KEI Makes My Dream Come True
Greetings, potential Hammond organ owners. This
may seem like a long story, but to a Hammond B3 devotee I think
you'll find it's worth the read.
Does this sound familiar?
When was the last time you bought a car from a dealership? When's
the last time you bought a house? Think back on the experience.
You're all excited about the purchase, you're bubbling with anticipation
of getting behind the wheel or your new car that is just what you
wanted or pulling into the driveway of your new home. Enter the
"joy patrol!" The people who just have to suck
the fun right out of the experience. For the car purchase, it's
the sales manager - you know him (and it's always a "him")
- the person in the office somewhere out of sight who really
makes the price decisions. For the home purchase, enter the "house
closing" meeting - the one where the figures just aren't right
somewhere or some document is missing that ruins the joy of the
moment. If you're like me, you'd rather take a beating than deal
with either of those situations and the personalities involved.
Well once and a great while, you experience
something so enjoyable that you must tell as many people as you
can. So here's one that will restore your faith in how a business
transaction can be.
I told Jim Huss halfway through my organ purchase,
"Once this is done, if you would like a written testimonial
for your Website on how excellent your service and support has been
in this purchase, Iíd be thrilled to write something up for you.
I have never experienced a company or someone like yourself who
takes as much personal interest in a customerís purchase and ensuring
they get the what they want as you and Keyboard Exchange have done.
This has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable large item
purchases Iíve ever experienced. If car dealers did this, people
would stick with them for life.
Jim's reply: Wow, Your last paragraph is
a testimonial. You will not need to write one, it is already written.
Thanks very much for your kind words... BUT, lets wait until
your organ is delivered and our job is finished before we publish
anything on the Website. We will be sure to "stay on our toes."
OK, the job is finished! My organ is sitting
in my family room, but where to start? In 1977 I bought one
of the last Hammond B3's made for $5000, brand new. That included
a Leslie 122 sound cabinet. I'd always wanted to have the same organ
used by all my favorite bands of the 60's and 70's - Deep Purple,
Billy Preston, Yes, Jethro Tull, Bob Seger, and for many of
us, the band that made the B3 famous, Procol Harum (A Whiter
Shade of Pale). Wouldn't you know it, I gave the organ up in a divorce
making the stupid decision to take an upright piano instead
of the B3.
Well, here it is, May 2004, 27 years later.
I'm watching American Idol and it's Elton John night.
It took me right back to the 70s and that's all it took for me to
decide to get back into my music and start searching to see if I
could possibly locate a B3 on the Internet that someone might
be willing to sell. To my delight, I don't just find individuals
selling some pretty worn organs out there, but up pops Keyboard
Exchange International - a company that buys, restores and sells
the very instruments I'm hoping to find. There they were, Hammond
B3's, C3, A-100s, and more, along with Leslie sound cabinets. I
flipped, then looked at what well kept and fully restored B3's go
for today. There's an old comment guys from the 50's say in jest
now and then that popped back into my head - "I'd be a millionaire
but my mother threw away my baseball card and comic book collection!"
That's the feeling I had when I realized that if I'd kept the B3
it would be worth BIG BUCKS today given the way I took care of
it. If I could only go back in time and change that decision.
After kicking myself for ever choosing
that upright piano over the B3, I started looking at the site and
was thrilled to learn that the only difference between the B3 and
the C3 was the full cabinet instead of the four spindle legs of
the B3. The videos on Jim's sight told me everything I needed to
know about the C3, how they restore them, and the inventory they
had at the time.
It didn't take long for me to e-mail Jim asking
about the organs I saw. That is when my wonderful experience
with Jim and his company began. We traded e-mail after e-mail as
I researched options within my budget and asked question after question
to gain adequate understanding of what I was looking for in an organ.
This was going to be a big purchase for me and I had to make sure
I had all the facts necessary to make the right decision.
Below are the photos Jim sent along with excerpts
from his email's. I share them because if you pay attention to the
"conversation" sequence, you see how Jim cares as much
about your instrument as you do and goes out of his way to make
sure you get exactly what you expect.
"We have an excellent C3 in walnut finish, one owner instrument
that just arrived this week...a real beauty! Hammond
C3 pictures prior to detailing or service."
"Leslie speaker possible options for C3. I removed the back
of the organ and set it next to some available Leslie's for color
matching. That is one way to select your Leslie and then check for
best sounding Leslie. ( All sound great when we restore them!)"
"We set up the C3 for two 145's on Friday. We can change it
back if necessary. I will send you some pictures of the two Leslie's
that we have selected. I also have another 145 that I have purchased
that is expected to arrive soon. The pictures indicate that it is
MINT condition and I had planned to substitute it, if it matches
and arrives in time for the switch."
"The "MINT" 145 has arrived and is in excellent,
perhaps not MINT condition. It has a few flaws but overall excellent
for its age. We have serviced the newly arrived 145 and pictures
are attached for your inspection. The color is a bit different than
the other 145 but just by a shade. Both are excellent. It will be
difficult to get two 145's that are exactly the same and this is
the best I can do at this time for shorter Leslie's. What do you
think? Are these close enough in color and wood tone? Once you have
them separated, I don't think you will notice as much. Wood is wood
and there are always some variations. It is your choice. I think
we are as close as we may get with these two."
I think the 122's are the better color match to the organ and they
match each other. Let me know if you agree."
Matching Leslie 122's
foot switch is installed and very smooth and has an easy touch.
It is a heavy duty metal switch with a softer than expected touch.
The organ was tested carefully after replacing the internal AC wire.
After so many years the original factory AC wire is dry rotted on
all these organs but not everyone realizes the importance of replacement
as the problem is not so obvious.
