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Hammond Experts!
Old 26th December 2010
  #1
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Hammond Experts!

Hey folks - I play organ at a church on Sundays and we have an old Hammond with Leslie. From what I can tell it's a "CV" model, though I'm not sure what year. I've asked the church to line up a maintenance visit for it, as I've been having a few problems...

1.) Inconsistent volume - aka when I first start 'er up, volume is usually about right, but as I play longer and longer (past about an hour, usually, is when it begins...) the max volume gets lower and things start to get pretty mushy. High end definition disappears and I have trouble getting any clarity out of it. Full volume on the swell pedal isn't nearly as loud as it should / could / needs to be. In normal operation I have to back it off to avoid blowing everyone out, but when it gets into this mode I can push it "to the floor" and still barely hear myself over the drums/ choir.

2.) Very little / no percussion / attack to the notes. Again, kinda mushy. The familiar "click" at the beginning of the notes really isn't there on this organ.

3.) Generally the tone is a little harsher than I'd like.... it's either muddy or piercing, I'm having a lot of trouble finding the happy medium there.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has any insights on the above....

** Second Part **

As mentioned, we'll be having a tech come to look at it soon, I'm wondering:

1.) What is the appropriate maintenance for an old organ like this, and how often should it be done. (oiling? changing tubes? what else?)

2.) The power plug has no safety ground. Is this supposed to be this way? Is this a safety issue? My 80+-year-old pianist today told me "They took out dat weather rod".... which I eventually pryed out of her meant "removed the ground" a few years back, though I'm unsure if this is referring to the 3rd prong on the actual plug or some kind of internal ground. By the way, I noticed today they had the power plug inserted into the socket upside-down (since the ground plug has been snipped off this can happen) - what effect will this have? Surely not good....?

Finally, I've attached a picture - sorry about the low quality, iphone cam. You see there is a grey housing for what looks like a tube of some kind. What's supposed to go in here, and what function does it serve?

I've attached two other pictures too, again, sorry about the low quality.

Thanks in advance for any insight! It's a small church without much money, but I want to see what I can do to get this beautiful old organ into better shape. I also want to be prepared to talk to the tech when he comes. Thanks!
Attached Thumbnails
Hammond Experts!-img_0097.jpg   Hammond Experts!-img_0095.jpg   Hammond Experts!-img_0096.jpg  
Old 26th December 2010
  #2
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PS: sometimes it sounds killer! general inconsistency is what I'm worried about.

When asked, the old lady in charge of such things couldn't remember the last time they had it serviced, so I have to imagine for starters the tubes are on their last legs. There's a sharpie log on the back of "Last Oiled:" and the most recent date is in 2001
Old 26th December 2010
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post
There's a sharpie log on the back of "Last Oiled:" and the most recent date is in 2001
That's not so good, but also not a problem as long as it's still running ok. Oil it asap though - once a year is the proper oiling interval, use proper Hammond generator oil only. In extreme cases the generator could seize, but that usually seems to happen if it hasn't been played for a long time.

Sorry, can't really help you out in the tube department as I have a C3 and they have different preamps, but I can tell you that tubes in a Hammond can last a LONG time, as they are not at all stressed out thanks to the design. I've heard of 70 year old Hammond tubes that are still working very well!

Btw, the CV was manufactured between October 1945 and December 1949. It was followed by the C2 from 1949 to 1958, and then the more famous C3 from 1958. The B series were also manufactured at the same time with the same variants - BV, B2, B3.

Good luck with it!

Frank
Old 26th December 2010
  #4
Registered User
Seems like the tube amp is playing up. Tubes can fail, and capacitors can dry up. A good tube amp tech could restore this. Also, the swell pedal is optical, and possibly the light bulb is failing.

The tonewheels and drawbars and key contacts are all electromechanical - you might need to get in there with some good contact cleaner like Deoxit. The issue of the tone being alternately bright or harsh might mean that some of the key or drawbar contacts are failing to make contact.

Basically, the tonebars make all the sinewaves, and the drawsbars and keys select the mixture of sinewaves to make up the harmonic content of the sound. If any of these switches fail to work, harmonics drop out of the tone.

Maintenance on these things can be a real problem, so you might need to hunt down a local expert.

