Currently viable crafts


Organ building


The building and restoration of pipe organs (mainly in churches), including tuning and maintenance.


Status Currently viable
Craft category Instruments
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required



The craft of organ building in the UK stretches back hundreds of years, peaking in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The craft has been influenced by European styles over the centuries.



The profession encompasses a broad range of specialist skills in wood-, metal- and leather-work, alongside those required for the voicing and tuning of pipework and the designing of new instruments. The craft also includes the restoration, to particular standards, of existing pipe organs and the regular maintenance of a large number throughout the UK.

More specifically, the skills include carpentry, cabinet making, leatherwork, electrical work (mainly for modern control systems), tuning, voicing (making pipes speak at the right note), design (including CAD), and conservation techniques.

The crafts come together to produce a wide range of pipe organs from small single manual instruments to very large instruments comprising 3 or 4 manuals and pedals; the skills required also support the building and restoration of instruments with mechanical, pneumatic, electrical or electronic control.practice organs.


Local forms



Organ building might be considered a sub-craft of musical instrument making; within organ building, the skillset associated with constructing a large cathedral organ would be considered slightly different to those associated with building small portable


Issues affecting the viability of the craft


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known


Other information

The Institute of British Organ Building has recently had a national organ building apprentice standard approved by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is looking to have the course accredited by an assessment body and hope to be able to launch this in 2017.