Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Hardbopjazz

Today's organs. Which one come close to the b3?

7 posts in this topic

Since the Hammond company is long defunct, are there any organs being made today that come close to the B3?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hammond is not defunct. In the early 1990s the name was acquired by Suzuki Instruments, Inc. of Japan and it is now Hammond-Suzuki. They have made several full-size reproductions of the B3 using digital technology. The latest one, called the New B3, is the closest they've come yet to replicating the B3, including an analog 9-contact keying system (the original B3 has nine busbars underneath the keys that, as the key is pressed, make contact with the 9 drawbars) to give it that real key-contact clicking sound. The New B3 is nice, but is mainly marketed towards churches, due do it's price tag (around $20,000).

Frankly, with few exceptions, many companies, including Hammond, have been able to re-create the sound of a Hammond tonewheel organ with good results using modern technology. Native Instruments' B4 software plug-in sounds great, as does the EVB3 in Apple's Logic recording software. The Korg CX-3 (the new one) is pretty darn good as is the new Roland VK-8.

The big sticking points for me, as a jazz organist that uses both manuals and the pedals, include the Leslie (you can't really replicate physically moving air) and the interface itself. If you're used to playing piano, you need something that not only sounds like a piano, but something that feels like a piano. Ditto for the organ... you need something with two manuals, full pedals, with all the traditional B3 controls in the right place, something that feels substantial, has some weight to it, and can take some abuse. You need something that you can sit down and play without having to watch a tutorial.

That's why I'm really digging my new Hammond XK System. I've talked about it in this thread (click here) and I know I'm probably sounding like a broken record to people, but after hauling a real B3 around for 10 years and suffering from intense back pain because of it, this thing is a god-send. Not only does it sound great going through a real, tube Leslie 122, but it has all the controls of a B3 in the right place, everything functions as it should, it weighs 300lbs. less than a B3, it's easier to move, and the most inspiring part of it for me is the MIDI capabilities and the opportunity to take the organ-led trio to a different place sonically.

It's also much cheaper than the New B3. I do have an endorsement deal with Hammond-Suzuki, but I still paid a pretty penny for the XK System. It was not free. But it is worth every cent to me. It is the first digital organ that I've played where I do not miss my 1958 Hammond B3 at all.

So, I hope that answers your question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The XK System is more portable, since it breaks down into four pieces (the top keyboard, the bottom keyboard, the stand, & the pedals). Each piece weighs under 45lbs, so it is a lot easier to move.

The New B3 doesn't break down. It is modeled after a B3 (same style cabinet) so you have the organ and the pedals. Even though it weighs less than a tonewheel B3, it's still a very large piece of furniture to be moving around.

The other difference is that the New B3 has 9 real analog contacts under the keys to emulate the keying system of a traditional B3 (which has 9 busbars). This is where the infamous Hammond "key-click" sound comes from, which is essential to the instrument. On the XK System, the key-click is sampled (although I must say, it sounds damn good... I can't tell the difference).

They make a portable New B3 for $12,000 that is in a sort of metal / plastic type case that is a bit more portable than the all-wood one.

http://hammondorganco.com/portableB3.htm

They also make one with "european styling", whatever that means. I think it's supposed to compete with the Diversi organ.

http://hammondorganco.com/B3ultimo.htm

Pretty neat, but I have no idea how much it weighs, how easy it is to move, or what it costs. Probably not much cheaper than the Portable B3.

For me, the best choice was the XK System.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jimmy has an endorsement! :D

Work it boy!!!!!!!

:P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still had to pay a pretty penny for the rig. I'm not lauding it because I have an endorsement. I've forgone portable clonewheels for years because none of them could adequately replicate the B3. This is the first one that does.

The reason I went after the endorsement in the first place was because I played the XK System first. I knew I had to have it and also knew I probably couldn't afford it, so I tried a shot at getting some help from Hammond Suzuki and I did!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.