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Hammond organ

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Hammond organ

Hammond organ
A Hammond C-3 organ
Manufactured by The Hammond Organ Company (1935–1985)
Hammond Organ Australia (1986–1989)[1]
Hammond-Suzuki (1989–present)[2][3]
Dates 1935–1975 (tonewheel models)
1967–1985 (transistor models)
1986–present (digital models)
Price $1,193 (Model A, 1935)[4]
$2,745 (Model B-3, 1954)[5]
Technical specifications
Polyphony Full
Oscillator Tonewheel
Synthesis type Additive
Effects Vibrato, reverb, harmonic percussion
Keyboard 2 x 61-note manuals, 25-note pedals (consoles)
2 x 44-note manuals, 13-note pedals (spinets)
External control Amphenol connector to Hammond Tone Cabinet or Leslie Speaker

The Hammond organ is an Leslie speaker.

The organ was originally marketed and sold by the Hammond Organ Company to rhythm and blues, rock and reggae, as well as being an important instrument in progressive rock.

The Hammond Organ Company struggled financially during the 1970s as they abandoned tonewheel organs and switched to manufacturing instruments using

Hammond-Suzuki continues to manufacture a variety of organs for both the professional player and the church. Other companies, such as Native Instruments B4.


  • Features 1
    • Keyboards and pedalboard 1.1
    • Drawbars 1.2
    • Presets 1.3
    • Vibrato and chorus 1.4
    • Harmonic Percussion 1.5
    • Start and Run switches 1.6
  • History 2
    • Background 2.1
    • Tonewheel organs 2.2
      • Console organs 2.2.1
      • Spinet organs 2.2.2
    • Transistor organs 2.3
    • Hammond-Suzuki 2.4
  • Speakers 3
    • Tone cabinet 3.1
    • Leslie speaker 3.2
  • Tone generation 4
  • Clones and emulation devices 5
  • Notable users 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


A number of distinctive Hammond organ features are not usually found on other keyboards like the

  • "Electric Pipeless Organ Has Millions of Tones".   One of the first large, detailed articles on the Hammond Organ and how it worked
  • Hammond Organ Seventieth (video). BBC.  Documentary on the Hammond's seventieth anniversary
  • "Hammond Zone".  Hammond/Leslie resource and home of the Hammond Zone user group
  • Bevis Peters. "A complete list of vintage Hammond & Leslie models". 
  • Glen E. Nelson. "History of the Hammond B-3 organ". 
  • The Hammond Organ on '120 Years Of Electronic Music' - includes original patent diagrams for the instrument
  • Hammond Suzuki USA Makers of modern-day Hammond-branded clone organs
  • Hammond Suzuki Europe
  • Hammond Organ UK
Official sites

