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Renewing interest in reed organs

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    To my highly-inexperienced organ thinking, any kind of electric air system, even with some sort of "control valve", will lack the control and "intimacy" available on the reed organ using the original air system. However, as many churches learned back in the 1930s-1960s, an electric air system provides lots more sound for the congregation, without an "organ boy" to run the pump handle.

    I think some of Rodney's videos do a great job in illustrating how the original style air system can provide a wide range of nuance in performance, which isn't available with an electric system.

    Tom M.


    • Organfella
      Organfella commented
      Editing a comment
      Very true Tom! Pump organs need to be pumped, they were intended to work that way and designed to produce their best with the built in mechanisms. The ideas we are bantering about here regarding blowers are simply of an innovative nature, since our forbears who designed and built these beautiful instruments likely had no electricity in their time, let alone blowers of any kind.

      Pipe organs on the other hand, are by their very nature too large to be hand or foot pumped and their sound producing elements differ from those of the humble pump organ. They do need the blowers that power them.

      I am inclined to lean towards letting the pumpers remain pumpers and use the blowers for something else - unless one is to design your own, modern version of a reed organ. Then one can fit blowers or suckers or whatever without mutilating a beautiful piece of antiquity.

      Rambling on again...


    I bought a chapel organ that had been electrified, and it was over-winded to the extent that reeds were bent, so I put a motor speed control in line after the switch. If I were cleverer than I am, I would have linked it in some fashion (a string winding across a pulley kept taut by a spring?) to the knee swell so opening the swell also gave more juice to the motor.
    I think the generic name for a motor "dimmer" is a variac.