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The A-Z of Analogue (Part 9)

Article from Music Technology, April 1994

Part 9 - Hammond to Hanert.

MT's exclusive guide to every analogue synth made. Included are keyboards, expanders/sound modules and the better known electronic pianos and organs. Not included are drum machines, standalone sequencers and effects units, vocoders and those guitar/wind synths which aren't regularly used as expanders in their own right.

Readers are invited to submit details of little-known instruments which may be of use in compiling the series and also to point out any mistakes and/or omissions if these occur. All contributions will be fully credited. Compiled by Peter Forrest



Laurens Hammond - the first synth pioneer?

Laurens Hammond was the Henry Ford of the music business - a designer of genius, and a natural promoter and marketer of his products. (If only Bob Moog or Tom Oberheim or Dave Smith...) Two of his great innovations were the tonewheel and the drawbar and he was also responsible for the development of the reverb unit.

The tonewheel was fundamentally a miniaturised version of the monstrous Telharmonium's sound-making method whereby a small toothed disc rotated in front of a magnet, and produced a pitched sine wave. This was great for pure sweet recorder-like tones, but limited on its own. Hammond used gearing to produce the harmonics of the fundamental, and then, with characteristic flair, milked this technology further by installing drawbars (originally called tone-bars) for each harmonic.

These drawbars could be pulled out to any one of eight positions, so that you could mix in exactly the right amount of any of nine harmonics on either keyboard - in real time, of course. This, effectively, was a forerunner of additive synthesis, and one of the most expressive tone control mechanisms ever invented.

At one stage, Hammond considered also developing the valve-based sound generation system he had been working on, but when the Monopolies Commission said he couldn't go ahead with both, he plumped for the tonewheel. Wise move.

Drawbars: in a standard set of nine drawbars, the first and second are brown, and work on the octave below the fundamental and the fifth above respectively. Then comes the fundamental, the octave above, the third harmonic (an octave and a fifth up from the fundamental), the next octave up, the fifth and the sixth harmonics, and finally the eighth harmonic - three octaves up from the fundamental. All the octave drawbars and the fundamental are white; the third, fifth and sixth harmonics are black. (Don't ask why the second of the brown drawbars doesn't come after the fundamental drawbar, as it logically should be, being a higher tone.) Eight positions on each drawbar produce several hundred thousand different combinations. On spinet organs, the lower manual usually only has seven drawbars, missing out the first two of a full set. Full-size organs have two sets of drawbars for each manual so that you can switch between two registrations instantly (using the A# and the B on the dummy key preset selectors).

Because of the electro-mechanical nature of its sounds, the Hammond tonewheel organ was refreshingly stable in its tuning, and remained fundamentally the same from its first production in 1935 to its last bow in 1975. The downside was weight. Even the smallest tonewheel Hammonds were so heavy (the L-100 weighs about the same as a Yamaha CS80) that the only realistic way to gig with one was to have it split in two. Many Hammonds were split by shops or individuals, but Hammond themselves got onto the bandwagon with versions of the L-100 and particularly M-100.

Hammond the company hit hard times in the 70s, when new technology made electro-mechanical devices seem very outdated. Even if there were still some people prepared to put up with the weight and the bulk of Hammond organs, they were too expensive to produce compared to hi-tech products. The company produced a succession of electronic organs which didn't have the earlier magic, and, now owned by Suzuki, have even produced their own rackmount and keyboard Hammond sample playback machines.

There have also been third-party samples of the classic Hammonds - very successfully on E-mu's Vintage Keys and on Barbara Dennerlein's sample CD, for example. However, just like the Clavinet, the Fender Rhodes and the Wurlitzer, most synthesiser/sampler impersonations of the Hammond sound work fine in a mix, but don't cut it when played out front.

The classic Hammonds are the B-3/C-3/A-100 family, but any valve tonewheel model can sound pretty good. An integral part of the classic Hammond sound comes from a Leslie cabinet - an amp/speaker cabinet with one or more revolving speakers or baffles, usually with fast and slow speed controls. Again, valve models are the best - and the bigger the cabinet, the more speakers/rotors inside, and the better the sound. Interestingly, Laurens Hammond and the whole Hammond firm hated the fact that another manufacturer produced something that was actually a vast improvement on their own equipment, and for years tried to put people off buying a Leslie, recommending only their own (inferior) tone cabinets. Eventually, though, they had to face the fact, and started selling Leslies.