External links

  • Awde, Nick (2008). Mellotron: The Machine and the Musicians that Revolutionised Rock. Bennet & Bloom.  
  • Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, eds. (2002). All Music Guide to Jazz: The Definitive Guide to Jazz Music. Backbeat Books.  
  • Bogdanov, Vladimir, ed. (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music. Backbeat Books.  
  • Brice, Richard (2001). Music Engineering. Newnes.  
  • Browne, Ray Broadus; Browne, Pat (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press.  
  • Bush, Douglas Earl; Kassel, Richard (2006). The Organ: An Encyclopedia. Routledge Chapman & Hall.  
  • Campbell, Murray; Greated, Clive Alan; Myers, Arnold (2004). Musical Instruments: History, Technology, and Performance of Instruments of Western Music. Oxford University Press.  
  • Cateforis, Theo (2011). Are We Not New Wave?: Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s. University of Michigan Press.  
  • Clark, Merrill (1999). Complete Blues Keyboard Method: Mastering Blues Keyboard. Alfred Music Publishing.  
  • Corbin, Alfred (2006). The Third Element: A Brief History of Electronics. AuthorHouse.  
  • Davis, John S. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Jazz. Scarecrow Press.  
  • Enstice, Wayne; Stockhouse, Janis (2004). Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Musicians. Indiana University Press.  
  • Faragher, Scott (2011). The Hammond Organ: An introduction to the instrument and the players who made it famous. Hal Leonard Corporation.  
  • Fowles, Paul; Wade, Graham (2012). Concise History of Rock Music. Mel Bay Publications.  
  • Gallagher, Mitch (2008). The Music Tech Dictionary: A Glossary of Audio-Related Terms and Technologies. Cengage Learning.  
  • Johansen, Claes (2001). Procol Harum: Beyond The Pale. SAF Publishing Ltd.  
  • Kirchner, Bill, ed. (2005). The Oxford Companion to Jazz. Oxford University Press.  
  • Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford University Press.  
  • Masouri, Jon (2010). Wailing Blues – The Story of Bob Marley's Wailers. Music Sales Group.  
  • Moriarty, Frank (2003). Seventies rock: the decade of creative chaos. Taylor Trade Publications.  
  • Moskowitz, David Vlado (2006). Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall. Greenwood Publishing Group.  
  • Riley, Chris (2006). The Modern Organ Guide. Xulon Press.  
  • Shepherd, John (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: VolumeII: Performance and Production, Volume 11. Continuum.  
  • Stevens, Floyd A (2001). Complete Course in Professional Piano Tuning, Repair, and Rebuilding. Rowman & Littlefield.  
  • Théberge, Paul (1997). Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making Music/Consuming Technology. Wesleyan University Press.  
  • Till, Rupert (2010). Pop Cult: Religion and Popular Music. Continuum.  
  • Vail, Mark (2002). The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B. Backbeat Books.  
  • Waring, Dennis G (2002). Manufacturing the Muse: Estey Organs and Consumer Culture in Victorian America. Wesleyan University Press.  
  • Welch, Chris (1990). Steve Winwood: Roll With It. Perigee Books.  
  1. ^ a b "Marmon Group sells Hammond Organ rights". Chicago Sun-Times. January 3, 1986. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Faragher 2011, p. 14.
  3. ^ "Hammond XK-3 STORY: 3. History—locus of Hammond Combo Organ" (in Japanese). Hammond Suzuki Co., Ltd. 22 April 2005. 
    Summary: In 1986, Hammond Super B was released as a revive of B-3 using digitally sampled tonewheel sounds. Then in 1991, this sound generator was utilized on a combo organ; that was Hammond Suzuki XB-2.
  4. ^ a b c Vail 2002, p. 68.
  5. ^ a b c d e Vail 2002, p. 69.
  6. ^ Bush & Kassel 2006, p. 168.
  7. ^ Corbin 2006, p. 151.
  8. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 34.
  9. ^ a b c Vail 2002, p. 76.
  10. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 33-34.
  11. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 50.
  12. ^ a b Vail 2002, p. 89.
  13. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 58.
  14. ^ a b c Campbell, Greated & Myers 2004, p. 447.
  15. ^ a b c d Hugh Robjohns. "Hammond B3: Modelled Electromechanical Tonewheel Organ". Sound On Sound (July 2003). 
  16. ^ Browne & Browne 2001, p. 361.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Spark, Rod (October 1997). "The History Of The Hammond".  
  18. ^ Inside of Hammond Organ (photograph). 
  19. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 52.
  20. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 53.
  21. ^ Clark 1999, p. 47.
  22. ^ Reid, Gordon (January 2004). "Synthesizing tonewheel organs". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  23. ^ Vail 2002, pp. 83,87.
  24. ^ Vail 2002, p. 36.
  25. ^ Vail 2002, p. 55.
  26. ^ a b Vail 2002, p. 63.
  27. ^ Vail 2002, p. 57.
  28. ^ US patent 1956350, Laurens Hammond, "Electrical Musical Instrument", issued 1934-04-24 
  29. ^ Vail 2002, p. 59.
  30. ^ a b Waring 2002, p. 319.
  31. ^ Vail 2002, p. 60.
  32. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 26.
  33. ^ "Federal Trade Commission Decision: Official Findings and Order". The American Organist 21 (8). August 1938. 
  34. ^ "Federal Trade Commission Sponsors Auditory Test—Hammond vs. $75,000 Organ". Piano Trade Magazine. April 1937. 
  35. ^ "Hammond Arguments presented in Briefs".  
  36. ^ "Hammond is Ordered to 'Cease and Desist'".  
  37. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 16.
  38. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 18.
