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What is a Combination Organ?

By Arthur E. Schlueter, Jr.

The term “combination organ” has been loosely used within musical circles to mean many things, which has led to some confusion. The appropriate definition of a combination organ actually comes from electronic organ manufacturers who coined the term to describe the addition of pipes to their mass-produced, digital organs. From that I have derived the following definition of a “combination organ”:

Combination Organ: an electronic organ with digital sound-producing technology as itís primary sound source, that has been augmented with one or more wind-blown pipe ranks. Also referred to as a “hybrid” organ.

Prior to 1930, organ tones were produced by either reeds, as in a pump organ, or pipes, as in a pipe organ. In 1934 the Hammond “organ" was introduced that utilized a revolving “tone wheel" to produce a musical tone. In the decade to follow analog technology was also introduced to produce another variety of sounds to mimic the organ.

From the early days of Hammond and analog organs, attempts were made to interface with real pipes. In 1971 Rodgers Instrument Corporation developed and engineered the first analog organs that would interface with real pipes.

The diagrams below are offered for further clarification.

graphic diagram illustrating components of an electronic organ

graphic diagram illustrating components of a combination organ

graphic diagram illustrating components of a pipe organ

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