All the Hammond organs included in the A-Z have tone-wheels and drawbars and are valve-amplified unless otherwise stated. They are all dual-manual, either full-size or spinet organs. Full-size organs have 61 notes on each keyboard, C-C, with another octave of reversed-colour dummy keys which act as preset selectors; and spinet organs have 44 notes on each keyboard, F-C, with the lower keyboard set an octave to the left of the upper. Spinet organs usually have their pre-set selectors as tabs above the keyboard. Full-size organs usually have 25 pedals; spinets 13 pedals.

Most if not all tonewheel organ parts were made in the USA, but they were assembled in many countries, including England, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Italy and South Africa. Cases were made in the individual countries, so that, for instance, an English C3 is slightly different in its woodwork from an American C3.

Model numbering system: most mid-period Hammonds (except some A-100s and, perhaps M-100s) have a letter followed by a number of digits, which form a code for the type of instrument. The letter and first digit refer to model type and revision number; the second to the styling (1 = Traditional, 2 = Contemporary, 3 = French Provincial, 4 = Early American, 5 = Tudor, 6 = Commercial, 7 = Horseshoe, 8 = Italian Provincial, 9 = Mediterranean, 0 = Miscellaneous); and the third to the type of finish (1 = Mahogany, 2 = Walnut, 3 = Cherry, 4 = Pecan, 5 = Oak, 6 = Maple, 7 = Wood combinations, 0 = Miscellaneous). So an L-122, for example, is an L100 in contemporary styling with walnut finish.

Prices: as with most old electro-magnetic technology, there are bargains to be had for well-gigged, tatty examples that need some attention, but you can also spend considerable amounts on pristine examples of one of the classic models. Assume that the target prices quoted here are for a machine in basically good condition - in full working order and without structural damage to the casing.

By far the most desirable tonewheel Hammonds are the B-3's: why they should be so much more desirable than C-3's just because they have spindly legs and a see-through rear panel is uncertain, but they are. The other really pricy Hammond is the B-A, which has become a collectors' item because of its rarity.

Users (actual model unknown) include: Greg Allman, Paul Beaver, Carla Bley, Graham Bond, Victor Brox, Budgie (Banshees), Chick Churchill (Ten Years After) Simon Clarke, Crowded House, John Evan (Jethro Tull), Foundations, Mitchell Froom, Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag), Tom Gorman (Belly), Jerry Guida (Group Therapy), Mike Heron, Al Kooper, Floyd Kramer, Locomotive, Ian MacLagen (Small Faces), Manfred Mann, John Mayall, Paul McCartney (Beatles for Sale: 'Mr. Moonlight'), Dave Michaels (H.P. Lovecraft), Zoot Money, The Peddlers, Jim Peterman (Steve Miller Band), Bud Powell, Herbie Rich (Electric Flag), Bill Sharpe, Dave Sinclair (Caravan), Karlheinz Stockhausen (Microphonie 2), The Tubes, Pete Wingfield, Bernie Worrell, Gary Wright (Spooky Tooth), XTC.


Original full size organ 1935 - '38.
Original price: $1250
Target price: £800 - £1200
Users included: Henry Ford (one of the first ever), George Gershwin.

  • An instant success after its appearance at the Industrial Arts Expo.
  • Huge demand, despite costing as much as a decent-sized house.
  • Already had the dummy-key preset selectors on each keyboard.
  • In response to threats of legal action from pipe organ manufacturers, blindfold tests were held in 1936: enough experts were unable to tell the difference between the Hammond and a top-of-the-range pipe organ for Hammond to be allowed to continue using the word 'organ' to describe the instrument.
  • About 2500 were made.
  • The original model A, serial number 1, is now in the Smithsonian Institute.


full size organ. 1936 - '42.
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £300 - £500

  • Very similar to Model A - mainly changes in cabinet.
  • Probably about 4000 made.


Full size organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1959 - '65 in USA. Also produced in Belgium and Germany during the '60s and early 70s, and in England until 74.
Original price: £950 (in 1967); £1426 (in 1972)
Target price: £800 - £1500
Users include: Keith Emerson, Georgie Fame.

  • Internally very similar to B3/C3 - hence very desirable

VFM: ★★★
Sounds: ★★★★
Character: ★★★★
Controls: ★★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★
Memories: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★★


Organ with vibrato. 1949 - '54.
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £300 - £500

  • The second Hammond organ to feature vibrato.
  • More control than earlier BV - independent vibrato controls for each keyboard.


