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I was recently thinking about 16' stopped pipes and how they are traditionally made of wood, but I have noticed the odd extension organ will sometimes have a 16' made of metal rather than wood. I'm just wondering about what are difference between using 16' stopped wood and metal pipes as I can't seem to find any opinions on them.

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3 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

I was recently thinking about 16' stopped pipes and how they are traditionally made of wood, but I have noticed the odd extension organ will sometimes have a 16' made of metal rather than wood. I'm just wondering about what are difference between using 16' stopped wood and metal pipes as I can't seem to find any opinions on them.

I think you may find the French Bourdon stops (16' and 8') are generally made of metal. In English and American organs the Bourdon stop is generally confined to 16' pitch on the Pedal, and made of wood.

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OK, I guess (at  least from my perspective) stopped pipe at 16' pitch are traditionally made of wood, but I've noticed that often in some unit organs the bass 16' pipes are sometimes made of metal rather than wood. But I'm curious if their is a difference in the sound between a 16' stopped metal as appose to a 16' stopped wood?

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I don't know if there is any point to this, but here is a link to a listing of a Walker unit organ located in Sydney, for anyone curious about seeing an example of a metal 16' Bourdon.

The reason why I created this thread is because I have seen discussions on the differences between the sound of open woods and open metal pipes, and I was curious if their are also any slight differences between the sound of stopped wood and stopped metal pipes?

https://www.sydneyorgan.com/Seaforth.html

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Having spent a lot of time both with a Walker Positive and a Nicholson with an extended Pedal division, both with metal closed 16 foot - on the Walker described as a 'Sub Bass' and on the Nicholson as a 'Bourdon'; they both had metal flute ranks, so the extension to 16' was metal 'to match' the rest of the unit. For what it's worth, I have never seen wooden pipework on a Positive - and I've played lots of 'em.

More recently, I spent some years playing an extended Evans & Barr (NPOR https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02452), which had a quite nice wooden flute unit and the 16' bottom octave was wood for a 16' Bourdon (also used for a 32' 'Sub Bass', but no extra bottom octave of pipes!).  I would say that the metal Nicholson and the wooden E&B sounded very similar, but the Walker sounded brighter, but that was really because of the brighter voicing of the Walker generally.

I suspect this may be of limited help, but my gut feel is that it is the overall composition of the stopped unit which determines the composition of the 16' bottom octave and that the tone is really all a matter of the voicing rather than the substance from which it was made.  My experience is that the tonal difference between wood and metal is much greater at 8' and above rather than at 16'.  For what it is worth, I usually find there is a much greater difference between an open 16' of wood and one of metal.

 

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R&D also used metal 16ft bourdon basses in their extension organs. There's one near me in a 1960s church which has the bourdon and diapason basses in the facade, the bourdon mouths have the high cut up and curved upper lip, the scaling of the bourdon is very similar to the diapason. I used to play R&D and Walker extension organs quite a lot in my youth.

As far as difference in sound quality is concerned, I think it is all down to scaling. I was the organist at a church in Merseyside with a Walker Positive for several years, it had a wooden bass to the bourdon which was pretty large scale and had a real oomph, certainly it would not make sense to make a stopped metal bass of anywhere near such scaling. 

H,N&B also made modern extension organs from the 1960s, as a youth I played their Heptonstall organ often which has a wooden 16ft bourdon, again with plenty of oomph.

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