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Regulation


Guest delvin146
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Guest delvin146

Over the past year or so I have been quite taken back in some cases by state of regulation in organ pipework generally in some of the organs I have encountered.

 

I can quite accept that dirty pipework, and in the case of reeds, the added problem of slipped togues and loose wedges is naturally going to occur. Pallets not opening properly of course is something which cannot be overlooked.

 

Assuming that the job is not overly dirty, and that the action is adjusted correctly, why is it that some organ builders seem happy to walk away and leave pipework sounding like this? I would have thought this would reflect their own abilities as tuners and maintainers and thus the credibility of their business. Surely in the case of some reeds it's a matter of ensuring that movement at the wire is compensated with opening or closing at the cap, or adjusting the slot accordingly. Maybe I've got it all wrong, but to me this doesn't seem like rocket science. I'm quite prepared to be corrected on this.

 

O it's time isn't it! Couldn't possibly reg in a reed as I won't be able to drink my tea, have a fag, stuff my face with home-made victoria sponge and read my woman's weekly.

 

Years back I always remember "tuning and regulation" being carried out as standard on a tuning visit. Now I seem to be discovering more and more cases where the reg is just left until it gets bad enough for remedial visits to become necessary, (or perhaps they think that nobody is going to notice). I've also heard of cases where half the organ gets tuned on a visit - crazy it'll never be in tune with itself ever.

 

In my day I seem to remember you'd get a full day visit, the entire organ would be in tune and in reg before the tuner left. Is this still the case? I suppose it depends what you pay for. If the organ was in tip top condition before the full day had passed a bonus for the builder, but it's all about being conscientious in one's work.

 

I suppose half day visits must have existed back then, but in the majority of cases I suspect a full day could be justified even on a modest job whether that be regulation, dusting the console, resetting actions, or dare I say even cleaning some of the pipework or re-leathering some burst motors - even removing ingrained hand-moisturiser and the odd stray boagy from the mirror.

 

I could take this a stage further and go on about pipes speaking their octaves or being too slow the tuner would make at least some effort to do something with it. Surely if something is blazing obvious the tuner would do it or at least explain why he couldn't in the book... not always it would seem. My old job in Catford wasn't in the best of health but the company which maintained it always did their best with what they had to work with. I applaud them for it.

 

Thankfully I know there are some excellent companies out there who do a brilliant job and would tune the organ right the way through and regulate top to bottom before they left. These companies get my utmost repect and are the ones I have placed my jobs with in the past.

 

I think it's tragic to encounter a quality instrument which is under-performing due to relatively simple matters such as this together with actions which simply haven't been adjusted properly and are not so knackered as they might like the church to think. No wonder churches are tempted by electronics. There are some organists who couldn't tell if the correct stop inserted on the slide, yet there are others who are not easily hood-winked.

 

Of course organ builders need to make a living by carrying out cleaning work and rebuilds and encouraging churches to have their organs restored, but I would argue that a good name is achieved by judgement of their results even in an instrument which is not quite in tip-top condition. If it's quite obvious the church doesn't have the money, personally I would have thought it wise to do ones best with that organ as it is rather than to run it down still further. At the end of the day, the money for a rebuild might never be there no matter how hard a church might try to raise it. False economy, the church will ditch the organ or buy an electronic and the tuning contract on the pipe job will simply cease to exist. In many cases, (depending on size of course), spending a day tuning and regulating and doing the worst faults can give an ailing instrument a new lease of life. I suppose the downside is that then the church will think it's ok and make no effort for a proper restoration, but you win some, you lose some. So long as overheads on that particular job are being covered, and that there are a few bigger jobs being completed in the workshop. Does it necessarily follow that an organ builder in trouble will tend to do a crap job? I wonder.

