The world famous Hammond B3 organ, when properly matched to a Leslie speaker model 122, 122a, or 147 offers one of the greatest musical sounds on our planet! However, the Hammond B3 "sound" can be obtained or achieved equally well from a few other tone wheel Hammond organ models when one understands the true source of the Hammond B3 sound.
Let's start with the basics. The term B3 defines a model of Hammond organ. The Hammond organ company manufactured dozens of different models of organs but only one called B3. The B3 model was manufactured for a 20 year period from 1955 to 1974 with some subtle changes along the course of this production cycle. Prior to 1955 there were similar looking models including the model B2, BV, BC, BCV and model A. Put them all on stage together (or in the Keyboard Exchange International showroom in Sanford, Florida) and it would be difficult to tell them apart unless you were expert in the different models. Even the model A, first manufactured in 1935 has what we today refer to as the B3 sound. Therefore there are several options to get a true B3 sound, and also the look and style of a B3 with the open design of four stylish legs.
The Hammond model C3 is my personal second best choice to obtain a true B3 sound but with a different style of furniture. There are times when the C3 model will actually be the better choice due to the closed in furniture style. To be plain and direct, ladies who play the organ will prefer the Hammond model C3 to the B3 model for reasons of modesty. There are also financial savings to be enjoyed by purchasing the C3 model. Currently a C3 is about 20% less expensive than a B3 if in the same condition. It is also important to note that the internal parts of a B3 and a C3 are the same and completely interchangeable and this also explains why they can sound the same.
Mr. Don Leslie invented the Leslie speaker. He tried to sell his invention to Mr. Hammond but at the time, Mr. Hammond did not understand that one day no one would want to play one of his Hammond organs without a Leslie speaker. To obtain what we today call the B3 sound, a proper Leslie speaker is a necessity.
The differences between the various models of organs that can produce the B3 sound are: model number, age, furniture style, and price. Less popular models and older models are less expensive but not of lesser quality. It is of utmost importance to understand that NOT ALL organs that bear the name of Hammond are capable of producing what we refer to today as the "B3 sound". Only a select few can give us the sound we seek AND the organs must be properly restored and properly matched to a restored or NEW Leslie speaker...of the correct model!
Because the term B3 is so well known, the actual model Hammond B3 organ is the most popular and therefore has the greatest market demand. When demand is higher for any product or service, the price is higher. This is economics 101. This does however create a greater value in the other models that are not so well known but are capable of producing the same sound as the B3 model organ. It is always best to compare a lessor model, in the same room or acoustical setting, with an actual B3 to fully understand the great values found in some of the lesser known models. Allow your ears to be the judge that will allow your budget a break. Generally, most organ lovers will one day want a B3 or will want to be able to trade up to a B3. A church will find investing in a B3 will both help attract and retain excellent musicians. Marvin Gay sang it best "Ain't nothing like the real thing!"
The Hammond B3 organ does have a "cool factor" to its style that cannot be denied. Over the years, we at Keyboard Exchange International have been asked thousands of times, which is the better instrument, the B3 or the C3. The simple answer is that the only real difference is the furniture style. Organists will debate long a hard over this question but really it comes down to the organs they have played or heard, the acoustics of the rooms they were in, the condition of the instruments and other variables too numerous to mention. Modifications and upgrades can actually make these organs sound better than when they were new. A proper restoration of a 50 year old Hammond B3 is money well spent as it can prepare that B3 for the next 50 years. A Stratavarious violin can be 300 years old and agreed to be the best sounding and most valuable violin in the entire world. To our way of thinking, a Hammond B3 organ is in the same category of quality as these wonderful violins. Additionally we know of nothing new that can be purchased today that will outlast or out perform a properly restored Hammond B3 organ.
Please visit Keyboard Exchange International or make your selection from the videos and pictures we provide, to get the B3 sound you have always wanted. It will be the best investment in your musical future that you can make! Let one of the greatest musical instruments ever created inspire your playing and, or enhance your worship experience.
By: Jim Huss, President, Keyboard Exchange International www.keyboardexchange.com © 2014
221 S. Magnolia Ave.
Sanford, Fl 32771-1321
Sales Office: (407) 323-7493
Hours: We show our Hammonds with Leslies by appointment. Appointments are for our customers convenience and to insure that we will be available for you when you arrive. We request you make an appointment so that we can offer you our best attention.