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Organ Alternative for Church #700635
03/20/08 10:51 AM
03/20/08 10:51 AM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 363
Illinois (Chicago Area)
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KevinIQ77 Offline OP
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Illinois (Chicago Area)
All,

A friend of mine is involved in a committee (often a bad sign...) that is making decisions about an organ or organ alternative for a new church building.

New organs are very expensive and really need to be factored into the design of the sanctuary (our church went through this same ordeal a few years ago). I recommended that the committee look into a Clavinova, which our church uses in addition to a Walter grand. The organ sound is fairly convincing, and the skilled people operating the sound system make sure it sounds good. Our church's Clavinova is somewhat old -- still has a drive for disks.

My question: Would a Clavinova be suitable option and give my friend's new church a reasonably satisfying organ sound? If so, what models do you recommend and how much should be budgeted? Are there other digital pianos that would offer more for less money?

As you might expect, a fight over investing in a real organ vs. purchasing an alternative is brewing, and so my friend needs as much accurate, factual information to make the case that an organ alternative is a good, cost-effective, and musically sound approach.

Thanks for your input.

Kevin

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Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700636
03/20/08 12:17 PM
03/20/08 12:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 8
Jersey
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DanielS Offline
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Jersey
As a classically trained organist and pianist, I would not recommend the Clavinova route for replacing an organ. There are some keyboards that can emulate organ sounds fairly reasonably but I do not believe that the end result comes even vaguely close. There are, for instance, dedicated organ replacement keyboards, such as Viscount models who even produce a pipe organ-esque module, but you will never be able to replace a two/three manual plus pedal board organ with a single keyboard.

A great deal will depend upon the type of music played. Could you expand on this at all?

Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700637
03/20/08 12:46 PM
03/20/08 12:46 PM
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Rille Stark Offline
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Maybe this one?

Very good organ sounds and also piano, epiano etc.
128-voice polyphony.

Roland C-190 Classic Organ

Peace,

/Richard

Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700638
03/20/08 01:39 PM
03/20/08 01:39 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
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Central Texas
epf Offline
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Frankly, if you want an organ sound, get an organ (Allen makes a very good electronic organ that isn't excessively pricey). As has been noted, the multiple manual issue is pretty much a show stopper, as is the lack of pedals. When different stops can be assigned to the manuals there is simply no way a good digital keyboard can even compete.

Ed


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Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700639
03/20/08 03:49 PM
03/20/08 03:49 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 363
Illinois (Chicago Area)
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KevinIQ77 Offline OP
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Illinois (Chicago Area)
Thanks for the responses.

Since this is not my church, I'm thinking the fundamental battle here is cost vs. practicality. What type of instrument, at, say a cost of less than $10K (or maybe even $5K) will satisfy most in the congregation who really want the organ sound?

Also...I don't believe the church has a professionally trained organist, which means that a new instrument will have to be accessible to others. My friend also mentioned the possibility of using an instrument for contemporary music. Digital keyboards seem to meet that need because they can be moved, if necessary, and offer a variety of features.

Any other options?

Thanks again for the replies.

Kevin

Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700640
03/20/08 08:32 PM
03/20/08 08:32 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 419
Western US
ipgrunt Offline
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For that price, nothing. A small pipe organ (18 ranks) will run into 6-figures with installation and voicing. An Allen digital usually prices near the cost of a true pipe organ.

I was involved in a project, now almost 10 years ago, to refurbish and finish a 42-rank Austin organ, built originally during the depression. We had to replace the console, build a cabinet for a dozen new ranks, renew the air chests and pumps, and refurbish and voice the entire organ -- final price: $460,000.

For a traditional pipe organ, labor is very expensive. For the Allen and other digital solutions, you need to spend a great deal on an amplification system that sounds as good as an equivalent pipe.

However, there are thousands of console organs that were built prior to 1970 that people are paying to have removed. I see them posted on Craigslist all the time. For a congregation without a music director, this sounds like an ideal, interim solution that won't cost much, allowing them to put their $5-$10K into a money market account towards a real organ.

Although these instruments were high-dollar items in the 1960s, people today have to pay to have an old console organ, weighing 300 pounds or more, removed.

