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I have a small Walcker house organ of 11 stops which generally works well.

One problem however is that the 15th on the second manual (it has no

swell box) does go out of tune very frequently. The 19th is fine as is

the mixture. The difference between these stops is that the 15th is a

display pipe and is voiced softly compared with the other upper work,

this was done by its previous owner and would not I think have been

an original feature. I believe the organ was originally designed for

use by small churches. Only this stop misbehaves.

Wind pressure throughout is 50mm and this is original.

Any ideas welcome.

thanks

Chris

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Guest Barry Williams
I have a small Walcker house organ of 11 stops which generally works well.

One problem however is that the 15th on the second manual (it has no

swell box) does go out of tune very frequently. The 19th is fine as is

the mixture. The difference between these stops is that the 15th is a

display pipe and is voiced softly compared with the other upper work,

this was done by its previous owner and would not I think have been

an original feature. I believe the organ was originally designed for

use by small churches. Only this stop misbehaves.

Wind pressure throughout is 50mm and this is original.

Any ideas welcome.

thanks

Chris

 

 

Just a thought - are the front pipes in direct sunlight? This would have a huge effect on the tuning if the inside pipes are hidden from direct light.

 

Barry Williams

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Just a thought - are the front pipes in direct sunlight? This would have a huge effect on the tuning if the inside pipes are hidden from direct light.

 

Barry Williams

 

 

No, there is no problem like that, in fact the pipes most unstable are planted inside on the slider chest along with the other ranks. Only the bottom two octaves of the 15th are in the display and these do not cause a problem. Also on display is the 4ft Principal which gives no trouble.

My only clue is the fact that the toes of the 15th have been coned closed relative to the other ranks thus reducing the pressure at the flue - perhaps too much?.

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No, there is no problem like that, in fact the pipes most unstable are planted inside on the slider chest along with the other ranks. Only the bottom two octaves of the 15th are in the display and these do not cause a problem. Also on display is the 4ft Principal which gives no trouble.

My only clue is the fact that the toes of the 15th have been coned closed relative to the other ranks thus reducing the pressure at the flue - perhaps too much?.

 

Are the 15th trebles on the front edge of the soundboard? If so, you might be having problems with the upperboard being affected by humidity changes causing slight warping and subsequently affecting the amount of wind gettting to the pipes.

 

FF

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Are the 15th trebles on the front edge of the soundboard? If so, you might be having problems with the upperboard being affected by humidity changes causing slight warping and subsequently affecting the amount of wind gettting to the pipes.

 

FF

 

 

Yes they are, this could be an explanation. I will try experimenting with some gentle pressure on the upperboard.

Chris

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Yes they are, this could be an explanation. I will try experimenting with some gentle pressure on the upperboard.

Chris

 

Try putting some buckets or trays of water in the organ, the bigger the surface area the better. Is the organ in a cernrally heated room?

 

Good luck,

 

FF

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At least this problem can be solved, unlike the one I once encountered when I complained bitterly about the tuning, and the organ-builder really went on a rant.

 

"Well what do you expect? I'm 76, and I don't have the hearing I used to have! None of us get any younger you know, and it will happen to you eventually!"

 

It really flumoxed me, so rather than create a crisis, I humbly tuned the organ myself and made sure that he got paid for his efforts; such as they were.

 

How do you tell people that they really should have retired a long time ago?

 

I'm not the brutal type at all, unlike the new broom O & C who arrived at one church, asked the choir to sing a hymn, and then said, "Well, not all of you are ready for the glue factory just yet."

 

With that, half the choir walked out, and within a month, the stalls were full of much younger singers.

 

MM

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Guest Barry Williams
At least this problem can be solved, unlike the one I once encountered when I complained bitterly about the tuning, and the organ-builder really went on a rant.

 

"Well what do you expect? I'm 76, and I don't have the hearing I used to have! None of us get any younger you know, and it will happen to you eventually!"

 

It really flumoxed me, so rather than create a crisis, I humbly tuned the organ myself and made sure that he got paid for his efforts; such as they were.

 

How do you tell people that they really should have retired a long time ago?

 

I'm not the brutal type at all, unlike the new broom O & C who arrived at one church, asked the choir to sing a hymn, and then said, "Well, not all of you are ready for the glue factory just yet."

 

With that, half the choir walked out, and within a month, the stalls were full of much younger singers.

 

MM

 

 

I am disappointed at the large number of organs that are tuned perfectly in octaves but have inaccurate bearings. (i.e. the internal relationship within the octave.) I remember one tuner (now retired) from a very large company saying "Oh, you mustn't alter that; they have got used to it over the years."

