New Instruments, Restorations, Re-leathering, Fire and Water Damage
Repair, New Consoles, Solid State Conversions, Tonal Additions,
Re-Voicing, Consultations, Tuning and General Service
Our teams have established a reputation of professional reliability over the years, and we are persistently working to maintain that reputation. Factory trained service teams stand ready to give your instrument the finest quality service. Our shop facility is outstanding! We are equipped with the best tools available in woodworking, pipe reworking, drafting, re-leathering and solid-state equipment. We custom build every instrument. We can build a console to your exact specification, to make sure it is both functional and beautiful. Every part of our shop is designed to create a brilliantly finished instrument in an efficient, but careful manner.
Though we are part of the ancient tradition of organ building, we are not bound solely by the practices of those who have gone before us. We have an obligation to understand the spirit of our own time, and to breathe new life into the old forms we have inherited. Though designs draw inspiration from the wealth of organ history, each Milnar instrument is a unique work of art for our own time, and is contemporary in the best sense of the word.
A major strength of the Milnar firm lies in our ability to communicate with customers. Every member of our team prides himself on providing unsurpassed service in every situation. As trite as it may sound, we do build relationships right along with our products. Once we have received your initial inquiry, we will begin to focus on your requirements and considerations. This process involves listening to your opinions and perspective as well as considering the environment and utilization of the space. One of the key elements for our review is to retain a broad perspective on the project.
The end result of this overview will be a specific proposal for your situation. We will provide a full detailed presentation that will provide all information on the project and style of construction. As required for clarity of communication, this will be accompanied by full drawings, details and renderings. As we work through the production of your project, we will keep you abreast of the work with progress updates.
Assessments:Perhaps the single most important part of a comprehensive maintenance plan for a pipe organ is insurance coverage. With inadequate coverage, it is possible for the owner of an organ to suffer huge losses that are caused by roof leaks, fire, vandalism, vermin, etc. Many insurance companies require a written professional assessment of the value of an organ; through our experience with a wide variety of instruments and situations, we are uniquely equipped to prepare such reports. In many cases, these reports can be prepared without the need for a visit to the site. We are often asked to provide such written assessments in cases when an individual plans to donate an existing organ to a non-profit institution and professional evaluation is necessary for the substantiation of tax deductions.
Regularly Scheduled Tunings: Regular tunings keep your organ in top playing condition. Regular visits insure your organ is always kept in tune to match the change in seasons, and any problems are caught immediately and repaired. Regular visits also give our technicians the chance to foresee any large problems before they occur. For the best maintenance of your organ, we recommend a semi-annual tuning schedule to match the change in seasons, such as in May or June, when the air conditioning first comes on, and in November or December, when the heat first becomes necessary. We will schedule our regular visits to fit your programming needs. If you notify us ahead of time, we will make every effort to accommodate your request, although we can suggest schedule options that will minimize your costs by grouping customers in one area. The entire organ is tuned to its current pitch. Every pipe is adjusted, if necessary. Drastic changes in pitch, such as matching A=440 would incur an extra charge. When tuning, the church must be as close to normal temperature as possible, that is, the temperature the church would be for a religious service at that time of year. The room must also be silent while the tuners are present. Touch up tunings are preferred in mid-season.
Systems Check: All mechanical systems are checked during every visit. Items checked include all couplers, reversible, indicator lights, swell expressions, crescendo mechanism, tremulants, chimes and other percussions, reed regulation, and the combination action. We will perform minor repairs on the service visit and notify you of additional repair work that is needed. The organ blower motors are oiled or greased as necessary.
Service Sheets: Our technicians will leave a service sheet for listing all work performed during the visit. Each contracted church is left with a blue notebook to keep near the organ console. The blue notebook has all the service sheets from past visits. The service sheet has blank areas to fill in for Time, Temperature, Pitch For Each Chamber, Repair/Tuning Information and Comments. A pad is provided in your service notebook for you to note any mechanical or tuning problems you might encounter between visits, and aids our technicians in locating and solving problems.
Emergency Service 911: With our full-time office staff and 24-hour answering machine, it's easy to reach us at a moments notice. If a problem occurs that prevents your immediate use of the organ, we can send a crew ASAP. This is not included in an annual contract. Emergency calls are billed according to time spent plus mileage from Eagleville, TN and expenses. Although, many of our emergency calls are solved over the phone with the organist; saving the cost of a service call.