Full size organ with percussion. 1955 - 74
Original price: £1175 (1967 - including PR40 tone cabinet)
Target price: £2000 - £6000
Users include: Don Airey, Brian Auger, BeeGees, Felix Cavaliere (Young Rascals), The Christians, Rick Davies (Supertramp), Electric Lady Studios, Webster Lewis, Earl Lindo (Waiters), Jon Lord, Jimmy McGriff, Bill Payne, Billy Preston, Jimmy Smith, Steven Stills, Tears for Fears, Pat Travers, Vangelis, Wix Wickens, Joe Zawinul.

  • Differed from C-3 insofar as it had spindly legs rather than solid side panels, and no back panel.
  • Differed from B-2 through the inclusion of second and third harmonic percussion voices, controlled by four tabs at top right.
  • Percussion effect only available on upper keyboard, and is single-triggered. It is a pitched harmonic, either an octave or an octave and a fifth above the note played.
  • Produced the classic Hammond sound but with decay - at two preset rates.
  • Was claimed to be touch-sensitive, but not totally convincing.

VFM: ★★
Sounds: ★★★★
Character: ★★★★★
Controls: ★★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★★
Memories: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★★


Full size organ with built-in piano roll. 1938
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £6000 - £8000

  • Very rare - probably only about 200 made.
  • Similar to BC, with addition of piano-roll for automated playback.
  • Are there any rolls by famous players? Could be interesting.

Sounds: ★★★
Character: ★★★★★★
Controls: ★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★★★★
Memories: ★★★★
Ease of use: ★★★★


Full size organ with chorus generator. 1936 - '42
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £500 - £900

  • An improvement on the Model A: additional miniature tone-wheel generator provides extra tones slightly flat and sharp of each note, for chorus effect.
  • About 13000 made in USA, England, Canada and Italy (and as Lafleur in England and South Africa.)

VFM: ★★★
Sounds: ★★★★
Character: ★★★★★★
Controls: ★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★★
Memories: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★


Full size organ with vibrato. 1946 - '49
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £400 - £600
Users include: Rabbit Bundrick (bought for $600 in 1968).

  • No percussion.
  • Vibrato global on both (or neither) keyboards.


Full size organ. 1939 - '42
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £300 - £400

  • C20, C40, CX20 (with pseudo-Leslie), CR20 (with reverb) and CXR20 (reverb and pseudo-Leslie) were tone cabinets for this model.


Full size organ with vibrato. 1949 - '54
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £300 - £500

  • Vibrato switchable for either keyboard.
  • C-2G model with monitor speaker, detachable handles (1952 - '53).

Hammond C3P Portable - one for the road


Full size organ with percussion. 1955 - c.'72.
Original price: £1123 (with PR40 tone cabinet (1967); £1369 (1972)
Target price: £800 - £2200
Users include: Andy Bown, Jack Bruce, Felix Cavaliere (Young Rascals), Rob Collins (Charlatans), Tom Coster (Santana), Simon Ellis, Keith Emerson, Tommy Eyre, Georgie Fame (one of last ever built), Rupert Greenall, The Grid, Eddy Hardin (Spencer Davis Group), Heavy Metal Kids, Eddie Jobson (UK), Howard Jones, Ian Lynn (+ 122 Leslie), Jon Lord, Patrick Moraz, Andy Richards, Right Said Fred, Runrig, Mick Talbot (Merton Parkas & Style Council), Talk Talk, Rick Wakeman, Rick Wright (Pink Floyd).

  • Virtually identical to B-3 except for more solid side and back casing.
  • Available in oak (£31 extra) or white lacquer (to special order - £58 extra in 1967).
  • C3-P produced by Northern Organ Centre 1987 - repackaged with MIDI option.

VFM: ★★★★
Sounds: ★★★★
Character: ★★★★
Controls: ★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★★
Memories: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★


Full size organ with vibrato. 1945 - '49
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £300 - £400

  • Made in USA, Canada, and Italy.


Full size organ with chorus generator. 1939 - '42
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £400 - £600

  • Like the BC model, impossibly expensive to re-create today, so potentially collectable?


Full size 32 pedal organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1963 - '69
Original price: £1350 (1967)
Target price: £500 - £800

  • A magnificent instrument, like a more solid C-3 with built-in amplification. Weighed 250 kg. (See RT-3).


Full size 32 pedal organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1937 - '42
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £400 - £600

  • Featured two swell pedals.