 

Now that electronic machines are available for accurate tuning, there is no excuse whatsoever for inaccurate bearings, yet the majority of organs seem only to be tuned in octaves.

 

In respect of tuners and singers, age is not the issue. Rather one should consider competence. If a singer is not good enough they should be asked to leave the choir, irrespective of age. Tuners who cannot tune properly should be replaced with someone who can set a scale accurately. It is not right that the church pays for a service it is not receiving. Such matters need handling sensitively, but the refusal to do so keeps competent musicians away from the church. Near where I live there is a church that has the best singers in the congregation because the choir is hopeless and the choir director incompetent.

 

Barry Williams

 

Barry Williams

 

Barry Williams

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I am disappointed at the large number of organs that are tuned perfectly in octaves but have inaccurate bearings. (i.e. the internal relationship within the octave.) I remember one tuner (now retired) from a very large company saying "Oh, you mustn't alter that; they have got used to it over the years."

 

Now that electronic machines are available for accurate tuning, there is no excuse whatsoever for inaccurate bearings, yet the majority of organs seem only to be tuned in octaves.

 

 

Barry Williams

 

I have just acquired a Korg OT/120 electronic gizmo (£75) with which to tune my 4 rank house organ (8+4, 8+2) after it was moved from one room to another. Setting the bearings took a fair amount of time - a matter of getting the needle dead centre and the +/- indicator lights equally lit. With hindsight a machine with an exact digital frequency read-out might have been a better, if more expensive buy.

 

The meter also helped to check the octaves, especially in the top ranges of the Fifteenth, not easy when the pipes are in a tightly enclosed space only a few inches from the ear.

 

Does anyone have any practical advice on the use of such gadgets for amateurs like me who find the traditional method of counting beats etc all rather daunting? I'd be particularly interested in using them to tune to unequal temperaments (the Korg meter apparently caters for Werkmeister, Valotti and about half-a-dozen other 'classical' temperaments').

 

JS

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I am disappointed at the large number of organs that are tuned perfectly in octaves but have inaccurate bearings. (i.e. the internal relationship within the octave.) I remember one tuner (now retired) from a very large company saying "Oh, you mustn't alter that; they have got used to it over the years."

 

 

Many years ago, when ass. at a church on the south coast with a 1960's Walker rebuild (Now that will be a conundrum for some of you to solve)I remember the piano tuner friend of the organist on hearing the instrument, complained about the same problem. The result was...change the tuner. After that the whole instrument sang in a way that it hadn't for some time.

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Does anyone have any practical advice on the use of such gadgets for amateurs like me who find the traditional method of counting beats etc all rather daunting? I'd be particularly interested in using them to tune to unequal temperaments (the Korg meter apparently caters for Werkmeister, Valotti and about half-a-dozen other 'classical' temperaments').

 

JS

 

A colleague of mine has a quite amazing bit of kit from Marc Vogel which not only does all the above (but, rather than give you a needle, gives you a numerical readout of how many cents flat or sharp you are accurate to 0.1 of a cent - around 1/1000 of a semitone) but - get this - can be set to listen to different partials so you can tune individual ranks of a Mixture without having to stop off the others, no matter how out of tune they are. That's impressive. It does clever things with temperature, too - it varies its idea of pitch according to the ambient temperature, which is particularly handy in the voicing room which might be cold at the start of the day and warm by lunchtime.

 

As for temperaments etc there is an outstanding bit of freeware available here called Wintemper. It comes with about 30 or so pre-loaded temperaments and there is unlimited space for adding new ones. It gives you notes for bearings at a variety of pitches, and also can be made to play major and minor triads, thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths in any key of your choosing so you can decide which tuning suits you before actually applying it to an instrument.

 

It claims to be responsive to microphone input to be used in the same was as your Korg but certainly you'll need a seperate mic - I tried using it on my laptop but the fan and background noise got in the way of an accurate reading on a rapidly decaying note (piano and harpsichord - might be better on an organ).

 

As for tuners not laying Principal bearings each visit - well, what on earth for? An organ won't go out of tune unless something happens to it. If tuning is going that far wrong you ought to be looking at mechanical and soundboard deficiencies and addressing the overall conditions - temperature, sunlight, humidity, dust settling in flues and on languids - rather than smashing the poor old pipes around to compensate. The less you bugger around with these things the better they stay in tune - especially with cone tuning, where you might actually be doing damage. Also, it can be important to catch certain faults quite early - if there is a soundboard problem developing - and you could probably mask it for many years by doing this and put yourself firmly in new soundboard territory (rather than potentially simple repair) by not realising that anything's amiss.

