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Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

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Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:00 pm

A question here for the real Hammond afficionados!

In recent times, I have come to realise that I actually DON'T LIKE the sound of the Hammond C3/B3 very much... what I really prefer is the sound of the Hammond L100, which was a spinet.

Some of my favourite records, I now realise, feature the L100 (early Genesis, for example?) and the clincher for me is The Stranglers back catalogue: Dave Greenfield used to have an L100, but for the ghastly "10" album and everything since, he got himself a real Hammond C3, and I just don't like it - it's too "fruity", it to my ears it sticks out of the mixes too much.
In contrast, the L100 bedded down in mixes brilliantly, giving a throaty smokey skein of sound as a pad under all the other stuff going on.
The clincher came when I found some videos on YouTube of the L100, and suddenly it was "That's it! THAT'S the sound I want!"

I have tried things like Native Instruments B4, and I think they it was specifically trying to sound like the B3.

I was wondering if any of the current crop of digital organ keyboards and/or VSTi's currently can provide the sound of the L100?
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby Richie Royale » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:14 pm

I doubt you'll find one advertising that it has the sound of an L100, but maybe one of the dedicated B3 style ones would have enough sonic pallette to mimic the L100? Korg do their CX 3 one and there is the Nord Electro.

Is there a huge difference in tone? Spinets seem to be just cut down in size, but the tone generation is the same isn't it on some models?
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:30 pm


To my ears, the tone really *is* noticeably different. I mean, obviously they're both "Hammond organ" sounds, but as with electric pianos (Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer...) when you really get immersed in those old sounds, you can tell them apart... and I really prefer the sound of the L100.
I gather they had different amounts of tonewheels, different vibrato, etc.

I think you've made an asute comment when you say nobody is going to advertise that their machine or VSTi has the L100 sound - for some reason, in the mythos of vintage gear, it's been decided that the B3 is the 'holy grail' of hammond sounds, the one we should all aspire too.
But I have reached the conclusion that I don't like it anywhere near as much as the supposed cheaper inferior L100!

I think it's a bit analogous to piano sounds - they always want to tell you they're giving you the sound of an amazing concert grand, Steinway D or whatever - whereas what I want is the clapped out old upright off 'Hey Jude' etc
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby The Elf » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:45 pm

I also feel there's a significant difference in sound between the B3/C3 and the smaller Spinet models. The B3/C3 have a really powerful snort and a thick, treacley tone, whereas the Spinets have less richness and depth, but a more delicate tone and sweeter top end. They underpin a mix beautifully. The Spinet models get some bad-mouthing (with some justification) from true Hammond afficianados for their less than gutsy sound, but I like them.

My Hammond T-202 goes either via my VKP-1/Dynacord CLS-222 for a vintage sound or an MXR Phase 100/Boss CE-1 for the late 70s Genesis sound. The T has a different percussion harmonic than the L, which makes it a bit of a downer for the leads of such as 'Supper's Ready', but other than that I can recreate pretty much any of the early or late sounds.

Given the lack of portability in a real Hammond I've spent a lot of my life trying to find an alternative to the real thing, but it's a tough requirement. Two devices get me close - my Kurzweil K2600, which I've spent many hours perfecting in direct comparison to my real Hammond, and the GSI VB3 that gives a reasonable, if slightly too B3/C3-biased emulation. I liked NI's B4, but I also found it very B3/C3-sounding. TBH I've never really found anything I'm 100% happy with. Maybe someone like Hollowsun could advise - he provides a vast sample library and has an appreciation of such vintage sounds.

It's one of those things that if you really love the real thing there's only one way to do it. The price of Spinets went through the floor some years ago. You genuinely couldn't *give* them away. If you have space then picking up the real thing is a genuinely cheap option.

For most people the emulations are close enough.

Oh, for the space for that L100 - sigh...
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:54 pm

this is the thing - I simply don't have the space. As it was,I nearly killed 3 removal men getting my old upright piano into my basement flat!
The Hammond "Porta-B" is a slightly more portable spinet, is it? But even that weighs a ton.
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby hollowsun » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:07 pm

The Elf wrote:Maybe someone like Hollowsun could advise - he provides a vast sample library and has an appreciation of such vintage sounds.
Coincidentally, I am in discussion with someone who has extensively sampled an L100. He has sampled each drawbar independently giving individual control over drawbar settings and percussion, etc.. It will require a suitable GUI but that shouldn't be a problem ... we're rather good at that (or so we're told).

