Pipe Organs and the Digital Alternative


For information on the benefits of pipe and digital organs, please see our leaflet on the subject of new organs which can be viewed here.

IBO Policy Statement on Electronic Tone Generation



Adopted by the IBO 1998 (based on that of the ISO)

Throughout centuries of evolution in tonal and mechanical design, the organ has always used pipes as its source of musical sound. This use of pipes distinguishes it from other musical instruments.

Today, the pipe organ sounds can be imitated by electronic technology, so that pipes are sometimes replaced by electronic sound sources. The IBO does not condone this practice, nor does it allow membership of firms that build either electronic instruments or combination instruments as defined below.

A pipe organ in its individual design and voicing should fulfil its intended functions without dependence on electronically generated or augmented stops. If this condition is not fulfilled, the instrument must be considered a ‘combination instrument’.

Exceptional circumstances occasionally warrant the use of electronically generated sounds for 32’ or 16’ basses.

It is essential to distinguish between pipes and electronically generated sound sources. Electronically generated sources must be identified as such in all stoplists, both in contracts and promotion.

Revised November 2011