 

Apart from that, to run right through every note of a 15-stop parish job will easily fill a whole day, if not two, without addressing any of the problems mentioned above and probably letting mechanical regulation go to rack and ruin. It stands to reason therefore that this would be a criminal waste of money. I'd be interested to see what others have to say, but to me, reeds and flutes if you must, action & coupler regulation and a quick play through the flues to check for disasters is a day very well spent indeed.

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Guest Barry Williams
A colleague of mine has a quite amazing bit of kit from Marc Vogel which not only does all the above (but, rather than give you a needle, gives you a numerical readout of how many cents flat or sharp you are accurate to 0.1 of a cent - around 1/1000 of a semitone) but - get this - can be set to listen to different partials so you can tune individual ranks of a Mixture without having to stop off the others, no matter how out of tune they are. That's impressive. It does clever things with temperature, too - it varies its idea of pitch according to the ambient temperature, which is particularly handy in the voicing room which might be cold at the start of the day and warm by lunchtime.

 

As for temperaments etc there is an outstanding bit of freeware available here called Wintemper. It comes with about 30 or so pre-loaded temperaments and there is unlimited space for adding new ones. It gives you notes for bearings at a variety of pitches, and also can be made to play major and minor triads, thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths in any key of your choosing so you can decide which tuning suits you before actually applying it to an instrument.

 

It claims to be responsive to microphone input to be used in the same was as your Korg but certainly you'll need a seperate mic - I tried using it on my laptop but the fan and background noise got in the way of an accurate reading on a rapidly decaying note (piano and harpsichord - might be better on an organ).

 

As for tuners not laying Principal bearings each visit - well, what on earth for? An organ won't go out of tune unless something happens to it. If tuning is going that far wrong you ought to be looking at mechanical and soundboard deficiencies and addressing the overall conditions - temperature, sunlight, humidity, dust settling in flues and on languids - rather than smashing the poor old pipes around to compensate. The less you bugger around with these things the better they stay in tune - especially with cone tuning, where you might actually be doing damage. Also, it can be important to catch certain faults quite early - if there is a soundboard problem developing - and you could probably mask it for many years by doing this and put yourself firmly in new soundboard territory (rather than potentially simple repair) by not realising that anything's amiss.

 

Apart from that, to run right through every note of a 15-stop parish job will easily fill a whole day, if not two, without addressing any of the problems mentioned above and probably letting mechanical regulation go to rack and ruin. It stands to reason therefore that this would be a criminal waste of money. I'd be interested to see what others have to say, but to me, reeds and flutes if you must, action & coupler regulation and a quick play through the flues to check for disasters is a day very well spent indeed.

 

 

Some of the older organs have the twelve notes of the bearings cone tuned, whilst the rest of the organ has sliders. If the tuning of the coned pipes is very gentle they will not get damaged and the tuning will last for years, making all routine tuning visits easy. The problem comes when the bearings get more and more out of tune. That always needs attention.

 

Barry Wiliams

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Some of the older organs have the twelve notes of the bearings cone tuned, whilst the rest of the organ has sliders. If the tuning of the coned pipes is very gentle they will not get damaged and the tuning will last for years, making all routine tuning visits easy. The problem comes when the bearings get more and more out of tune. That always needs attention.

 

Barry Wiliams

 

Most often I see instruments with one "pitch pipe" cone tuned. Even where a whole instrument has its fluework cone tuned, most tuning discrepancies are either due to soundboard movement or to do with dust settling in the pipe. Lightly dusting with a feather until the note comes into tune is how I was taught to deal with this.

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I have just acquired a Korg OT/120 electronic gizmo (£75) with which to tune my 4 rank house organ (8+4, 8+2) after it was moved from one room to another. Setting the bearings took a fair amount of time - a matter of getting the needle dead centre and the +/- indicator lights equally lit. With hindsight a machine with an exact digital frequency read-out might have been a better, if more expensive buy.

 

The meter also helped to check the octaves, especially in the top ranges of the Fifteenth, not easy when the pipes are in a tightly enclosed space only a few inches from the ear.

 

Does anyone have any practical advice on the use of such gadgets for amateurs like me who find the traditional method of counting beats etc all rather daunting? I'd be particularly interested in using them to tune to unequal temperaments (the Korg meter apparently caters for Werkmeister, Valotti and about half-a-dozen other 'classical' temperaments').

 

JS

 

Hi

 

USe it to get the middle octave in and tune the rest in octaves, etc. I find this far more accurate than relying on the meter (which can't be read accurately enough anyway).