  39. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 25.
  40. ^ Bush & Kassel 2006, p. 169.
  41. ^ a b Vail 2002, p. 33.
  42. ^ Vail 2002, p. 71.
  43. ^ Vail, p. 33,49.
  44. ^ a b Vail 2002, p. 83.
  45. ^ Vail 2002, p. 72.
  46. ^ Vail 2002, p. 74.
  47. ^ Vail 2002, pp. 74–75.
  48. ^ Vail 2002, p. 77.
  49. ^ Vail 2002, p. 85-86.
  50. ^ a b Faragher 2011, p. 78.
  51. ^ Théberge 1997, p. 47.
  52. ^ Vail 2002, p. 91.
  53. ^ Vail 2002, p. 87.
  54. ^ Vail 2002, p. 92.
  55. ^ Hammond T-series Owner's Manual. The Hammond Organ Company. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  56. ^ Hammond T-500 series service manual. The Hammond Organ Company. pp. 1–1. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  57. ^ Vail 2002, pp. 94–95.
  58. ^ a b Kakehashi 2002, p. 176.
  59. ^ Riley 2006, p. 58,63.
  60. ^ Welch, Jerry (2011). "Organ Identification". Organ Service Company, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  61. ^ Reid, Gordon. "The History Of Roland: Part 1". Sound On Sound (November 2004). 1972 — The Birth Of Roland: Almost immediately after establishing the company, Kakehashi received an offer from the Hammond Organ Company; they wished to buy a 60-percent shareholding in the new business. However, he had no wish to be the junior partner in his own company for a second time, so he decided to forge ahead on his own. 
  62. ^ Welch, Jerry (2011). "Frequently Asked Questions". Organ Service Company, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  63. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 135.
  64. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 143.
  65. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 154.
  66. ^ a b Robjohns, Hugh (July 2005). "Hammond XK3/XLK3 & Leslie 2121/2101".  
  67. ^ "Hammond SK1 and SK2". Hammond UK. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  68. ^ Fortner, Stephen (13 December 2011). "Hammond SK1".  
  69. ^ Orant, Tony (7 February 2014). "Hammond XK-1C organ review". Keyboard Magazine. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  70. ^ "Console Organs". Hammond USA. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  71. ^ Watkinson, Mike (April 2004). "Software vs Hardware: Tonewheel Organ Implementations Compared". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  72. ^ "Leslie 147A Speaker". Goff Professional. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  73. ^ "Ask Mike". 33–34. Keyboard magazine. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  74. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 65.
  75. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 63.
  76. ^ Brice 2001, p. 427.
  77. ^ Vail 2002, p. 129.
  78. ^ Fatagher 2011, p. 164.
  79. ^ Vail 2002, p. 130.
  80. ^ "Electro Music Purchased by Columbia Distribution" 77 (38).  
  81. ^ "Leslie (product range)". Hammond USA. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  82. ^ Reid, Gordon (November 2003). "Synthesizing tonewheel organs". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  83. ^ "Technical Information for Hammond Tone Wheel Organ". Keyboard Exchange International. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  84. ^ Campbell, Greated & Myers 2004, p. 71.
  85. ^ Campbell, Greated & Myers 2004, p. 441.
  86. ^ Vail 2002, p. 48.
  87. ^ Stevens 2001, p. 189.
  88. ^ "Hammond Filter Capacitor Replacement Kit". Goff Professional. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  89. ^ Gallagher 2008, p. 105.
  90. ^ Vail 2002, p. 45.
  91. ^ a b Reid, Gordon (January 2001). "Korg CX3".  
  92. ^ Vail 2002, p. 9.
  93. ^ a b Reid, Gordon (December 2001). "Clavia Nord Electro".  
  94. ^ Magnus, Nick (July 1997). "Roland VK-7".  
  95. ^ Reid, Gordon (September 2002). "Roland VK-8".  
  96. ^ Reid, Gordon (October 2012). "Clavia Nord C2D".  
  97. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 148.
  98. ^ Magnus, Nick (January 2006). "Native Instruments B4 II".  
  99. ^ Vail 2002, p. 15.
  100. ^ a b c Kirchner 2005, p. 384.
  101. ^ Corbin 2006, p. 153.
  102. ^ Vail 2002, p. 18.
  103. ^ Bogdanov, Woodstra & Erlewine 2002, p. 1170.
  104. ^ Vail 2002, p. 19.
  105. ^ Davis 2012, p. 236.
  106. ^ Vail 2002, p. 168.
  107. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (31 May 2002). "Hendrix of the Hammond". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  108. ^ Vail 2002, p. 21.
  109. ^ Johansen 2001, p. 65.
  110. ^ Johansen 2001, p. 66.
  111. ^ Macan 1997, p. 33.
  112. ^ Welch 1990, p. 73.
  113. ^ Allman 2012, p. 67-68.
  114. ^ Allman 2012, p. 97.
  115. ^ Allman 2012, pp. 100–101.
  116. ^ Moriarty 2003, p. 44.
  117. ^ Cohen, Scott (October 1974). "'"Deep Purple's Jon Lord and 'Burn. Circus Magazine. pp. 42–45. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  118. ^ Till 2010, p. 122.
  119. ^ "Jon Lord – A Biography". Jon Lord (official site). Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  120. ^ Vail 2002, p. 186.
  121. ^ Faragher 2011, p. 369.
  122. ^ Macan 1997, p. 34.
  123. ^ Cateforis 2011, p. 158.
  124. ^ Awde 2008, p. 200.
  125. ^ Masouri 2010, p. 71.
  126. ^ Moskowitz 2006, p. 320.
  127. ^ Masouri 2010, p. 596.
  128. ^ Fowles & Wade 2012, pp. 165–166.
  129. ^ Cateforis 2011, p. 104,160.
  130. ^ Fowles & Wade 2012, pp. 136–137.
  131. ^ Awde 2008, p. 531.
  132. ^ Bogdanov 2001, p. 507.
  133. ^ Vail 2002, p. 22.
  134. ^ Bogdanov, Voodstra & Erlewine 2002, p. 325.
  135. ^ Enstice & Stockhouse 2004, pp. 96–110.
  136. ^ Huey, Steve. "Joey DeFrancesco: Artist Biography". Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  137. ^ Faragher 2012, p. 248.


