Organ Tuning and Maintenance

The care of existing organs has been an important component of Buzard Pipe Organ Builders’ work since its founding in 1980. We are committed to providing complete satisfaction in the full range of pipe organ maintenance.

We regularly care for over 150 organs on a contract basis and on-call basis. Our technicians are well-qualified to tune in equal and historic temperaments. We are curators of the organs at Depauw University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Our staff is fully equipped to undertake all kinds of re-leathering work, action renovation, and pipe repairs for organs of any style.

Keith Williams, Service Department Director
217-390-4000 (mobile)

Please contact Keith Williams, Director of our Service Department, if you would like for us to begin taking care of your pipe organ on a regular basis, or inspect your pipe organ prior to establishing a long-term relationship. After you contact us, we typically visit your location and completely tune the organ up to A=440 Hz pitch (unless it is old enough to be pitched at A=435Hz). From this complete tuning we will be able to ascertain any mechanical problems in the organ. After our initial visit we will offer you a price for regularly scheduled tuning and maintenance, and a proposal to repair any mechanical items we may have found.

Pipe organs, no matter how perfectly made, do go out of tune when the ambient temperature in the organ’s environment changes. Therefore, most of our regular tuning clients contract with us for two tunings per year, one in the fall/winter when the heating season is established, and one in the spring/summer when the air-conditioning season is underway. At these tuning visits only the pipes which typically go out of tune with seasonal changes are checked and tuned as needed, those being wooden stoppered flutes and the reeds.

Every few years, however, we like to completely tune our clients’ instruments, starting with a tuning fork, laying a new temperament on the reference stop in the organ, and tuning everything to it. This special tuning would be pre-arranged with the client, as it involves much more time than a normal, semi-annual touch-up.

All of our full-time technicians are expert tuners, but none can tune an organ satisfactorily unless the temperature in your building is set to the regular “occupied” temperature several hours prior to their scheduled arrival. This will allow the organ to be tuned at the same temperature at which it is played (most often on Sunday morning). The heat or air-conditioning can be set back for energy efficiency after the tuning is complete, and the organ will come back into tune when the temperature is brought back to that at which it was set during the tuning.

Most pipe organs are built to stand in tune at A=440 Hz when the ambient temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your building’s ambient temperature is kept lower during occupied times, the organ can be tuned to itself, but its overall pitch will be slightly flat of A=440. The opposite applies if the room is warmer than 70 degrees. Therefore, please don’t ask us to undertake the impossible task of tuning the organ to the piano, because each instrument’s tuning responds to different environmental factors: organs to temperature, pianos to humidity. The two are seldom, if ever, in tune with each other.

For more information about how we can help to keep your organ in top condition, contact us.