Our Methods: About Our Pipe Organs
Our instruments speak clearly and choruses blend together for a cohesive sound. Our influence on tonal design is German, but we also draw from other traditions to suit an American organist’s needs. For example, we frequently include French style reeds so that our instruments can successfully play French Romantic music. In both worship and non-worship settings, every effort is made to produce tonal designs that will enhance our clients' music traditions.
When organs will be used in a worship setting, our main concern is flexibility. Even though congregational singing will be the main purpose for the instrument, our organs can play a variety of organ literature. Every stop is unique, yet each one contributes to the overall ensemble. This gives an organist variety in registration, even on our small instruments. Most small churches do not have space for a large organ, so we ensure that our small organs are equally adept at playing preludes, postludes, liturgical music, hymns, anthems, and most recital literature. Many organists have told us that they never tire of hearing and playing our instruments. Large instruments do not have the spatial constraints of smaller instruments. However, we are careful to produce a tonal design that is comprehensive without being redundant.
In 1991, Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) was introduced to the company. Previously, all drafting was produced on manual drafting boards, a labor intensive and inefficient method as compared to CAD. Accuracy is dramatically increased. Now, libraries of individual components can be inserted into a drawing, eliminating the need to redraw similar pieces. Drawing can be quickly labeled and plotted for shop use. Files can be rapidly transmitted via email between the architect, consultants, and committee members.
Martin Ott keeps close relations with his German organ-pipe making colleagues. All metal pipes are purchased from German pipe makers and are tailored to our specifications. Metal Gedeckt pipes are usually tuned by adjusting the ears on either side of the mouth of the pipe. This method of tuning is more durable because the ears are less likely to move with weather changes than an adjustable cap. Cone tuning, also a stable tuning construction, is used for open metal pipes smaller than 1 ¼" in diameter. Larger metal pipes use tuning scrolls. Principal pipes are 75% tin while Flutes are 40% tin. Wooden pipes are built on the premises using oak, maple, or cherry which are high quality hardwoods. Only quarter-sawn lumber is used for wooden pipes because it resists warping.
Slider windchests are used because these provide the cohesive, gentle sound typical to Martin Ott pipe organs. In a slider windchest, pipes which sound the same note but are from different stops receive wind at the same time. Another benefit of this design is slow entry of wind from the chest to the pipe resulting in a gentle sound.
Quality hardwoods are used in the construction of the keyboard and pedal board. Our console dimensions and layout follows AGO standard specifications. The wood is chosen to complement the casework. The majority of our organs are mechanical action but we also have extensive experience building electric pull-down action. Keyboard and stop action are mechanical. On medium and large organs, the stop action uses electric solenoids so that solid-state combination action can be used. This solid-state action has multiple memory levels.
When the musical needs outweigh a mechanical action approach, we employ electric pull-down slider chest action. This allows for a free-standing and moveable console, if needed. Since every situation is unique, we work with the organ committee to determine what type of action is best suited for their needs. For example, Opus 91 (71 ranks) in Battle Creek, MI and Opus 97 (61 ranks) in Jackson, MI use electric pull-down slider chest action.
All casework uses mortise-and-tenon joint construction, known in cabinetry as the strongest possible wood joint. Wood species commonly used for casework are red and white oak, walnut, cherry, and Poplar (painted casework).
Martin Ott is particularly proud of the casework for Opus 106. The instrument aesthetic embodies all the years of refinements and design Martin Ott is renowned for. As well, Opus 106 became a source of inspiration, echoed masterfully by the building architect for the design of other elements of the contemporary St Mark's Lutheran Church in Aurora, Illinois.