Restoration and Maintenance
Organ Restoration – Our Approach and Ethics
Over 35 years of experience working with instruments manufactured across the globe has given a solid background in the various systems and techniques used by various firms. Parts and components for all these manufacturers are held in stock or made new to exact specifications. It is important to us to keep as many original parts as possible during any restoration. Too much can be lost if care and effort is not taken to preserve as much of an instrument as possible. With many organs now having passed a centenary this point is more important than ever before.
Experience of working with instruments severely damaged, sometimes by fire and water, has given us unparalleled expertise in restoration of actions and pipework. It is of particular importance when working with pipework not to change windways, voicing and dimensions. Pipes are the voice and soul of any organ and great care is always taken not to disturb the delicate balance and voicing intended by the original builder.
Many instruments have had changes made during their working life and we always consider these alterations in any restoration. Rather than simply undo changes that have occurred during the working life of an organ (many of which have been of benefit), we assess each situation individually and draw a balance between “factory original” and “working” condition. For instance; many 87 Key Gavioli instruments in England were enlarged in the 1920’s by highly regarded firms, taking the 89VB system from Marenghi to standardise music. In these instances we feel it important to preserve these “working” enhancements rather than return the instrument to its original 87 key “factory” specification. Many such instruments have spent longer in their altered form than their original specification.
We are lucky to have experience working with untouched, factory original, instruments and in these cases every care is taken not to inflict any alterations unless absolutely necessary. Put quite simply, we are not in the business of re-inventing the wheel!
Tuning & Maintenance
We conduct tunings during our regular maintenance rounds. Great care is always taken to adhere to original tuning temperaments and methods. Tuning visits also give us the opportunity to remedy any speech defects with pipework and help identify any potential issues with an instrument before they develop into serious faults. Points that cannot be addressed on site can be removed and brought back according to your schedule.
We pride ourselves in only using the highest quality materials in all of our work. It is important to search out the correct supplies for any restoration job, this gives us and our customer confidence that our work will stand the test of time. All materials are replaced like for like and specialist grades of supplies are always on hand.
We have suppliers of high quality skins and can source all types and thicknesses used by the original factories. From the thickest skins used for bellows down to the thinnest pneumatic “skivers” used for pouches, the quality must be the same. Materials are selected especially for the job in hand and are evaluated for the qualities required in each case.
We do not use any modern chemical glues on any work due to the problems that many of them present (acetic acid secretion etc). Instead we have a wide selection of traditional adhesives which are used hot or cold in various consistencies, again, each being chosen by merit for the specific job. This ensures that all work is easily maintained and reversible, this is key to any musical instrument restoration.
We only use traditional finishes, similar to those used in furniture restoration and construction. Again, only the highest quality supplies are used and all mixed in house.