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Organ newbie, just got a free Hammond N-212 dropped! I have questions!

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  • Organ newbie, just got a free Hammond N-212 dropped! I have questions!

    Hey folks, got a few questions for you vintage Hammond experts out there!

    I'm a longtime musician and I build/repair electric guitars and manufacture my own single coil pickups, so I have some knowledge of analog electronics as they pertain to musical instruments. Still, I know next to nothing about organs except what I've been reading since I got this thing! Someone posted it on the "free" section on Craigslist and kindly delivered it here. It's in great shape, except for maybe two or three keys that don't work but I'm sure it's just a connection issue in the back.

    I've combed the internet looking for info on the N-212, found some specs and such, and learned that—unfortunately—it's a transistor organ as opposed to a tonewheel. That's a drag, BUT I'm intrigued by the Leslie AND the vintage drum machine attachment that it looks like they put on aftermarket. Here are my questions:

    1) Given what you see here, is it possible to "retrofit" a tonewheel generator into this thing? If so, what does this entail/has someone documented such a transition? The craftsmanship and wood on this thing seem good enough to want to keep it alive...even if the actual tones themselves are a little bit "90s toy keyboard" for my liking.

    2) LOVE the Leslie, which works great. Two speeds. At the VERY least, I'd love to utilize this to make a standalone speaker (preferably one using the lovely grill cloth if I can't modify this thing with a tonewheel generator. Does anyone have any experience with this or know a good resource for such a conversion?

    3) What is this drum machine attachment? Does anyone have any information about these? Never heard of "Whippany Electronics." Do these only work with organs?

    4) Finally, any tips, tricks, how-tos, or advice for what you'd do with it is much appreciated. It looks to be from, I think, 1969? I'm surprised for a unit this old that it wasn't a tonewheel organ but so it goes.



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  • #2
    I don't want to sound overpessimistic here: The amount of work needed to install a tone generator in there, is absolutely enormous in terms of effort, cost, time, whatever. What I'd recommend to you, is to search for a T-model (iE T200 or T500). The T500 is an "optical twin" model to the one you have, however it has a built in Leslie, a "drum" machine and a tonegenerator with drawbars. With 2 hours of time, a few cheap components and a soldering iron you can eliminate the filter and the organ will sound decent.
    T-models are, at least in Europe very cheap and I'd be surprised if you'd pay more than 100$ for it in the US.


    • thedeafeningcolors
      ppp Pianississmo
      thedeafeningcolors commented
      Editing a comment
      Haha, it's not pessimistic if it's an accurate assessment. Many thanks for your candor. This is great advice. I love the look of this thing, and that seems like a much more manageable project.

  • #3
    The answer to your question is basically no. Don't even think about it. The N series were part of Hammond's attempt to reclaim part of the home organ market from other makes, whose organs could offer all sorts of sounds and features that tonewheel models could not. It was a development of the organs made by Everett in the early 1960s - Hammond bought Everett - but at last did have reasonable flute sounds.

    The N itself has zero value. However that little drum box may well have, as these things are still sought after. OK, it's not one of the major makes like Roland or Ace Tone, but it will still have that analogue sound. Remove it, along with any internal part inside the organ, and sell it. Remove the Leslie if you like for building an external unit, but bear in mind that its speaker is an 8" unit that won't handle much, if any, bass and is probably rated at around 25 watts max. Dump the rest of the organ if you do so, or give the entire organ away, less drum box, if you don't.

    Then go find a T series model. T200, T400 or T500. You should be able to pick one up for free or very little. You only need to start modifying the T if you're after that gritty Hammond sound. The T was designed for a sweeter sound and hit the mark, becoming an incredibly popular model. If you're not into gritty sounds, leave it stock. It sounds very 'decent' as built for 90% of players!

    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


    • thedeafeningcolors
      ppp Pianississmo
      thedeafeningcolors commented
      Editing a comment
      Much appreciated. This is really helpful. Thank you! I will likely remove the Leslie for some home recording rather than gigging to see what it can handle. Good advice re: the tiny speaker. I'll pull the drum machine as well. Also, thanks for the note on the history of the model. I thought for sure when I saw the craigslist pics online that it was old enough to predate the market-wide solid-state switch, but alas I'm wrong. When I couldn't find any info about the model itself, I figured that the (free) price was right. By the time I figured out it was a transistor organ/how undesirable these are, the guy was at my place.

    • andyg
      andyg commented
      Editing a comment
      There was a predecessor to the N series, hybrid transistor and tube. You'll be VERY glad you didn't get a K100! Shortest production run of any Hammond, measured in months!

