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Band Organs

Wurlitzer Style 165 band organ, originally from the Lincoln Park carousel in CA

bass, and counter-melody. There are sometimes more, such as a piccolo section, but that requires both a larger roll and larger instrument.

Each of these parts has at least a few ranks of pipes (and sometimes pitched percussion) coupled together to play the notes of each part it is connected to. On some larger band organs, the use of automatic registers can turn on certain ranks of pipes to create a variation in sound and dynamics, registers controlled from the roll.

There were a number of manufacturers who produced band organs, but Wurlitzer had the biggest stake in the market, also lasting the longest producing organs until almost 1940, and rolls until 1945.

Some other manufacturers include Artizan, North Tonawanda, Niagra, Dekliest as well as contemporary band organ makers such as The Stinson Organ Co., and The Johnson Organ Co.

Band Organs, or carousel organs are American-built instruments (The European counterparts different enough that they are in a different category on this site) which were built for the intention of use in skating rinks, amusement parks, and on carousels. 


Perhaps second in popularity to player pianos, there are still dozens of band organs playing live on carousels to this day, band organ music more or less the 'official' sound associated with carousels. Like many nickelodeons and orchestrions, these primarily play multi-tune music rolls; due to being filled with pipes of various types instead of being based around a piano though, most band organs do not have every 'note' that can be found on a keyboard - making them non-chromatic.


Also unique in band organs is their division of parts. Like a band score, the instrument is not using a singular 'musical staff' but contains several, divided into sections/parts on rolls. The normal parts for band organs are melody, accompaniment, 

Wurlitzer duplex roll system on a 146-B band organ. While one roll rewinds, the other plays.