There are some big name players who replaced their tube amps with solid state amps. But these days even the big name players tend to use digital models.
Old 26th December 2010
  #5
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Thanks Kiwi and Frank for the replies. Glad I can now date this organ back to the late 40's (whoa!)

I will have it oiled when the tech comes. We do have a local guy "The Organ Doctor" that they've used before, and I've heard him mentioned other places too. I imagine he'll have some more direct insights, being able to hear it / play it in person. But I wanted to try to get some info here first so I can know a little about what I'm talking about when he shows up.

Any thoughts on the "apparently unused" connector in pic #1? Looks like a tube socket /housing, it appears to have 4 pins, no center pin. I could be wrong though, it's tough to climb back there
Old 26th December 2010
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
Also, the swell pedal is optical, and possibly the light bulb is failing.
Interesting - the pedal seems to work fine under normal conditions, it seems like the overall "power" available is getting reduced after a little while of playing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
The tonewheels and drawbars and key contacts are all electromechanical - you might need to get in there with some good contact cleaner like Deoxit. The issue of the tone being alternately bright or harsh might mean that some of the key or drawbar contacts are failing to make contact.

Basically, the tonebars make all the sinewaves, and the drawsbars and keys select the mixture of sinewaves to make up the harmonic content of the sound. If any of these switches fail to work, harmonics drop out of the tone.
Yes, sometimes the drawbars lose contact when they're moved - I've gotten into the habit of jiggling them a little to make sure they're solid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
Maintenance on these things can be a real problem, so you might need to hunt down a local expert.

There are some big name players who replaced their tube amps with solid state amps. But these days even the big name players tend to use digital models.
Yeah really - I love the real thing and the leslie is a sweet addition, but I was messing around with NI b3 emu the other night and it'd be a lot easier to get to that tone w/ softsynth lol I know that's blasphemous....
Old 27th December 2010
  #7
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I bought a CV a few years ago. It was fine for a couple of month, although on the dirty side. Then the tube amp self destructed.

But it was acting a bit like you describe before it crashed.

I have a pretty good local expert. He felt the amp was past saving. So we replaced it with the Trek solid stae amp. And the organ instantly became killer. Cleaner, clearer. CVs don't have percussion, but the Trek does, so that was improved.

Its not a cheap fix, was about 1k installed and all. But the org an is now reliable and generates a certain clientel.
Old 27th December 2010
  #8
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The swell/expression system is not optical on a Hammond B/C series organ. Hammond used a variable capacitor (same as the tuning control in old radios), connected by a rod to the pedal itself. Very clever as they do not get dirty or scratchy!

AFAIK the optical system came later on '70s (maybe '60s?) organs - Yamahas etc. For example, I have a 1977 Yamaha E70 organ with a light bulb and light dependent resistor (sensor) in the expression pedal...

Intermittent/scratchy drawbars are unfortunately a fact of life with older Hammonds due to the design. They are known as 'ratchet' drawbars and only make contact at each marked position (1-8). They can pop and scratch audibly as they make contact. Hammond introduced smooth drawbars in 1953, and many older ratchet models were retrofitted with smooth drawbars later.

Your CV may have had smooth drawbars fitted at some point. Try this: pull out a single drawbar (say 8') and hold down a key. Now slowly slide the drawbar back in and listen. If you get 90% silence with sound only at each detent, you've got the original ratchets. If it's more like 80% sound with dropouts, then it was updated to smooth drawbars at some point. Deoxit D5 is great for cleaning smooth drawbars if they've gone scratchy.

Frank
Old 27th December 2010
  #9
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I have a 1938 BC that pretty much blows everyone away who checks it out, folks like Brian Charette and Ray Angry. . . I swapped out the ratcheted drawbars and put in percussion and now the thing leaves little to be desired. To my ears, it has twice the texture of a regular hammond, and with the very early hammonds, before the solid state chorus circuit was implemented, the chorus was generated with these things by engaging two(!!!!) extra tone wheels for every tonewheel in about 75% of the organ. You are getting a real chorus with if memory serves, the second wheel 8 cents sharp and the third wheel 4 cents flat. They are a bit heavier as a result and were much costlier to produce than the later ones. Also, my hammond came with a 22H that was modified for two speed operation. Great combo for sumptuous textured tone. Haven't heard an emulator get close actually.

josh
Old 27th December 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post

When asked, the old lady in charge of such things couldn't remember the last time they had it serviced
[...]
Hmmm....