  • Chord organ
  • Novachord
  • List of Hammond organs

See also

Jazz musicians continued to use Hammond organs into the 21st century. [137]

[133]", where it was mixed into the foreground.So What'cha Want' "Beastie Boys music, albeit mostly via samples. A notable exception was the hip-hop The sound of the Hammond made an appearance in [132].James Taylor Quartet and later with the the Prisoners movement. Taylor played the Hammond through the 1980s, first with mod revival The instrument underwent a brief renaissance in the 1980s with the [131], stated that "the Hammond never really went away. There are a lot of studios that have had a B-3 or C-3 sitting away in there since the 70s."Mellotron was a notable exception to this, and used a Hammond onstage during the band's early career. Andy Thompson, better known for being an aficionado of the Dave Greenfield' The Stranglers [130] that were starting to come onto the market.synthesizers Other groups started taking advantage of cheaper and more portable [129] [128] The Hammond organ was perceived as outdated by the late 1970s, particularly in the UK, where it was often used to perform pop songs in social clubs.

Barbara Dennerlein has achieved critical acclaim for her work on the Hammond's bass pedals

Toots and the Maytals, as well as playing it on sessions with Lee "Scratch" Perry, Jimmy Cliff and Gregory Isaacs.[126] Tyrone Downie, best known as Bob Marley & The Wailers' keyboard player, made prominent use of the Hammond on "No Woman, No Cry", as recorded at the Lyceum Theatre, London, for the album Live![127]

The Hammond was a key instrument in the Zombies' and Argent's Rod Argent, Yes's Tony Kaye and Rick Wakeman, Focus's Thijs van Leer, Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley, Pink Floyd's Rick Wright, Kansas's Steve Walsh, and Genesis's Tony Banks. Banks later claimed he only used the Hammond because a piano was impractical to transport to gigs.[124]

Joey DeFrancesco has achieved critical success in the jazz genre using both original tonewheel Hammonds and the "New B-3".

Joey DeFrancesco.[120] Van der Graaf Generator's Hugh Banton modified his Hammond E-100 extensively with customised electronics, including the ability to put effects such as distortion on one manual but not the other, and rewiring the motor. The modifications created, in Banton's own words, "unimaginable sonic chaos."[121]

Jon Lord put his Hammond C-3 through a Marshall stack to fit in with Deep Purple's hard rock sound

Gregg Allman became interested in the Hammond after Mike Finnigan had introduced him to Jimmy Smith's music, and started to write material with it.[113] His brother Duane specifically requested he play the instrument when forming the Allman Brothers Band,[114] and he was presented with a brand new B-3 and Leslie 122RV upon joining. Allman recalls the instrument was cumbersome to transport, particularly on flights of stairs, which often required the whole band's assistance.[115] Author Frank Moriarty considers Allman's Hammond playing a vital ingredient of the band's sound.[116]

Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which topped the UK charts in the summer of 1967.[110][111] Steve Winwood started his musical career with the Spencer Davis Group playing guitar and piano, but he switched to Hammond when he hired one to record "Gimme Some Lovin'".[112]

"I took to riding the L100 like a bucking bronco. It weighs 350 lb; when it's on top of you, you need the adrenalin rush you get onstage to chuck it around."
Keith Emerson[107]

Jimmy Smith became a notable user of the Hammond in the 1950s, particularly in his sessions for the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957.[100] Medeski says musicians "were inspired when they heard Jimmy Smith's records."[104] "Brother" Jack McDuff switched from piano to Hammond in 1959, and toured regularly throughout the 1960s and 70s.[105] Keith Emerson was inspired to take up the Hammond by hearing McDuff's arrangement of "Rock Candy".[106]