More news anon.
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:11 pm

Hah! Trust you!
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby zenguitar » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:15 pm

I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with Thijs Van Leer a couple of years ago and discovered that he had always used the L100 rather than a C3. And for live work he said he was now using a Suzuki in a dummy Hammond case. Not sure what model, but it could be the Hammond branded SK1/SK2. That might be worth a listen feline1.

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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby The Elf » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:18 pm

hollowsun wrote:
The Elf wrote:Maybe someone like Hollowsun could advise - he provides a vast sample library and has an appreciation of such vintage sounds.

Coincidentally, I am in discussion with someone who has extensively sampled an L100. He has sampled each drawbar independently giving individual control over drawbar settings and percussion, etc.. It will require a suitable GUI but that shouldn't be a problem ... we're rather good at that (or so we're told).

More news anon.

That's great to hear! Keep us posted!

I've been tempted to much the same with my T-202 on a few ocasions, but never got my act together. Maybe if you could give me a breakdown of what samples you'd require you could make the new instrument L/T-switchable?
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:20 pm

zenguitar wrote:I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with Thijs Van Leer a couple of years ago and discovered that he had always used the L100 rather than a C3. And for live work he said he was now using a Suzuki in a dummy Hammond case. Not sure what model, but it could be the Hammond branded SK1/SK2. That might be worth a listen feline1.

Cool, if I have time in between trolling, I'll check them out
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:26 pm


Looking at the SK2 on Thomann, it goes for a pony short of 2 grand... at that price one would expect summat half decent!

I note though, ominously, that it offers "B-Type1, B-Type2, Mellow, Vx, Farf, Pipe" sounds. Always "B" type, innit? Farfisa and Vox as well, but what is "mellow"? Could that possibly be spinet style?
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby zenguitar » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:39 pm

It could well be the mellow voice feline1, he certainly nails the classic Focus sounds live. I've seen them a couple of times in recent years and they are definitely worth seeing. Thijs is very approachable and always happy to answer questions and generally chat away too.



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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:42 pm

I wish the same could be said for Dave Greenfield's live Hammond sounds these days,
which are considerable better than the utter nadir of Stranglers gigs in the late 80s where he seemed to be using an Oberheim OB8 for everything (Hammond and Hohner cembelet!)
but still are "not quite right" to my oh-so-pernickity ear.

(Mind you, JJ hasn't sounded like JJ since about 1980, Jet Black was in hospital so didn't sound like anything, and Hugh Cornwall seemed to have been replaced by a lairy squaddie from sunderland... )
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:51 pm

I am reading the Hammond SK1/SK2 User Guide! I quote:

"These are various types of Hammond Organs’ characteristic tone wheels. The Hammond
Organ’s original purpose was to duplicate the pipe organ, however, they became
famous for producing a unique sound of their own.
The BType1 and BType2 have the B-3/C-3’s traditional Tone-Wheel sounds. The
BType2 has more wow-flutter and leakage noise.
The Mellow is not a Tone-Wheel, if strictly speaking. It replicates the first-generation
non-mechanical Transistor Hammond Tone Generators like the GT-7 and Concord.

...The Vx is a type to combine the triangle wave and square wave with several footages.
The Farf is one to combine the sound wave forms coming through plural filters with
the tablet switch.

So there you have it, in perfect Englrish.
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:54 pm

Excellent typo at the back too:

ORGAN TYPES
Select the manual keyboard organ type.
BType1: Traditional B-3/C-3 tone-wheel sound
BType2: Sound with more leakage noise and wow-flutter
Mellow: With transparent sine waves
Vx: Transistor Organ, Vx type
Fart: Transistor Organ, Farf type
Pipe: Pipe Organ
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby zenguitar » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:42 pm

To B, or not to B?

Hmmm... very interesting typo

Not looking too promising then, but might still be worth an audition if you get a chance. Perhaps Hollowsun can be persuaded.

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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:15 pm

The L100 (as well as the M100 and the M3 spinets) are all totally different beast to the B3/C3/A100 classic console organs. They were very much a low-cost alternative for home use and there were a lot of changes. I think the M100 and its variants was probably used more widely than the L100 by a lot of groups in the 60s and 70s, but they are quite similar.

