View Full Version : How useful are reed organs?
07-16-2009, 07:29 PM
I was offered a reed organ a few weeks ago. I know they're fun to play and very expensive to get redone or fixed, but that's about it. I have a piano, a small electronic organ, and a somewhat corny organ setting on my keyboard to practice on. And a church lets my use their pipe organ to practice on once or twice a week. I'm not sure what this reed organ looks like or what condition it is in (they said it was nice, but I had to explain what a stop was). If it was nice, then I'd have to get my dad to bring it to our house and get it in (if I did get it, I have no clue where we would put our Christmas tree). I played on my teacher's and enjoyed it a lot. But is it worth getting a reed organ?
07-16-2009, 08:03 PM
I would only take one for FREE that has been completely releathered/restored and works perfect. Not much use to practice on UNLESS you find one of those rare ones that has a full pedalboard .... I collect organs but I've managed to let the reed bug pass me buy somehow.
07-16-2009, 08:43 PM
I have an Estey reed organ with 2 manuals and a pedal board of 25. I got it because I had nothing else and I wanted to tinker around with something. Well no matter how much I tinkered around with it, the organ still sounds like a big accordion, which I hate. It is way too heavy with 8' stops as well. Actually I did enjoy playing it, maybe because I had nothing else, but I still couldn't get past the sound. I guess some people like that sound and then again some people like the sound of Hammond too. [+o(]</P>
Fortunately my reed organ looks real good. It has fake pipes in its faccade. I keep it because people think it is a pipe organ when they see it.</P>
12-05-2009, 06:53 PM
Yeah, reed organs don't have any flue pipes in them, hence the name. They are actually just lke accordions, they have 'free reeds', meaning that theyre a set of reed and vibrate when air is pushed beneath them. They're very fun to play, I've played a few at the antique store, and a few that people wanted me to play to see if it works and if it's worth keeping (seriously there are about 3 organists here). But I doubt you'll find one built after 1950, so it's going to be very fragile to handle if you want it for a while. But it doesn't look like you'll escape the accordion sound, even though the stops names are all different, it's all the same basic sound. Worth it? Depends on the condition. Good luck!
12-05-2009, 11:02 PM
I love mine! It's got such a unique sound even when it has limited function such as my portable one that a couple threads in this forum about. If the one in question works and you have the space then you should go for it! The accordian sound is really cool!</p>
you can hear a song I made that has quite a bit of the reed organ in it. It's kind of a reggae/ indie rock genre </p>
12-06-2009, 01:07 PM
I live in Wisconsin, which is full of Germans and poka bands. The last thing I want is an organ to sound like an accordian.
12-06-2009, 06:16 PM
I guess you're not a Modest Mouse fan then (they play Modern Rock Alternative)? Definitely not polka when it is played by them. On the other hand you could be ignorant and say that a pipe organ only has a place in gospel music which isn't true either.</p>
Sorry about the germans invading your town though. That must be rough to have a grip of polka bands...(shudders)
12-07-2009, 10:48 AM
Yeah, but the Germans left us plenty of beer, so they're not all that bad!
12-12-2009, 04:25 PM
Accordion sound? I resemble that remark. </P>
The accordion is just the thing for when you're feeling blue. Just play some jolly tunes and before you know it, the world looks like a better place especailly when you're haaded of to work to face the public. </P>
12-12-2009, 06:39 PM
Well blue is exactly the feeling I got when I sat down at my two manual/pedal reed organ to find out it sounded like a big accordion.</P>
That is NOT the sound I was expecting! I have felt blue about it ever since.</P>
12-12-2009, 07:54 PM
Where did you find a two manual reed organ with pedals? I assume it has an electric blower motor. Do you have a picture? I could see how it would make you blue since you can't take it to parties. </P>
12-12-2009, 09:20 PM
I've had the organ for many years. I got it in an antique store. It's an Estey 2m with pedals. It has some real cool looking fake facade pipes on the top that fools everyone into thinking it is a pipe organ. I guess it even fooled me because I expected it to sound more like a pipe organ! It has a hand crank on the side that you can hook an electric motor an pully to it. The bellows inside I patched together with duct tape for now, but that doesn't matter because I don't play it.The accordion sound just turned me off. There is a pile of junk in front of it, because I don't use it and I'd have to clear it away to take a picture.</P>
I don't know what's worse, the sound of an accordion or all the 8' stops on the thing.</P>
I found this picture from an Estey website. It is almost exactly like my organ. My "pipes" are gold and not painted with a design as in this drawing.</P>
12-12-2009, 11:51 PM