[102] Early customers of the Hammond included

Jimmy Smith's use of the Hammond organ in the 1950s gave him commercial success and influenced other notable organists

Notable users

The Hammond organ has also been emulated in software. The most prominent emulator in this field has been the Native Instruments B4 series, which has been praised for its attention to detail and choice of features. Emagic (now part of Apple) has also produced a software emulation, the EVB3.[98]

[97].Joey DeFrancesco, founded by former Hammond-Suzuki sales rep Tom Tuson in 2003, has specialised in Hammond clones, and featured a notable endorsement from Diversi [96] The

The Nord Electro emulated drawbars using buttons and a light emitting diode display[93]

The first attempts to electronically copy a Hammond appeared in the 1970s, including the Roland VK-1 and VK-9, the Yamaha YP45D and the Crumar Organiser. The [91]

The original Hammond organ was never designed to be transported on a regular basis. A Hammond B-3 organ, bench, and pedalboard weighs 425 pounds (193 kg).[92] This weight, combined with that of a Leslie speaker, makes the instrument cumbersome and difficult to move between venues. Consequently, there has been a demand for a more portable, reliable way of generating the same sound. Electronic and digital keyboards that imitate the sound of the Hammond are often referred to as "

According to journalist Gordon Reid, the [91]

Clones and emulation devices

Some Hammond organs have an audible pop or click when a key is pressed.[89] Originally, key click was considered a design defect and Hammond worked to eliminate or at least reduce it with equalization filters. However, many performers liked the percussive effect, and it has been accepted as part of the classic sound. Hammond research and development engineer Alan Young said "the professionals who were playing popular music [liked] that the attack was so prominent. And they objected when it was eliminated."[90]


The Hammond organ makes technical compromises in the notes it generates. Rather than produce harmonics that are exact multiples of the fundamental as in equal temperament, it uses the nearest-available frequencies generated by the tonewheels.[14] The only guaranteed frequency for a Hammond's tuning is concert A at 440 Hz.[87]

A prototype light-weight tonewheel generator, produced at the Hammond Organ Company's factory in Antwerp

From here, the sound is sent to the main amplifier, and on to the audio speakers. [86] The combined signal from all depressed keys and pedals is fed through to the vibrato system, which is driven by a metal scanner. As the scanner rotates around a set of pickups, it changes the pitch of the overall sound slightly.[85] Every tonewheel is connected to a synchronous motor via a system of gears, which ensures that each note remains at a constant relative pitch to every other.[84][83][82] The basic component sound of a Hammond organ comes from a tonewheel. Each one rotates in front of an electromagnetic pickup. The variation in the

Although they are sometimes included in the category of electronic organs, the majority of Hammond organs are, strictly speaking, electric or electromechanical rather than electronic organs because the sound is produced by moving parts rather than electronic oscillators.[15]

The tonewheel rotates beside an electromagnetic pickup.

Tone generation

Leslie initially tried to sell his invention to Hammond, but Laurens Hammond was unimpressed and declined to purchase it. Hammond modified their interface connectors to be "Leslie-proof", but Leslie quickly engineered a workaround.[79] The Leslie company was sold to CBS in 1965[80] and was finally bought by Hammond in 1980. Hammond-Suzuki acquired the rights to Leslie in 1992;[2] the company currently markets a variety of speakers under this name.[66] As well as faithful reissues of the original 122 speaker, the company announced in 2013 that they would start manufacturing a standalone Leslie simulator in a stomp box.[81]

The Leslie was originally designed to mimic the complex tones and constantly shifting sources of sound emanating from a large group of ranks in a pipe organ. The effect varies depending on the speed of the rotors, which can be toggled between fast (tremolo) and slow (chorale) using a console or pedal switch, with the most distinctive effect occurring as the speaker rotation speed changes. The most popular Leslies were the 122, which accepted a balanced signal suitable for console organs, and the 147, which accepted an unbalanced signal and could be used for spinet organs with a suitable adapter.[77] The Pro-Line series of Leslies which were made to be portable for gigging bands using solid-state amps were popular during the 1970s.[78]

Many players prefer to play the Hammond through a rotating speaker cabinet known, after several name changes, as a Leslie speaker, after its inventor Donald J. Leslie. The Leslie system is an integrated speaker/amplifier combination in which sound is emitted by a rotating horn over a stationary treble compression driver, and a rotating baffle beneath a stationary bass woofer. This creates a characteristic sound because of the constantly changing pitch shifts that result from the Doppler effect created by the moving sound sources.[76]

A Leslie speaker with a transparent case
A simple chord sequence played on a Hammond organ through a Leslie speaker.

