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Bottom C of 32' Diaphone, with
resonator disassembled awaiting installation
Mitred resonator of Diaphone
for Diaphone rank
Beater box assembly for low C#
|The pipes of the 32-foot Diaphone stop
were originally installed in the organ of the Forum Theater in Los
Angeles, California, and later moved to the Kimball organ in the
Wiltern Theater, also in Los Angeles. After being stored for
many years in a warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri, they were
purchased by Schoenstein & Co. for utilization in the Conference
It was originally thought that the
pipes were voiced for 15" of wind pressure, but through
experimentation Robert Rhoads of Schoenstein & Co. determined
that the actual wind pressure was closer to 25".
Consequently, changes had to be made in the organ's winding system,
including the purchase of a sixth Ventus blower to provide the
higher wind pressure.
Following their purchase, the pipes
were shipped to the M. L. Bigelow organbuilding firm in American
Fork, Utah, where they were restored and painted in the green hue
common to the large wooden pipes of English organs. The firm of A.
R. Schopp's Sons of Alliance, Ohio was also engaged to construct
a boot assembly to replace a missing boot and beater from the lowest
pipe (which may have been claimed as a "souvenir" during
the pipes' many years of storage in Kansas City). And the
Ridges Pipe Organ Company of Provo, Utah was hired to releather and
rebuild the pneumatic action of the Kimball chests. (Coincidentally,
Michael Ohman, president of Ridges, played his debut theatre organ
performance on the 4/37 Kimball organ in the Wiltern for the Los
Angeles Theatre Organ Society in 1964, and retains fond memories of
The Diaphone stop is a somewhat
uncommon and occasionally reviled member of the reed family of
pipes. It is officially classed as a "valvular reed," and
is usually associated with two very loud musical instruments: the
theater organ, and the foghorn. (One of the more famous of the
latter is perched on the central span of San Francisco's Golden Gate
Bridge.) Stevens Irwin writes the following in his Dictionary
of Pipe Organ Stops (New York: Schirmer Books, ©1965), pp.
"The Diaphone just escapes the
criticism leveled by some against stops that speak with a pronounced
ground tone (fundamental) but without sufficient overtones for
blend. The chief function of the Diaphone in almost every model
built is to furnish that which no other bass stop can furnish: a
completely satisfying, really profound bass tone between CCCCC and
C1, not diminished in volume by the tendency of all big
vibrating bodies to jump quickly into their octaves. Being
essentially a bass stop with a specialized function to
perform makes the Diaphone unique among bass ranks. Onto its heavy
roll of tone can be placed sufficient 32', 16', or 8' ranks to unify
its effect with any combination of stops.
"Many church instruments have
had this pedal stop, the congregation no doubt believing they were
hearing a Diapason of deep tone, for a great many Diaphones are
designed to supplement the flue chorus of an organ, even being
called Diaphonic Diapason, which is somewhat of a
contradiction in terms.
"The percussive compacting of
the air-wave sounds on the ear with an unexpected vigor, enabling it
to penetrate any other musical effect known. Evenness and smoothness
of voice keep the Diaphone from sounding rough, even by itself.
Carrying power and purity of fundamental are also advantages."