Trinity Presbyterian Church Casavant Organ

Trinity Presbyterian Church

Why only pipes when digital organs are so...

Since the development by Laurens Hammond in 1934 of the first electric organ without pipes, the organ industry has been torn between all pipe and all electronic organs. It is only within the past 15 years that the two instruments have been brought together in various combinations, and within the past 10 years that new all-digital organs have appeared claming all the finest qualities of true pipe organs.

It is our contention that while electronic organs have proven their worth in numerous settings, they are in fact inferior to pipe organs and 'combination' instruments are at best compromises and at worst fraught with complications and challenges. In this article we will explain our beliefs in hope of better informing our clients and colleagues.

So called 'sampling' by digital organ makers isn't: In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or element of a new recording. While many excellent legal minds disagree as to the legality of sampling, there is one salient fact. Sampling others work without credit or permission is at least plagiarism and some could argue stealing. In the organ industry, many digital organ makers currently sample everything from single stops to entire organs by recording these instruments in their location and then making these available on their instruments.

The fact is when these stops are recorded, they can often be out of regulation or even out of tune and unless the digital organ maker is quite careful, these sounds can then go into your new digital organ with no alteration leaving you with a less than perfect instrument. We as pipe organ builders strive to make every pipe in our organs speak perfectly and with a beautiful tone.

I believe it is heinous that an unknowing musician may allow a digital builder to come to an instrument we're recently built for the purpose of taking our hand crafted sounds and then selling them as their own. Let's call this what it is, theft. While it is true many of the instruments currently being recorded were built by men, women and companies long gone, the fact remains these instruments are a testament to their life long dedication to the art of pipe organ building. To allow another to profit from their work without regard to the legacy they built is criminal. Copying without the knowledge involved is stealing.

Through this series of articles, I will show why I believe the pipe organ to be the superior instrument and do not use digital voices in my instruments.


"Real Wind Adjustments / Shade Noise / Acoustic Image / Bench Squeaks"

"How long will our digital organ last?"

"You're considering a combination pipe/digital organ..."

"I want the sounds of a Skinner organ...."

"Where do you think we can put a 32' Principal in THIS church?"

Review other projects.

Review other articles.