It is currently Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:45 am

Thumb pistons (?!?)

Playing or learning the organ, hints, tips and tricks, registrations, techniques, fingerings, ...
  • Author
  • Message



  • Posts: 8
  • Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:57 pm

Thumb pistons (?!?)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 2:26 pm

Hello everyone.

Can anyone explain me what thumb pistons are on the organ keyboards? Some of them have numbers: 1 , 2 , 3; some are signed: tutti , < , > , clear , PP , P, MF, F, FF , Great to Swell; there are much more. What are these specially for?

I know that these signed with numbers might be combinations of ranks, but what are the others?

If I would be making my own Hauptwerk organ, which would I need?



  • Posts: 18
  • Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:37 am
  • Location: Lawrence, Kansas USA

Re: Thumb pistons (?!?)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 2:39 pm

Some pistons control stops -- General controls the whole organ; divisional pistons only one division. Usually these are numbered.

Tutti/SFZ/Full Organ is a reversible that turns all stops on -- and off again. A reversible is press once to turn on; press again to turn off. Sw/Gt, Gt/Ped and the like are reversibles.

PP to FF are preset pistons for a general setting of particular volume. Usually found on theater organs.

< and > are stepper pistons that change combinations in a certain order. Keep pressing the > piston to move to the next combination in the sequence.

With Hauptwerk, any piston can be any configuration. It all depends on what you want it to be. There are Generals, Scoped (which can act like divisional that only affect a designated set of stops), reversibles, and stepper. Same with toe studs, which are just thumb pistons for the feet.

If you're just getting started, you MUST get Kenneth Spencer's book mentioned in the top section of this forum. It explains TONS about such matters.
User avatar



  • Posts: 1001
  • Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:08 pm
  • Location: NW England, UK

Re: Thumb pistons (?!?)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 2:45 pm

You might find it useful to read The Cambridge Companion to the Organ
This provides good basic information about the instrument and its music.

For a quick overview you can also read the HW manual pages 43 and following.

User avatar



  • Posts: 12149
  • Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2003 2:19 pm
  • Location: UK

Re: Thumb pistons (?!?)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 4:19 pm

[Topic moved here.]
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.

Return to Performance practice

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests