How to Set a Hammond Organ

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In order to set a Hammond organ, pay attention to the two sets of nine drawbars that control the upper manual. Find out how to set up different sounds on each of these two sets of drawbars with help from a professional musician and Hammond organist in this free video on setting a Hammond organ.

Part of the Video Series: Hammond Organs
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Video Transcript

Hello my name is Louis Pain, I'm a Portland, Oregon based Hammond organist. In addition to playing the instrument, I also teach and I rent the instruments out. Today I'm here to demonstrate how to set a Hammond organ. I'm assuming that most people watching this video already probably play some piano or some other keyboard but they may never have encountered a Hammond B3, it's a kind of rare piece nowadays. So first off you see the most obvious thing that there's two keyboards instead of one like you have on a piano and in addition to the two keyboards there's a set of bass pedals down below. And there's also a volume pedal here that controls the entire instrument because the keyboards are not touch sensitive, it doesn't matter how hard you hit the notes, the volume doesn't change. And the way you setup different tones on the organ is really kind of similar to the way your EQ system works on your home stereo. There's two sets of 9 draw bars that control the upper manual and I can setup different sounds on each of those 2 sets and then I toggle between them depending on which one of these presets I have down. So if the B flat preset down, if I play a chord I'll have no sound until I pull out the first draw bar. Now if I add this draw bar, that's an octave higher, an octave higher. And you can add these other sounds in as you wish. But this is actually a very pure kind of sound, it's used a lot in church. Now I can set this sound up, this is my preset sound that I've created but I can also setup a different one here and I selected for that sound by pushing the B preset. Now I have this sound and I can toggle between them like that. For the lower keyboard or lower manual, I have the exact same setup. So I very often I'll setup this sound because it's a good bass sound. And while you're playing the bass you can also play a soft chord sound up above it. Let's see, what else do we need to cover. The Leslie switch because the Hammond organ has a special Leslie speaker, or hopefully it does, it creates a lot of drama to your playing. It can change the switch toggles between two speeds. This is the slow speed and that's the fast speed. Going back to the slow speed. I already mentioned that there is a set of bass pedals down below and they actually duplicate the same notes that are present on the lower manual of the organ. But the tone is different and it's possible to combine the two so that you're getting the tone of the lower manual and just playing staccato on the pedals and the sound of the two together gives a plucking sound almost like an electric or acoustic bass. So that's how to set a Hammond organ.


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