While you might not the think the conditions of your church are affecting how well your pipe organ plays and stays in tune, they really do! It’s important to keep the organ’s needs in mind when it comes to maintenance and care. Stability should be a prime consideration for anyone who runs a church with an organ inside. Your organist depends heavily on their instrument behaving predictably so that they can produce the music your congregation loves. The biggest causes of instability in an organ’s environment are issues with temperature and humidity. Any good organ technician will know that an organ is sensitive to these changes. The better your church’s environment is for the organ, the more money you will save in the long run when it comes to tuning and basic care.
At what temperature should the organ be tuned?
When it’s time to tune, we need to figure out the tune of the organ. Normal orchestra pitch is A=440Hz when the room is at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and we usually tune organs so that the tenor A on a 4’ stop equals just that. However, as the temperature rises, so will the pitch. The tuner temperature matters, as reed pipes like trumpets and oboes rise and fall at a slower rate. You will want to ensure that the room is within two degrees of the temperature the organ will be played at during functions so that it is properly tuned. Do not worry, playing the organ at higher or lower temperatures won’t harm the organ. However, the tuning won’t sound that great!
We will check the temperature before we begin tuning. If you let us know about a temperature issue, we can keep that in mind as we go into the situation. We always advise that you protect your thermostat so that no one who doesn’t know the organ’s needs will change it without permission.
How long should the room be at the right temperature before we start tuning?
If the heating or cooling system is only running to keep a constant temperature in the room, this is stabilized. The organ chambers should have had plenty of time to be heated or cooled passively with time to stabilize. If these two things have not happened, then we will be unlikely to tune your organ at our best ability. We recommend that your organ room has been heated or cooled at a minimum of four hours from a fallback temperature before we tune so there is time for the room to stabilize. Many HVAC systems will overheat the air in the room initially so that the temperature evens out over time as the air mixes. Keep in mind that, even though the thermostat says the correct temperature, the heat may not have dissipated thoroughly yet—meaning the tuning process will be a mess.
If you are ready to have your pipe organ tuned in your church, contact our team today! Also, check back soon for part two of this blog series, where we will tell you more about temperature factors to keep in mind before you get your New York church’s pipe organ tuned.