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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.16 > 02Prev  Next

Scale Markings On Organ Pipes
By Matthew Caulfield

On first reading I was skeptical of Art Reblitz's theory as to why some
organ pipe ranks have pipes pitched differently than the way they are
marked, as is the case with the Wurlitzer 157 band organ.  It struck me
that such marking would only cause confusion, and would have no purpose.

Then, mulling it over, I realized there were other examples of the
manufacturer's tendency to go with universal terminology rather than
with clearer and more specific nomenclature, perhaps basing its usage
on habit or convenience rather than on precision and clarity.  So now
I tend to agree with Art's thinking.

For example, Wurlitzer stamped all its style 165 masters with a "69"
rather than a "165."  Why "69"?  Because the layout became known as a
69-note layout, even though the scale and its tracker bar had 75 hole
positions.  The style 165 organ used only holes 4 to 72 -- 69 holes,
even though on all masters and on the rolls produced from them all
75 holes were perforated, so that the rolls could be used on organs
larger than the style 165, which might use all 75 holes.  Nevertheless,
in-house the masters were always known as 69-hole masters down to the

Likewise I have a factory blueprint dated 3-29-21 (though re-drawn
3-15-42) titled "69-hole tracker bar" for "Mach[ine]: 157, 164, 165,
166, 170 Band Organs."  It shows the purpose of all 75 holes and the
pipe notes show only the pitch associated with the 165 organ.  No
mention is made of the different pipe pitches for the 157.

This led me to look afresh at Doyle Lane's published Wurlitzer pipe
data taken from original Wurlitzer pipe sticks.  I compared the note
designations for the ranks in the 157 organ with those for the same
ranks in the 165 and found that they all agreed with the pitches given
on the tracker bar blueprint--with one exception that had escaped
notice until Art got me to thinking here.  That exception is in the
6 bass notes.

In the 165, the notes run from lowest to highest: C, D, E, F, G, A.
In the 157, they run from lowest to highest: G, A, C, D, E, F.

More comments?

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Sat 16 May 1998, 05:29:11 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Markings, Organ, Pipes, Scale

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