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This page started as a copy of the OriginalHammondLeslieFaq (version 1.31).

I've slowly been cutting and pasting (with some editing and format changes) from here to various places in HammondWiki.

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Hammond-Leslie FAQ

Edition 1.31

April 1997

Copyright 1997 Bradley P. Baker Permission is granted for this material to be freely used and distributed, provided the source is acknowledged. No warranty of any kind is provided. You use this material at your own risk.

Table of Contents

... excerpted to OriginalHammondLeslieFaq


...excerpted to OriginalHammondLeslieFaq


The sound of the Hammond organ has been somewhat absent in popular recordings of the previous decade or so. There was a time though when its presence on stage was de rigueur for any self-respecting band - you simply weren't a real band without one. The sound of the Hammond organ is being heard once again in contemporary recordings. It has been carried to the surface recently by a "retro" movement in popular music. The Hammond/Leslie combination can be seen on stage at concert venues around the country and on late-night talk shows, usually being played by someone in a contemporary pop group. But occasionally a veteran can be seen holding court at the console, grabbing a handful of drawbars while the Leslie spools up. The Hammond - starting to rumble - a full-hand slowly ascending glissando - the expression pedal floored - feet pumping furiously - now the Hammond is a full-throated roar - the Leslie a screaming dervish - eyes closed - arms extended - clinching a two-handed altered dominant chord on both manuals...

...but I digress. What is it about the Hammond/Leslie combination that evokes zealous devotion in its advocates? Why do many of us consider the Hammond to be an instrument and other boxes with keys affixed to be merely poseurs?

Well, of course, there's the sound... Some say the Hammond organ is an acquired taste. Perhaps this is true and no attempt will be made here to describe its bare-murmur-to- primal-wail-absolutely-righteous sound. But a serious listen to the best of the listed recordings in the accompanying discography should be sufficient to addict most of the uninitiated to that sound. These selections demonstrate the Hammond organ's ability as an instrument to evoke in the listener the emotion projected by the organist. That ability is the essence of the fanaticism some have toward the instrument. The Hammond/Leslie combination is an acoustic instrument, while more modern keyboards, controllers, and workstations lack this (ahem) organic quality.

And then, there's the technology... The first thing you notice when you remove the back of a tone wheel Hammond and poke your curious head into its innards is... the smell of oil and wood. Behind the pre-amp lies the tone generator, the heart of the Hammond's sound. Comprising cogs, shafts, bearings, and wire, the tone generator is a classic example of American over-engineering circa 1940. The rest of the instrument is hand constructed of the same high quality. And you can still get parts. Try getting parts for your Rolakorgamaha BS-1 in the year 2030. But then, why would you want to? Working on Hammond organs can be a pleasure.

... remainder excerpted to WhatIsAHammondOrgan

1.1 Hammond Percussion

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1.2 Key Click

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1.3 Hammond Vibrato

...excerpted to Vibrato

1.4 The Scanner

...excerpted to Scanner

1.5 Drawbar Registrations

There has been a lot of discussion on the Hammond Mailing List about drawbar registrations. There has been general agreement that everything that has been published about the registrations used by famous Hammond players or in famous recordings is not to be taken too seriously (up to now of course). Want a quote? Here's part of Sal Azz's posting to the list on the subject...

" I get the biggest charge out of the Hammond notated sheet music that was available back then. I actually have 'Sounds of JimmySmith at the Hammond Organ' published by Edmy Music in 1965. I bought it mail order in 1966 from a review in the 'Hammond Times'. Even as a 14 year old, I knew I'd been had the second I opened the book. Of course, it is not transcribed 'as played' by JimmySmith. It's notated on 3 staffs. Dig the registrations for 'The Sermon':

Upper: 468364876 Lower: 006545456 Pedal: 82 Vibrato: OFF

SURE, play it like that and even your dog will die laughing while he dodges the broken stemware and pictures rattling off the walls from that pedal setting. Where the hell did they get this from?? Hey, at least they got the key signature right. "

Of couse, Sal and others have had a few more things to say about some more current publications, but for those quotes you'll have to check the list archives. As it turns out, most players use the same few drawbar settings. Here then, presented for (what ought to be) the first time in print anywhere, are the preset setup and drawbar registrations that most players use. These will make your organ sound like 90% of the recorded jazz material extant.(1)

(1) Posted by to the Hammond Mailing List by Sal Azz

... remainder excerpted to PopularDrawbarRegistrations StandardJazzRegistrations, and ErrolGarnerStyle.

