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Thread: How to identify reeds

  1. #1
    ppp Pianississmo cdm's Avatar
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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.

    IMG_0002.jpg

  2. #2
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    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 - 1999 Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) -- Allen TC 4 Project (forum thread)
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  3. #3
    ff Fortissimo SubBase's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #4
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    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 - 1999 Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) -- Allen TC 4 Project (forum thread)
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  5. #5
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    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...

  6. #6
    pp Pianissimo Rodney's Avatar
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    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.

    IMG_4564.jpg

    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!

    i3yjexXk81z7nn48.jpg

    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/

  7. #7
    ppp Pianississmo cdm's Avatar
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    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.

  8. #8
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote 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

  9. #9
    ppp Pianississmo cdm's Avatar
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    Quote 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 - - -

    Quote 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.

    IMG_4564.jpg

    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!

    i3yjexXk81z7nn48.jpg

    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.

  10. #10
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    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 - 1999 Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) -- Allen TC 4 Project (forum thread)
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

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