A pipe organ, well built and expertly voiced in a reverberant acoustic, is the gold standard by which all other organs are judged. A new pipe organ is an exciting proposition that requires a substantial commitment of time and resources to bring it to fruition. The initial investment to build, install and finish (voicing) the organ typically starts at several hundred-thousand dollars for a modest size organ, and can run into the millions for larger organs. The timeline for planning and building the organ is measured in years.
Your church building needs to have sufficient physical space, in appropriate locations, to accommodate the pipes and other physical infrastructure that are part of a pipe organ. If your building was designed with a pipe organ in mind, these spaces were designed into the structure. If the building design did not contemplate a pipe organ, construction costs will be part of your overall organ budget.
Keeping your pipe organ in excellent playing condition involves periodic maintenance and tuning that must be budgeted annually.
Beyond the physical and budgetary requirements of a pipe organ, the process of acquiring a new pipe organ is multifaceted and the subject of more than one book. Further research is advised—call us if you’d like some advice on how to get started.
What is the life of a pipe organ?
Some will say that a major advantage of a pipe organ is that it lasts forever. There is some truth in this statement–many historic pipe organs around the world are centuries old. However, the devil is in the details. In reality a pipe organ is a mechanically complex instrument that requires routine maintenance and periodic refurbishing of mechanical components to keep the entire instrument in working condition.
Pipe organs with electro-pneumatic or electric action will need the console rebuilt or replaced periodically (approximately every 50 years) as the control technology in the organ console becomes obsolete and/or unreliable.
Getting started with your pipe organ plan
Although Church Keyboard Center does not represent a specific pipe organ builder, we are prepared to advise and assist in preparing a plan for creating the pipe organ you envision.
If you are already working with a pipe organ builder, but expect the fundraising and planning will take a few years, consider installing an all-digital organ as an interim instrument. When the pipe organ is finished, Church Keyboard Center will assist in recovering the value of the digital organ. Click here to learn more about an all-digital organ.
If the investment required for an all-pipe organ is not feasible for your church, consider a pipe+digital hybrid organ. A hybrid organ gives you the advantages of both pipe and digital organs: the sound (and looks) of real pipes and the economic advantages of a digital organ. Click here to learn more about pipe+digital hybrid organs.