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Thread: 'New To Me' Antique Reed Organ - Doesn't Work Properly

  1. #1
    ppp Pianississmo sacolunga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2018

    'New To Me' Antique Reed Organ - Doesn't Work Properly

    I am brand new here. I just purchased a beautiful antique reed organ at an antique mall. I loved it for how it looks, but would also like to be able to play it. I don't have a lot of knowledge of these organs, but I do know that this one is requiring too much pumping and the sound doesn't last long with each pump. Any input would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Madison, Georgia

    Hi, Sacolunga! Welcome to the forum and the company of us old loonies with pumpers. It's very encouraging that it works at all considering how you got it. That'll make things somewhat easier. The first thing to do is to find out what it is!

    Here's a link to RSoc - the reed organ society -

    Use the links on the left for "ROS Database" and the "Gellerman Database" for pictures and descriptions of different reed organs. Hopefully if the name is faded on the front, you can find one just like it to identify it.

    The forum (uh, me) will be interested in knowing the number of stops and what they are, and where the "break" occurs between bass and treble. You can pull out a bass stop and see where that stop stops sounding. That'll be the break.

    Lets' see. You can remove the back cover and look and see if there's a box sitting on the right near the back. That would indicate the presence of sub-bass reeds. Nice to have. If you see a long fan-like thing, that's the "Vox Humana." It adds a tremble to the treble, but the effect is slight. Some have the vanes missing...

    The bellows are the usual culprit in lack of wind. These are not terribly hard to work on. (Take lots of pictures.)

    Books. Horton Preston, Restoring & Collect Antique Reed Organs, 1977 - I got mine used from Amazon. Good general information about reed organs. Some of the advice is dated, like using Elmer's Glue on the bellows.

    H.F. Milne - The Reed Organ: Its Design and Construction - this book is a hoot. It's written as if you're building the reed organ and he's a bit stuffy, but it's a neat reference book.

    On the RSoc site, the "Repairing Reed Organs" link goes to the "Aunt Maude" story. That's some good basic information, too.

    If you want to commiserate with a fellow sufferer, you can also see my famous Kimball thread linked below in my sig.

    Looking forward to some pictures!

    On edit: Look in this section of the forum for George's thread "Karn Removing the bellows I hope." He has a really good picture from the back showing a sub-bass reed box, the back of the stops, the Vox Humana, and the back of his bellows. After that thread, he pulled the upper works out. He's including good descriptions, too.
    Last edited by Silken Path; 04-04-2018 at 01:54 PM.
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) -- 1967 Allen TC 4 Project (forum thread)
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