The vibrato system, which used a 'scanner-delay' electro-mechanical system in the console organs, was replaced by a phase-shift circuit which produced quite a wide vibrato at the bottom end of the keyboard, but which was pretty thin and weedy at the top end. The chorus mode was poor in comparison too.

Hammond also introduced a pre-emphasis technique in the L100 to boost the output of the higher pitched tonewheels, and then used a low-pass filter to restore the tonal balance, while at the same time attenuating the key click noise that is such an integral part of the console organ sound.

The biggest tonal difference, though, was in the different tonewheel generator design and the use of harmonnic mixtures on the lower manual drawbars, which gave a very different tonality. It was/is much brighter and crisper at the high end, and with 5 fewer tonewheels you don't get all the bass notes on the keyboards.

The generator also had a self-start motor, so it was possibly to make silly pitch-bend type noises more easily than the console organs by turning the motor on and off while playing (at least until the motor and/or the tonewheel drive line broke!)

I can't quite recall (it's been a while since I played one) but I think the foldback arrangement (ie. which notes were repeated in the top and bottom octaves) was different too. In fact I don't think there was any foldback on the L100: the notes just mute when the tonewheels run out, instead of being replaced with notes from the preceeding octave as they are in the console organs.

The percussion system is driven from the 8th drawbar contacts instead of the 9th drawbar, meaning that you can have both percussion and the 1st drawbar harmonic on the L100, but you can't on the Console organs. Again, that makes them sound brighter. Some console organ players deliberately modified their organs to work the same way because the top drawbar adds so much! Also, the percussion decay is substantially longer than on the console organs. I think the shortest decay on the L100 is about the same as the long decay on the B3.

And finally, the expression pedal works in a totally different way. The console organ pedal uses a capactive coupling arrangement and it affects the midrange frequencies much more than the low and high ends, so the tonality changes as the pedal is moved. On the L100 it's a straight volume pedal, affecting all frquecies equally... and also the dynamic range is much smaller. This expression pedal difference seems a subtle effect, but for a player who uses the expression pedal a lot (and the best ones all do!) it makes a big different to the perceived sound of the organ.

I'm not aware of any accurate L100/M100/M3 models available in any of the existing organ clones, but it wouldn't be that hard to do and I'm sure there'd be a demand. The Farfisa and Vox alternatives are quite common and do the job in some respects, but an L100 variant would be nice! Hollowsun's possibly impending offering sounds interesting... but in the meantime I wonder if anyone's had a word with Nord...

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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:45 pm

Thanks for that most detailed info, Hugh.

In my view, all those differences added up to an instrument with a sound that would sit much much better in a busy mix when you had lots of other fat and nasty sounds going on, typical of prog and/or new wave type records.
A console Hammond is just too big, thick, fruity and attention-seeking for that. They have all these shimmering harmonics constantly vying for your attention.
Farfisas and Voxes are generally thinner but more 'opaque' (if that makes sense),
whereas the spinet Hammonds could produce a timbre that had a wide bandwidth but was also quite transparent and airy, and would sit behind everything else, great for pads and gelling.

I don't really know why everyone who goes on about Hammonds seems to want the B3/C3 sound! My guess is that it's just become one of those iconic/buzzword things where most people don't actually really know the difference between models, they're just parroting the received wisdom about what's best... and it becomes a viscious circle, manufacturers have to tell people they're emulating the "B3" to get people buying them.
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:50 pm

Maybe... I must say, though, that I much prefer playing a console organ to an L100.

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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby Dave_Bee » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:15 pm

I sampled a L100 and made a library for the Ensoniq EPS16+ sampler. I did the same too with my C3 - I think the L100 sounds better, cleaner whereas the C3 is more of a big full on experience.
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:25 pm

yeah, trying to do chords with the C3 is like trying to get someone like Aretha Franklin to sing quiet unobtrusive backing vocals.
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby stef77 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:14 pm

Post is late but.....
I have the Roland VK8M organ module which simulates many of the Hammond series if you make time to edit the presets.The VK gives you many editing features more than Ive seen on any other simulator.


http://www.roland.com/products/en/VK-8M/

Sorry I just realized you said keyboard... the VK8 sames as the VK8M but a keyboard.
http://www.roland.com/products/en/VK-8/
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:52 am

What are you basing this claim on, particularly?
I just downloaded and read the owners manual -
the only parameter that seemed relevant was the type of tonewheel, which just enigmatically says
"VINTAGE1: A tone wheel that simulates the tone wheel organs of the 70’s.
VINTAGE2: A tone wheel that simulates the tone wheel organs of the 60’s."

