I recently visited the factory of C.B. Fisk, makers of pipe organs in Gloucester, MA. A team of about twenty seven highly skilled craftspeople build instruments that are close relatives of the organs used by Bach in the 1700’s. Superficially, the workspaces resemble common machine shops and woodworking facilities, but there is more than meets the eye. Built to very tight tolerances, a large organ for a church can take up to six months to complete — and that does not include shipping and assembly. A 1/16 scale model of each organ is built by the shop’s designated model-maker, and each organ is dry-fit in the plant before shipping.
Pipe organ at the Harvard Memorial Church, Cambridge, MA, built by C.B. Fisk, Inc. of Gloucester, MA
Tony Miscio at C. B. Fisk, Inc., Gloucester, MA, assembling a keyboard for a pipe organ.
Keyboard of a new pipe organ built by C.B. Fisk, Gloucester, MA
Nomi Hamada works on pipes for an organ being built by CB Fisk, of Gloucester, MA
Kate Harrington uses a hand plan to fine tune the pipes for an organ being built by C.B. Fisk, Gloucester, MA
Carl Klein of C.B. Fisk builds delicate reed mechanisms that generate sound for some of the organ's pipes.
Tibout Lenfant of C.B. Fisk, inc., Gloucester, MA works on parts for a pipe organ., cutting wood precisely with a drill press.
Scale model of a church with a C.B. Fisk organ scheduled for installation at Christ Church Episcopal, Philadelphia, PA