Prior to electronic organs, the pipe organ was the mainstay for many music ministries. While a fine pipe organ installation is still the standard for organ music, two 1) events significantly decreased the number of pipe organs in churches.
The cost of pipe organs has risen significantly over recent decades. A reasonably sized instrument can cost in excess of $1 million. At the same time, some churches want to maintain older pipe instruments in their sanctuaries. But, this is problematic due to the cost of maintenance and availability of few qualified pipe organ technicians.
In addition, with improvements in digital tone generation technology, a quality digital organ that is properly voiced is capable of emulating high quality pipe organ sound at a fraction of the cost.
With some churches desiring to keep their pipe organs, while also controlling expenditures, an alternative solution is the combination organ. With this approach, a new organ console with digital tonal additions are added to the better maintained pipe ranks already in the church. The result can be glorious pipe organ sound with increased musical flexibility, as well as an organ console with the latest control circuitry for the utmost reliability, and at an affordable price.
Churches considering a combination organ should use similar criteria to that used in choosing a new digital organ in order to assure artistic and reliable results. This criteria is included in the article Choosing a Church Organ.