We replace capacitors on the tone generator and line box to increase
the brilliance and clarity. We oil all the moving parts, clean contacts,
replace felts as necessary, regulate bass pedals and check and repair
all functions. I really need to make a complete list of all that
gets done because right now I am just talking off the top of my
head. It would be a good idea to have a compete list of all that
gets done. Bottom line, we strive for an instrument that sounds
as good as we know how to make it sound. We want it to "feel"
like new, look as close to new as possible, and sound GREAT.
I think that what gives us such consistent excellent results is
the team of people that we have. We have a great staff and we restore
about 100 plus instruments per year and have been doing it for 35
years. We stock all the parts necessary and we make sure not to
cut corners on parts/material quality."
"Today (Saturday) we set up your C3 in our showroom with bass
pedals, both Leslie's, and the 15 foot cables for final testing. (30
foot cables in bench) Everything is perfect and sounds really strong,
clean, powerful and rich and crisp. There is a tone control on the
tube preamp inside the organ that we usually jack up to Max treble.
You can adjust this yourself if the organ is too bright. We also leave
off the top back of the Leslie's to allow more highs to be heard. The
factory is required to install these parts but they block about 20%
of the highs.
I played the organ some and will leave it on for a few hours. We call
this "burn in" time. Then I will play it again over the
week end and continue this process to eliminate chance for a bad tube
etc. (If we installed any new tubes, these actually need more testing
and burn in time than vintage tubes).
Once the organ gets into your home, if everything is not perfect,
there is sometimes a need to "reseat" the tubes. This just
means secure them properly in their sockets. A few times we have had
to do this after a long trip but only about 5% of the time. My son
will do this for you if necessary.
I have enjoyed working for you on this project and trust that you
will be pleased with our efforts. If there is something that needs
adjustment let me know or any other questions. AND, we thank you very
much for your business! Tuesday, before we blanket wrap the organ,
my son Rodney will polish the wood with a commercial furniture polish.
That will be the final detail before loading. Owners manuals, keys,
Hammond oil are all ready to go also.
arrives. Jim's son Rodney pulled up into the drive way at 10:30
AM after an all day drive from Orlando to and a stayover in Charlotte,
30 miles south of our home. I helped him unload it (an easy task),
he connected everything, and we turned it on. To say it sounds remarkable
is a gross understatement. You just can't imagine the difference
twin Leslie's make!
So, here it is, my Hammond
matching Leslie 122 sound cabinets.
We since then moved the Leslie's
to theopposite end of the room.
In a word, Jim Huss and
KEI are phenomenal! I have never experienced a someone
who takes as much personal interest in a customerís purchase and
ensuring they get what they want as he and Keyboard Exchange did.
Whether it was wood finishes, technical specifications, tone quality,
performance, or mechanics, Jim knew the answers and made me completely
confident that I was dealing with a professional in the field of
Hammond organs and Leslie sound cabinets. It surely didn't hurt
that he and I are close to the same age. When I told him that what
I love to do is put on a CD and play along with the music in my
rock band wanna-be fantasy, he knew exactly where I was coming from.
I even burned him a CD of my favorite 1970's"B3
band" tunes so he could hear just what I was wanting to do.
We discussed using Leslie 122's vs. the shorter 145's. I was concerned
that the shorter 145's, while better for decorating from my wife's
point of view, would sacrifice sound from having a smaller cabinet.
"Not the case," Jim assured me and provided detailed information
on the comparison they'd done between 145's and 122's to ensure
that was true.
I could go on and on about the experience, but
I think I can best sum it up by saying this. If you are looking
for an outstanding company and people to deal with in making your
organ purchase, you need look no further than Jim Huss and
his team at Keyboard Exchange International!
Mooresville, North Carolina
Post Delivery Technical note:
While checking out all the toggles and drawbar's after delivery,
I found what I thought was a technical problem. I dropped Jim an
email and his response may be educational for you as well. (See
images below for reference)
Me: With the percussion switch OFF, second
set of drawbar's for the upper manual (used with the percussion
effect) all produce the tone they normally produce. However, when
the percussion toggle is ON, the 1 foot drawbar ceases
to make it's normal high pitch tone plus the percussion effect
and only the percussion effect sounds. Yet the rest of the drawbar's
continue to make their normal tone as well as the percussion
effect. The book states that when in the ON position, the percussion
switch lowers the normal drawbar effects (and it does).
So either itís lowering the 1 foot drawbar
(9th on in the set) so much my ears canít detect any of the
normal high pitch of that 1?drawbar, or itís actually canceling
out that drawbar. Iím not sure if anything is malfunctioning or
not. What do you think? If you can still hear some of that high
pitched bar with percussion on in your other organs, then mine is
malfunctioning. However, if you, too fell like you lose all of the
high pitch tone of the 1' when you put on percussion, then all is
well. Please let me know."
Jim's immediate reply: GOOD NEWS REPORT
for you today! There is nothing wrong with your ear! ALL B3, C3
and A-100's do not play the 1 foot drawbar when the percussion is
on! The percussion overrides the one foot drawbar when turned on.
That is the factory design. (The circuits "share" a busrod).
When we add percussion to a B2 or C2 with a retrofit unit, we retain
the one foot drawbar and omit the harmonic one next to it. We had
the factory change their design/instructions so that we could retain
the pure one foot, but that does not relate to your situation with
the C3. So, the good news for you is that your ear is perfect.
The good news for both of us is that the organ is perfect!
THAT makes me very happy. Please keep in touch with me in the coming
months to let me know how you are doing. It has truly been a pleasure
being of service to you. I wish you much musical enjoyment with
your Hammond and Leslie's.
Keyboard Exchange International
221 S. Magnolia Ave. | Sanford, Fl 32771-1321
Sales Office: (407)323-7493
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