In 2015, a New Jersey church contracted with a well-known pipe organ builder to rebuild and enlarge their existing Wicks pipe organ.  That’s when problems began.

The $125,000 contract was structured with payments throughout the rebuild process.  However, the milestones were not well-defined.

After more than two years, the church questioned the builder regarding a completion timeline.  The builder scheduled the installation for April 2017 and requested the second-to-last payment.

The builder assembled the front of the case in the balcony, as pictured.  However, the casework blocked the rose window, an issue specifically addressed during the design process with drawings indicating the window would be viewable.

The church was also concerned by the lack of craftsmanship.  Other than the front case frame, none of the wood was finished.  Additionally, toe boards were double drilled and it was apparent that, other than the front case framework, nothing had been erected in the shop or tested prior to shipment.

In addition, half of the pipe ranks from the original organ were missing.  The builder dropped off crates of pipes that were unvoiced with most missing their languids.

After partially assembling the case and collecting the next payment, the builder started working on another project, neglecting this earlier customer.  The project was not completed and the original Wicks pipework was never recovered.

The church demanded that the builder dismantle the casework and then purchased a new Allen digital-pipe combination organ.

Customers should be weary of pipe organ providers who quote bargain prices.

One thought on “Case Study: Pipe Organ Rebuild Project Gone Bad

  1. Bargain prices mean bargain service. It’s a pity that the community suffers from a “snake oil” salesman. A reputable builder has pride in their work and it’s worth the extra dollar to have the quality of the craft built into the community’s house of worship.
    Please don’t let a bad experience, as expensive as it was, taint the enjoyment of the instrument.

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