Our Service Area: Currently, Milnar Organ Company has service contracts with over 65 cities in the Southeast. Our service area stretches over a 400 mile radius from Nashville. With our central location, we are able to travel quickly to any clients in need. In certain cases, we have found our crews traveling a great distance for a client; so our service range is flexible. For example, we recently dismantled and shipped an organ to our shop facility from Kennilworth, IL. It was quite an interesting drive through downtown Chicago! If you find yourself in the Nashville area, gives us a call for directions to stop by and visit us. Milnar Organ Location Map
Design and Layout: All pipe organs no matter how large or small, begin on the drawing table of the design department. The pipe layout, winding, wiring, visual design, and casework are carefully created and documented. An organ is designed after a member of the design department has been to the site to take measurements and photographs to create an instrument that will fit and match it's surroundings. A visual representation of every instrument is created so the customer can see exactly what the organ will look like in its final setting. The console is also designed here, and a layout of the pistons and toe studs and stop tabs or draw knobs is created and modified if necessary. All of this is provided to the customer before construction of the organ begins in the shop.
Solid-State Components: Our service technicians can also give you information on solid-state upgrades to the electrical system of your organ. We use all the latest solid-state equipment from the Peterson Co. in Worth, IL., to provide switching and MIDI functions for our organs. We use the same equipment to modernize existing organs. Solid-State components solve the problems caused by older mechanical and pneumatic components such as dirty contacts, noisy action, leaking or blown pneumatics, slow action, and heavy, bulky components.
Adding a solid-state relay to your organ can extend its life and prevent the occurrence of dead notes and stops due to dirty contacts and faulty parts. Rebuilding your console with Solid-State increases the functionality of your console greatly. Some available options are intra-manual couplers, a transposer, added combination pistons, multiple memory levels for your combination action, moving draw knobs and stop keys, MIDI interface and MIDI sequencer control, a piston sequencer, a clock, combination locks and power locks.
Adding New Chests and Pipes: The most frequent cause of organ malfunction is a problem with the wind chest. A small amount of water from a leaky roof or water pipe can cause an entire chest to stop working. We can replace the action in your existing chests with a electro-mechanical action, giving you a more reliable action and one that doesn't require any re-leathering or seasonal readjustment. Our wind-trunks are constructed of wood, rather than the more common zinc or PVC pipe, for strength and silence. Even in winding systems allowing some flexibility of pressure, the wind is never "wiggly" or "shaky
We can easily add one or multiple ranks of pipes to your organ to add extra sounds, or to complete stops that were previously borrowed. Pipes can be added into your existing configuration, but coupled with solid-state additions or console enhancement. The whole process can give your existing organ an entirely new feel and sound.
Your Console: An organ's console is the most important and visible part of the organ. This is where the musician meets the instrument. An aging console can be upgraded to today's state of the art. Besides from solving minor problems, console upgrades often serve to make an organ a more enjoyable instrument to play, and add to its lifespan. Our refinishing department does a fantastic job bringing the console back to the looks of its youth.
Every console is built to AGO standards, and custom designed and finished to match its surroundings. Each Milnar console is hand-assembled by craftsmen who select wood components to assure perfect "book-end" grain matching as found in the world's finest furniture. Using time-honored methods, each console is glued and screwed together for maximum strength and integrity. The final step in the woodworking process brings out the wood's full beauty and ensures its protection. Through a combination of hand-rubbing and spraying, Milnar consoles are stained and then finished with several coats of lacquer. Customers may choose from a variety of standard finishes or have us custom match their console to existing woodwork in their church.
The console leads a fine instrument and should reflect the quality and character of the performing experience. The proportions and balance should be correct to the eye, while the attention to detail should be impeccable. Regardless of size, the console should be at home in its new location and blend as though designed by the original architect.
When the artist is seated, the mechanical aspects of the console should become transparent after a simple orientation. Manual relationships, draw knob positioning, expression controls and all other details should be intuitive in location and never disturb an artist's center of balance. If an artist is able to focus on the music and, within moments, forget the mechanics of the console, we have succeeded. Our consoles offer you maximum comfort for ease of playing, and incorporate the highest quality keyboards, stop controls, and solid state control systems so that they withstand even the most demanding use for years to come.
Your desire may be to restore an existing console. We clean and polish the cabinet, or completely strip and refinish it to like new condition. The mechanical operating system can either be restored or replaced with the latest solid state operating system. Visit some of our installations, you'll find that Milnar consoles are the leader in ergonomic perfection.
