The pipe organ is sensitive to changes in temperature. As a rule, the correct room temperature should be reached two hours before the use of the organ, as the temperatures inside and outside the organ have to be alike, for the pipes to be in tune. It is useful to open the organ’s doors to allow the heated air to distribute evenly in the pipework.
The pitch rises and falls accordingly to variations of air temperature, because the air density influences the vibration frequency of the resonator (pipe body); the vibration frequency – and pitch – rises with temperature. In general, detunings between flue pipes, provided that the temperature conditions are even, will not occur. However, temporary tuning differences can occur between wooden and metal pipes, as the wooden pipes will react slower to changes of temperature. The front pipes will react quicker than pipes inside the organ case, just as the pipework in the highest placed division will warm up faster.
If the organ is not in tune
Please contact us and speak to one of our tuners. In rare cases tuning problems can be caused by circumstances in the wind supply or the key action. More frequently tuning differences of the flue stops and the reed stops occur. The differences happen as the resonator of a reed pipe, especially short resonators, has less control of the tongue pitch. Therefore the tuning of the reed pipes will have to be adjusted to the flue pipes, in the temperature conditions under which they are to be used. Often the organist contributes to the maintenance of the reed stops, whereas the flue stops are best tuned by the organ builder.
Our organ tuners – 12 organ builders – carry out maintenance and tuning assignments. As a common rule, an organ is inspected and tuned once a year. Preferably in the summer half, as the temperature distribution is more stable.
The tuners check the wind pressure, the air humidity, bellows and regulators, the tuning of the pipe work, the key action and the function of couplers, just as possible defects pointed out by the organist will be mended.