I am fascinated by reed organs, how they work and how so many were once built in Canada. I have four.
I try not to buy more. I love the fact that they are completely mechanical and can be taken apart and put back together with only a screwdriver. And I am fond of their wheezy tone that can credibly play tunes from Palestrina to Procul Harum with Piaf in between.
Repairing various problems goes with the territory of owning such an instrument. But because no one makes them nowadays, information about how to do it is difficult to find. Some experts have made fabulous, helpful websites. My favorites are here and here because they have good pictures and explanation. However, beyond the basics common to all, each organ is somewhat different and the information cannot be directly applied from one to another. Opening an organ is an adventure in discovery.
On these pages (click on links below), I hope to explain how I try to repair them with photos and descriptions of my problems, containing the kind of simple information that I am always grateful to find when I stumble upon it. I have no expertise or qualifications for the work.
Portable Melodeon, made in Boston, circa 1860
Uxbridge reed organ repair, made in Uxbridge, Ontario, 1880s?
Wm Bell cottage organ, made in Guelph, Ontario, circa 1887-8
Sherlock Manning Organ, made in London, Ontario, 5 November 1907
Sources on Canadian manufacture include
Robert F. Gellerman, The American Reed Organ and Harmonium, Vestal Press 1997.
Robert F. Gellerman, Gellerman’s International Reed Organ Atlas, Vestal Press, 1998.