...Could be a good 20 years since its had any TLC at all.

Get a GOOD tech in there to give it a general check, and replace ALL the electrolytic capacitors.

Do it NOW! -- BEFORE something burns up!

(It will be much cheaper.)
.

.
Old 27th December 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bushwick View Post
I have a 1938 BC that pretty much blows everyone away who checks it out, folks like Brian Charette and Ray Angry. . . I swapped out the ratcheted drawbars and put in percussion and now the thing leaves little to be desired. To my ears, it has twice the texture of a regular hammond, and with the very early hammonds, before the solid state chorus circuit was implemented, the chorus was generated with these things by engaging two(!!!!) extra tone wheels for every tonewheel in about 75% of the organ. You are getting a real chorus with if memory serves, the second wheel 8 cents sharp and the third wheel 4 cents flat. They are a bit heavier as a result and were much costlier to produce than the later ones. Also, my hammond came with a 22H that was modified for two speed operation. Great combo for sumptuous textured tone. Haven't heard an emulator get close actually.

josh
I'd love to play a BC some time! They are supposed to sound fantastic... heh

Frank
Old 27th December 2010
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Funk
The swell/expression system is not optical on a Hammond B/C series organ. Hammond used a variable capacitor (same as the tuning control in old radios), connected by a rod to the pedal itself.
IIRC that system started with the B2/C2 serties (1949-1954/55, just before the 3's) something like that.

The BV/CV etc. series used a vertical resistor stack control that was more susceptible to wear.

As far as the OP, sounds like an amplifier issue -- as has been stated -- tubes, capacitors, etc., but also don't forget transformers can occasionally act up this way as they heat up.
Old 27th December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Waddington View Post

but also don't forget transformers can occasionally act up this way as they heat up.
Yep.

...Usually because of bad caps (and/or tubes)!
.
heh
.
Old 30th December 2010
  #14
Gear Maniac
Hammond CV

Hi. This is my first post. I know a little about Hammonds so I thought I'd join in. Looks like you have some oil there in those tubes! The 'grey thing' looks me like it might be a 4pin version of the Hamond/Leslie/Tone Cab connectors. (Never seen one like that though...) They normally come in 5/6/9 and 11 pin verions. Looks like it has two wires going to it? Could be either power or a signal connection. Also, your faults could well be to do with anode resistors going high in value. There are hunderds of volts being fed to the valve circuits by these resistors and they, and also the electrolytic capacitors should be change as a matter of course in something this old! You would of course need a copy of the service manual. But be careful - there are voltages in there that can easily kill you!! Take care and good luck.
Old 20th February 2011
  #15
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Hi, all, actually my second post here; I just posted a joke reply to a thread about B-3s. Anywhoo -

A bit of a hijack and I apologize, but since the Hammond experts all seem to be here: I just acquired a Hammond M-3 free-for-nothing. The "start" switch stays on, i.e., doesn't pop back like on a B-3 when you release it. Is this right? My gut is telling me "no."
Old 22nd February 2011
  #16
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Hey everyone - thanks for all the replies. Just an update, the mystery connector turned out to be a socket for either a heater/humidifier or a lamp. The tech informed me that the organ was designed without a standard 3-prong ground, and that adding one would neither improve safety nor sound, and might introduce ground loops.

He oiled the organ tonewheels and the organ does seem to sound better. The only problem now is all the drawbar settings I'm used to sound funny! It'll take me a little time getting used to it but hopefully I'll adapt.
Old 4th April 2011
  #17
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Hey all - so it's been several weeks since our maintenance visit and I have to say I'm not really any happier with our tone now than before the visit. I've been playing B3s at a couple of other churches and now I'm spoiled lol! I've seen a lot of talk online saying that a CV can hang with the B3's (albeit without percussion).

I've been talking to our pianist (who used to play the organ here for years and years) and she said that the tech must have made adjustments to the tone. Is that possible? How would such adjustments be made?

