Is it Always Worth Rebuilding an Existing Organ?
If your church has an aging pipe organ, you have several options: 1)
rebuild the existing pipe organ; 2) replace the pipe organ with an
electronic substitute; 3) purchase an entirely new pipe organ; or 4)
make do with a compromised instrument.
Trading in an existing pipe organ for an electronic substitute can be
much like tossing out an heirloom gold watch bequeathed by your
grandfather and replacing it with a plastic digital watch. Most pipe
organs, even those that are neglected and in greatest need of repair,
have parts of considerable value. The pipes, casework, console shell,
and many other organ components never wear out. By replacing control
mechanisms, revoicing, and perhaps adding a few ranks of pipes,
skilled pipe organ craftsmen can almost always transform an older pipe
organ into an instrument far superior to electronic substitutes.
The cost of rebuilding a pipe organ is usually competitive with
replacing it with an electronic organ. Even if rebuilding costs
more, it gives your church an asset that far surpasses the long-term
value of an electronic organ, no matter how many "bells and whistles"
have been added to that electronic substitute.
Some congregations have later regretted listening to the sales pitch
of the first electronic organ salesperson that they encountered.
Good stewardship by an organ committee should entail getting opinions
from at least three professional organ builders on what the real costs
would be of refurbishing your current organ and the residual value of
the instrument in its current condition.
There are cases where pipe organs have been so badly damaged that
rebuilding is not economically feasible. This would be true of pipe
organs damaged in earthquakes, floods, and similar natural disasters.
In those instances, both the costs AND the benefits of acquiring a new
electronic organ vs. a new pipe organ need to be assessed. The value
of electronic organs depreciates relatively quickly, while parts of
authentic pipe organs may actually increase in value over time. The
opinions of several experts familiar with authentic pipe organs
should also be solicited in cases where expansion of the
congregation's size, musical program, budgetary considerations, or
building modifications suggest that the existing organ no longer meets
Please also see "
Pipe Organs Vs Electronic Organs"
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