Problems playing this file? See .

Leslie speaker

[75] The most commercially successful tone cabinets were probably the PR series, particularly the 40-watt PR40.[74] The tone cabinet was originally the only method of adding

The authorized power amplifier and loudspeakers, and so did not require a tone cabinet.

Tone cabinet


In the US, Hammond manufactures a number of dedicated console organs, including the B-3mk2 and the C-3mk2, and the A-405, a Chapel Console Organ. The company has a dedicated Church Advisory Team that provides a consultancy so that churches can choose the most appropriate instrument.[70]

[69] In response to some clones including a variety of vintage keyboards in a single package, Hammond released the SK series of organs, which include [66] The company has since released the XK-3, a single-manual organ using the same digital tonewheel technology as the New B-3. The XK-3 is part of a modular system that allows an integrated lower manual and pedals to be added.

The Hammond SK1 included emulations of electric pianos and other keyboard sounds in addition to organ

In 2002, Hammond-Suzuki relaunched the B-3 as the 'New B-3', a re-creation of the original electromechanical instrument using modern-day electronics and a digital tonewheel simulator. The New B-3 is constructed to appear like the original B-3, and the designers attempted to retain the subtle nuances of the familiar B-3 sound. Hammond-Suzuki promotional material states that it would be difficult for even an experienced B-3 player to distinguish between the old and new B-3 organs. A review of the New B-3 by Hugh Robjohns called it "a true replica of an original B-3 ... in terms of the look and layout, and the actual sound."[15] The instrument project nearly stalled after a breakdown in negotiations between Japanese and United States staff, the latter of whom insisted on manufacturing the case in the United States and designing the organ to identical specifications to the original.[65]

The name was purchased by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation in 1989,[2] who rebranded the company as Hammond-Suzuki.[17] Although nominally a Japanese company, founder Manji Suzuki was a fan of the instrument and retained several former Hammond Organ Company staff for research and development,[63] and ensured that production would partially remain in the United States.[64] The new company produced their own brand of portable organs, including the XB-2, XB-3 and XB-5. Sound on Sound '​s Rod Spark, a longtime Hammond enthusiast, said these models were "a matter of taste, of course, but I don't think they're a patch on the old ones".[17]

[1] and the company struggled to survive, proposing an acquiring of [17] Laurens Hammond died in 1973,

Hammond-Suzuki produced the XB-3, a digital emulation of a tonewheel organ, during the 1990s


[17] In 1979, a Japanese offshoot, Nihon Hammond, introduced the X-5, a portable solid-state clone of the B-3.[60] Hammond introduced their first

In the 1960s, Hammond started making transistor organs. The first organ that bridged the gap between tonewheel and transistor was the X-66, introduced in May 1967. The X-66 contained just 12 tonewheels, and used electronics for frequency division. It contained separate "vibrato bass" and "vibrato treble" in an attempt to simulate a Leslie speaker. Hammond designed it as the company's flagship product, in response to market competition and to replace the B-3. However, it was considered expensive at $9,795 and it sold poorly. It did not sound like a B-3.[57]

Hammond started making transistor organs by the mid-1970s

Transistor organs

The T series, produced from 1968 to 1975, was the last of the tonewheel spinet organs. Unlike all the earlier Hammond organs, which used vacuum tubes for pre-amplification, amplification, Percussion and Chorus-Vibrato control, the T series used all-solid-state, transistor circuitry, though, unlike the L-100, it did include the scanner-vibrato as seen on the B-3.[54] Other than the T-100 series models, all other T-Series models included a built-in rotating Leslie speaker and some included an analog drum machine,[55] while the T-500 also included a built-in cassette recorder.[56] It was one of the last tonewheel Hammonds produced.[17]

The L-100 series entered production at the same time as the M-100. It was an economy version, with various cost cutting changes so the organ could retail for under $1000. The vibrato was a simpler circuit than on other consoles and spinets. Two variations of the vibrato were provided, plus a chorus that mixed various vibrato signals together. The expression pedal, based on a cheaper design, was not as sophisticated as on the other organs.[53] The L-100 was particularly popular in the UK and sold well, with several notable British musicians using it instead of a B-3 or C-3.[50]

The T-402 was one of the last tonewheel organs manufactured and included a built in drum machine