  • #4
    If you have your heart set on a T-Series, you are in PA, this one owner XTP is available in Mentor OH, not too far from Erie PA.
    From what I gather a rare late model unit. Looks like a baby X-77.
    Marketplace - Hammond Organ with Leslie Speaker | Facebook

    Current inventory. Yamaha HX-1 and FX-20, Hammond Colonnade w/ Leslie 720, Kawai XR9000, (2) Technics FN3, FA1, Yamaha Tyros 5, psr 910.
    Is that enough?


    • #5
      Originally posted by thedeafeningcolors View Post
      1) Given what you see here, is it possible to "retrofit" a tonewheel generator into this thing? If so, what does this entail/has someone documented such a transition?
      I have to admit that I burst out laughing when I read this. It's an extremely impractical and unworkable idea. You'd be miles ahead starting with any tonewheel organ.

      I know a lot of guitar amp techs, and they have people coming in saying, "Can you make my Fender amp sound like a Marshall?" Their standard response is: "Sell your Fender amp and buy a Marshall."

      If it has a two-speed Leslie unit, save the motors. They're by far the most valuable part in this organ.

      I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.


      • #6
        Hey everyone, thanks for all of the feedback. I've taken all of it to heart and decided to part the thing out to make an external Leslie Cab to use for guitars/MIDI controller stuff and one of these days I'll throw the reverb tank into a separate tube amp build. Now, I know I'm getting away from the intended focus of this forum here, but I'll press my luck and see if anyone has some wiring expertise that they could pass along to me:

        Like I said, my goal is to make this a standalone Leslie Speaker Cabinet. Right now, though, I'm having a bit of trouble working out what on Earth is going on with the wiring. I pulled the Leslie unit out (which had two speeds on the organ, and both worked just fine), snipped the three wires going down to the organ's power supply, and then I disconnected the ones running to the switch/output jack where the drum machine was plugged in.

        Question 1) Does that mean this thing has two motors or one motor with variable speeds?

        Question 2) I know that I need to power this thing, and I'm assuming that I can just take these 3 wires (Grey, Blue, Yellow) that ran to the power supply and thread them into a replacement power cord into the wall to power this sucker. Is this true? If it is, do you know which one is live / neutral / ground? Also, would it be more advisable to wire these into a female AC plug port so I could connect/disconnect a normal plug or thread them onto a new male connector?

        Question 3) The green and black wires, I'm assuming since I believe they were rigged up to the switch before I took it apart, is the Leslie-to-speaker connection. Do I have that right?

        Question 4) There were two speakers in the organ: a 6-inch little guy and a 12-inch. Obviously, I'd love for the Leslie to go to both, but I don't know if that's possible or—if it is possible—even advisable. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? The speakers are still mounted in the panel that I took out of the organ. I've disconnected the Leslie from them, but everything else is as it was.

        Question 4) Can someone let me know if I'm missing something? Here's my plan before I buy the wood to build the cabinet:
        a) Thread the grey/blue/yellow wires into a new AC plug into the wall.
        b) Run the green/black wires to some kind of switch (and if you know which one I'd need, that's super helpful, too!)
        c) Run new wires from the switch to an output jack.
        d) Run a guitar/speaker cable from the output jack to a guitar amplifier's external speaker hookup
        e) Play David Gilmour solos?

        Pics included below for help and reference! Among these is a page I found online that, I think, tells me the correct AC power wiring?

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        • #7
          definitely a two-motor stack. The upper one is the slow motor.
          Current: CV chop w/ Leslie 900; Hammond R-124; Hammond T-412; Steinway A (1905); Zuckermann Italian Virginal harpsichord.
          Past: Hammond M-2 w/ Leslie 145; Korg SS-1; Arp Quadra; Arp Axxe; Paia "strings & things"; Paia gnome; Paia 2720 synthesizer; Rhodes 73; 1875 Viennese grand;


          • thedeafeningcolors
            ppp Pianississmo
            thedeafeningcolors commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the info! Any ideas re: which wires go where to switch between slow/fast speeds?

          • Austin Otto
            Austin Otto
            pp Pianissimo
            Austin Otto commented
            Editing a comment
            I get easily lost in electronics and circuit routing; but each of the two motors should run when connected by it's own two wires directly to line AC circuit. In most older Leslies, they will each just have a standard two-prong outlet that is plugged into a standard receptacle that is on the Leslie pre-amp (one for each speed). Relays inside the preamp provide power to one or the other (never both), but the connections to make that switching happen differ. On my Leslie 900, I have three wires that go to my half-moon switch. One is the common ground for both motors, and the switch alternately connects the line from one motor or the other to complete the circuit. Not knowing your particular setup, I could only guess or speculate about the various wire (which I won't), but you would need to trace the wires, or have a circuit diagram to know for sure.