Purchasing a "new"organ for our seminary
  • Hi all,
    I attend Seminary at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, located in a former Carmelite Monastery. We currently have an old Baldwin Silent touch series organ with three manuals. I'm not sure on model number, but can update after I look at the organ again. Some part of the interior has died and our serviceman has not been able to find a replacement part. Baldwin is now extinct, and the little problems that keep happening with the organ have made our rector decide that we should look into getting a new one. While, myself and some of my classmates who play the organ would love to see a pipe organ, it is not feasible money-wise to purchase or maintain. We have a low budget for the new organ ($7,000 or less)(I know, the price range isn't very reasonable.)
    We are looking to find a "used" digital organ, preferably a Rodgers or Allen. We have a beautiful Rodgers organ in the chapel on campus and we have technicians in the area who service both Rodgers & Allen, should something go wrong with it. (Yes, the acoustics of the chapel play a big part in choosing an organ.) The chapel has wooden floors and ceilings and the sounds do resonate in there. It is lovely when we chant or sing with the Schola. (Here's a link to a picture of the chapel. As you can see, we have a lot of wood: https://www.flickr.com/photos/coreydbruns/13847413733/in/photostream/) Do you have any recommendations on where we can look for a good, used digital organ? Or, anything we should keep in mind while we search? We know that if possible we don't want to step down from having three manuals, but because of budget we might have to. Thanks for any help. May God reward you!

    +In His Mercy,
    Thanked by 1StephenMatthew
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,663
    Could you perhaps look for a donor to get a larger budget?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    If that is what you have to spend, I can only advise checking local newspaper ads for a used instrument. Perhaps someone in AGO may list one for sale in the chapter newsletter. That happens here from time to time, so I am assuming it would be the same in your city.
  • Ted
    Posts: 186
    There are a few places on the Internet that list used digital organs, such as Organs Classified. You may have to wait for a while for the right one to come around. You may also consider a more humble organ that has MIDI which would interface with a computer running software such as Hauptwerk or even open source. With a touch screen you could experience some of the best sounding pipe organs in the world.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,663
    I think that ultimately you'll be unhappy with whatever you'll get for 7k. If you could run a campaign to find some donors, you could likely get a small used pipe organ installed for 70-100k.
  • What matthewj said. Can you - through the proper channels of course - talk to the bishop, or get the rector to be willing to do so?

    Bishops can often come up with donors pretty easily for things relating to the seminary.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,663
    A memorial pipe organ in a seminary is a very attractive project for a donor that wants their legacy to live on. A 7k organ could be dead in 5 years or less. A well restored pipe organ, if maintained and cared for, will outlive everyone reading this.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,312
    Surley there are donors at your college seminary who would be willing to donate for a naming project such as this. In some ways, and organ is an easier thing to receive donations for, since it is so visible (and audible) and is used every day in a concrete way.
    We just installed a new pipe organ in our seminary. If you would like to write me about how it came about, my e-mail is
  • If you would like to write me about how it came about

    I am sure there are many here who would like to know...
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 854
    will outlive everyone reading this.

    I thought forum posts last forever.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Organs are foreverer.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • ...unless "foreverer" includes the time of the Second Reformation, from 1965-1980.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Organs are foreverer.

    Unless the crazy organists decide another organ reform is needed to accurately interpret Marty Haugen. Then all the instruments get trashed and only organs with guitar stops and percussion will be acceptable.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • Thank-you all for your input and help! We are a small seminary, which has it's building fund and raising our endowment first in line, money wise. We are just 10 years old this year! So, sadly the yearly upkeep on a Pipe Organ is not something that our budget can hold. As to getting donor's we are always looking for donors, but then again most of the money goes into the building fund and our operational costs, since we're so young.

    Praise be to God, though we have found an organ and a donor. We are receiving an immensely substantial donation from one of the men's pastors to purchase a new Allen Organ. They will be sending a guy in a few weeks to tailor it and design to fit our chapel size and needs as well. The Lord always provides!

    I think that what my brother seminarian's pastor said fits perfectly here: "Love of the organ and good church music starts in the seminary, I want these men to be able to take the beauty out into their future parishes." So by helping provide us with our needs and a worthy instrument, the renewal of music in the church by our men will be strengthened and encouraged. Thanks for all of the input. I'll let you know what we end up getting!

  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,053
    Keep in mind that, over 10-20 years, the organ will inevitably fail...and that's a lot more than the $500-600 a year it costs to maintain a small pipe organ.

    I'm glad for the donor, but I do feel that in a Catholic liturgy that preaches "crazy things" like bread and wine becoming the real flesh of the Son of God, we need to at least try to have real pipe organs. In addition, it also forces us (as organists) to make the best of our talents, relying on inspiration and practice rather than gadgets. I'm not at all trying to come across in a difficult way, just that if there's any way you can hold out for a few more years, target that big gift, and raise some more, you could easily have a suitable used pipe organ that would be a true instrument. Good luck!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Given that your seminary is only 10 years old, you have some time to raise funds for a better instrument in the future. Take the Allen and use it, with an eye toward the future.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,463
    Think twice. Get a Roland Digital. It's half the cost and twice the sound.

  • TimNewby
    Posts: 3
    Hello Corey,
    I am new to the forum and just came across your post. During your quest to find a new instrument, I hope you had the opportunity to work with Tom Magee at Classic Organs of Indiana. Our family's firm is in Florida and aside from being a friend, Tom is a very respected colleague throughout the industry.

    Kind regards,
    Tim Newby
  • I just listened to above link . The Roland digital "pipe organ" sound does sound great.
  • $7,000 is about the cost of moving a small pipe organ, I would imagine. Even a single manual instrument with less than 10 stops can be great for a chapel.

