You want a virtual pipe organ in your home or church.

    Things to consider:

    1: The budget!

     How much do you want to spend?

    A project plan is an absolute necessity, otherwise your project could lapse into years of hard work and eventually dwindle into the too hard pile.

    Money and time wasted. I work to a time schedule, and that makes me happy, but that is just my method.

    I would suggest setting the budget at the beginning, but if that is not your thing, there may be disappointment down the project road,

    which could lead to abandonment of your dream and that would be sad.


    2: How many sound samples?

    Will you get a better sound from just 7 ranks/samples or maybe 50 or 200? Again it would be a personal choice.

    For theatre organs, something over 30 ranks/sample sets, seem to be the most popular. Classical organs, well you know, a whole different ball game.


    3: What type of console, theatre or classic?

    Console Plans. make some sketches of what your dream is all about. Use PC CAD software, very helpful, I use Sketchup for this kind of work.

    Dimensions for a 3 manual dual stop rail Theatre organ console; 1404.7 high; 1750mm in width and 1030mm in depth.

    I have seen many examples of classical style consoles elsewhere on the net. This design is quite simple and would take probably a month or less to complete;

    IMO don't glue the wooden parts; use coach bolts; you may have to move one day and a console that can be flat packed is

    much easier to move than an assembled console.

    Do you want real dual magnetic stop tabs (very pretty) or less expensive launch pads?

    These are very popular with many organists around the world; touch screens are another avenue, however, IMO they can be a little touchy! Pardon the pun!

    I have covered the method I used to make the stop rails on another page of my website.


    4: Do you need skills in computer programming?

    With all the new software, programming skills are not that necessary.

    It will be a matter of reading and re-reading the help manuals and there is usually plenty of help on the forums, that just about cover every subject known to man.

     I know many folks cannot be bothered reading these instructions; however, remember when you were at school; did you understand everything

     when you read your science book first time through? One way is to read through every page in a quick manner

     just to get an overview then go over it again and again to get a better understanding of the subject.


    5: Do you have woodworking skills and/or have the necessary workshop and tools to make you own console?

    Some woodworking clubs have all these facilities, so you might not have to go and spend a large amount of money for some gear that you might only use once.


    6: What type of keyboards?

     These can be quite expensive, or you might come across older less expensive sets, however, they may require a complete refurbishment and that could take months.


    7: A sound proof studio, don't want to drive other house members/family and/or neighbours, crazy.

    Definitely a big yes! nothing more frustrating than being constantly told;

    "Turned that damned down!" My VTPO is located in the garage, which I have sound proofed as best I could.


    8: Listening through headphones; a good thing or not?

    Not my cup of tea, so to speak; some small studio monitors located on top of the console and the volume turned right down would be a much better solution IMO.

    I use my Conn pipes which are located just behind the player for this purpose; the sound can be kept to minimum so as to not disturb anybody.

    However, at 3am it would be much better to use headphones; or to do something normal and go to bed.


    9: How big do you want the audio system to be?

     Much has been said about this subject. Audio equipment can be quite expensive and the cheap PC audio gear, wont really satisfy an organist's ear.

     Audio gear outdates itself quite rapidly these days as does the PC/MAC firmware, lack of drivers for older equipment can be a virtual pain in the neck.

     New operating systems can also be a pain; some won't work with older gear

    Four self powered studio monitors and a subwoofer will make for a very good sound, some friends have this set-up and

     it has a good sound and they are extremely satisfied.

    I use 5 x Echo Audiofire 12s and I love the sound I am getting from my setup; the downside is these units are no longer manufactured.


    10:Who can help in times of difficulty?

    Read the manuals, sign up to all the necessary forums; keep in touch with locals who are interested in this hobby;

     never argue the point, just listen and glean what you want from all the comments.

     Keep a project bible/journal to store all the comments; they may/will come in handy someday. My bookshelves are full of these.


    11: Does your partner/family share in your interest/folly?

    Others may not share your indulgence in this mania; this is where some if not a lot diplomacy will be needed.


    12: Are you building this for the world or just for yourself?

    If it is just for yourself, then it will be your choice, not the world's.

    If it is for your local church, then of course, the pastor/parish committee might want to have a say and this can lead to the usual challenges.

    This seems to happen in all societies, and it is part of the human input.

    I copped plenty of criticism; I just made notes and kept them for reference;

     there is no need to get into confrontations because someone says this or that about your dream.


This would be the easiest way to build your own console.

Nothing fancy here; If you want a fancy console, then that will be up to you and your woodworking skills.

    Tools required:

  1. A saw bench with a circular saw
  2. A drill stand
  3. Portable battery driven drill.
  4. A router plus a router stand.
  5. A forstner bit for drilling the holes for the pistons.

  7. Orbital sander
  8. Jigsaw.
  9. Coach bolts and screws. Don't glue the main sections of the console together, because you might want to move and a flatpacked console is much easier to lift.

  10. Sachys Robertson screws, used to attach the SAMS to the stop rails.

  11. Patience!



Keyboard Desk Supports.

2 required. MDF Panels and held together with pine battens, screwed and glued.


740mm x 600 x 80


Support Table.

32 mm MDF; very heavy, can be braced with a length of angle iron.



Side Jambs.

MDF Panels and pine battens

Rear View.

Stop rail platform supported by a length of pipe; this allows for easier service of the keyboards

Stop Rail Construction.

Cut 3mm plywood to desired width and use the piece of MDF that was cut out from the stop rail platform as a gluing template.

Reverse each strip, makes for a stronger bond; glue each strip separately and leave for about a day, before gluing the next strip.


You will need plenty of G clamps or QuikGrips.


Mini Channel.

Used in mounting SAMs.


The screws supplied are not suitable for fitting SAMs; longer screws are needed and you will have to rethread each hole.


Available from Mouser.


Mini Channel  used on my console.

Latest news about this product; it has become so expensive

I would no longer consider it for a console project.


The normal thickness of a stop rail would be around 19mm - 3/4"; however if you are going to use mini channel, it is advisable to reduce the thickness to 16~17mm, to allow for the mounting of the mini channel.






Console Dimensions.





Keyboard support






This is a sketch of the stop rail end cover, for the present console.


Smaller Console.

The idea behind this plan is to lower the top of the console and the music desk; so players don't get a crick in the neck whilst reading the music.


Plan for new stop rails.

Stop rail thickness reduce to 16~17mm if you are going to use mini channel.

Smaller Stop Rail End Cover.








Owen Jones

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