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If only internet existed 46years ago...

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  • If only internet existed 46years ago...

    I’m now on this forum for about a month and it’s absolutely amazing.
    Just for the fun I would like to Share some personal history.

    At age of 9 I think I did see a Hammond for the first time and I was absolutely hypnotized. I knew that is what I wanted to have. But I had zero money. I 1st started on a philicorda that I borrowed from the church in return of which I had to maintain it. Maintenance is something the antique organs needed. Keys missing once per month or so.
    but.... of course I wanted my own organ, so I decided to built one. Pictures attached. This is an organ that I did built at the age of 12. I had an “make your own organ book”, no clue how I got that, those days there was no amazon to buy such. The organ was “ok” but it had an enormous click since a strong dc signal was switching together with the signal.
    boy,... I hated the book... I had hardly any money and the book lured me into doing it wrong.

    if only internet would have existed.......

    I think 2 years later I replaced all switching electronics and the click was gone.
    i would have loved to replace it earlier but the book was all I had so it took me 2year to find a better way (I was at highschool. At that time, electronic knowledge was really limited!) I used the organ until I was about 27.
    guys,... I knew litterally nobody who played electronic organ, let alone someone who was building one.

    if only internet would have existed.

    the idea had been to get at least close to the Hammond sound but it was more like a farfisa. Square-waves, And sawwood (by addition of octaves).

    at age of 24 I was again looking for Hammond. I had heard that “b3” is the real thing. But prices totally out of wack. I did see some advertisements (in paper media) for cheaper Hammonds, but since they were so much cheaper I was under impression it would be nok. Ehh... I guess I rejected many L100’s.

    if only internet would have existed.

    than I did built my 2nd organ (No photos included, I have to search them, maybe later). I think it was around 1985. Since the 1st organ was heavy I decided to split it. A keyboard with no tone generators, and a sound module. They were connected by a “cmos logic designed serial puls-string”.
    about 50khz. 0v/5v keycount, 10v = key-on, -5v = start string.
    fun,... in hind sight I made an early midi connection. I’m not sure it existed at that time but I had not heared of it.

    this organ was an electronic clonewheel. Square wave generation, but all the drawbars of a Hammond, and every 6notes I included a 24db/oct low pass filter to get the Hammond sines.

    i used it many years.

    than, when I had a decent job, I acquired an xm1 midi module and a Solton Leslie. Real fun. And I was gigging so taking a L100 or B3 would not be practical anyways.

    and than now.... I got the L122.
    internet existed. I learned that the tone generator of a B3 and L122 are basically equal. Foldback is missing but one can add. And just a bit smaller manual but that is not a real disadvantage. The good thing: it fits better in the living room than a B3 and I can move it without calling 3 guys.

    the amazing thing...

    after 20seconds I knew. This was the real deal. This was the sound I had been longing for for 46years.

    internet existed...
    I had trouble with reaching the bass pedals. I was thinking to lift the organ but at the end the rootcause appears to be the bench depth (other symptoms a ripple through consequence of that).

    finding that out would have taken me many months in the old days!

    thanks enor, Thanks kc9udx, thanks handyczech, thanks andyg.
    english is my 2nd language so I may sometimes sound blunt, but the help felt heartwarming.

    so... I’m an old 58yo guy, and found myself a real nice organ forum home
    Attached Files
    Made my own organs in 1975 and 1981.
    Fender Rhodes since 1982.
    Hammond xm1 midi-module with Solton Bass/Treble Leslie for many years
    Hammond L122 with 1speaker Leslie cabinet since January 2020

  • #2
    Welcome, Stefank. I enjoyed reading your post.

    My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk


    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment

      Thank you for sharing your story. It make me think of my roots and how I got into the organ. Unfortunately, I never had any experience building my own organ, but have enjoyed the build of others. Your story is inspiring.


  • #3
    I learned "organ touch" on a pump organ in the college Wesley Foundation, and I was hooked. I drooled over the brochures of the Schober Organ Company for several years and in 1964 (on my way through NYC going to a new USAF assignment in Labrador) I contracted for their Recital Model Organ kits. I built that instrument in my spare time at the remote radar station in Labrador. I has traveled with me all over subsequently. It was fun to build and really had pretty good sound. (It's now silent--I began a renovation many years ago and never finished it. My bad.)



    • #4
      Great story! Amazing that you built a real organ, even if flawed, at such a young age. I too began studying electronics very young, about the age of 9 or 10, and loved drawing schematics, but I did not build anything until I was 14 or 15 when I built a home hi-fi system from a kit.

      Keep up the good work and enjoy your new Hammond!
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!



      • #5
        I am really enjoying this thread. I never built anything, but I did get a 33 rpm recording of the Schober organ and really wanted to get one. One of the pieces on the recording was César Franck's Cantabile and it sounded wonderful.

        That was a time when you could find an electronics kit to build just about anything. Remember Heathkits?

        Thanks everyone for sharing your stories.


        My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk


        • myorgan
          myorgan commented
          Editing a comment
          I wish I knew what happened to my Schober demo 33rpm record. I listened to it over and over, and tried to figure out how I'd ever earn the money to purchase the kit for the Recital organ. It never happened, but it definitely whet my appetite!


