Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of key actions do you build and why? All of the organs we build feature mechanically linked key actions (‘tracker’ organs). Preeminent among the many reasons for our choosing to build only mechanical action organs are the musical possibilities created for the organist and the almost incomparable longevity (in terms of centuries!) that they exhibit. Key action parts are constructed in our shop.

What materials are used in your metal pipes? Our metal pipes are formed from only tin and lead alloys. Historically based tonal concepts determine our choice of the tin and lead percentage present in each set of pipes. We do not use copper or zinc pipes. We construct our own wooden pipes.

What historic influence, if any, is evidenced in the design and voicing of your pipes? All pipes are carefully scaled (designed and dimensioned) within the strict historic parameters they are to manifest. The metal for pipes is hand-planed and is thicker at the lower edge than at the upper edge. During the tonal manipulation (voicing and tuning) at the final installation site, we cut pipes to length, cone-tune the open pipes, and solder on the tops of stopped and ‘chimneyed’ pipes. Tuning and tone are thus highly stabilized. Such voicing parameters as the height of the pipe cutups, the size of the pipe toe opening, the amount of languid nicking, and the required wind pressure are determined by the particular historic style that a particular set of pipes is to demonstrate. We also designate and use hammered metal pipes when a strict adherence to a particular style requires this in a specific instrument. Our care in designing and tonally finishing the pipes has won us acclaim for our ability to fit these so well within various historic styles. Our many testimonials and our recordings affirm this.

What type of stop actions do you build? Most of our instruments have mechanically linked stop actions which operate wood sliders on top of the tone channel wind chests. Some of these have mechanical combination systems and/or some type of mechanical stop action assist. Some organs include a ‘dual’ stop action consisting of both mechanical and electrical movement of the sliders. Others include a complete electronic combination system with electric pistons, memories, and other contemporary helpful features like the ‘next’ and ‘back’ possibilities. All mechanical connections and structural components are built in our shop.

Do you build contemporary as well as historically-inspired mechanical action organs? We enjoy designing and building both historic organs as well as contemporary organs that have historic bases to their tonal design. Our fifty-five-plus organs include various very successful and authentic historic instruments as well as exciting forward-looking instruments that still have a carefully studied historic concept behind their design.

What are your principles of visual designs and structural techniques? All of the organs we build feature solid wood cabinets surrounding the pipes. These are all designed and built in our shop. Organs encased in solid wood present the listener with a careful blending of the sounds as well as a lively resonance that greatly enhance the sound of the organ. In every instrument our skillful craftspeople make use of exquisite wood joinery techniques such as hand-cut dovetails and mortised and tenoned frames for the solid wood panels. For most of our instruments, a plethora of hand-carved ornamentations further beautifies our casework. The spectacular design of each of our organ cases enhances the room for which they are designed. All are architecturally superb and exhibit a scholarly understanding of architectural principles, including carefully calculated proportions. We are often told that the organs look like they have always been in place in the room.

Do you rebuild older mechanical action organs? We have restored and/or renovated tracker organs from the nineteenth century. Some of these needed a new home and were made available through The Organ Clearing House.

What background do you bring to organ building, and what kind of time-line could a potential client expect if it were to contract for an organ? Dan Jaeckel worked with 4 other tracker organ builders (including Rieger in Austria) prior to starting his own company in Duluth in 1978. The staff normally is comprised of between six and nine craftspeople. Only one organ at a time is constructed. All instruments are highly labor-intensive; no mass production techniques are used. Once an agreement to build is made, construction on an organ begins only when all other contracts have been fulfilled. Over the years, this initial waiting period has varied between 4 months and 6 years. Depending on the organ size, it may take between 3 months and 4 years to complete the construction and installation of an organ.

Do you ever include electronically-produced sounds in your instruments? We never incorporate any synthesized or electronic sounds in our instruments.

May we find or purchase an electronic organ through you? We do not deal with, purchase, or trade any type of electronic organ or electronic keyboards.