Talk:Hammond organ

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Merger completed[edit]

After ages and ages of silence, I have merged this page and the B3 page, however, this article still needs some work to reduce redundancies.

Technical notes[edit]

Tonewheel generator[edit]

In a tonewheel Hammond organ, an AC synchronous motor drives all tonewheels. Earlier organ motors did not start by themselves when power was switched on; they needed an auxiliary starting motor to bring them up to speed. Power for the latter motor passed through a spring-loaded, normally off power switch next to the main switch. When switched on, the organist held the starting switch on for a few seconds to start the main motor, then released it. Later motors were self-starting synchronous types.

The whole tonewheel generator assembly extends across the width of the organ, and is roughly 35 cm from front to back; it is roughly 8 cm high. The main drive shaft (directly driven by the motor) runs through the middle, and is not continuous; it has several springs to isolate sections of the shaft (probably mechanical low-pass filtering, to reduce high-frequency torque fluctuations).

The generator assembly comprises a number of compartments which isolate neighboring tonewheels and their coils, as well as enhancing the rigidity of the structure while maintaining reasonable weight. Extending from both the front edge and the back edge are the magnets, with clamping collars and screws. These are factory adjustments, critical, to set the correct distance between the "inside" tip of the magnet and the tonewheel. They should not be readjusted without good reason and significant knowledge.

Between any given tonewheel and the main drive shaft are gears with ratios that enhance the frequency accuracy of the tones being generated. The consequence of this is that the intonation is technically just, but some frequency ratios are numerically large (such as three-digit numbers).

A few tonewheels apparently have too much harmonic content from the coil, so they have low-pass filters placed on top of the chassis.

At least some, if not all tonewheel generator chassis are normally covered by a thick felt blanket, perhaps to absorb mechanical noise, and to help keep dust from getting inside.

Some tonewheel generators have a thick non-metallic opaque coating applied to the tonewheel edges, so the teeth are not visible.

Tapped transformer and drawbar loudnesses (stub)[edit]

Audio delay lines and scanners [stub)[edit]

Spring reverberation unit (stub)[edit]

Performance techniques (split from main article due to being unsourced or poorly sourced)[edit]

Manuals, drawbars, and effects[edit]

Pianists and synthesizer players who begin playing the Hammond soon realize that authentic performance practice involves a lot more than playing the notes on the keyboard. Hammond players vary the timbre of both manuals in real time through a combination of changing drawbar settings, engaging or disengaging the vibrato and chorus effects or percussion settings, and changing the rotating Leslie speaker system's speed setting. As well, performers obtain other effects by setting the Leslie's amplifier to maximum output (and controlling the effective volume using only the organ's volume pedal) to add overdriven distortion or growl for certain passages, or by briefly switching off the organ's synchronous run motor, which produces a wobbly pitch-bend effect.

There are playing styles that are idiomatic to the Hammond organ, such as palm glissandos, rapid repetition of a single note, tremolo between two notes a third apart (typically the 5th and 7th scale degree of the current chord), percussive drumming of the keyboard, and playing a chord on the upper manual, then sliding the hand down to duplicate the chord on the lower manual. Artistic use of the foot-controlled volume pedal is an important facet of performing on the Hammond.

Bass pedalboard[edit]

Tom Vickers notes that after Jimmy Smith popularized the Hammond organ in jazz, many jazz pianists "...who thought that getting organ-ized would be a snap ...realized that the ...B-3 required not only a strong left hand, but killer coordination on those bass pedals to really get the bass groove percolating."[1] In the 1950s, the organist Wild Bill Davis told aspiring organist Smith that it could take over a decade just to learn the bass pedals. Jazz organists such as Jimmy Smith developed the ability to perform fluent walking-bass lines on the bass pedals, mostly on ballad tempo tunes. He played up-tempo bass lines with his left hand, augmented by occasional taps on the bass pedalboard. Some organists like Barbara Dennerlein or Leon Kuijpers perform basslines on the bass pedalboard.

The organist may operate the bass pedals while either wearing standard shoes; using specially designed organ shoes; or performing barefoot. Rhoda Scott is said to have originated the barefoot playing method, which is popular with some players.


I've been following the back and forth between Binksternet and Organdoc1998 about whether the X-66 is any good or not. The main source I have used, Scott Faragher's book, pulls no punches in criticising the X-66 as expensive and unpopular, however he doesn't go as far as saying it has a poor sound, merely "it's not a B-3". This extract from the American Theatre Organ Society journal says the X-77 was considered "one of the finest Hammond models". How should we proceed with this? Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 10:20, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

"120 Years" link[edit]

I am concerned about this edit. I have left the link in for the minute because it includes patent diagrams that aren't available on the article. However, the accompanying text, to be blunt, isn't that good including POV such as "created one of the most popular and enduring electronic instruments ever built", and "The Hammond Organ became popular with Jazz, Blues and Rock musicians up until the late 1960′s [sic] and was also used by ‘serious’ musicians" (ouch!), factual inaccuracy such as "This method of creating tones was maintained until the mid 1960′s [sic] when transistors replaced tone wheels" (the last T500 rolled off the assembly line in 1975), and the YouTube link might be a copyvio. Does anyone have any thoughts over whether it should stay or go? Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 12:17, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Tom Vickers. "Organ Grinder Swing". Archived from the original on 2008-05-20.