 

I am of course not pointing the finger at any particular builder, but I sure as hell notice when I try to play a solo especially on reeds stops with a good number of pipes which sound as if they're girgling away under the thames, or whose speech reminds me more of a bee-hive, and I'm not going to be happy about it. How can one possibly play their ladylike Howells Whitlock and Smart on irregular stops like this. Who do they think they're trying to kid? If a pipes got dirt on the tongue or in the shallot, then bloody well clean it off! Don't just write, "reeds dirty" in the book.

 

I do accept that there are organs which are filthy dirty and which really do need a complete overhaul to make them sound like anything acceptable. I am of course excepting such organs in this post.

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Once an organ is tuned, regulated & has its action adjusted, by and large that's the way it will stay - unless something happens to it.

 

I would say it is nigh on impossible to tune "right through" an organ in a day, unless it's tiny. I would say reeds + regulation, then flutes, then mixtures, then check through flues for anything dramatic, was about as much as is physically possible to do properly on an organ of 15+ stops. When in the note-holding seat I usually use the time to go through what action adjustments can be done at the console - bat pins, levelling keys, checking couplers, cleaning the console & pedalboard, e.g.

 

A single sticking note can take several hours to cure - removing faceboards, dismantling things etc. So on an organ which was not set up terribly well 10 years ago and has been slowly grinding itself to death ever since, of course tuning is going to suffer now.

 

A good deal of harm is done by people recording completely unnecessary faults in tuning books. In order to make a good impression, the tuner has to dutifully wade through pages of useless information to the detriment of that which needs doing. Some concise instructions could usefully be given on how to record faults - any contributions?

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Guest Roffensis
Once an organ is tuned, regulated & has its action adjusted, by and large that's the way it will stay - unless something happens to it. 

 

I would say it is nigh on impossible to tune "right through" an organ in a day, unless it's tiny.  I would say reeds + regulation, then flutes, then mixtures, then check through flues for anything dramatic, was about as much as is physically possible to do properly on an organ of 15+ stops.  When in the note-holding seat I usually use the time to go through what action adjustments can be done at the console - bat pins, levelling keys, checking couplers, cleaning the console & pedalboard, e.g.

 

A single sticking note can take several hours to cure - removing faceboards, dismantling things etc.  So on an organ which was not set up terribly well 10 years ago and has been slowly grinding itself to death ever since, of course tuning is going to suffer now.

 

A good deal of harm is done by people recording completely unnecessary faults in tuning books.  In order to make a good impression, the tuner has to dutifully wade through pages of useless information to the detriment of that which needs doing.  Some  concise instructions could usefully be given on how to record faults - any contributions?

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Guest Roffensis
Once an organ is tuned, regulated & has its action adjusted, by and large that's the way it will stay - unless something happens to it. 

 

I would say it is nigh on impossible to tune "right through" an organ in a day, unless it's tiny.  I would say reeds + regulation, then flutes, then mixtures, then check through flues for anything dramatic, was about as much as is physically possible to do properly on an organ of 15+ stops.  When in the note-holding seat I usually use the time to go through what action adjustments can be done at the console - bat pins, levelling keys, checking couplers, cleaning the console & pedalboard, e.g.

 

A single sticking note can take several hours to cure - removing faceboards, dismantling things etc.  So on an organ which was not set up terribly well 10 years ago and has been slowly grinding itself to death ever since, of course tuning is going to suffer now.

 

A good deal of harm is done by people recording completely unnecessary faults in tuning books.  In order to make a good impression, the tuner has to dutifully wade through pages of useless information to the detriment of that which needs doing.  Some  concise instructions could usefully be given on how to record faults - any contributions?

 

Having played the organ Delvin is referring to only last night, I can vouch that the reg is actually horrendous, making solo use of any reed well nigh laughable/impossible. I cannot believe that any competent "tuner" would ever allow any organ to slide in such a bad way, and if I was organist at any church with an organ in such a poor state, I would want the tuner out on his ear. The fault book gets full when faults are left to pile up. No one could ever hoodwink me.

 

R

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Some  concise instructions could usefully be given on how to record faults - any contributions?

