Support HammondWiki. Donate!

During the total production run of Hammond tonewheel organs, there were several changes made in the number of outputs from the Tone Generator. This depended on the model and the year the organ was built:

The Patent Organ

The organ described in Lauren Hammond's patent application was never marketed and existed in prototype form only. The tone generator illustrated in the patent produced 89 frequencies starting at C0:

   7  blank tonewheels
   5  tonewheels of 2 teeth   C0-E0
   12 tonewheels of 4 teeth   F0-E1
   12 tonewheels of 8 teeth   F1-E2
   12 tonewheels of 16 teeth  F2-E3
   12 tonewheels of 16 teeth  F3-E4
   12 tonewheels of 32 teeth  F4-E5
   12 tonewheels of 64 teeth  F5-E6
   12 tonewheels of 128 teeth F6-E7

In the patent organ the number of teeth on the tonewheels change at F instead of C as in the production organs. Also note that there are twice as many 16 toothed tonewheels as the other octaves. This required two different sets of Gear Ratios, one set for E3 and below and a different set for F3 and above to make this odd arrangement of tonewheels work correctly. There are no tones above the sixth octave like there are in the production organs because the hobbing machine used to cut the sinusoidal "teeth" in the tonewheels could not cut 256 teeth. Hammond didn't solve this problem until just before the Model A was introduced (see Early Model info below).

Early Model 91 Frequency Generator

The following organs were produced from the mid 1930's to the early 1940's and have a 91 frequency generator:

   Model A: #     1 - # 2,676
   Model B: # 4,000 - #10,549
   Model C: #     1 - # 1,247
   Model D: #     1 - # 3,143
   Model E: # 8,000 - # 8,663
   Player : # 9,000 - # 9,209

All 91 frequency models have:

   12 tonewheels of 2 teeth   C0-B0
   12 tonewheels of 4 teeth   C1-B1
   12 tonewheels of 8 teeth   C2-B2
   12 tonewheels of 16 teeth  C3-B3
   12 tonewheels of 32 teeth  C4-B4
   12 tonewheels of 64 teeth  C5-B5
   12 tonewheels of 128 teeth C6-B6
    7 tonewheels of 192 teeth C7-G7
    5 blank tonewheels

After the patent was issued and before production began, Hammond figured out a different combination of Gear Ratios that would change the number of teeth at the Cs rather than at the Fs. To simplify production he kept one standard set of Driving Gears and Driven Gears for each octave.

He also figured out a way to generate a top half octave without 256 tooth tonewheels. The ratio of a perfect fourth to unison is 4:3 or 1.333 times higher. Since 256/192 is approximately equal to 1.333, Hammond cut the top tonewheels to 192 teeth and changed the gear ratio between the driving gears and the driven gears to that a perfect fourth above the desired pitch. In other words, the gear ratio for the upper C was the same as that used on the F tonewheels below it. Because 256/192 is not exactly 1.333, the upper seven pitches are slightly sharper than the other other octaves (another reason a tonewheel generator sounds different than most clones with perfectly divided digital octaves). Only seven tones could be produced using these gear ratios so most generators produce 91 tones. But, because of the way the tone generator was designed, the number of tonewheels in a generator had to be divisible by 12. So five blank tonewheels with no teeth (and no magnetic pickups) were used to keep everything running smoothly.

Because it was impossible to build a "single-toothed" tonewheel that could rotate without unbalancing the Tone Generator the lowest octave in the organ had no "subfundamental" tones and the key contacts were left disconnected. If only the first drawbar was pulled out, the bottom octave in both manuals were silent if played. In other words, these early organs lacked Harmonic Foldback in the lower octave.

The 82 Frequency Generator

The folowing models were produced during World War II and have an 82 frequency generator:

   Model A: # 2,677 - # 2,711
   Model B: #10,550 - #17,074
   Model C: # 1,248 - #17,074
   Model D: # 3,144 - #17,074
   Model E: # 8,664 - # 8,739
   Model G: # 4,101 - # 7,349
   Player:  # 9,210 - only

All 82 frequency generators have:

    9 blank tonewheels
    3 tonewheels of 2 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 4 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 8 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 16 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 32 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 64 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 128 teeth
    7 tonewheels of 192 teeth
    5 blank tonewheels

In an effort to trim costs during WWII, Hammond reduced, for a time, the number of tonewheels from 91 to 82. The 82 frequency generators eliminated the lowest 9 tonewheels and the organs were rewired to accomodate these missing tones. Hammond used a technique common to pipe organs which produce bass tones lower than the longest available pipe by simultaneously playing two pipes tuned a perfect fifth apart. This produces a resultant frequency an octave lower. By rewiring the organ to play a tonic and its fifth at the same time, a resulting frequency an octave lower was produced. However, this has a negative impact on the quality of the tone. Hammonds do not have perfect fifths and this further limited the quality of the tone. The 82 frequency models are probably not too common.

Late Model 91 Frequency Generator (with ComplexToneWheels)

After WWII, Hammond returned to the 91 frequency generators and added ComplexToneWheels to the lowest octave that provided additional odd hamonics to the fundamental. This improved the sound of the bass pedals. The following models were produced from the mid 1940's to the early 1950's and have 91 frequency generators with complex tone wheels on lowest octave:

   Model BV: #17,075 - #29,737
   Model CV: #17,075 - #30,287
   Model RT: # 1,001 - # 1,201
   Model B2: #35,000 - #40,303
   Model C2: #35,001 - #40,459
   Model RT2 # 1,300 - # 2,150

Narrow 91 Frequency Generator

A short time before the introduction of the 3 series, Hammond redesigned the tone generator to be narrower. These generators can NOT be used to replace the 91 frequency generator above because of differences in the output terminals. The following models have 91 frequency generators in a narrower frame (note that all B3's have the narrow generator):

   Model B2: #40,304 - through B3 to end of production
   Model C2: #40,460 - through C3 to end of production
   Model M3: #??,??? - through end of production
   Model RT2 # 2,151 - to end of production

M Series 86 Frequency Generator

M series SpinetOrgans were produced from the late 1940's to the early 1960's. To keep production costs down, these organs have an 86 frequency generator:

   12 tonewheels of 2 teeth (ComplexToneWheels but different in shape and harmonic content than the other organs)
    7 tonewheels of 4 teeth (Tonewheels for generators 13 through 17 are blank with no pickups)
    5 blank tonewheels
   12 tonewheels of 8 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 16 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 32 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 64 teeth
   12 tonewheels of 128 teeth
    7 tonewheels of 192 teeth
    5 blank tonewheels

The M series SpinetOrgans use an 86 frequency generator. Since the lower manual ends at F instead of C, generators 13(C) through 17 (E) are not needed. Tonewheels 13 through 17 are "blanks" (i.e. perfectly round) and the pickup magnets are missing. Early M organs use the "wide" generator (but unlike the other organs with the "wide" generator, the output terminals are not in consecutive order) but it's not known for sure how many. Later M, M-2 and M-3 organs used the narrow generator.

96 Frequency Generator

Used in later console organs such as the H-100 and X-77.

12 Frequency Generator

Only one Hammond model used a 12 frequency tonewheel generator, the X-66.

Chorus Generator

See ChorusGenerator

Hammond Manual and Tone Generator Wiring Diagram

For an in-depth description of the different kinds of tone generators and how they are connected to the manual key switches:

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.