      • #6
        Jbird604, in hindsight it’s indeed amazing that I managed to built such a thing at that age. At that time it never came to my mind that it was special. I enjoyed building with LEGO for hours. I know that I had friends who built something with LEGO for an hour and than played with it for many hours. I spent many hours building and than played with it for 15minutes.
        i think that at a certain moment I decided spent my time on organ construction rather than LEGO building. I did not have the full design in my head on day 1, but just moved step by step enjoying the built process.
        and it was kind of cool to say to my friends that I was building an organ
        note: my 1st project was a little diode-am-passive-radio at age of 8 or so. Only a coil with multiple taps, a diode, a capacitor and a resistor.

        davidecasteel, thanks sharing your experience. I guess it took you a year or more to get the organ finished. I guess that, like me, you found it very rewarding to put blood and soul in the project.

        voet,... Yes!! The kits were there! I did make many of them!
        in fact, the local electronics store in my town still sells them but tbh.... I have no clue who would these days buy a “walking light kit” that you have to assemble yourself and than has No housing.
        Made my own organs in 1975 and 1981.
        Fender Rhodes since 1982.
        Hammond xm1 midi-module with Solton Bass/Treble Leslie for many years
        Hammond L122 with 1speaker Leslie cabinet since January 2020


        • #7
          Originally posted by Stefank View Post
          ...it’s indeed amazing that I managed to built such a thing at that age. At that time it never came to my mind that it was special.
          This is one of the wonderful things about being young. You may be naive, but you just proceed. You don't worry about success or failure, you just enjoy the endeavor.

          I remember my geometry teacher saying that you could not trisect an angle with a straight edge and a compass, and that was all I needed. I spent weeks trying to trisect an angle with a compass and a straight edge. I never managed to do it, but I sure had fun trying.

          My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk


          • Sarah Weizhen
            Sarah Weizhen commented
            Editing a comment
            Hahaha I did the same thing!!

        • #8
          thank you for sharing!

          the ambition of your projects is inspiring; but it's also heartening to hear you found the organ you were looking for! starting electronics projects at age 8 is really impressive. do you still carry ambitious projects outside of the organ?

          my interest in and possession of hammond organs is directly tied to the internet. i'm 28 now so i really grew up alongside the web. i knew the hammond sound from recordings (and along with clavinets and EP's, it became/remains an obsession) so i spent time online trying to learn what the sound was, what made it, and how i could have it. this led to buying a yamaha YC20 on ebay (ebay was still cool at this point) and eventually an M100 on craigslist and finally a Model A (other consoles are nice but i would be satisfied if the model A was the only hammond i owned).

          and that all led up to finding the organ forum, where i'm consistently learning about not only hammonds, but leslies, pipes, and esoterica i would've never thought to research.
          Why do fools fall in lava?


          • #9
            Amazing story. Thanks Stefan for sharing.
            Voet mentioned the wonderful things about being young. Now I do not want to detract from the OP but when I was youn(ger) many years ago I was fascinated by that famous American rifle, the Winchester '73. These were and still are not easy to get hold of especially in this country so I set about building a replica entirely by hand. All I had was a hacksaw, a file, hammer and a small electric drill. I filed and drilled and hammed away at 1/4" thick steel plates, fitted a stainless steel barrel and magazine tube and a beautifully hand carved stock. Still have it after nearly 60 years!
            After that I built a pedal steel guitar the sounds of which I am equallly fascinated with.
            One can do wonders with the two grub-hooks attached to the end of one's arms when one sets ones mind to it....
            "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...


            • #10
              Organfanna, thanks for sharing your experience. Fun!

              logan, electronics is was much simpler those days. Imagine you would like to move volume keys of an iPhone to the other side: about impossible. Adding a switch to a 50yo Hammond: piece of cake.

              an other thing I want to share,..
              until about 1985 I was “king”.
              what I mean, I could play in all the bands I wanted, there was a big shortage of keyboard players.
              reason I guess that there were sure a lot of guys who learned to play piano at the home upright, but organs were wayyyy to expensive and difficult to transport for an average highschool,guy.

              any older members with same experience?

              around 1977 there were the strings ensembles. They were a bit more reasonable priced but too limited as main keyboard.
              around 1985 the affordable polyphonic synths came to the market (don’t pin me on the exact year). Like dx7, Juno,... after that more key players came available.

              Made my own organs in 1975 and 1981.
              Fender Rhodes since 1982.
              Hammond xm1 midi-module with Solton Bass/Treble Leslie for many years
              Hammond L122 with 1speaker Leslie cabinet since January 2020


              • #11
                Just your story of having little money and having to make repairs on the instrument used for practice brings back some memories...

                In the late 1980's I was in college and decided to take up playing the piano, so I bought a well used Fender Rhodes stage piano from a music store that sold a lot of used gear. It was playable but had a some technical problems. I called Fender and purchased the service manual and over the next year made the needed repairs, sometimes purchasing things like felt and balance rail shims from a piano store in the next town over that had a knowledgeable tech.

                After graduation, at my first real job, a coworker owned a Hammond C3 and one time brought in his service manual into the office for some odd reason. It was in a loose leaf binder. Now I had always liked the Hammond sound and thought I might own one some day so I asked the guy if I could take his manual over to the copy room for a few minutes. He thought it was great that a young guy had an interest in Hammonds so let me copy it.

                Epilogue: I still own the Fender Rhodes, gigged with it with a few bands until I bought some easier to carry synths, it still plays well. Bought a Hammond RT-3 and while it has not been a maintenance nightmare, the manual I copied from that coworker has served me well.
                Hammond RT-3, Estey circa 1903, Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano, Fender Rhodes Mark I 73 stage piano.