Chimes and Zimblesterns: When considering additions and upgrades to an organ, most people don't consider percussion instruments. While chimes are the most popular, glockenspiels, harps, Zimblesterns and Glockensterns, are also possible. Visually beautiful, adding exposed percussion can enhance a room, as well as make the organ more versatile and interesting, and are easily added to an instrument without great expense.
Voicing and Tonal Finishing: We are Americans. Although our inspiration is rooted in the organ building traditions of Europe, we do not construct copies of historical European organs for American churches. The diversity of music in American worship taxes the ability of a single instrument to render appropriately the many styles of literature regularly performed. We, therefore, apply a "common sense" approach to the tonal design of each organ-returning to our discipline to let the organ serve the congregation's musical needs.
Our firm's individual tonal style is characterized by warmth of tone, secured in part by generous scaling of the pipes. Each stop is carefully designed to blend with others to produce a cohesive musical ensemble, and smaller ensembles within ensembles. Once the organ is installed, we spend a great deal of time at the site working on the final voicing (or tonal finishing). This weds the sound of the pipes to the acoustics of the building and produces the musical blend.
Older pipework can often be given a new life by re-voicing. Age, the stress of tuning, and accumulation of dirt can cause pipes to not sound their best after many years. Cleaning and re-voicing each pipe can return the original voice of the pipe, and the intended sound of the organ. This work can be done at two levels. The first is a simple tonal refinishing done in place. At the second level, all the pipes are removed and taken to our shop facility where every pipe is cleaned and re-voiced and reed tongues are polished. This kind of work is usually accompanied by an entire organ cleaning, which includes the cleaning of contacts.
Renovations: Renovation encompasses variable projects that typically deal with one or more areas of concern with the instrument, either tonally or mechanically. This work is typically completed outside the scope of restoration or rebuilding. We carefully assesses the problem within the context of the entire instrument, and works closely with you to formulate the best plan of action. Common mechanical renovation projects include updating or replacing consoles or other components that are not operating properly and relocation of existing instruments. Tonal renovation projects include pipe additions, re-voicing and regulating, and on-site tonal finishing.
Our extensive experience in renovating instruments from both past and current organ builders, combined with excellent problem-solving ability, allows us to meet each new challenge with the best possible solution.
Restorations: Completing a thorough inspection, along with research into the background of the instrument and in-depth consultation with our client, helps us determine and recommend the best course of action for each unique situation. We retain, or when necessary, re-establish the historical integrity of the tonal resources by reconditioning the pipe work and reversing any modifications to the original voicing. We maintain the integrity of the mechanical resources by applying our comprehensive approach to restoring the components to pristine condition using traditional methods and materials. Any component that must be replaced is replicated as closely as possible to the original. All restored elements are tested for proper operation prior to re-installation. Great care is taken during removal, re-installation, and transportation to protect every part of the instrument. By applying our expertise and care, every instrument we restore will continue to bear witness to the stewardship of those who have been and those who will be responsible for its musical integrity.
The value of existing instruments is certainly a major consideration in the overview of any project. We, at Milnar, welcome working with any quality components and have had the honor of completing many historic renovations. Our experience has taken us through the complete renovations of Casavant, Skinner, Austin, Moller, Schantz, Wicks, Reuter and many other well known instruments. The quality of our work will bring any existing instrument virtually to, or above, the original factory specifications.
We welcome the opportunity of inspecting your present instrument and providing you with complete details on the condition and viability of renovation. Upon completion of our inspection, we will provide full details of our recommendation for the long term goals for the renovation. We are open to suggesting phased methods of accomplishing those goals and believe that the desired final outcome should be firmly established prior to beginning the work. This allows all efforts to be focused to the ultimate goal with minimal redundant effort or expenditure.
Rebuilds: Rebuilding an organ is appropriate when the needs of the congregation will be best served by making significant mechanical and/or tonal changes and improvements. Re-leathering worn components is the basis for most rebuilding projects. We use time-honored methods, materials of highest quality, and appropriate glues to maintain the integrity of rebuilt components. When necessary, we restore or replace individual components to ensure mechanical reliability. Improvements might include relocation of components to improve accessibility for tuning and maintenance. Often, the entire organ is cleaned.
Tonal changes and improvements are made to compensate for existing tonal inadequacies, and always include onsite tonal finishing to achieve seamless and cohesive blending of existing
and new pipe work. Additions are designed both tonally and mechanically to tastefully function within the framework of the original instrument. Every pipe organ rebuilt by Milnar Pipe Organ Company receives the high standard of workmanship and attention to detail upon which our reputation is built.