Also, our Leslie is sitting on a platform about 10' in the air against a side wall - surely that's not the ideal placement - are there any controls inside the Leslie? Since the tech came it's not reacting the way it used to - it's either flat in the off position or fully spinning - I can't hear the transition well the way I used to.

I hear people talking about recapping it - how expensive is that usually - in parts and labor (separately pls)?

Also what is the consensus on the Trek II percussion kits?

Man it's frustrating I've been playing all these other B3's and it's just butter - really makes me play so much better!
Old 4th April 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post
Hey all - so it's been several weeks since our maintenance visit and I have to say I'm not really any happier with our tone now than before the visit.
Ask around and see who's the best Hammond guy in NOLA. Your organ is so old it's impossible to diagnose over the internet. You need a pro. Don't recap the tone generator for more reasons than I can go into here. Do recap the Leslie amp and your preamp. Don't spend money on the Trek percussion until you get the basic organ squared away.

If you can't find any leads in NO, try to give Tommy Young a call in TX and see who he can recommend. Failing that you could give my parts source a call Tonewheel General Hospital - : - Hammond Organ and Leslie Speaker Parts and see if they know somebody in your area. With all the fantastic music and especially gospel music in New Orleans, there's got to be a go-to Hammond tech.

Last edited by mslim; 4th April 2011 at 07:07 AM.. Reason: added comment
Old 4th April 2011
  #19
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Thanks you're right I'm sure - since this post I've been reading more specialized forums and realizing how silly it is to try and work this out online. But it was cool to get some backstory on the model and info from the generous folks here.

Every church organ I've seen in town yet has the organ doctor's sticker on it, so I don't doubt his abilities. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be present last time he came, and I will be here next time so I can talk to him in person.

The reality is it's operational and sounds okay, I just know it could be so much better and my gearsluttiness makes me want to tweak it lol. There's no budget for anything extensive so I guess it's mostly academic for now.

Thanks to all for the insights!
Old 4th April 2011
  #20
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Hammond's tend to be a constant work in progress. As a tech, there is always a part that could be replace for improved. Every organ sounds different and not all sound amazing. The advice here has been sound. If you want to learn how these things work, try to find an M3 to fix up. You will learn a lot. It does sound like the preamp would benefit from a recap.
Old 5th April 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post
Every church organ I've seen in town yet has the organ doctor's sticker on it, so I don't doubt his abilities. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be present last time he came, and I will be here next time so I can talk to him in person.
Yes the Organ Doctor has a good rep. With these organs it's usually a question of "how much good can you afford" They'll keep running for a long time but components deteriorate slowly. You're talking about a hugely mechanically complex instrument that's 60-70 years old. Fortunately it was built at a time in America when planned obsolescence was not part of a marketing strategy.

See if you can get an idea of what the church can afford to spend and call the Organ Doctor back and go over the rig and tell him your concerns. Fix as much as the budget will allow.

Also good advice about getting a M3 and working on it yourself. If you're serious about learning the Beast, subscribe to hammond Info Page .

Good luck and keep the faith!
Old 6th April 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mslim View Post
You're talking about a hugely mechanically complex instrument that's 60-70 years old.
Fully appreciated!! It's like having an antique car lol. I learned today that he "turned down the Leslie". I really need to just get him on the phone for some direct communication! The ladies-at-the-church-grapevine-communication-network just *AINT* cutting it lol!

Thanks for the info!
Old 6th April 2011
  #23
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+1 for David (Organ Doctor) - he's a good tech.

seems to me the distance from the Leslie is an issue - the farther away it is the more you'll need to crank it up to hear it properly.. the more overdriven it will sound....

know also that there is an adjustment within the organs amplifier that sets the pre-gain level to the organs amp drive.. it's a tiny screw that when loosened - drives the organs amp harder or when tightened - cleans up the overdrive... but all that aside, develop a relationship with your tech and then branch out on your own when your comfortable in what you know..

I can't agree more with the previously mentioned advice of getting a M3 organ for experimenting.. it was my first organ and I learned ALOT! add simple Leslie repair to the benefits too!

I've used GOFF alot as a parts company - check em out... as well as the various BBS sites.

Hobson

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Old 6th April 2011
  #24
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I know one of the best organ guys in N.O.. PM me if you want his contact info.
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