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  • Longevity of the Suzuki-Hammond Organs and the 935

    Hello Everyone,

    I've been playing a Hammond 820 which is now needing frequent repair,
    and am looking to upgrade to a Hammond 935.

    I've gotten hooked on the "Hammond Sound" for popular music that I can finally play at home,
    but also need an organ that supports the classical music I play in churches.

    My technician has voiced concern about the longevity of Suzuki-Hammond organs in general,
    noting that the circuit design and components have remained unchanged since the 820 in the 1980s,
    and in fact the overall craftsmanship has declined since Suzuki took over the Hammond brand.

    He's concerned a Hammond that is 40 years newer than the 820, will still need frequent repairs.
    I've played both Rogers and Allen organs, and if I was seeking only a classical instrument,
    I'd go for one of those, but I really want that pop sound as well at home.

    As I look to invest in a Hammond Hybrid upgrade,
    I'd greatly appreciate hearing the thoughts of this community about these organs.


    Thank you so much for considering my question!

  • #2
    Originally posted by omaether View Post
    Hello Everyone,

    I've been playing a Hammond 820 which is now needing frequent repair,
    and am looking to upgrade to a Hammond 935.

    I've gotten hooked on the "Hammond Sound" for popular music that I can finally play at home,
    but also need an organ that supports the classical music I play in churches.

    My technician has voiced concern about the longevity of Suzuki-Hammond organs in general,
    noting that the circuit design and components have remained unchanged since the 820 in the 1980s,
    and in fact the overall craftsmanship has declined since Suzuki took over the Hammond brand.

    He's concerned a Hammond that is 40 years newer than the 820, will still need frequent repairs.
    I've played both Rogers and Allen organs, and if I was seeking only a classical instrument,
    I'd go for one of those, but I really want that pop sound as well at home.

    As I look to invest in a Hammond Hybrid upgrade,
    I'd greatly appreciate hearing the thoughts of this community about these organs.


    Thank you so much for considering my question!
    First, the current models are nothing like the 820. The 820 is analog with some logic control. The current models are totally digital. New models don't usually need service for quite a while after purchased. Although I deal mostly with the Gospel church models, new B-3/C-3/A-3, these organ are usually being played much harder than they would be in a home. No one can predict the actual time a new organ will last before needing a service call but my experience is the ones in the churches typically last 5 to 10 years before any service is needed. That service is typically minor due to the rough service.

    The reality of course is current models are compared to the older tonewheel models that were unusually durable. Current designs and manufacturing techniques cannot compare to those organs of which the Hammond name was built. The biggest problem with current products, be it organs or computers, is parts availability. After about 10 to 20 years after a product is discontinued the likelihood of getting replacement parts is severely reduced. One example is we had an XB-3a that was damaged by lightning and the main computer board was damaged. That board is no longer available. (about 25 years since built) Hammond Suzuki will typically take those boards in and repair them but only in three month intervals. (a guy comes in every three months and repairs) However, they will not take a lightning damage board in at all.

    New products are sensitive digital machines that can be damaged by lightning or even a surge in your power. But, that's everything electronic these days. Taking precautions like surge protectors, (some have product insurance) and un-plugging when not in use or during storms can certainly extend the lifespan.

    I would have no problem with a new Hammond Suzuki organ. I wouldn't expect it to last more than 20~30 years and at my age, it wouldn't matter! It certainly could last longer but no one could predict if Hammond Suzuki would still be around by then.

    When I got in the organ business in '75, I was told the average lifespan of an organ was 20 years. Some last longer, some less. The tonewheel models were the exception. Back then the prediction was based on how long the organ actually lasted before it became too expensive to keep fixing. Now, it's how long will the supporting factory who supplies parts be around?

    Geo

    Comment


    • #3
      With modern digital keyboards of all kinds, I've been told that the typical design life, at present, is about 7 years. The major companies are not keeping stocks of replacement parts like they once did, and they are becoming more inflexible about selling parts to shops that are not authorized service centers.

      The product lifecycle is increasingly one of disposable electronics, where the company makes more money by having you throw away a broken product to buy a new one, assembled with light-duty parts by machines. Kids these days don't like anything that's large or heavy.

      With gear like synths from the 1980s, we are already running into situations where they can become non-repairable due to integrated circuit chips no longer being available. I was barely able to fix a Korg Poly-Six; even a chip that replaces the original can only be found on the surplus market.

      Older organs like Hammond tonewheel organs and transistor combo organs are still repairable because they were built with discrete parts that can still be replaced. In contrast, once a motherboard chip dies, if the manufacturer does not sell replacement boards, that keyboard is now a doorstop.
      I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you SO much Geo! I wasn't sure at all how digital the newer Hammonds were. But did know they used a digital Leslie. When I finally do find an 935, it'll be used since they were discontinued last year, I'm told. But hopefully if the first owner was a gentle player, it'd last me till I'm too expensive to repair myself!

        - - - Updated - - -

        Much appreciated David! Yes, parts is the rub. The last major issue on my 820 we had to fix by taking old ballpoint pens apart to replace the disintegrated bumpers that held the Swell tabs in alignment. (my tech is really ingenious!) Until I can replace it, I'm actually putting our feelers for someone with one in a warehouse they'd cannibalize for parts. I've always played Moog synthesizers and theremins which have been rock solid but even Moog have hit a wall with my professional model theremin and I've had to start sending its boards to a master theremin builder in France for repair.
        Your comment on the chip is sobering to say the least. I have all my instruments surge protected, but the issues more often are circuit-board-rot now.

        Comment


        • #5
          Overall craftmanship declined after Suzuki took over? That's the first I've heard of that. In general, Japanese built instruments (and indeed the ones outsourced to their plants in places like Malaysia) have a long history of being more reliable and with higher quality control than those from other countries.

          As for longevity, there are plenty of 30+ year old digital organs from Japan going strong today - I've owned a couple of them! 7 years may be a bit conservative. There are regulations in Europe at least, that require manufacturers to carry spares for a set number of years after an instrument is discontinued. Not sure about the USA.
          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 Genos, 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

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you andyg! That's encouraging and the kind of diverse information I was hoping for. My technician gave time the impression the longevity issue was a common belief among the MITA crowd I'm still in the search a 935 as no other model looks to meet my goals, and buying any big expensive used instrument long distance is always going some element of a crapshoot to it, knowing the instruments started out top-notch to begin with is a big factor.
            Last edited by omaether; 08-02-2018, 03:43 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by andyg View Post
              7 years may be a bit conservative.
              Organs may be built to somewhat higher standards than your standard digital keyboard. Of course, their life depends largely on use. For someone touring with a digital keyboard, they endure a lot of wear and tear on the road.
              I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

              Comment


              • #8
                Agreed. 'On the road' can take its toll in a short time. Maybe in this disposable age, the manufacturers are thinking that if a band or pro musician gets 6 or 7 years out of a keyboard 1) they will say that they've had their money's worth and 2) they'll have written the cost off against tax by that point. I can understand that, my teaching keyboards in school are bought to last five years or so (the last one lasted 10) and are then sold on so I'm usually quite happy.

                But for the hobby player? Hopefully that portable Hammond/Nord/Roland, or whatever they might have, will last a bit longer with more gentle use!
                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 Genos, 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

                Comment


                • #9
                  May I start a "Hammond 935 Sought" thread in this forum, or is that not allowed?
                  Thanks everyone for the replies!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We have a classifieds section in the forum you can utilize for a “wanted” ad.

                    Comment

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