Hammond & Leslie FAQ

We have compiled this list of commonly asked questions and answers to benefit the church organist.

Q: Why doesn’t our Hammond organ sound as good as others that I have played and listened to on recordings?

  1. Most Hammond organs are between 35 and 70 years old. Hard to believe? The model A, B, and CV’s were produced in the 40’s.  The C2, B2 came along in the 50’s. and the B3,C3, A-100 from 1955 to 1972. So the newest a latter production B3 could be is 35 years old. Now look around your home and church. What piece of electronics can you find that is that old much less one that works perfectly? That is why we specialize in re-furbishing older Hammond organs. Not just putting a patch on a specific problem. The Leslie speakers found in most churches are close to the same age. The preamplifier in the organ as well as the Leslie amp has hundreds of components under the chassis. Most of these components are not at the same specification that they were when the organ was built. Many times there are much greater problems than what may have called attention to the organ and initiated a service call.

Solution: We offer a complete refurbishing package for most Hammond organs and Leslies. This is the only way you will get the full potential from the instrument. Anything else is only a temporary patch. These upgrades cost much less than a new organ.

Q: Why should we invest money in an organ that is so old?

  1. The quality of the manufacturing in these older Hammonds is superior to newer organs in terms of the mechanics. True that technology has come a long way, but it would be hard to refute the fact that your vintage Hammond has lasted this long and is still a standard for gospel music.  The key contact system, the pedals, and even the wood cabinets are still good in most cases. It is the electronics that need replacement or refurbishing.
  2. Price! How many churches have $25,000 lying around to invest in a new organ? Customer’s individual needs will vary. Please contact us for an evaluation of your equipment and what can be done to help.

Q: Why does my organ / Leslie run out of power when I most need it?

  1. Most Leslies have only a 40 watt amplifier. It may not even be generating that much power if it is old.
  2. Speakers fatigue and lose magnetism over the years.
  3. Perceived volume is relative to what else is going on. A lot of today’s churches now use drummers, bass players, guitarists, additional keyboardists, percussion, & etc. All these add up to more volume in the band area. This combination of sounds will leave the organ behind quickly and force the organist to push the Leslie into distortion that many times is a less than desirable sound. Check out the wattage of your bass player’s amp. Now consider the guitarist’s amp. You can easily see how the 40 watts of power runs out quickly.

Solution: Let us upgrade your Leslie with new speakers and a bigger amplifier or simply purchase one of our new high power Leslies. These can also work for organ sounds from a keyboard making the investment even more useful. Professional rock bands have been using customized Hammond / Leslie set ups for years now.

Q: My Hammond organ and Leslie never have enough bass. Is there anything that can be done?

  1. The Hammond organ was designed to be a cost effective substitute for a pipe organ. The Leslie speaker was invented some time later to give the organ a Theater Pipe organ effect. Gospel, rock bands, and contemporary music of today were not even around back then. We barely had radio in those days. So you can see that the Hammond organ and Leslie speaker were not designed to deliver what is needed for today’s music. Bass tones eat up power

Solution: We can offer any number of fixes to increase the bass and pedal level of your instrument. In fact there are hidden bass tones that you have never heard that the organ generates but the original Leslie cannot reproduce because of limitations. Call us and we can show you how to fix it. Another consideration here is that the lower the volume you use the more bass you need to add. That is why most stereo equipment has a loudness button to help at lower listening levels. The reason being that our brain judges low end level differently at various volumes. We can install tone controls that will allow you to adjust bass, treble, and volume right on the dashboard of the organ. 

Q: If I let you change the organ over to solid state electronics, will it lose the vintage tone wheel sound that I really like? 

No, the equipment we install has been engineered to faithfully preserve the sound we all love. It will not make it sound like the digital organs you may have played.

Q: We have had the organ serviced in the past, but some things never get fixed. We were told parts are not available or problems cannot be repaired. Is that true?

No, we have solutions for any problems that may arise. Some repair companies are lazy or just want to keep coming back and charging for service calls. We always try to encourage the customer to let us fix it right.

Q: Is there any way to add a transposer or pitch shifter to an older tone wheel Hammond organ?

Yes, We have invented a product called the “Elmco Vari Pitch” that allows transposing down three half steps and up four half steps. We have sold this product nationwide and benefited many musicians.

Q: I know a church that wants to buy a tone wheel organ like a B3 or C3, do you know where they can find one?

We sell vintage Hammonds and Leslies.  We also sell NEW Leslies. We have supplied many churches with quality vintage instruments and would be happy to provide a customer list.