Saville Organ Archives - Heidi Bender

Category Archives for "Saville Organ"

January 5, 2019

How to find a home practice organ

How to find a home practice organ

Since I have an organ at home, I have been asked about how to find a practice organ. This post will contain my ideas of how you can find a home practice organ.

I was fortunate to get my Saville organ for at home for free! At the time, I was taking organ lessons with Michael, and he was the organist at Adrian College then. The college has a pipe organ, and they were not using the Saville organ that had been donated to them. I was able to take it to my home for free and have been using it ever since.

If you choose an electronic organ, I strongly recommend finding a model that has a full range of pedals. The models with only one octave of pedals aren’t going to help much with practicing to be able to play other organs. Newer electronic (or digital) organs will sound more like an actual pipe organ than older models. My organ is from the 70’s. Technology has advanced a lot since then!

Once you find an organ, you may need to make a plan for moving it to your home, unless you bought it from somewhere that provides delivery. They can be very heavy. It took 4 people to move my organ into the house. You may need to hire movers, rent a truck, find 4 strong people that can lift it, etc.

How to find a home practice organ

Check with piano stores

Piano stores that sell used pianos may also have used electronic organs. I discovered this when I bought my piano.  The store had at least one electronic organ on display each of the three times that I visited.

Ask around

Some churches may have electronic organs that they are no longer using. Or they have more than one instrument and be willing to part with one. Of course, this could be quite time consuming depending on the number of churches in your area.

Ask everyone that you know. Someone’s relative or friend of a friend might have an old organ that they would be happy to get rid off.

Thrift Stores and online selling sites

One time, I saw a full-size organ with the full pedal board in a second-hand store — however, most of the time I’ve seen the small organs with only 1 octave of pedals, which I recommend you avoid.

You can also check Facebook Market Place, Craigslist, and eBay for electronic organs that might be for sale close to you.

small organ without all the pedals

Small organ without all the pedals. I don’t recommend this type of organ for practice.

Contact places that repair organs

They last time my organ was serviced, the technician mentioned that he had other organs for sale. These organs were not listed for sale on his website as far as I remember. Even if the repair place doesn’t have any organs for sale, they might know people in the area that are looking to sell.

Buy from a dealer

Depending on your budget, you might decide to purchase a new organ. Dealers that represent big brands may also have used models available. The prices will vary depending on how many ranks and the size of the organ. A 5 manual organ will cost more than a 2 manual organ.

I have heard of Allen, Rodgers, and Viscount organs.  There are likely more brands out there.

Several years ago, I went to the American Guild of Organists convention, Rodgers was there selling new instruments. They, of course, sounded great! However, the price of a new organ wasn’t in my budget then, and I didn’t think a newer organ would help me become a better organist any faster.  I am sure it would have been more enjoyable to hear!

What if you want a pipe organ as your home practice instrument?

Pipe organs are going to be more expensive. But if you have space and budget, you can have a pipe organ in your home!

  1. Contact a pipe organ builder and hire them to build one for you
  2. Find a home to purchase that already has a pipe organ in it. You’d need to be willing to move. I remember when a house in Grand Rapids, MI was for sale that has a pipe organ in it. The listed price for the house was much less than what it would cost to get a similar organ installed new.
  3. Check with Organ Clearing House. While they mostly seem to work with large organs, sometimes have smaller home organs. These smaller organs may have 4 ranks.

What other tips and recommendations do you have to find a home practice organ? Please share your ideas in a comment below.

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

Last week, Bill from Midwest Organ Systems visited my home and repaired my Saville organ. As a result of the repairs, I am now able to use the four pre-programmed pistons.

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

For the non-organists reading this, pushing a piston turns on many stops at one time. In the picture, the pistons are numbered 1 through 4 on the white buttons under the bottom manual (keyboard). In between the two keyboards are a row of numbers with lights under them. A red light indicates that piston is in use.

With this Saville model, only an organ technician can change the stops associated with each position. Once a piston is activated, additional stops can be added.

Due to there always being a problem with the at least one stop included in the piston setup, I haven’t used them in the past. I am excited that the pistons are finally working (I’ve had the organ for over seven years).

Other repair work

Some of the stops were not working properly. One of the pedal keys was out of tune since I’ve had the organ. When the previous repairman was here a few years ago, I forgot to mention this issue to him, so it didn’t get fixed.

Bill fixed all the problems, tuned the organ, and cleaned the key contacts. He also explained in detail how he could install a Hauptwerk Virtual Organ system into the console. When the Saville wears out, I will likely make the switch.

My cat Taco, was the only one of my cats intersted in “helping” Bill.

Seeing inside the organ was neat. There were many very small parts that had worn out.  There were more broken parts than pictured. Bill was prepared and able to replace them all.

Saville organ repair

Hear the Saville presets!

I made a recording of “Crown Him with Many Crowns” using a different position for each stop.

I got a little distracted when my cat jumped on the organ bench during the third verse!

This is the best that my organ has ever sounded. I know it’s old and electronic and doesn’t sound like a pipe organ. However, I love the convenience of being able to practice at home.

I am planning to have my next organ lesson in a few weeks! Due to socialing the feral kittens in my garage (which was very time consuming), I haven’t had a lesson since my lesson in June. We did keep one of the kittens (if you were wondering).

In the picture above that shows Bill working, you can see a board held in place over the expression pedals. This is to keep the cats out! Our two ginger cats still want to play and hide inside as they did when they were kittens and moved into the house in 2014 (they were also rescued from my yard). Violet, their mother, is seen in the video.

If you play an instrument at home, do your cats like to watch?

Are those for the cats?

Lina and Buster on Organ Speakers

When someone comes over to my house for the first time when entering the living room they may see this scene:

Lina and Buster on Organ Speakers

Lina and Buster

What do you think they are? Usually when people cover over the cats would not be sitting on them. Several people have asked if they are for the cats, even when the cats are not sitting on them. The cats like to sit on them, do you think they are for the cats?

So what are they?

These are the speakers for my Saville Organ!

Sometimes the cats sit Cats on organ speakerson them while I am practicing or just anytime that they feel like it. Other times they do this to look out the window. There is a bush on the other side of the window and sometimes they want to get a better view of a bird or a squirrel.

You may be wondering, why are the organ speakers so large? These are the original speakers, most likely from the 1970’s. Technology has changed alot since then!

These speakers were once mounted on the wall at a local church. Kilala prefers the largest speaker. The other two cats sat on them more often in the first year or two of having the speakers.

I had to search through a couple of years of photos to find one with Lina on a speaker. Lina (small calico) and Buster (orange/white tabby) are on the speakers in the top photo. In the picture collage Kilala is shown on the bottom right on laying on the largest speaker.

If you have cats or other pets, what in your home, do visitors think are designed for the cats (or other pet) that really servers another [first] purpose?

Cats on organ speakers

July 2015 Update: Adding this picture which shows 2 cats on the organ speakers in the background. This post was written before we had the 2 orange cats in the foreground and their mom (in the back in center of photo).

Would you like to see more posts with my cats? I’ve included “with cats” in my tagline for awhile now and have not written many posts including them! Perhaps June should be cat month.

P.S. I’ve added a resource page!