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Did other manufacturers use tonewheels?

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  • Did other manufacturers use tonewheels?

    Everyone seems to equate Hammond with tonewheels. I know transistors and tubes also were used.

    This leads me to ask:

    If a particular vintage, non-tonewheel organ is meant to sound like one, in what way would it be better than a modern clonewheel?
    Hohner Pianet T
    1977 Rhodes Mk 1
    Yamaha Reface YC

  • #2
    "Better" due to imperfections. In fact, imperfection can be very pleasing, especially in music.

    A fully electronic oscillator, especially a well-stabilised one technically does everything a tonewheel is supposed to do, better than a tonewheel can. But that can sound "boring."

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    • #3
      To answer the question in the title to your thread:

      Yes, at least four. Robbe, Pari and Petrov, all three using electromagnetic tonewheels as did Hammond. Compton, using electrostatic tonewheels. Pari was around in the late 60s and 70s, then died a death. they did come back as Parie, but I've not seen anything from them in a while. Petrov was short lived and Compton ran from the 1930s to the 1970s. As for the Robbe Wave organ, it was around in 1927, before Hammond, and was considered by some to be superior. However, not many were made and sold, and the organ was withdrawn from the market in 1941.

      You might also consider the grand-daddy of them all, Thomas Cahill's Tellharmonium Dynamophone.

      A non tonewheel organ, like a vintage Lowrey, Thomas or Baldwin, would have sounded different to a Hammond, period. They weren't trying to make a Hammond sound, in fact they were trying hard to get away from the imperfections and limitations that the Hammond had. Of course, they had their own imperfections! So you can't really compare them to a clonewheel.
      It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

      New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
      Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
      Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
      Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies! All very interesting.
        Hohner Pianet T
        1977 Rhodes Mk 1
        Yamaha Reface YC

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        • #5
          Quite a nice website about Thaddeus Calhill's Teleharmonium with clear descriptions of the tonewheels: http://synthmuseum.com/magazine/0102jw.html

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          • #6
            Originally posted by andyg View Post
            To answer the question in the title to your thread:

            Yes, at least four. Robbe, Pari and Petrov, all three using electromagnetic tonewheels as did Hammond. Compton, using electrostatic tonewheels. Pari was around in the late 60s and 70s, then died a death. they did come back as Parie, but I've not seen anything from them in a while. Petrov was short lived and Compton ran from the 1930s to the 1970s. As for the Robbe Wave organ, it was around in 1927, before Hammond, and was considered by some to be superior. However, not many were made and sold, and the organ was withdrawn from the market in 1941.

            You might also consider the grand-daddy of them all, Thomas Cahill's Tellharmonium Dynamophone.

            A non tonewheel organ, like a vintage Lowrey, Thomas or Baldwin, would have sounded different to a Hammond, period. They weren't trying to make a Hammond sound, in fact they were trying hard to get away from the imperfections and limitations that the Hammond had. Of course, they had their own imperfections! So you can't really compare them to a clonewheel.
            Fascinating stuff. Thanks!

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