How to Set the Drawbars on a Hammond Organ

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When playing a Hammond organ, a common drawbar setting is in the B upper set of the drawbars. Find out which drawbars to pull to play a Hammond organ with help from a professional musician and Hammond organist in this free video on setting the drawbars on 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. I also rent the instruments out and I teach some and today I'm here to demonstrate how to set the drawbars on a hammond organ. So, the drawbars are almost like the EQ on your home stereo and the way that they work. You have one set of drawbars actually two sets of drawbars for the upper manual on the organ and nine drawbars in each set and then you have two more sets to control the lower manual and the way you select one set of drawbars is the B flat preset selects this group and the B preset selects this group. Then again on the lower manual, B flat preset the left hand group, B preset the right hand group. So, it's possible to set up custom presets for distinct sounds prior to playing a given tune. So, like I said they kind of work like the EQ on your home stereo. If I play a note without a drawbar out you get no sound. Now, if I pull out the first drawbar I get a tune and then this harmonica is an octave higher and octave above that all the way up to that and that's actually one drawbar setting, it's commonly used particularly in church. Another common setting is wait, let me show a setting it's only available one place on the organ and that's in the B upper set of drawbars. If I pull up these three this is the Jimmy Smith, the thing that Jimmy Smith setting that he used all the time. A great jazz organist but he would also use the percussion setting which if you hear it all by itself it sounds like but you combine it with first three drawbars and it's that signature sound that Jimmy Smith had. Interestingly, you don't get the percussion if you're holding one note down and play another, there's no percussion effect. Nothing, you have to go so your playing has to be detached or a little bit staccato in order to use the percussion setting. So again so that's two common drawbars setting for the upper manual. This is the one set up here now which is good for church and this is the one in combination with the percussion settings and I have all four tablets in the forward position and then in the lower manual Jimmy Smith returning to him he would set up something like this. For B flat preset selecting this group of drawbars and this is a good setting for your baseline. And he had a trick also to use the base pedals, pulling up just the first base pedal drawbar and to tap on the lower on to tap on the base pedal board and ideally you're playing the same note that you're playing in the left hand but it's actually necessary. The most important thing is you're adding a percussive sound to the base note as if you were base base player plucking a string. So, the base pedal by itself sounds like that. The left hand by itself but you put the two together with the left foot being percussive and it and you get almost the sound that the base player gets and that was the whole idea. So, that's the common drawbar setting for the lower manual, it's like that but there's many other things you can do if you take up that first octave, here's the next two octaves and you push them in a little bit, that's a good, soft sound to accompany yourself with. For Bookertee, Bookertee Jones, another great organist. He likes to use this sound which is your B flat preset first four drawbars and in tone combination with that and I threw in some mostly on that. With Bookertee, it's always about when you use leslie switch in and it's all about how you use the volume pedal. This switch is called the swell pedal in combination with the leslie switch and the drawbar settings. Of course there's you can see how many drawbars there are and there's an infinite number of drawbar settings you can use, you know. It's all individual, personal but this is some of the most popular ones that people use and of course you're always playing trying to compete with those guitar players, you have to be loud so this is the one we pull all the drawbars out at the same time and that sounds like and that's some typical drawbar settings you can use on a hammond organ.

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