F H Browne & Sons ltd is delighted to announce that it has acquired the trading name and intellectual property rights of Mander Organs Ltd. From 1st October 2020 F H Browne (Organ Builders) Ltd will revert to trading under the name Mander Organ Builders for all current and future contracts.
Both companies are based in South East England, and three of the current FHB employees (including myself) are former employees of Mander Organs, so there are immediate synergies.
We are delighted to have made this transition and look forward to working with our present and future customers both in the UK and Internationally.
It is also confirmed that his forum will continue as it is now.
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I recently played the organ of St Philip's Cathedral which has a very elderly 32 foot electronic sub bass bottom octave. Overall I found it a quite lovely instrument, very easy to play and balance, but for the electronic 32 foot sub bass which has a dreadful racket coming from the speakers which are clearly defective. I did hear that repairs or restoration are due shortly which hopefully will attend to that; unfortunately there isn't space in the case for a proper 32 foot octave. How much floorspace would one or two pipes in that octave range take up compared to an industrial sized subwoofer, and would a polyphone have been possible I wonder?
An equally unfortunate and mildly amusing disaster happened to another almost brand new organ I visited recently (I hasten to add I wasn't playing at the time!) The new Skrabl at Our Lady of Victories, which I must say I was thoroughly impressed by, has a 32 foot electronic Soubasse. At least, it did. It also has a very elegant semicircular amphitheatre, Cavaille-Coll inspired tiered console. That's fine, except that when swinging onto the organ bench one's knee passes perilously close to the protruding stop closest to the lowest keycheek. And not infrequently it gets clipped and the stopknob goes flying. On the positive for pipe purists, the stop that tends to go walkabouts just happens to be the organ's digital 32 foot bass stop, which one could potentially argue shouldn't have been there in the first place. Maybe not such a loss after all then, and it would have been easily remedied with a thin protective sheet of plywood under the stops!
On a more serious note though, it does raise the important issue of console ergonomics. Even the finest organ builders sometimes seem to inadvertently make design flaws like putting drawstops in odd places, or pistons on the lowest keyboard that are prone to being smashed by one's knees. I suppose I can't grumble - when I built my four manual Hauptwerk console I must have measured the dimensions of around 20 different four manual consoles before I cut a piece of wood, and designed it to fit my relatively short arms and legs perfectly. The keyboards are slightly closer together in both height and depth than RCO standards, and just a quarter of an inch per keyboard makes reaching the Solo a no greater stretch than reaching the Swell on some three manuals that I play. I just wish I'd tried harder to ensure I could reach all the toe pistons, as I only realised I couldn't when I put it all together and sat at it for the first time!
Some might think that a valid reason for 'why not digital' is that 32 ft electronic stops in large buildings are hard on the loudspeakers, which not infrequently fail. This potential danger afflicts all bass speakers which get hammered hard, as pop band roadies know to their cost, and it also happened at Southwell Minster. Another digital organ firm, not Copeman Hart (the original installer), was called in to replace the speaker units.
But the above also shows that, if Dobson are deemed to have sinned at Sydney, they certainly weren't the only ones to have given in to temptation ...
Seriously though, this story merely confirms that both pipes and electronics need servicing from time to time, especially after some years of hard service. So perhaps another and equally valid point of view is that one should be thankful that the Southwell organ was not only repaired but fairly readily repairable.