    I've been in two chapels that both have small 19th Century Walker organs with only 3 stops (2x 8' and 1x 4') and you would be surprised what you can achieve on such a limited specification!
  • Keep in mind that, over 10-20 years, the organ will inevitably fail...and that's a lot more than the $500-600 a year it costs to maintain a small pipe organ.

    Keep in mind that any pipe organ, other than a tracker, most pipe organs of high quality will fail in 25 years and need releathering and rebuilding, costing more then, than it did when purchased new.
  • There's a one-manual pipe organ for sale - for $600. It's in a little Catholic church in the Midwest and they have no use for it. I don't think they used it much as the pipework looks virtually untouched.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Keep in mind that any pipe organ, other than a tracker, most pie organs of high quality will fail in 25 years and need releathering and rebuilding, costing more then, than it did when purchased new.

    Not necessarily. We made it 45 years on the mighty Schantz before re-leathering, and 62 years before rebuilding the console. If some of my predecessors had kept the air intakes clean and used filtered air, that leather could have lasted longer. Also, they didn't maintain minimum temperatures in the building. Neither re-leathering nor rebuilding cost anywhere near what a new pipe organ would cost.
  • Charles, your organ is unified, which dramatically reduces the amount of cost of leathering. This gets into the realm of cost savings due to use of modern electric chest activation, pioneered by Wick's Direct Electric™ action, which eliminates the use of leather pouches to control pipes, but also affecting the tone of the pipes being played as the air is not channeled to the pipes, but blowing direct into the pipes.

    Air channeled to the pipes has a pronounced effect in the sound of the pipework playing missing in instruments with DE action. Used frequently in small instruments of a few ranks for cost savings.

    This does create a cost savings. And your instrument is a good example of the longevity of the DE actions, while the Electropneumatic actions, more expensive but considered by many to produce a higher quality of tone, remain expensive to rebuild.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Yes, there is unification with only 10 individual ranks. Four of those ranks are on one swell chest, but the other 6 ranks are on individual chests. The fact that the three-rank mixture has each rank on a separate chest is the oddest thing I have seen. Fortunately, the principals 8', 4', and 2' are individual ranks with no unification. The pouches are also there and the action is electro-pneumatic, not direct.

    We paid $35,000 in 1995 to Schantz for re-leathering and replacing old electronics and generator with a more modern power supply - that would be roughly $54,000 in 2015 inflation adjusted dollars. When it came time to rebuild the console, Miller Organ Service of Louisville, KY rebuilt the entire console for a very reasonable $46,000 just a couple of months ago. Roughly $100,000 in today's dollars and I could not get a new Schantz for that. My Scottish ancestors would be very pleased that I shopped around and got the best deals I could find.

    Piece of advice. Never accept a factory quote or consultant estimate at face value. Check around for a better price. Small shops that do excellent work are available at reasonable prices.
  • As an offset view of this, a 14? rank Schantz at $10,000.

    If you are new at this NOTES means no pipes, but using pipes from other stops in the organ...and that means no additional sound if they are playing already. Unified instruments tend to sound strong on the melody and the bass, but the middle often suffers when pipe are already playing...this is why theater organ playing is quite different to cover up these missing notes...but Bach shows everything.


    We can assume that this older Schantz (and they are a fine builder) needs the same work today that yours has had over time, making this $10,000 organ cost $110,000. Since it is larger than 10 ranks, add or ranks or work more and we are up to $150,000 or more.

    One of the best things about John Bishop, who runs The Clearing House, is that he is brutally honest and would warn you all about that.

    He'd also explain that 150,000 would not include removal of the $10k organ , delivery and installation at your church.

    As far as having volunteers do any of this...don't even think of it. It's much too much like have a neighbor take out your appendix, unless she's a doctor.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    We are fortunate to have the same instrument since 1953 when it was originally installed. The cathedral, on the other hand, is on its 2nd or 3rd electronic since trashing a small Wicks before buying the first electronic. For the new cathedral, they may end up buying a 4th instrument, who knows? This is not uncommon in some other parishes. All that we have invested in the same instrument has been well worth it, and it can still be repaired in another 50 years.

    About that 14 rank Schantz you posted the link for. Some questions to ask are, what kind of shape is it in? What repairs/rebuilds need to be done now, and what can be scheduled over a period of say, the next 10 or so years? Volunteers can be helpful if they have good, informed supervision. If you have an electrical engineer or two in the parish, they can be very helpful. If you don't have any of that, forget it as Noel indicates. Each older instrument is different, has been cared for differently, and has operated in different environments. All that makes a difference.
  • Straight unification of all ranks is less than idea. However, extension of ranks (not quite the same as unification) works quite well.

    For example:
    Ped. Bourdon 16' as an extension of the Gt. Stopt Diapason 8'.
    Ped. 16' Trombone as an extension of the Gt. 8' Trumpet.
    8' Gt Open Diapason - independant rank
    4' Principal, extended to 2' 15th - okay scaling is not ideal, but with many organs having "octave couplers" it seems to work reasonably well.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Hartleymartin, nearly every organ has some compromises built into it. Otherwise, most could not afford them. I have seen one organ in my lifetime that has no borrowing, extensions, or unifications. That congregation has unlimited funds and "old money" which is extremely rare.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,215
    Where is that organ, Charles? Who built it? I'd love to hear it!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    It is a Randall Dyer in Oak Ridge, TN at an Episcopal church. It is the first I have seen that has an independent pedal division. It isn't a large instrument, but doesn't have the unification and borrowing one usually finds. It has 16 stops and 20 ranks, as best I remember. It had a rather Baroque sound the last time I heard it.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,576
    It is a Randall Dyer in Oak Ridge, TN


    The entry has no specification.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    I played that organ a few times some years ago, but haven't looked at it recently.