly where they came out of just in case - and for interest...

                              Look on EBay for reed sets. There are sometimes full of part sets on offer. Even if you should end up with some spare ones - you can always offer them here to some of us with ham hands which broke or damaged some in the fiddling process.... Luck.

                              Nico
                              I have numbered all the reeds on the back of the heel as to exact location. Since they are numbered sequentially 1-176 they are easy to reinstall where they came from. Last night I found some very faint writing on the backs of some of the keys that indicate someone attempted to 'restore' this instrument; the date inscribed is August 1945. I have to assume that the oddball reed assortment in the second rank was either that way then or that these were on hand and shoved in to fill empty spaces which makes it even more odd that 3 reeds are still missing. In any event I will probably take your advice and buy a set from ebay. I need 10 reeds and can donate the leftovers to others who need them. Will let you know how it works out when I move some wind through them.

                              Comment

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