 

Object/Defect - i.e. a short statement of what is wrong with what.

IF... an intermittent fault, then a description of what you were doing at the time, or, even better, describe how to replicate.

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Having played the organ Delvin is referring to only last night, I can vouch that the reg is actually horrendous, making solo use of any reed well nigh laughable/impossible. I cannot believe that any competent "tuner" would ever allow any organ to slide in such a bad way, and if I was organist at any church with an organ in such a poor state, I would want the tuner out on his ear. The fault book gets full when faults are left to pile up. No one could ever hoodwink me.

 

R

 

To repeat - an organ won't go out of regulation unless something happens to it. It won't be in bad regulation because someone hasn't regulated it; it will most likely be some other factor. It isn't always right to just blame the tuner. Any building work in the church over the last year or two? Where does the blower get its air from - inside or out? if outside, how near to a main road? Countless others, generally associated with buildup of dirt & grit (and dead insects).

 

Actually, another example of something happening to it might be the attentions of those tuners who will insist on tuning reeds only at the tops, leaving the springs untouched. This has been discredited so many times by so many learned people that it mystifies me how it can still be thought of as good practice, but it apparently is by some people.

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Guest Roffensis
To repeat - an organ won't go out of regulation unless something happens to it.  It won't be in bad regulation because someone hasn't regulated it; it will most likely be some other factor.  It isn't always right to just blame the tuner.  Any building work in the church over the last year or two?  Where does the blower get its air from - inside or out?  if outside, how near to a main road?  Countless others, generally associated with buildup of dirt & grit (and dead insects).

 

Actually, another example of something happening to it might be the attentions of those tuners who will insist on tuning reeds only at the tops, leaving the springs untouched.  This has been discredited so many times by so many learned people that it mystifies me how it can still be thought of as good practice, but it apparently is by some people.

 

 

Reed tongues (and even shallots can move) can slip or move sideways as one example. These are simple faults that can be addressed. It remains easier to just leave such faults until a rank becomes so uneven that it is difficult to find what the stops original tone may have been. A buzzy or tinny reed next to a proper toned note will be a pain, but as I have said, it's apparently easier to just walk away. What about if a tongue weight has fallen off, or a insect is in residence? And how much easier it is to tune an Oboe at the top, and end up with nice buzzy basses and an array of different powers!

 

R

 

R

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Guest delvin146
Once an organ is tuned, regulated & has its action adjusted, by and large that's the way it will stay - unless something happens to it. 

 

I would say it is nigh on impossible to tune "right through" an organ in a day, unless it's tiny.  I would say reeds + regulation, then flutes, then mixtures, then check through flues for anything dramatic, was about as much as is physically possible to do properly on an organ of 15+ stops.  When in the note-holding seat I usually use the time to go through what action adjustments can be done at the console - bat pins, levelling keys, checking couplers, cleaning the console & pedalboard, e.g.

 

A single sticking note can take several hours to cure - removing faceboards, dismantling things etc.  So on an organ which was not set up terribly well 10 years ago and has been slowly grinding itself to death ever since, of course tuning is going to suffer now.

 

A good deal of harm is done by people recording completely unnecessary faults in tuning books.  In order to make a good impression, the tuner has to dutifully wade through pages of useless information to the detriment of that which needs doing.  Some  concise instructions could usefully be given on how to record faults - any contributions?

 

How about this one?

 

"Reeds wildly out of regulation, do them before you leave or else you'll be out the door"

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How about this one?

 

"Reeds wildly out of regulation, do them before you leave or else you'll be out the door"

 

That would do, but it might only last 5 minutes if all the grit starts moving again next time you play a note... just because an organ *looks* clean doesn't mean that it is. I know of an organ whose 5 year old Trombone chest is plagued with cyphers and off notes, most of which were traced to dead insects dropping onto the pallet.

