I’ve had a lifelong love affair with the Hammond organ. Back in my long haired, flared jeans distant past any keyboard player worth their salt had a Hammond. From the L100, M3 and M100 spinets used by Steve Winwood, Booker T, Procul Harem and Focus through to the C3,B3 and A100’s (plus road crew) that Emerson, Lord and many others used. As much a part of the Hammond sound is the Leslie speaker, a device loathed by Laurens Hammond but loved by everyone else.
Today we have lots of keyboards and software that attempts to emulate the Hammond with varying degrees of success. I spend many hours with some of these instruments trying to get the sound of my favourite instrument. In addition to a Leslie 760 I also own one of the disparaged instruments that Hammond produced – a T102. A true tonewheel Hammond mated with solid state electronics. You can read how I’ve spent many hours restoring and modifying this instrument.
There are also a couple of DIY articles on building a Leslie switch and replacing those ageing relay switches with a switchless and safe alternative.
Even the newer tone wheel Hammonds are now 40 years old and too many are being trashed. They can be picked up for peanuts and I hope that this page helps to save some of these unique instruments.
My Hammond sound – how to get the best sounds out of software and clones.
The Hammond T series – don’t write it off too soon. The restoration and modification of my Hammond T102.
Leslie 760 – It may be solid state but this thing kicks. Whilst bringing it back up to spec I also modified the Leslie to give it more functionality.
Inexpensive Leslie switch – the old bakelite models go for decent money and clone options such as the Nord are positively obscenely priced. Here is a low cost option that is pretty much identical and uses off the shelf parts.
Solid state speed switching – Leslie speakers use different methods of switching the speed but what they all have in common are harder to find replacement parts. Using solid state relays this is a low voltage and silent way of switching the motor speeds.