I'm sure that if you do a Google search on "Hammond B3" you will get plenty of information.
19 responses Add your response
Tweakgeek, I've had a C3 with a Leslie 145 front and center in my living room before, and I don't necessarily recommend the decorating approach (although the Hammond was chopped, to be fair). That monstrosity had to go several years back (unfortunately just before the sound caught on again and prices went ballistic), but I'm now working on a beautiful little M3 in mahogany with bench that I found at a Goodwill and bargained down to $65. It'll probably need a new motor though. And I don't even play keys - I just keep these around 'cause I love 'em, and like to have an organ available for jamming purposes since I play guitar. I'm actually not really big on Hammonds for rock though, which is why I've also kept a couple of Farfisa Compacts over the years, and one day hope to find a clean Vox Continental for cheap (probably too late for that one now).
Phasecorrect, I don't really know the history of the instrument, but the C3 was the forerunner to the famed B3, and is essentially the same organ without the percussion effect. Mine was manufactured in the late 30's, and had the percussion module added in the 50's, so it was functionally a B3, but without pedals since it was chopped (removed from its wooden cabinet to make portable, if you can call anything that damn big and heavy 'portable'). The entire family of Hammond organs that give the sound you like are called electric tone-wheel organs and generate sound from a rotating machinery, with tube preampilfiers, and tube power amplifiers in models with built-in speakers. They have various numbers of manuals (keyboards), keys, pedals, and pull-stops, depending on model and size, with the C/B3 being the largest. Other desirable models can include the "M", "L", and "A" ranges, but at a certain point the line changed over to solid-state amplification, and eventually the tone-wheel system was replaced by all-electronic oscillators. The well-known Hammond spring reverb units can also be found in many of the models with built-in speakers. The C/B3's don't have either, depending instead on the external Leslie tone cabinets for their power amplification and true rotating horn speaker, which give the characteristic distortion and doppler vibrato/tremelo effect made famous by the organ-trio jazz players, along with the action's key-'clicks' and the bell-like overtones of the percussion settings (the unadorned, undistorted sound of the tone-wheel generator is actually fairly flute-like).
There's a book out called "Beauty and the B" by Mark Vail that goes into the history of the Hammonds.
BTW, the Leslie speaker was not a Hammond product. Hammond viewed Leslie as a competitor. They changed the electrical interface to external tone cabinets several times over the years to thwart Leslie, but an adapter always showed up(thank goodness!).
I agree with Tousana.
Oh my weeping heart! The memories!
I was barely six when my parents trooped me over to the convent to start violin(ce!) lessons. Sister whatever explained that I should start on piano for 1/2 year, and I dutifully performed for the masked woman every week.
We moved to a larger house a couple of years later (still no violin in site, fortunately!), and were therefore pianoless, as my father had cemented in the new basement bulkhead door just small enough to imprison our old player upright!
One day I returned from CYO basketball tryouts and what did I see in the living room? A Hammond L orrrrgannnn.... Hmmmm.
What the hell was I supposed to do with this? Only 44 keys per manual, but at least there were two. And these drawbars....
Well, before you know it I was a wiz at 11, and we traded up to a monstrous H: a B with percussion, double-reverb, twin 12's, etc. Hammond's best ($4k in '65), nest to the chrome monstrosity called an X77 or something ($11k!).
So I became the organist of northern Rhode Island, cranking out Ventures and Band's tunes in between Bach and Buxtehude, getting gigs mostly at local church fairs, weddings, funerals, etc. The Casavant Freres of Quebec made most of the wonderful huge pipe organs in French-Canadian little rhody, and I had a blast playing all these tired old monsters. But my favorite love was to play with the Hammond drawbars, imitating Jimmy Smith. At 17 I was invited to join a couple of jazz and blues bands that played in--- "Ah mon Dieu", my mom screeched---black clubs in south providence. I had to explain that my "H" was NOT portable, at 400 lbs., and that I would NOT lower myself to play a Farfisa or Rhodes. What crap. Poor white boy just too scared....
The grooming I endured for a bid at Julliard was turned away for a "safer" education in drugs at Brown, where I spent too many nights banging out Dylan, the Band, etc., on uprights in various dorms, hoping to catch the attention
of a gal or two. But guitarists were in vogue. Portability ruled....
After marriage and a house in Boston's northern burbs my folks called and asked if I wanted the old Hammond. I had a great Jewett 52" upright, was stuck in a bad job cranking out Pipetmen, and stalled. She decided to temporarily donate it to her big sis, my aunt "Mother Alma", who ran an order of nuns in Connecticut. Well, they stuck it in their new auditorium, and have used it since. I visited the place in Baltic CT a few years ago when Alma died (she never did divulge the secrets she said the Pope bestowed upon her), but didn't have the heart to ask for the Hammond back.
At 35 it was still pumping out sweet tunes, but mostly in square time, and with only the white and brown drawbars...not the black (odd-order harmonics) ones.
Someday I may go visit her again. My jewish wife says NO to the wormwood pecan French Provincial casework in vogue in the 60s...OY!
The old Jewett (no pun) held sway until 4 years ago, when I bought and restored an old black Steinway B from the Univ of Vermont, only to find that it's old black finish stripped away to a book-matched striped mahogany! So Brahms and Schubert it is, and a bit 'o jazz. The Dylan and Band tunes just don't sound the same. And the Ventures? Ha!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Cheers. Ernie
For historical reference, my aging brain recalls that the A-1 was the first Hammond. The A-3 was the precursor to the B3, and simply lacked the lowest "octaves" of reverse-color "presets". The E added percussion. The H added reverb, LOTS more percussion, and perhaps an added odd-order (black) upper-harmonic drawbar (1.125'??).
The M and L were smaller double 44 instead of double 61
models, and had a short pedal set instead of the full two octaves long pedals.
The enclosed speaker in these larger consoles didn't go below 40 Hz or so, so Hammond never bothered with a 32' drawbar. The speaker couldn't produce the bottom of the 16'
(first brown) drawbar anyway. Cheers.
As a huge fan of Booker T. & The M.G.'s (and no small Neil Young fan), I'm sorry to report that my take on "Potato Hole" couldn't be more opposite from Bongofury, and in all aspects: songwriting, playing, arrangements, cover versions, and sound production. The only emotion I got off this thing was to become depressed at just how disappointing and uncompelling I found it...
Palasr, like you I played it twice initially, then played it again before I posted above to make absolutely certain of where I stood before commenting negatively in public. But Shadorne, I'm glad to learn that some folks dug it (especially since it happens that the guy from the label who Booker credits in his thank yous used to be a coworker and musical friend of mine, many moons ago.) But I'm down with ya when it comes to Brian Auger, at least in The Trinity days on Atco...