Combination Organs: In certain situations, our designers feel that space or finances are insufficient to build an all-pipe instrument that will properly fulfill all of the requirements of the room. For situations such as these, we can create a custom combination organ. Combination organs make use of both wind-blown pipes and digitally produced stops to create an entire instrument. With the majority of the organ’s sound produced by pipes, we can then add additional stops, the little extras that make an organ more versatile and interesting, to complete the tonal palette. Stops such as celestes, color reeds, or 16 foot and 32 foot stops are frequently cut from specifications to save space or money. With digital augmentation, these stops can be included. Problematic or expensive reed ranks can be duplicated digitally. We have developed a system that keeps digital voices directly in tune with pipe voices to ensure the two are always together. Whenever the organ is turned on, the digital ranks are automatically and constantly in tune with the pipes.
We will only install digital voices if we feel the stops are an accurate, useful representation of true pipe sounds. Years of experience in this area have led us to find the best methods for choices of digital stops, digital voicing, sound system design, and speaker choice and placement. The finished product is only successful if the pipe sounds and the digital sounds are capable of blending into a cohesive ensemble, just as our all-pipe instruments do. Unlike some combination builders, we don’t duplicate pipe ranks with redundant digital stops. Every stop is individual, unique, and useful.
The advent of combination organs has allowed our firm to bring true pipe sounds into churches and homes that might not have been able to afford a complete pipe organ. Existing digital and pipe organs can be enhanced with our digital voices. Our digital voices can be controlled via a MIDI connection, or can be wired directly to the organ’s existing controls. All digital voices can be easily voiced and controlled to provide the exact voice required. The success of our combination organs can only be judged with your ears, so we recommend you contact us for a live demonstration of the capability of our instruments.
Consultations: Whether you're looking for an unbiased and expert opinion for your organ project, trying to decide if you should save or replace your existing organ, or would like an opinion on what organ will work best for your situation, we are pleased to offer our expertise. After a thorough inspection and analysis of your situation, we will provide a written report of our findings and/or meet with your committee to discuss our recommendations and answer your questions.
Buying a new organ or having substantial work done to your existing instrument, is a major expense for almost all churches. At Milnar Organ Co., the interest of the church is always our highest priority. We offer our assistance in any number of ways concerning pipe organs. Some of our areas of expertise are: historic instruments, electrical upgrades, tuning stability (air flow), acoustical considerations, material considerations (flooring, wall coverings, carpet etc.), stop additions, re-leathering, blower replacement, re-voicing of pipes and reeds, noisy organs, and shade machine upgrades.
We can discuss pipe organ purchase, renovation, and placement, placement of choirs and clergy for the effective presentation of liturgy. We are happy to discuss acoustics, and how to plan building renovation projects with sensitivity to the needs of the pipe organ. If you are planning new construction, we can work with your architect to ensure that appropriate space, position, and conditions are prepared for a pipe organ. We have an unusual depth of experience with instruments and buildings of all sizes and descriptions on which to base assessments of existing organs or to advise toward the purchase of a new or used instrument. Our consultation services can involve a single visit, written reports, or continuing relationships to oversee the completion of a project.
Of coarse we build new organs, but existing organs rarely need replacing. Let us consult with you "Before" your next organ project. Fundraising is a very important part of the big picture for any pipe organ project. We offer our help to our clients with a guideline for fundraising. Please click on the link.
"Fundraising for Pipe Organs"
The time will come when your Music and Worship Committee is face to face with the responsibility of acquiring a new musical instrument for your church or institution. With that responsibility will come the choice between acquiring an electronic organ or a fine pipe organ with centuries of tradition behind it. Click on the link below to learn of the vast difference between the pipe organ and electronic organ.
"Pipe Organs Versus Electronic Organs"
Our Firm also specializes in Pump (Reed) Organ Restoration
We are committed to preserving pump organs which are an important part of American History. Pump organs began to be used in homes and churches in the 19th century but are no longer manufactured. Your pump organ is an antique treasure. We have celebrated our work with pump organ enthusiasts from all over, restoring their pump organs to like-new musical instruments.
What to Do When Your Pipe Organ Won’t Turn On
How to “Fix” a Cipher
"Music expresses that which cannot be said
and on which it is impossible to be silent."
~Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885) ~
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