The organ plays an important role in a South Carolina Church’s music ministry. Their experience, outlined below, first with a pipe organ and later with a digital organ installation, are examples of challenges churches can face when choosing an organ.
- In 2005 a committee was formed to study the need to repair their Schantz pipe organ installed in 1989. It was determined that serious rebuilding was required as the windchests were failing, leathers needed to be replaced, and humidity in the building caused general deterioration of the instrument.
- The Organist at that time suggested a 3-manual organ from Holland, as well as the addition of several ranks of pipes.
- A contract was awarded and the pipe builder began dismantling the organ. After several months the builder defaulted and later admitted the project was grossly underbid. The Church Council terminated the contract and the church was left with an unplayable instrument.
- An organ dealer from New Orleans, LA was enlisted to at least get the 4-manual Dutch digital organ up and running. The dealer spent 2 or 3 days voicing the 88-stop instrument and pronounced it “as good as it can ever be”.
- In August of 2016 the church determined that its current four-manual digital organ was in “terrible condition” and had become unreliable.
- In 2017, the church ordered a new four-manual replacement organ from Allen Organ Company.
Given the challenges the church faced with first the pipe organ and then the digital organ, they did significant due diligence on the new organ purchase. They shared the following as reasons for their choice of an Allen Organ:
Sound Quality Concerning their digital organ from Holland: “The church had a vision for the new organ to be a showpiece of an instrument that would attract a variety of world-class organists to perform at Hibben; this NEVER happened.”
Construction Quality – “We were convinced that this Xxxxx was a very substandard organ.”
Rebuilding and adding to a pipe organ is complex and expensive. A low-cost proposal should be a cautionary sign. Fortunately, it is possible to determine the quality and longevity potential of an organ before a purchase is made. Below are photographs showing the build-quality of the 11-year-old four-manual instrument that was replaced.