Though the instrument had been originally designed for use in a church, Hammond realized that the amateur home market was a far more lucrative business, and started manufacturing spinet organs in the late 1940s.[51] Outside of the United States, they were manufactured in greater numbers than the consoles, and hence were more widely used. Several different types of M series instruments were produced between 1948 and 1964; they contained two 44-note manuals with one set of drawbars each, and a 12-note pedalboard. The M model was produced from 1948 to 1951, the M-2 from 1951 to 1955, and the M-3 from 1955 to 1964.[12] The M series was replaced by the M-100 series in 1961, which used a numbering system to identify the body style and finish as used on earlier console series. It included the same manuals as the M, but increased the pedalboard size to 13 notes, stretching a full octave, and included a number of presets.[52]

The L-100 spinet was particularly popular in the UK[50]

Spinet organs

The E-100 series was a cost-reduced version of the A-100 introduced in 1965, with only one set of drawbars per manual, a reduced number of presets, and a slightly different tone generator.[48] This was followed by the H-100 series, with a redesigned tonewheel generator and various other additional features.[44] Unfortunately, the organ was not particularly well made, and suffered a reputation for being unreliable. Hammond service engineer Harvey Olsen said "When they [H-100s] work, they sound pretty decent. But die-hard enthusiasts won't touch it."[49]

In 1959, Hammond introduced the A-100 series. It was effectively a self-contained version of the B-3/C-3, with an internal power amplifier and speakers. The organ was manufactured in a variety of different chassis, with the last two digits of the specific model number determining the style and finish of the instrument. For example, A-105 was "Tudor styling in light oak or walnut," while the A-143 was "warm cherry finish, Early American styling".[47] This model numbering scheme was used for several other series of console and spinet organs that subsequently appeared. The D-100 series, which provided a self-contained version of the RT-3, followed in 1963.[9]

To cater more specifically to the church market, Hammond introduced the Concert Model E in July 1937, which included a full 32-note pedalboard and four electric switches known as toe pistons, allowing various sounds to be selected by the feet.[45] The model E was replaced by the model RT in 1949, which retained the full size pedalboard, but otherwise was internally identical to the B and C models. RT-2 and RT-3 models subsequently appeared in line with the B-2/C-2 and B-3/C-3 respectively.[46]

The H-100 was an unsuccessful attempt to replace the B-3

The level of vibrato was originally fixed; this changed in 1949 with the introduction of the B-2 and C-2, in which vibrato could be adjusted.[17] In 1954, the B-3 and C-3 models were introduced with the additional harmonic percussion feature.[43] Despite several attempts by Hammond to replace them, these two models remained popular[44] and stayed in continuous production through early 1975.[41]

[5]. The various models available were the BV and CV (vibrato only) and BCV and DV (vibrato and chorus).World War II Development of the vibrato system took place during the early 1940s, and was put into production shortly after the end of [42] Criticism that the Hammond organ was more aesthetically suitable to the home instead of the church led to the introduction of the model C in September 1939. It contained the same internals as the AB or BC, but covered on the front and sides by

To address concerns that the sound of the Hammond was not rich enough to accurately mimic a pipe organ, the model BC was introduced in December 1936. It included a chorus generator, in which a second tonewheel system added slightly sharp or flat tones to the overall sound of each note. The cabinet was made deeper to accommodate this.[5] Production of the old Model A cases stopped, but the older model continued to be available as the AB until October 1938.[4]

The first model in production, in June 1935, was the Model A. It contained most of the features that came to be standard on all console Hammonds, including two 61-key manuals, a 25-key pedalboard, an expression pedal, 12 reverse-color preset keys, two sets of drawbars for each manual, and one for the pedals.[5]

The B-3 was the most popular Hammond organ, produced from 1954 to 1974[41]
A medley played on a 1935 Model A Hammond organ through a Leslie speaker.

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Console organs

  • Console organs have two 61-note manuals and a pedalboard of at least two octaves. Most consoles do not have a built-in power amplifier or speakers, so an external speaker cabinet is required.
  • Spinet organs have two 44-note manuals and one octave of pedals, plus an internal power amplifier and set of speakers.[40]

Hammond organs, as manufactured by the original company, can be divided into two main groups:

Tonewheel organs

A key ingredient to the Hammond organ's success was the use of dealerships and a sense of community. Several dedicated organ dealers set up business in the United States[37] and there was a bi-monthly newsletter, The Hammond Times, mailed out to subscribers.[38] Advertisements tended to show families centered around the instrument, often with a child playing it, as an attempt to show the organ as a center-point of home life and to encourage children to learn music.[39]

In 1936, the [36]