 

I have a few times managed to set the bearings from a tuning fork - mainly on electronic organs. It can be very time consuming! I suppose that pro organ tuners who are regularly doing the job get so used to hearing what's right that they get though a routine check pretty quickly.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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As for tuners not laying Principal bearings each visit - well, what on earth for? An organ won't go out of tune unless something happens to it. If tuning is going that far wrong you ought to be looking at mechanical and soundboard deficiencies and addressing the overall conditions - temperature, sunlight, humidity, dust settling in flues and on languids - rather than smashing the poor old pipes around to compensate. The less you bugger around with these things the better they stay in tune - especially with cone tuning, where you might actually be doing damage.
Please forgive me if this is a no-brainer of a question; my ignorance of physics and chemistry is such that I never got anywhere near an "O" level in either. However, given that lead is a soft metal and the alloy used for pipes must presumably still be soft if cone tuning it to be an option, is there not a tendency for the metal to "flow" towards the base of the pipes with the passage of years? If so, how long would this take to start to affect the tuning?
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Hi

 

USe it to get the middle octave in and tune the rest in octaves, etc. I find this far more accurate than relying on the meter (which can't be read accurately enough anyway).

 

I have a few times managed to set the bearings from a tuning fork - mainly on electronic organs. It can be very time consuming! I suppose that pro organ tuners who are regularly doing the job get so used to hearing what's right that they get though a routine check pretty quickly.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

=========================

 

Surely, all you really need to lay the bearings is a simple battery operated Casio, with a variable pitch control?

 

I'm assuming that the overall pitch of the organ will not change dramatically in a short space of time.

 

 

MM

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Please forgive me if this is a no-brainer of a question; my ignorance of physics and chemistry is such that I never got anywhere near an "O" level in either. However, given that lead is a soft metal and the alloy used for pipes must presumably still be soft if cone tuning it to be an option, is there not a tendency for the metal to "flow" towards the base of the pipes with the passage of years? If so, how long would this take to start to affect the tuning?

 

 

=====================

 

 

Well, this is a great question to ask on a Monday!

 

I'll check this with my "Dr.Metal-head" brother, but metals are of crystalline structure, with strong crystalline bonding, and apart from mercury or other molten forms, metal cannot flow until it is close to melting-point.

 

What you can and do get with pure Lead is buckling, where the crystalline bond starts to collapse under its own weight, but this is (I think) a type of stress-deformation which can lead to severe buckling, and it certainly isn't a flow of any kind. It's all to do with the shearing of the metal crystal bond.

 

Glass, on the other hand, I seem to recall as being a liquid, and if hung over the edge of a table, it will eventually deform and droop as it flows under the effects of gravity. Of course, you've got to hang around a bit to actually observe it.

 

Lead used in organs, has various additive metals, such as Antimony, which makes the metal more rigid and less prone to stress-deformation (buckling) and stress-fractures (splitting).

 

Whilst lead is quite malleable, it can only stretch so far or be buckled so far, before splitting occurs, and all tuners will be familiar with the organ-builder's equivalent to a hairdresser's "split-ends."

 

Cone tuning should be extremely stable as David suggests, and if it aint, then the problem usually lies elsewhere. Because cone tuning impacts on the pipe, that shock is transferred down the pipe to the boots, and its quite common to find pipe-tips in some state of collapse, as well as actual tears in the top rim of the pipes.

 

I don't really know how I know all this stuff, but I guess I must have read some of my brother's books when he was young......not that he read any of mine!

 

 

MM

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=====================

Well, this is a great question to ask on a Monday!

 

I'll check this with my "Dr.Metal-head" brother, but metals are of crystalline structure, with strong crystalline bonding, and apart from mercury or other molten forms, metal cannot flow until it is close to melting-point.

 

What you can and do get with pure Lead is buckling, where the crystalline bond starts to collapse under its own weight, but this is (I think) a type of stress-deformation which can lead to severe buckling, and it certainly isn't a flow of any kind. It's all to do with the shearing of the metal crystal bond.

 

Glass, on the other hand, I seem to recall as being a liquid, and if hung over the edge of a table, it will eventually deform and droop as it flows under the effects of gravity. Of course, you've got to hang around a bit to actually observe it.

 

Lead used in organs, has various additive metals, such as Antimony, which makes the metal more rigid and less prone to stress-deformation (buckling) and stress-fractures (splitting).

 

Whilst lead is quite malleable, it can only stretch so far or be buckled so far, before splitting occurs, and all tuners will be familiar with the organ-builder's equivalent to a hairdresser's "split-ends."

