PipeChat Digest #3000 - Saturday, August 3, 2002
Jeff's question about cost
  by <quilisma@socal.rr.com>

(back) Subject: Jeff's question about cost From: <quilisma@socal.rr.com> Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 21:53:15 -0700       Jeff White wrote: > > > It seems to me that the entire business ... organ-playing, pipe-organ > > building ... is teetering on the brink of extinction. > > I disagree, and I think a trend reversal may be on its way. = Unfortunately, > it may take a decade or two. > > > There were LESS than ONE HUNDRED new pipe organs reported in the > > journals last year. > > Could this possibly be because of cost? I'm really wondering, thinking = on > this statement. The church I played for left 3 ranks prepared because = of > the new building and funds growing short. This was in 1986. Today, I > wonder how many parishes can afford it. I know, I know, if it's to be = done, > there's a way, but....sometimes practicality opts for other things other > than the organ, which is seen more as a luxury. How sad! > > Jeff >   Adjusted for inflation, the cost of pipe organs has actually risen very little, if any, since the 1950s.   These are rough figures from memory, so they may be slightly off.   In the 1950s, when Aeolian-Skinner reigned as the "house" builder for the Episcopal church, a rank of A-S pipes cost as much as a Buick automobile ... $1500-$2000.   The average-size 3m Aeolian-Skinner cost as much as a large three or four bedroom house ... $45K-$60K.   In 2002, a rank of pipes runs anywhere from $10K t0 $30K, depending on the rank and the builder; an organ of the same size as the one above (approx. 30 ranks) can cost anywhere from $300K to $900K.   $10K won't buy you much of a car today; Orange County CA is an expensive area, but $300K is the average cost of a three-bedroom house.   If anything, the price of pipe organs has gone DOWN slightly because the big houses with their factories and large overheads are mostly gone ... the ones who have survived have scaled back accordingly.   Values and priorities have to be taken into account as well ... in my own parish, which is not poor, SOME of the people (who live in multi-million-dollar homes) go into cardiac ARREST at the IDEA of spending $300K-$500K for a pipe organ for their CHURCH.   A broken-down 30-year-old electronic sounds just FINE to them, except when it quits in the middle of Mass. Someone actually suggested we buy ANOTHER 30-year-old electronic of the same model so we'd have a ready supply of PARTS.   Fortunately, the preliminary design contract for the pipe organ is signed.   Cheers,   Bud