1.6 Harmonic Foldback

... excerpted to HarmonicFoldback

1.7 Obtaining Service or Owners Manuals

... excerpted to ServiceManual

1.8 Oiling the Hammond

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1.9 Caveat Emptor - Buying a Hammond

...excerpted to HowToTestDriveAHammond

Hammond organ starting procedure ... excerpted to HowToStartAHammond

Bob Schleicher's Used Organ Rating Scale ... excerpted to BobSchleichersUsedOrganRatingScale

1.10 HOW-TOs: Repairs, Modifications, and Tech Tips

The following methods and procedures are for those individuals that want do technical repairs on their organ. They vary in complexity from the relatively benign drawbar cleaning procedure, to the potentially damaging busbar lubing procedure, a procedure probably best left to those with previous experience.

1.10.1 How To Clean Key Contacts

... see HowToCleanKeyContacts

1.10.2 How To Clean Drawbar Contacts

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1.10.3 How to Adjust the Preamp Drive Level (B-3/C-3/RT-3/A-100).

... excerpted to ?HowToAdjustThePreampDriveLevel

1.10.4 How To Rebuild the Vibrato Scanner.

..excerpted to HowToRebuildTheVibratoScanner

1.10.5 How to lube the manual busbars.

...excerpted to BusbarLubeJob

1.10.6 How to change the percussion keying source.

... excerpted to PercussionModifications

1.10.7 How to trouble-shoot a percussion that doesn't decay.

... excerpted to PercussionTroubleshooting

1.10.8 How to eliminate organ volume drop when percussion VOLUME is set to NORMAL.

... excerpted to PercussionModifications

2 The Leslie Tone Cabinet "Pipe Voice of the Electric Organ"

... excerpted to Leslie

2.2 Leslie Accessories Combo Pre-amp

... excerpted to LeslieComboPreamp

Accessory Kits:

Leslies usually need an accessory kit to adapt the balanced or un-balanced Leslie input with the organ, and to provide the switching voltages used to switch Leslie speeds. There are a large variety of kits available. Any competent organ technician should be able to provide you with the correct kit.

2.3 Leslie Modifications

..excerpted to LeslieModifications

Removing the treble diffuser:

..excerpted to LeslieModifications

Stock driver replacements:

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Amplifier modification:

..excerpted to LeslieModifications

2.4 Leslie Recording Techniques

..excerpted to LeslieRecordingTechniques

2.5 Oiling the Leslie

...excerpted to OilingTheLeslie

2.6 One-speed to Two-speed Leslie Conversion

...excerpted to TwoSpeedLeslieConversion

2.7 Leslie Rotation Speed

...excerpted to LeslieRotationSpeed

3 Hammond and Leslie Models

...excerpted to HammondAndLeslieProductionModels

4 Determining the Age of a Hammond or Leslie

..excerpted to TheHammondLeslieAgeDeterminationList

5 FAQ Contributors

This FAQ was compiled from correspondence that occurred on the Hammond Mailing List and from sources listed in the Hammond-Leslie FAQ Site Bibliography. Many contributions were made. At least the following people made significant contributions. Anyone that feels they have been wrongly omitted from, (or wrongly accused in), the following list please speak up: (?TomTuson) (?MikeSues) (?BevisPeters) (?SteveBlau) (BobSchleicher) (?JoeRut) (BruceWahler) (?ColinSpence) (?DaveAmels) (?DaveMcNally) (?MalteRogacki) (?MarcoMontaruli) (AlGoff) (GillesBacon) (John) (?JefferyMee) (?MarkLongo) (?LouisPomanti) (?TomDercola) (Ben "Jacobs") (?RussEvans) (SalAzz) (?ChuckCordier) (TedThompson) (?AllenSears) (?RobertMay) (?JohnFisher)

The content of this page is Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002 Geoffrey T. Dairiki and the other authors of the content, whoever they may be.
This is free information and you are welcome redistribute it under certain conditions; see for details.
Absolutely no warrantee is made as to the correctness of the information on this page.