To function at optimum performance, every machine and apparatus needs proper care and maintenance. This is certainly true for musical instruments and pipe organs where there is a need for quick response, quiet operation, light action, and reliability over a large range of temperature and humidity. Our general experience and instrument-specific experience, gained over time, will make the necessary adjustments quick and efficient.
A well-built and well-voiced organ needs little tuning, especially if the pipes are cone tuned. We work on many instruments, and this claim comes entirely from our on-the-ground experience. The initial higher cost for a quality instrument will always pay off in the long term by spending less on maintenance and tuning. The discrepancy in pitch between reed pipes and flue pipes as a function of temperature is inevitable, and yet over a considerable temperature range, reed pipes that are “resonator dominated,” that is ranks with full length resonators, will follow the pitch change of the flue pipes. Therefore a good Oboe or Trumpet may be usable even on a warm May or June day.
We also service several organs with unequal (historic) temperaments and use software that Stefan Maier developed many years ago to accurately set any desired temperament.
From time to time, organs need cleaning. Reed pipes should be cleaned more often than flue pipes. But even small flue pipes will change their pitch slightly if there is too much dust built up on the languid. Depending on air quality and “traffic” in the sanctuary or hall, cleanings should be done every 10 to 30 years.
Once a year the blower of the organ should be checked and oiled and the keys should be cleaned. Smaller action repairs, sticky keys, and replacing worn felts are all part of routine maintenance.
Although a well-made pipe organ lasts for generations, there comes the time when fixing individual problems is no longer cost effective and a rebuilding of the whole instrument is indicated. In this case we will make corresponding recommendations followed by an estimate for the recommended work. We charge a small fee for such estimates which will be counted towards a down payment if the recommended work is approved.
Unlike most of our colleagues, we charge a lower rate for travel time and only the full rate for actual work on site. We also offer for simple reed tunings that the institution provides the key holder thus eliminating the cost for a second person. We prefer to do maintenance on a time and materials basis rather than a fixed rate maintenance contract. This typically works out in the favor of our clients.
We service a variety of organs, built by a number of different organ builders.
Stefan Maier Tracker Organs