 

Old John Coulson from Bristol used to have an inlay page in his faults books which gave you instructions on how to identify notes (CC, C, c, c1, c2 etc), pointed out that there are no flats in organbuilding, only sharps, and other seemingly obvious observations that are surprisingly relevant. I once opened a tuning book to learn that "E on the Open Diapason buzzes sometimes." After trying all the E's on all 5 Open Diapasons it was eventually located to where some Christmas decorations had been stuck to pedal pipes, and the problem had gone away with them. Meanwhile the best part of an hour had been wasted.

 

Intermittent or occasional faults need recording, but I doubt a tuning book is the place to do it; if time is going to be used in a profitable way then I would have thought it better that only actual faults that require attention and action get put down. A seperate chart of intermittent problems (which I know ajt's organ has in abundance) might be more useful - it's the sort of thing you are likely to want to be able to find & refer to at a future time, or monitor in a general way, rather than actually deal with.

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Guest delvin146

That would do, but it might only last 5 minutes if all the grit starts moving again next time you play a note... just because an organ *looks* clean doesn't mean that it is. I know of an organ whose 5 year old Trombone chest is plagued with cyphers and off notes, most of which were traced to dead insects dropping onto the pallet.

 

Now there's something. Reeds with fly mesh inserted just below the top of the resonator. ;)

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Guest delvin146
What a splendid idea - you could then scrape a few rotting corpses away when you want to make the note louder.

 

I suppose alternatively you could hoover the poor dry things out legs first, or even use one's fingers ;)

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Guest Roffensis

It just gets better and better on here. All faults should always recorded in the log book as per, and most organists will know that there are, e.g. no flats in tuning, and know about compass, C1, C2 etc. The builder can surely have otherwise the courtesy to tell him for future reference. Intermittent faults will of course need to be searched out, and a competent and conciencious tuner will do so, and want to do so.

 

If we are to suggest that intermittent faults are not to be put in the organ log, which normally covers everything, and is (or should be) a full history of a particular job, then perhaps the parish magazine, local newspaper or big issue may prove a favourable alternative. ;)

 

R

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If we are to suggest that intermittent faults are not to be put in the organ log, which normally covers everything, and is (or should be) a full history of a particular job, then perhaps the parish magazine, local newspaper or big issue may prove a favourable alternative. ;)

 

R

 

Why wouldn't you put intermittent faults in the book?

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It just gets better and better on here. All faults should always recorded in the log book as per, and most organists will know that there are, e.g. no flats in tuning, and know about compass, C1, C2 etc.  The builder can surely have otherwise the courtesy to tell him for future reference. Intermittent faults will of course need to be searched out, and a competent and conciencious tuner will do so, and want to do so.

 

If we are to suggest that intermittent faults are not to be put in the organ log, which normally covers everything, and is (or should be) a full history of a particular job, then perhaps the parish magazine, local newspaper or big issue may prove a favourable alternative. ;)

 

R

 

I think you would be most surprised at the level of ignorance in these matters that exists out there. Actually, most organists DON'T know these things, and much tuners' time is wasted as a result!

 

Fair enough I suppose about intermittent/one off faults. I personally find that they are often easier to trace if a seperate sheet of paper is kept with the date of each occurrence. Then, I can use my brain and over time see what factors may be influencing that - the central heating switch person's regular weekend off, morning after the cleaners come in, whatever it might be - rather than sending the tuner off on a wild goose chase in pursuit of a slider that sometimes sticks and sometimes doesn't, or whatever it might be.

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Fair enough I suppose about intermittent/one off faults.  I personally find that they are often easier to trace if a seperate sheet of paper is kept with the date of each occurrence.  Then, I can use my brain and over time see what factors may be influencing that - the central heating switch person's regular weekend off, morning after the cleaners come in, whatever it might be - rather than sending the tuner off on a wild goose chase in pursuit of a slider that sometimes sticks and sometimes doesn't, or whatever it might be.