Full size 25 pedal organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1965 - '69.
Original price: £840 - £945 (1967)
Target price: £400 - £600

  • Not quite an A-100 at a bargain price.
  • Only one set of drawbars for each manual; pre-sets on tabs, doesn't include the extra octaves of reverse-colour dummy keys.
  • Probably transistor amplifier.
  • Extra sounds: harp sustain, brush effect, cymbal; 3 presets for each manual.
  • E-200 very similar; E-300 gains celeste but loses cymbal, brush and harp sustain (and £100).


Full size organ. 1941 - '44. Produced for US military.
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £400 - £600

  • Monitor speaker and detachable handles, like C-2G and C-3G.
  • 'Tropicalized'.


Full size organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1965 - '70
Original price: £1599
Target price: £300 - £400

  • The successor to the A100 and considerably more expensive.
  • Same drawbars and reverse-colour dummy keys, plus 28 pre-set tabs for extra effects - six percussion voices, harp sustain, brush, cymbal, etc.
  • Two sets of eleven drawbars for upper manual, two sets of ten for lower manual, plus four drawbars for pedals.
  • Stereo reverb possible with extra speaker/amp.
  • Included option of black translucent lacquered walnut case - "The Oriental Modern".
  • Hybrid transistor and valve hybrid often made servicing difficult.
  • Sounds not quite up to valve standards, so not generally recommended.


Luxury full size organ 1968 - c.'72.
Original price: £1999 (1968, including Series 10 tone cabinet.)
Target price: £300 - £600.

  • Internally like H-100; casing like X66. (See H-100.)


Non-tonewheel spinnet.
Users include: Geoff Downes

  • Transistor design
  • To be avoided unless you're an Asia fetishist.

Hammond L100 - every home should have one


Spinet organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1967 - c.72.
Original price: £525 (1967); £737 (1972)
Target price: £200 - £450
Users include: Peter Bardens, Keith Emerson (knives extra), Georgie Fame, Dave Greenfield, Eddie Hardin, Zoot Money,

  • Early models valve-amplified; later versions probably transistorised
  • L100P portable models available 1969 onwards in choice of black, white, green or red vinyl.
  • 13-note pedals, vibrato and percussion.
  • The cheapest tone-wheel Hammond.

VFM: ★★★
Sounds: ★★★
Character: ★★★
Controls: ★★★
Collectability: ★★★
Memories: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★

Hammond L100 - inside out


Original spinet organ. 1948 - '51.
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £200 - £300

  • Nicknamed "Cinderella".


Spinet organ with vibrato. 1951 - '55


Spinet organ with vibrato and percussion. 1955 - '64


Spinet organ with vibrato and percussion. 1961 - '68.
Original price: £630
Target price: £400 - £650
Users include: Desmond Brown (The Selecter), Vic Emerson, Matthew Fisher (Procol Harum - 'Whiter Shade of Pale'), Eddy Hardin (Spencer Davis Group), Jon Lord (Artwoods), Alan Price ('I've Put a Spell on You'), Eddie Spence, Stevie Winwood (Spencer Davis Group)

  • Split transportable version in white lacquer £33 extra.
  • 24 tabs, including 6 presets.

VFM: ★★★
Sounds: ★★★
Character: ★★★
Controls: ★★★
Collectability: ★★★
Memories: ★★
Ease of use: ★★★


Early electronic piano. 1939 - '40
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £50 - c.120

  • Polyphonic
  • Several different sounds, including vaguely piano-like ones.
  • Easy-play features like chord buttons, etc.
  • Aimed primarily at home market.
  • Designed by John Hanert, who also designed the Solovox.


Full size organ with built-in amp and speakers. 1970 - '74.
Original price: £1643 (1972)
Target price: £300 - £400

  • Only one set of drawbars per manual. Extra pre-set tabs.
  • Transistor amplification; built-in Leslie.
  • Not the classic sound, but a reliable instrument.


Full size concert organ with 32-note pedal board.


Full size concert organ with 32-note pedal board and vibrato. 1949 - '55


Full size concert organ with 32-note pedal board, vibrato and percussion. 1955 - '73
Original price: £1489 (1967 - with PR40 cabinet)
Target price: £400 - £600.

  • The Deluxe version of the C-3 (£315 more), designed for church use.
  • Additional monophonic bass pedal voice (32' to 1') generated by electronic circuits (as on Solovox) - possibly the only part of a tone-wheel Hammond that can go out of tune.
  • A quality instrument - but not one you'd want to transport. The RT-3 weighs in at 225 kg, without any amplifier or speaker system.