On April 24, 1934, Hammond filed U.S. Patent 1,956,350 for an "electrical musical instrument",[28] which was personally delivered to the patent office by Hanert, explaining that they could start production immediately and it would be good for local employment in Chicago.[29] The invention was unveiled to the public in April 1935 and the first model, the Model A, was made available in June of that year.[4] Over 1,750 churches purchased a Hammond organ in the first three years of manufacturing, and by the end of the 1930s over 200 instruments were being made each month.[30] For all its subsequent success with professional musicians, the original company did not target its products at that market, principally because Hammond did not think there was enough money in it.[31] It has been estimated that the Hammond Organ Company produced about two million instruments in its lifetime; these have been described as "probably the most successful electronic organs ever made".[30] In 1966, it was estimated that about 50,000 churches had installed a Hammond.[32]

[26] Laurens Hammond graduated from

The Hammond organ's technology derives from the amplifier.[24]



Before a Hammond organ can produce sound, the motor that drives the tonewheels must come up to speed. On most models, starting a Hammond organ involves two switches. The "Start" switch turns a dedicated [23]

Start and Run switches

The B-3 and C-3 models introduced the concept of "Harmonic Percussion", which was designed to emulate the percussive sounds of the harp, xylophone and marimba.[20] When selected, this feature plays a decaying second- or third-harmonic overtone when a key is pressed. The selected percussion harmonic fades out, leaving the sustained tones the player selected with the drawbars. The volume of this percussive effect is selectable as either Normal or Soft.[21] Harmonic Percussion retriggers only after all notes have been released, so legato passages sound the effect only on the very first note or chord, making Harmonic Percussion uniquely a "single-trigger, polyphonic" effect[22]

Harmonic Percussion

Hammond organs have a built-in vibrato effect that provides a small variation in pitch while a note is being played, and a chorus effect where a note's sound is combined with another sound at a slightly different and varying pitch. The best known vibrato and chorus system consists of six settings, V1, V2, V3, C1, C2 and C3 (i.e., 3 vibrato and 3 chorus), which can be selected via a rotary switch. Vibrato / chorus can be selected for each manual independently.[19]

Vibrato and chorus

In addition to drawbars, many Hammond tonewheel organ models also include presets, which make predefined drawbar combinations available at the press of a button. Console organs have one octave of reverse colored keys (naturals are black, sharps and flats are white) to the left of each manual, with each key activating a preset; the far left key (C), also known as the cancel key, de-activates all presets, and results in no sound coming from that manual. The two right-most preset keys (B and B♭) activate the corresponding set of drawbars for that manual, while the other preset keys produce preselected drawbar settings that are internally wired into the preset panel.[18] Presets can be changed by rerouting the associated color-coded wires on the rear of the organ. Some spinet models have flip tabs for presets situated above the manuals.

Preset keys on a Hammond organ are reverse-colored and sit to the left of the manuals


Some drawbar settings have become well known and associated with certain musicians. A very popular setting is 888000000 (i.e., with the drawbars labelled "16'", "51/3'" and "8'" fully pulled out), and has been identified as the "classic" Jimmy Smith sound.[17]

The labeling of the drawbar derives from the fundamental of the note being played, the drawbar marked "16'" is an octave below, and the drawbars marked "4'", "2'" and "1'" are one, two and three octaves above respectively. The other drawbars generate various subharmonics of the note.[15] While each individual drawbar generates a relatively pure sound similar to a flute or electronic oscillator, more complex sounds can be created by mixing the drawbars in varying amounts.[16] Some spinet models do not include the two subharmonic drawbars on the lower manual.

The sound on a tonewheel Hammond organ is varied through the manipulation of drawbars. A drawbar is a metal slider that controls the volume of a particular sound component, in a similar way to a fader on an audio mixing board. As a drawbar is incrementally pulled out, it increases the volume of its sound. When pushed all the way in, the volume is decreased to zero.[14]

The sound on a Hammond is varied using drawbars, similar to faders on an audio mixing board[14]


Hammond console organs come with a wooden G above middle C as the top note.[9] The RT-2, RT-3 and D-100 also contained a separate solo pedal system that had its own volume control and various other features.[13] Spinet models had 12- or 13-note miniature pedalboards with stamped steel pedals.

Most Hammond organs have two 61-note (5-[11] The M series of spinets also had waterfall keys (which has subsequently made them ideal for spares on B-3s and C-3s[12]), but later models had "diving board" style keys which resembled those found on a church organ. Modern Hammond-Suzuki models use waterfall keys.

Unlike an [9]
A single note (C) played on a Hammond organ.

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Keyboards and pedalboard


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