I picked up for free an Estey K69, 2manual 30 bass pedals, plus pumping pedals, a pumping lever on the side for assistant, and a cleverly hidden blower inside.9 or 10 stops.and Grand Orgue pedal (tutti)It was owned by a woodworker and is in brand new condition although made in 1917. With a nice Gothic Revival pipe top too.. Looks like the drawing you posted.</P>
I have had a bare bones teaching model before (model T) and this K69 model has added to it 2- 4' stops, a 2' stop, and a Vox Humana.</P>
Here's what I do to make them sound more flue-y.. Choruses are great, 16-2 if you have it on the great, and a 8-2 on the swell. Good for say Bach 8 little.</P>
Trumpet and Oboestopare good solo stops, Clarionet 16 is a great solo stop played an octave up.Reed chorus possible with Clarionet 16, Trumpet8, Octave coupler or Clarion 4 if you have it. With a Diapason foundation. </P>
Make use of the octave couplers divisional couplers and the vox humana feature. </P>
And lastly, put in a few good pick up mikes and hook up a Digital Effects Processor or Reverb or Chorus at the least. They sound a lot better miked and 'wet'; a world of difference. </P>
In europe, esp France they were extensively used in large churches as alternative or with to the Grand Orgue. With lots of reverb in those churches the 'harmonium' sounds great.(Harmonium Is a pressure instrument not suction like the Americaines) Also play decent music forit, like Franck L'organiste. Some ancient organ music intended for a Regal stop,( Mit Ganczen Willen (sp?) Ein Ander Danze, and others from Sandra Soderlund's book on Ancient OrganMusic sound good on harmonium. They were intended for buzzy reed stops or blockwerks and I can make my reed organ sound like that. </P>
Hope that helps</P>
12-13-2009, 12:37 AM
Actually I think this is my Estey.</P>
<FONT color=#660000><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold">548 Reeds</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"></FONT>
<TABLE style="TEXT-ALIGN: left; WIDTH: 60%; MARGIN-LEFT: auto; MARGIN-RIGHT: auto" border=1 cellSpacing=2 cellPadding=2>
<TR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">
<TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; WIDTH: 25%; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top; FONT-WEIGHT: bold"><FONT size=2>Great Manual
<TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top; FONT-WEIGHT: bold"><FONT size=2>Swell Manuel
<TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top; FONT-WEIGHT: bold"><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold"><FONT size=2>Pedal Organ</FONT></SPAN></TD>
<TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top; FONT-WEIGHT: bold"><FONT size=2>Mechanical</FONT></TD></TR>
<TD style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0); VERTICAL-ALIGN: top"><FONT size=2>16 Clarinet
<TD style="WIDTH: 25%; COLOR: rgb(102,0,0); VERTICAL-ALIGN: top"><FONT size=2>8 Oboe
8 Vox Celeste II
<TD style="WIDTH: 25%; COLOR: rgb(102,0,0); VERTICAL-ALIGN: top"><FONT size=2>16 Pedal Bourdon
16 Pedal Dulciana
<TD style="WIDTH: 25%; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top"><FONT size=2><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Swell to Great</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Gt Octave Coupler</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Great to Pedals</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Swell to Pedals</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Full Organ</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Balanced Swell</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Tremolo</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Wind Indicator</SPAN><BR style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)"><SPAN style="COLOR: rgb(102,0,0)">Organist's Bench</SPAN></FONT>
As you can see, it is full of 8' ranks and only one 4'. It does have an ocatve coupler.</P>
I thought once of moving the reeds in some of the ranks down and octave to chage their foot size a knotch higher.</P>
I never thought about micing the organ. That might make it sound better.</P>
What is the tuning like on your organ? Is it at A440?</P>
I always thought about using the Estey in a large MIDI project someday when I retire. I could play that organ along with the MIDI organ from the MIDI console. That's why I keep it.</P>
12-13-2009, 05:14 PM
A typical modification to this model of Estey is to shift the trumpet reeds down an octave to make it a 4' stop. So you end up with a 4' principal instead of an 8' Trumpet. I performed this mod for a church in Maryland that uses it as it's primary instrument. They said it was more helpful in leading the congregational singing because it had a clearer sound.
You will need a new top octave of reeds tuned to match your organ.
12-13-2009, 08:28 PM
That is a great idea.</P>
How useful is the 16' Clarinet on the Great Organ? Is there anything you can do with that stop?</P>
I think that Ned at Phoenix Organs has extra reeds, if he is still in business. I would rather have a missing top octave than a whole rank that is useless.
12-14-2009, 04:47 AM
Woah, a 16' Clarinet? On your old reed organ?</p>
That lowest note must sound like nothing but creepy reed-flapping noises.... D: Now THAT is worse than an accordion sound ;D
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