Models by Conn, Gulbransen, Lowrey, Thomas, Wurlitzer, and others have little or no value in the marketplace, but can provide musical support for a small worship service, and most people are happy to know that a relative's treasured instrument is going to a church.

No doubt for church work, you'll want an instrument that tends more towards baroque and romantic voicing and less towards theater sounds. Conn and Thomas were both known for making traditional sounding instruments, while Wurlitzer was better known for their theater organs (think Wanamaker).

Hammonds are great sounding instruments, however, due to their popularity in rock, blues, and jazz playing, they are the only organ model that can hold its value, however, the newer models that do not have a tonewheel mechanism and rely on transistors are not included in this group, and you may find a large Hammond T model or B-2000 at a reasonable price, though finding an appropriate Leslie model is another problem altogether.


-- ipgrunt
Amateur pianist, Son of a Pro
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700641
03/23/08 09:16 PM
03/23/08 09:16 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 363
Illinois (Chicago Area)
K
KevinIQ77 Offline OP
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Illinois (Chicago Area)
Great information, all -- thanks.

What if the only choice is a Clavinova-type instrument? What would you recommend and how much should the church budget for that instrument?

I'm thinking that a true organ is not feasible. I would recommend to my friend that she and her committee carefully analyze the ways in which the instrument will be used and who will be using it. Chances are, they cannot rely on a permanent, professional organist.

As desirable as the real thing might be, I think it would be a hard-sell under the circumstances.

Kevin

Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700642
03/24/08 04:58 AM
03/24/08 04:58 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,209
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Virginia, USA
My first preference would be a pipe organ, and second preference would be a real electronic organ. My home church has a real pipe organ, the last two churches I've attended regularly have used Allen 100's. The Allens have two manuals and pedals, and sufficient stops to be perfectly acceptable.

Most churches in my area have removed both organ and piano and converted to Clavinova (thankfully mine still has an acoustic grand I play on). The cost to maintain the existing organ made it cheaper to buy the Yamaha. Not all of us agreed, but that's what happened.

The congregations like the Clavinova, but I have never seen it used in organ mode. You don't get stops and can't vary registration; you get one generic synthesized organ sound. You can hear this on your own PC, just boot up any freeware notation program, set it to standard MIDI organ, and listen. It's okay..........no it's not. To my ears it's awful.

However, there are several options. The Clavinova has MIDI out, and you can run that MIDI into a sequencer and use either a hardware or a software organ module and get just as good sound as any electronic organ. You'll have full registration available. You still have the multiple manuals and pedals problem but to some extent you could work around that.

It sounds like you're committed to the Clavinova, so I'd go the MIDI organ module route.


gotta go practice
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700643
03/24/08 10:19 AM
03/24/08 10:19 AM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,286
Lodz, Poland
Mati Offline
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Lodz, Poland
Our local church is using some Allen (don't know the model though, I have never ever touched it, just sat nearby). With good amplification it is more than acceptable, with two manuals and pedals. You could try looking for used electronic organs - it would be much better than any digital piano offering organ sounds.

Maybe other, cheaper solution, would be buying two midi controllers and organ sound module? That could provide "two manuals" giving thse organs more flexibility.


M.


Mateusz Papiernik
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Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700644
03/24/08 11:50 AM
03/24/08 11:50 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,209
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Mati:

Maybe other, cheaper solution, would be buying two midi controllers and organ sound module? That could provide "two manuals" giving thse organs more flexibility.


M.
I don't think you even have to do that. I think you could split the keyboard and have it emulate two manuals. You could never play the organ repertoire that way but you'd get away with it for most service music.


gotta go practice
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700645
03/24/08 01:13 PM
03/24/08 01:13 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 119
Everett, WA
RayMetz100 Offline
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Hammond style organs are very different from stop organs, but many churches use them successfully. In my opinion, they are closer to a stop organ than an electronic keyboard or clarinova is though. For less than $10,000, you can purchase new Hammond electronic organs with two manuals, pedals, and a leslie rotating speaker. You can also buy each of these parts one at a time like a just keyboard/manual alone for $1500 plugged into a guitar amp might get you going. Then later you can add the cabinet, lower manual, and rotating speakers.

