Hammond B3

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki


Hammond B3 organ,
with Leslie cabinet.

The Hammond organ was the first successful electric organ, released in the 1930s. It used mechanical, rotating tonewheels to produce the sound waveforms. Its system of drawbars allowed for setting volumes for specific sounds, and it provided vibrato-like effects. The drawbars allow the player to choose volume levels. By emphasizing certain harmonics from the overtone series, desired sounds (such as 'brass' or 'string') can be imitated. Generally, the older Hammond drawbar organs had only preamplifiers and were connected to an external, amplified speaker. The Leslie speaker, which rotates to create a distinctive tremolo, became the most popular.

Though originally produced to replace organs in the church, the Hammond organ, especially the model B-3, became popular in jazz, particularly soul jazz, and in gospel music. Since these were the roots of rock and roll, the Hammond organ became a part of the rock and roll sound. It was widely used in rock and popular music during the 1960s and 1970s by bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Procol Harum, Santana and Deep Purple. Its popularity resurged in pop music around 2000, in part due to the availability of clonewheel organs that were light enough for one person to carry.


In contrast to Hammond's electro-mechanical design, Allen Organ Company introduced the first totally electronic organ in 1938, based on the stable oscillator designed and patented by the Company's founder, Jerome Markowitz.[1] Allen continued to advance analog tone generation through the 1960s with additional patents[2]. In 1971, in collaboration with North American Rockwell,[3] Allen introduced the world's first commercially-available digital musical instrument. The first Allen Digital Organ is now in the Smithsonian Institution.[4]