Are you saying "tone wheel organs of the 70s" is a spinet emulation?
Or is it just Roland waffle?
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:00 am

Gordon Reid's review http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep02/a ... andvk8.asp doesn't mention spinets anywhere... although he claims it emulates "A100/B3/C3", then goes on to note the same thing I cut and pasted there about "tonewheel organs of the 70s", and then also moans that some of the sounds aren't beefy enough...
...which *could* be interpreted in that he's complaining that the spinet sounds of the VK8 don't sound like console organs
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby stef77 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:39 pm

feline1 wrote:What are you basing this claim on, particularly?
I just downloaded and read the owners manual -
the only parameter that seemed relevant was the type of tonewheel, which just enigmatically says
"VINTAGE1: A tone wheel that simulates the tone wheel organs of the 70’s.
VINTAGE2: A tone wheel that simulates the tone wheel organs of the 60’s."

Are you saying "tone wheel organs of the 70s" is a spinet emulation?
Or is it just Roland waffle?

No Im saying that... if you look into the manual under advanced editing theres many facets
of the VK to edit possably to simluate other Hammond models other than just the 2 vintage
controllers. My sons buddy just inherited a hammond L something 1200? I dont know, Ill take my VK down and try a AB test.

Have you ever had hands on experience with the VK? "GRIN"
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:15 pm

I haven't had any experience of a VK (or a real Hammond!),
I just know what I like hearing on old records!
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby The Elf » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:23 pm

I fooled around with a VK-8 for a short while. I recall it being very much aimed at the thick B/C-type tones and nothing like the L/T models that I know and love. It actually didn't impress me much, but to each his own...
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:29 am

Noticed today that Clavia have just brought out a dual-manual Nord organ with DRAWBARS!! Wahey!

But it still has no L100/T100 sound on it - B3, Vox, Farf and pipe organ remains the order of the day.

Maybe if I email Clavia they'll consider it.
Or maybe what we need is for Gordon Reid to write about it in Sound on Sound. I mean if he can eulogise about RMI Electrapianos he can bally well say summat about Tony Banks' eschewal of the B3 for the vastly superior spinet sound
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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby mpostor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:53 am

feline1 wrote:I mean if he can eulogise about RMI Electrapianos he can bally well say summat about Tony Banks' eschewal of the B3 for the vastly superior spinet sound

I think you'll find that Banks' choice of weapon was based more on cost than on sound. Back then they begged and borrowed what they could. Their first Mellotron used to belong to King Crimson. They used what they could lay their hands on.

Then again, the L and T series sounded different as well, due to their internal amps.
Clavia, et al, try to cover as many bases as possible with the B3, Farfisa and Vox emulations, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. Maybe if they made the sounds interchangeable, like on the Electro. For instance, on the Electro you can import different piano models from downloads. They overwrite what is already there (i.e. you can only have one clav installed, but you can decide which one), but you can set the machine up more or less the way you want it. I can imagine that you would want to bin the Fafisa and Vox emulations and load in L100 and T102 emulations in their place. Then if the internal phaser was a MXR Phase 100 clone, you'd be set.
Someone would need to convince Clavia that it's worth doing. Mind you, if they can do a grand piano with piezo pickups (not a CP70), which sounds completely unusable to my ears (interesting, but unuseable), why couldn't they set about putting the L and T series into the aresenal? And the M, and the A, and the C. Bugger, there's lots of them, aren't there...?

Another way around it I've seen in use is in my band. Our keyboard player uses a Hammond XK3 going into a Ventilator (rotary sim with overdrive) with a Phase 100 in the FX loop. It's close enough to use on stage for old Genesis material (tribute band).

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Re: Is there a keyboard on the market with emulates the sound of the Hammond L100?

Postby feline1 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:02 pm

yes I know Tony Banks is a tasteless loon who ditched all his great-sounding keyboards as soon as he could, and played everything on a General MIDI trumpet sound instead /shudders/

Still, he's not as bad as Edgar Froese
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