 

Perhaps I should offer a course in rational problem solving for organ builders? (Rational problem solving being something I teach as part of my day job)

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Perhaps I should offer a course in rational problem solving for organ builders? (Rational problem solving being something I teach as part of my day job)

 

You could do, but I suspect that having all the information available to hand would be pretty close to the top, and that's somewhere the titulaire is going to have the advantage over someone who spends perhaps 10-20 hours a year in the place.

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You could do, but I suspect that having all the information available to hand would be pretty close to the top, and that's somewhere the titulaire is going to have the advantage over someone who spends perhaps 10-20 hours a year in the place.

 

That's the whole point of the methodology - knowing what data is required to fix any problem.

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That's the whole point of the methodology - knowing what data is required to fix any problem.

 

So how do I get people to actually put information, and not just "organ sounds a bit funny today"? Bearing in mind the influences could be anything from the weather to a powercut last week that took out the humidifier to someone leaving an electric fire on or virtually anything else under the sun.

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So how do I get people to actually put information, and not just "organ sounds a bit funny today"?  Bearing in mind the influences could be anything from the weather to a powercut last week that took out the humidifier to someone leaving an electric fire on or virtually anything else under the sun.

 

I would suggest that the most helpful bit of data that can be recorded would be:

 

"What was the organ doing or having done to it at the time?" i.e. under what circumstances did the fault arise.

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I read with interest David Coram's remarks - they are sound solid sense. Tunung an organ is a vocation, not just a job and these days getting taught the basics is almost impossible. Just putting one pipe in tune with another is not tuning an organ.

 

FF

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A buzzy or tinny reed next to a proper toned note will be a pain, but as I have said, it's apparently easier to just walk away. What about if a tongue weight has fallen off, or a insect is in residence? And how much easier it is to tune an Oboe at the top, and end up with nice buzzy basses and an array of different powers!

 

R

 

R

 

Also meant to add earlier that it's remarkably difficult to tell whether one note is different from the next at such close quarters with relatively prolonged exposure to each individual note, and there is a fantastic lack of note holders who can tell the difference and call out as necessary - I know several tuners who rely on people who can follow post-its stuck to the keys and work the sliders themselves, and one who has an electronic device that does it for him with a remote control.

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I would suggest that the most helpful bit of data that can be recorded would be:

 

"What was the organ doing or having done to it at the time?" i.e. under what circumstances did the fault arise.

 

But what about the occasions (which I suspect would be in the majority) when it's not about that - but about the environmental factors affecting the organ, over a period of days, weeks or even years? These are things which the tuner will probably be completely unaware of until a kind of progress chart can be made to identify the trends of what happens when.

 

Thank you Frank for comment above. I do get a trifle wound up about things like this, seeing how much ridiculous over-maintenance some firms indulge in while actually managing to achieve next to nothing, as if a tuning round was no more than keeping a foot in the door and appearing attentive/helpful between overhauls. Despite the best efforts of ISOB/IBO etc we all know this is still very common. From that point of view I sympathise entirely with Delvin and Roffensis but frequently get to see the problem from the other side, too.

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Also meant to add earlier that it's remarkably difficult to tell whether one note is different from the next at such close quarters with relatively prolonged exposure to each individual note, and there is a fantastic lack of note holders who can tell the difference and call out as necessary - I know several tuners who rely on people who can follow post-its stuck to the keys and work the sliders themselves, and one who has an electronic device that does it for him with a remote control.

 

Of course the organist could always offer to hold the keys for the tuner, point out the defects and help regulate the reeds - and find out what is actually involved, how the time can slip away and get home late as well.

 

FF

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Of course the organist could always offer to hold the keys for the tuner, point out the defects and help regulate the reeds - and find out what is actually involved, how the time can slip away and get home late as well.

 

FF

 

I remember once politely making that offer to one of Percy Daniel's men who was clearly struggling with someone downstairs who couldn't find Middle C, and being basically told they didn't want any interference thank you very much and please would I leave the building! Nice chap - always oiled the blower...

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