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About Restoration

Sooner or later every pipe organ will need to be restored. Although their musical qualities are always foremost, pipe organs are complex machines built from wood, felt, metal, and leather. All of these materials wear and deteriorate with time, and especially leather. Regular maintenace can help to slow this process, but eventually there comes a point where all the leather must be replaced. Depending on how the leather was originally prepared and environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and soot, organ leather may last anywhere from 25 to 50 years or sometimes even longer.

Deteriorated leather in the windchests eventually causes some pipes not to sound, or to sound when they are not wanted (cypers). Replacing leather throughout the organ is a major job, and it usually makes economic sense to clean and where necessary rebuild or repair every part of the instrument at the same time. For example, organ pipes collect dust, which eventually makes them sound dull and lifeless, so they need to be cleaned. Felt disks in the action wear out, and console mechanisms wear or fail. Sometimes organs are damaged by fire, water, or termites and need immediate restoration.

Although the cost of restoration may seem high, it is usually far less than the cost of building a comparable pipe organ today. Electronic instruments, though much improved, cannot fully replicate the effect of thousands of individual pipes, each a seperate handmade musical instrument with its own unique qualities. Also, pipe organs can last for hundreds of years, while the life of electronic equipment is generally a few decades at best.

Our restorations strive to return the instrument to like-new condition. We use the same materials and techniques as the original builders, making changes only where needed to ensure durability and reliability.