 

Cone tuning should be extremely stable as David suggests, and if it aint, then the problem usually lies elsewhere. Because cone tuning impacts on the pipe, that shock is transferred down the pipe to the boots, and its quite common to find pipe-tips in some state of collapse, as well as actual tears in the top rim of the pipes.

 

I don't really know how I know all this stuff, but I guess I must have read some of my brother's books when he was young......not that he read any of mine!

MM

 

Glass - in the old days of rolled glass, to a very small extent. Mostly this was due to something else - warping in sunlight, or (when glazed) just an optical illusion due to poor finish. Modern float (annealed) and toughened glass won't do this.

 

Lead dripping - if that were the case, we wouldn't have extant pipework from the 1700's - the mouths would have collapsed long ago!

 

The main point of injury to cone tuned pipes is around the mouth. Pipe-tips collapse where they are not strengthened due to weight of the pipe bearing down.

 

As for pitch, you'd be surprised how much it does fluctuate with temperature (measuring in hertz, rather than by ear) - if I've got the calculation right then a 3 degree C drop in temperature will take A=440 to A=436. If you consider the fluctuation in a normally unheated church during winter, you'll see that this is an appreciable change.

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I have a small Walcker house organ of 11 stops which generally works well.

One problem however is that the 15th on the second manual (it has no

swell box) does go out of tune very frequently. The 19th is fine as is

the mixture. The difference between these stops is that the 15th is a

display pipe and is voiced softly compared with the other upper work,

this was done by its previous owner and would not I think have been

an original feature. I believe the organ was originally designed for

use by small churches. Only this stop misbehaves.

Wind pressure throughout is 50mm and this is original.

Any ideas welcome.

thanks

Chris

 

 

I have a small Walcker house organ of 11 stops which generally works well.

One problem however is that the 15th on the second manual (it has no

swell box) does go out of tune very frequently. The 19th is fine as is

the mixture. The difference between these stops is that the 15th is a

display pipe and is voiced softly compared with the other upper work,

this was done by its previous owner and would not I think have been

an original feature. I believe the organ was originally designed for

use by small churches. Only this stop misbehaves.

Wind pressure throughout is 50mm and this is original.

Any ideas welcome.

thanks

Chris

 

I wonder if the clue is in the 'voiced very softly. Have the pipes with re-coned in feet been softened too much for the original voicing so becoming less stable...

Best wishes,

David W

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=========================

 

Surely, all you really need to lay the bearings is a simple battery operated Casio, with a variable pitch control?

 

I'm assuming that the overall pitch of the organ will not change dramatically in a short space of time.

MM

 

Hi

 

That assumes that the temperament of the Casio is correct to start with - some older electronic keyboards are significantly adrift in this respect because of the difficulty of generating the correct intervals. (And I suspect that some electronic tuners have the same problem - certainly I was never really happy with my piano when I set the bearings from the tuner).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

That assumes that the temperament of the Casio is correct to start with - some older electronic keyboards are significantly adrift in this respect because of the difficulty of generating the correct intervals. (And I suspect that some electronic tuners have the same problem - certainly I was never really happy with my piano when I set the bearings from the tuner).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

I'm sure you're right about cheap electronic keyboards; apart from the fact that the subdivision of the octave into 12 may not be not sufficiently accurate for this purpose, the perfectly true octaves (i.e. each ascending octave being exactly double the frequency of the one below, and simple to achieve electronically) do not replicate what happens on the 'acoustic' piano, because the physics are different.

 

I believe the physical properties of the wire strings mean that the octave partials generated become gradually sharper with each ascending octave. The second partial (the half-length) of the A440 string will actually vibrate at 881Hz, requiring the A above to be tuned at 881Hz to sound true and the one above that at about 1764Hz. This stretching of the octaves is necessary to deceive the ear into accepting them as 'true'. I also seem to recall the bass monochord strings also require an element of adjustment in their tuning.

 

This is all part of the skill of the professional tuner. I certainly wouldn't risk attacking my piano with a tuning hammer and digital meter.

 

JS

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I wonder if the clue is in the 'voiced very softly. Have the pipes with re-coned in feet been softened too much for the original voicing so becoming less stable...

Best wishes,

David W

 

Yes - I think this is an important aspect to the problem. In trying to reduce the wind pressure I suspect the pipes are now simply unstable and very liable to microscopic changes in pressure for whatever reason. When I installed the organ one rank of the mixture had been silenced by slipping cotton wool down the pipes!, but at least they had left the toes alone so restoration was simple. I will look into correcting the toes as the first step.

 

Many thanks

Chris

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