The Kawai Reed Organ

The Kawai Reed Organ

I have always had a love for the organ as a musical instrument. When I was young, we had a 1950s vintage Lowery organ that I played quite often. When it died, I had a solid state Wurlitzer – which, while neat, lacked the same unique tone of the Lowery. Over time, I moved toward the piano – they tend to be more accessible – but I have had a couple of fun opportunities to play the pipe organ as well, which is truly joyous.

I have seen reed organs (also known as pump organs) many times, and often would watch them be played on YouTube. Often these are large and Victorian looking instruments that would not fit in at our home. For many years we had no way to haul larger furniture anyways, with our only car being a Ford Fiesta (a great car, by the way!)

This year, with the addition of the Honday CRV to our homestead, we’ve had more flexibility to carry cargo. And, the day before Thanksgiving, a Craigslist ad showed a small, ‘modern’ looking reed organ located nearby – for free! I jumped on it, getting measurements from the owner and verifying that the instrument would indeed fit in the Honda.

My brother-in-law and I went out and packed it back to the house. I have been thrilled with this organ. Made in pre-war Japan by Kawai (a well known piano maker today), it is small but has a rich sound.

The instrument works well for its age, but I can see that the reeds will need cleaning and tuning. Other maintenance may be required, but overall this instrument is in excellent shape.

The stoplist is small, consisting of the Dulciana (bass) and Clarabella (treble) which are muted 8′ reeds. The Diapason (bass) and Melodia (treble) are the primary 8′ reeds, while the Viola (bass) and Flute (treble) are the 4′ stops. The Forte stop slightly opens the swell shade to provide some extra volume, though the shade can be opened even further with the knee lever – I’m not sure if that’s by design or not. Certainly the knee level works effectively and provides a powerful swell effect.

I have had some fun this Christmas season playing carols on the organ. They’re far from perfect, but it’s a truly fun instrument to play.