How to Clean the Keys on a Hammond Organ

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Over time, the keys of any organ will collect grime and residue from a player's hands. Even the careful player who washes his hands thoroughly before each session may perspire while playing, and the buildup can eventually cause the keys to become sticky or rough. Fortunately, cleaning Hammond organ keys is relatively simple.

Things You'll Need

  • Feather duster
  • Soft rag
  • Warm water
  • Liquid soap
  • Inspect your keys for signs of discoloration and grime buildup. This will most commonly be found near the center of the keyboard, where your hands are most frequently placed. Older keyboards that haven't been cleaned for ages might have discoloration over the entire keyboard, and will be a dull grayish hue throughout.

  • Leave the organ key cover open more frequently. Moisture can build up underneath this lid, especially if you close it immediately after a playing session. Sunlight will naturally bleach and lighten the appearance of the keys. Avoid doing this if your home is particularly dusty, however, or if you want to avoid tempting children to play the organ.

  • Dust your keys with a feather duster weekly. Grime buildup and discoloration is usually not due to moisture and perspiration alone but rather the combination of moisture and dust. For this reason, you should avoid playing on dusty keys. If your home is especially dusty, you may need to dust the keys before every playing session.

  • Remove discoloration by gently scrubbing the keys with a soft, damp rag. It's imperative that you use as little water as possible. Scrubbing the keys with a soaked rag will cause the excess water to run down in between the keys, where it will collect and potentially damage the organ.

  • Consider having your keys professionally cleaned. This will generally involve removal of the keys, followed by thorough scrubbing with a steel scraper. The keys will then need to be polished and resurfaced. This will even the height of all the keys, making playing easier and more enjoyable. In the process, the contacts below the keys can be cleaned as well, allowing for snappier response times and better overall sound.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't allow buildup to go unchecked for long periods of time. By regularly maintaining your keys, you can avoid a potentially costly repair.
  • Don't use strong chemicals to clean your keys. This can strip the polish off the organ and make the problem worse.

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References

  • "The Hammond Organ -- Beauty in the B"; Mark Vail; 2002
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