JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Jackson couple by the name of Bob and Tippy Garner have an unusual musical instrument in their home. Several people have pianos in their homes but Bob and Tippy Garner have taken it to the new level.

Bob Garner keeps his unusual instrument in a room at the back of his house. Well, actually all in all, it takes up about three rooms. Rooms of metal and wooden pipes, and various percussion instruments and the air compressors to drive all of this.

Bob has a pipe organ in his north Jackson home. When he tells people what he has, some of them don’t even know what a pipe organ is. 

This organ is one of several Bob has had in the past, and it’s made up of parts of several put together in such a way to make up this one. It is literally the outgrowth of something that started a lot simpler. 

“It started off years ago in an interest in player pianos,” said Garner. 

Bob has a couple of those, too. More specifically, “reproducing pianos.” They not only only play the notes but also reproduce the pedal nuances of the original performance. Rachmaninoff himself recorded this piano roll. The holes cut in the paper control the piano. 

Similar to a piano roll, Bob’s pipe organ is controlled by a computer program. Because surprisingly, neither Bob nor Tippy’s play the organ. Bob’s interest in pipe organs is twofold; the finished product, of course, what we hear when it plays. But also, and maybe even more so, how it functions. 

Something of this magnitude begs to be shared, which the Garners do as often as they realistically can.

“We’ve had an annual Christmas party, with the exception of the pandemic, for better than 30 years. And a hundred people will show up and it’s great fun,” said Tippy.

The intricacies of the pipe organ, especially converting over to electronic control should keep Bob more than satisfied for a while. And the finished product should satisfy, if not amaze, anyone who pops in for a demonstration. 

If you are an organist and would like to try play the Garner’s pipe organ, email your phone number to Walt Grayson at wgrayson@wjtv.com.