Pipe Organ Pipes Introduction

As stated in the last post, I began my work on the pipe organ by experimenting with the pipes themselves.

Organ pipes come in many different materials, sizes, and sounds. Some contain brass reeds to sound like trumpets and horns, others are made of lead and tin, creating a pure and constant tone. I will only be explaining a third type, called flue pipes, as that is what I used on my organ, and are the simplest to build. Flue pipes work like a flute or recorder, and are commonly made of a hardwood.

Photo Nov 18, 7 07 35 PM

This picture may show a metal pipe, but the design is relatively the same to a wooden pipe.

1. The resonating pipe. This part of the pipe determines the tone the pipe plays when blown. The shorter it is, the sharper the pitch.

2.The upper lip. The most important part of this section is the lower edge, where the wind-sheet is cut in half. half of this airstream is left to resonate in the pipe, and the other half is released into the atmosphere.

3. The languid. This flat section pushes air to the front edge of the pipe. It is slightly shorter than the diameter of the pipe, allowing air to only leave from a small sliver.

4.The lower lip. This section works with the languid to push the air into an even, flat stream. The distance between the lower lip and the upper lip is called the mouth height.




Here are some pictures of actual real organ pipes:


All organ pipes rely on how large the wind-sheet is and how large the mouth height is. Generally speaking, larger pipes have larger wind-sheets and longer mouth heights, but every pipe in my experience needs to be individually sounded.

Photo Oct 23, 8 33 41 PM

Photo Oct 23, 8 34 00 PM










To make my very first prototype, I cut up an old school id card and some used flashcards. I made this using a tutorial I found on youtube, by a guy making an organ out of cardboard. Sadly this first prototype did not even make a sound. In hindsight, I realize that the upper lip can not just be folded up like that, and would have done better if I had fully removed the flap.

File Aug 19, 1 11 03 PM

I continued my experimentation by creating rectangular pipes. And these actually played pretty well! As you can see, I was varying the width to height ratios.

With my success at making a playing pipe, albeit a poor quality one, I had to decide how I should make the pipes for the actual organ. My options included:

Wooden Pipes:


  • Easy to build
  • Sound great
  • Have a nice, classic look


  • Very Expensive

PVC Pipes:


  • Cheap
  • Have a decent sound


  • Look cheap

As a broke high-school student, I felt the low cost per pipe of the PVC outweighed their looks. I began my work on the PVC pipes.


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