Three octave monophonic synthesiser. 1940 - '48
Original price: Unknown
Target price: c.£10 - 150
Users include: Sun Ra.

  • One of the first synthesisers ever - and one of the few valve oscillator-based synthesisers.
  • Designed as a solo add-on to a piano - presumably slung under the keyboard, like the Clavioline.
  • Knee-lever for volume.
  • Several different tones available - possibly the most varied range of any instrument at the time despite only using square waves as basic source, and so not having any even harmonics.
  • Vibrato produced electro-mechanically.
  • Notes produced by a string of tuned inductances; the more inductances were removed by the keyboard contacts, the higher the pitch.
  • Included rudimentary envelope shaping.
  • Model J (from 1940), Model K (from 1946) and Model L (1948) were generally black metal. Some versions were produced in grey patterned metal.
  • An optional tone cabinet was available - in walnut not black metal!
  • Not a very good seller - models still being advertised by Hammond as late as 1953, five years after production stopped.


44-note monophonic synthesiser. 1974 - c.76
Original price: £324 (1975); £475 (1977)
Target price: £80 - £160

  • Featured 'Autopatch' system.
  • Control panel to left of keyboard: seven columns of seven knobs, plus three sliders and seven push-button selectors.
  • Taller than usual synths with a long music stand.

Hammond T400 - looking good in wood

T100, T200, T300, T400 & T500

Spinet organs. 1968 - 1975.
Original price: £699 (T102,1968); £949 (T202, 1972)
Target price: £250 - £500.
Users include: Tony Banks (T102)

  • Tonewheels and drawbars included, but utilising transistor technology.


Full size semi-tonewheel organ. 1967 - 74
Original price: £5500 (1968)
Target price: £700 - £1000
Users include: Alan Price.

  • Hammond's late '60s flagship instrument.
  • Ebony, walnut and chrome finish; more modern styling.
  • Full pedalboard, manuals and drawbars; nearly 40 tabs as well as dummy key preset selectors.
  • Sloping control panel at right-hand side of keyboard.
  • Separate tone cabinet included in price.
  • Not completely a tonewheel organ: one set of 12 tonewheels for VHF octave, then transistor divide-down circuitry.


Full size tonewheel organ. 1968 - c.'72
Original price: £3039 (1972)
Target price: £200 - £400

  • Slimmed-down version of X66, but with full complement of tonewheels. More of a real Hammond?



3-manual polyphonic keyboard instrument c.1940 - '45
Original price: Unknown

  • A glorified organ, but with several innovations including octave-coupling, percussion, and, above all, a card scanning device for setting up sounds.
  • Each manual extended to five octaves.
  • John Hanert was chief designer at Hammond, responsible for the Novachord, Solovox, etc.
  • Maybe only prototypes.



37-note monophonic synthesiser, c. 1973
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £40 - £60
Users include: Jez Woodroffe.

  • Japanese built.
  • Legs bolt on to side panels; leatherette on wood with satin metal finish.
  • Control panel to left of keyboard, with 10 sliders for volume, attack, sustain, vibrato speed/depth, 'wow decay time', VCF frequency and resonance, portamento, and bend amounts. Lever for 'transpose' function plus pitchbend.
  • Right-hand controls: knobs for white noise level, 'slope', tuning and on/off.
  • 20 rocker switches are included above the keyboard for routing the LFO, switching portamento, noise, etc.
  • Seven effects switches, and four waveform switches.
  • One version only has 19 rocker switches, and three knobs to right of keyboard.


61-note portable polyphonic keyboard, c. 1978. Advertising claimed, "It's not just another stringer, synthesiser, piano or clavichord, but a polyphonic combination of them all."
Original price: £399
Target price: £40 - £60

  • One of earliest strap-on synths.
  • Neat pedal unit, with power supply, VCF and volume pedals and sustain control.
  • Only three other controls - two knobs and a slider.

Thanks to Graham Sutton, ex-Hammond chief engineer in the UK, for his exhaustive help on the Hammond section. He is also a Main Service Agent for Hammond UK, and has a good supply of spares for all Hammonds (even the older models). Contact him on (Contact Details), or write to (Contact Details).

to be continued...

Series - "The A-Z of Analogue"

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 (Viewing) | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21

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Shared Interests II

Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...


Music Technology - Apr 1994

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman


Vintage Instruments


The A-Z of Analogue

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 (Viewing) | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21

Feature by Peter Forrest

Previous article in this issue:

> On The Cards

Next article in this issue:

> Shared Interests II

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