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#1794901 - 11/23/11 07:15 PM Vintage Hammond Organ parts
sparx Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 52
I am still keeping my eyes open for a Hammond organ. I'm from Ireland and most of the B2/3 models are over in USA! frown It means that I have to find out about import taxes from our dear friends at HM Customs.

Anyway, I was doing a search and came across a website promoting the brand new B3 from Hammond-Suzuki. They mentioned some things that I didn't really take into consideration when contemplating a vintage model, specifically an annual service and the low availablility of spare parts.

I'm bearing in mind that the vintage B2/3 could be as old as 50 years of age and I was, somehow, always under the impression that parts were still being made to maintain the current models. I know some guys on here like Ken are very passionate about the vintage models over the digital version but is the lack of the above-mentioned elements an important factor to consider before launching into buying a vintage model? Are they no more than 'urban legends' to boost sales of the new models?

#1795057 - 11/23/11 10:34 PM Re: Vintage Hammond Organ parts [Re: sparx]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2481
Loc: Pennsylvania
Hey sparx!

Well, the sales talk about the new B3 is unfortunately sales talk and there are things said in an attempt to put the new ones in a better light and the vintage ones in a worse light. The biggest competition Hammond has on their current models are the past models.. And the old Hammond Organ Company is not Hammond-Suzuki. They bought the name when Hammond went out of business in 1985 and was liquidated.

Here are some things I've found...

I know someone who tried a new one and decided that the new features were not worth the additional money. He got rid of it.
I've found in my experience that once a model goes out of production (either discontinued OR revised) it becomes harder, sometimes impossible to get parts for it. I was told there was a recent model that was discontinued and in order to fulfill the last orders the spare parts inventory was depleted to build organs. I do not know that for sure, but heard it from what I consider to be a reliable source. At any rate, parts for modern organs consist largely of chips, many of which are specialized and when they are gone they are gone - and you cannot substitute. Already there are digital organs that have to be junked because the chips are no longer stocked. This is in comparison to the vintage tonewheel organs (B2/B3 etc) that use standardized electronic components that to this day you can buy off the shelf.

There are companies that remanufacture many of the vintage parts. Trek II comes to mind, or BB Organ, Paul Studer in NJ, Speakeasy Vintage Music, to name a few. Many vintage parts are interchangeable from 1935 to 1974.

I've tried to get parts for a late 1990's Hammond and been told it's no longer available. Imagine paying 20 grand for that organ and be told you can't fix it.

The biggest thing, in my humble opinion, that the sales talk plays down is the QUALITY built into the vintage Hammonds. We're used to el-cheapo crap and consider something well built if it lasts 5 years. I estimate that vintage Hammonds were so OVER DESIGNED they will be viable instruments after we're all dead.

Right now I am restoring a 1958 B3 that was in a flood and was submerged. I am about 75% through it and guess what I have had to replace? NOTHING.. I've been cleaning and oiling, that's it. Even the preamp is working. I honestly believe that if this was a new B3 it would be in the dumpster.

The "yearly maintenance" they speak of in the sales brochure consists of buying an $8.00 tube of oil and oiling the tone generator and the run motor.

Don't get me wrong, Those new Hammonds are neat organs and the people at Hammond are good people, but there is no question in my mind which organs have a better chance of being working musical instruments in 50 years. I look at it this way, the new ones are trying to recreate the vintage ones. You can get the real thing for about 1/4 to 1/2 of the price of the new ones. And have the real thing.

I hope this helps.

Hammond Organ Technician
Vice President - MITA, International

#1796375 - 11/26/11 05:56 PM Re: Vintage Hammond Organ parts [Re: Ken Knapp]
sparx Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 52
Hi Ken!

Thanks for the advice!
I wanted to get info from someone who didn't have a vested interest in pushing sales. It is a relief to hear that there are people out there still making compatible parts for the vintage models.

I kind of suspected that the chat was mostly sale-orientated, but let's face it, who's going to want to pour £14,000/$22,000 into an instrument when a quality instrument at a lower price will be more than suitable and provide enough longevity.

I want to get either a B2/3 or C3 for our church so it's not like I want to go gigging with it or go shaking the thing to get a detuning effect - I can't remember who used to do that...

There is virtually nothing around UK and Europe at the moment so USA is likely to provide me with my Hammond organ! As I said, it's just customs I need to chat with to find out about imports from US. Just on that note, though more of a minor issue, are the current convertor kits reliable or complex? This would be a slight worry about importing a model from US.

#1796458 - 11/26/11 10:01 PM Re: Vintage Hammond Organ parts [Re: sparx]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2481
Loc: Pennsylvania
You will do ok if you get the kits you need from Michael Smokowicz at Trek II. He sells everything you need for the power conversion. If you get a B2 or a C2 rather than a C3/B3, a couple things to watch out for. On the 2's the early ones have ratchet drawbars. Between the clicks you get no sound. That is not a HUGE deal if you get used to it, but on the 3's the drawbars are continuous, having no drop outs between the stops. Much more desirable.

So on the 2's, if you want to avoid the ratchet drawbars look for a later 2 model. They are out there but you'll have to ask the seller if it has the rtachet or continuous ones. There is also a kit available to make them smooth (www.smoothmove.com). And heck, the 2's don't have percussion so while you're ordering the power conversion stuff you can get the Trek II percussion as well! smile

If you get a 3 series, all you need is the power conversion stuff. It would also behoove you to question the seller as to whether the manuals have foam in them. Back in the mid 1960's, Hammond got the bright idea to use foam in the manuals instead of some of the felt they were using. Trouble is, the foam deteriorates and gets into the manual wiring and eats it up. Then you have a major repair on your hands. You can tell if there is foam in the manuals by looking at the bussbar shifter screw on the manuals. Looking at the screw you should see a rivet at approximately 8 o'clock position. No rivet means the manuals have foam in them.

If you find an organ you're interested in let me know and I will try to help further...

Edited by Ken Knapp (11/28/11 06:04 PM)

Hammond Organ Technician
Vice President - MITA, International

#1796610 - 11/27/11 10:10 AM Re: Vintage Hammond Organ parts [Re: Ken Knapp]
sparx Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 52
Thanks again, Ken! You're a star!

I didn't know about the foam issue in the later models - a surprisingly stupid idea. Your Average-Joe in the street could tell you that foam perishes sooner or later!

I'll keep an eye out for that and bear you in mind when the time comes!

Cheers and thanks a million!


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