It's not a pipe organ, but the keyboard on a Hammond feels a lot different from a piano keyboard on a Clarinova so your church will get distinctly different sounds from a piano.

Hammond also sells basic electronic stop organs for around $20,000.

I'm no organist (two junkers in my garage), but my understanding is that stop organs layer on additional sounds when you pull each stop out (or press a button). If you pull multiple stops at once, you get multiple layered sounds with each keypress. Stop organs therefore get louder with each stop you layer, so that's where "pulling out all the stops" comes from, the most complex and loudest sound an organ can make.

You can't do that on electronic synthizers or clarinovas. There is no layering except for maybe a "dual" mode that combines two sounds at once. I doubt a $30,000 clarinova can combine sounds like a basic stop organ can. In order to reproduce traditional organ sheet music sounds, you have to have the stops mantioned in the music available, which a clarinova won't have.

The basic hammond won't do that either, but it does have 8 sounds that you can layer like a stop organ. These 8 sounds can be changed to reproduce flutes or horns, etc. If you add the second manual(keyboard), then you can set that one to a different set of layered sounds, and the foot pedals to a third set. I think it's the closest you're going to get to a real organ with your budget and with rotating hammond leslie speakers you're going to get a great organ sound that's distinct from the piano.

If you really want 500+ sounds a keyboard offers, get a MOTIF or Korg or something, but those can be had for about $1500 and aren't organs.

A used Allen or Rodgers stop organ might be a good choice too.

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Search/Default.aspx?src=hammond
http://hammondorganco.com


PianoMagic.com student
Recordings and piano pic at: RayMetz.com/Piano
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700646
03/24/08 11:20 PM
03/24/08 11:20 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 258
Trent Woods, NC
MoodyBluesKeys Offline
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Trent Woods, NC
So far, there has been no reply as to what STYLE of music is used in the church involved in this discussion (or even what denomination, which might give some clue).

I spent 28 years servicing electronic church (and home) organs and other electronic music gear. I was also an authorized Yamaha service center. There is no way that a Clavinova, even the very top of the line, can replace a real organ for traditional liturgical church music.

Pipe organs do require extensive and expensive modification to the building itself, and would be totally unaffordable for the specified price. Even a NEW Allen or Rodgers instrument would likely be above the price range (although Rodgers does make some lower priced instruments).

If the church wants a traditional liturgical organ sound, start looking on EBay and elsewhere for a used medium size Rodgers or Allen instrument. Often, these can be obtained for a small fraction of the original cost. Of course, there is still the matter of removal, transport, and installation.

There also has been no mention of the SIZE of the sanctuary. This is important in the sense that smaller sanctuaries would permit using a totally self-contained instrument (i.e. the amplifiers and speakers are mounted directly in the organ console).

If, on the other hand, the church service is based on contemporary music, the traditional liturgical organ is not frequently used. In my home church, which does contemporary music, our primary keyboardist uses a Kurzweil SP2X stage piano, we have a drummer, guitar player, trumpet player, and myself - using a pair of Kurzweils, one pure synthesizer and one performance controller. I normally use bass guitar sounds on the faster music, and a mixture of pipe organ, strings, choral effects, piano, Rhodes electric piano, and orchestral sounds in a supporting role.

With a bit more information on exactly what the majority of the congregation expects (especially the usual style of music) and the size; much better recommendations can be applied.

Jim Cason
Promised LAN Computing, Inc.
Kurzweil K2000VP, PC2 (both left at the church), PC2X in the home, K2661 and the new PC3X in my studio. (and no - I do not work for Kurzweil - they simply have the finest sound available)


Jim Cason
Promised LAN Computing, Inc.
Howard C171 Grand, Kurzweil PC3X, PC3, PC361, PC2X, PC2.
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Formerly in electronic keyboard repair trade - semi-retired
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700647
03/25/08 03:22 AM
03/25/08 03:22 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,209
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by RayMetz100:
You can't do that on electronic synthizers or clarinovas. There is no layering except for maybe a "dual" mode that combines two sounds at once. I doubt a $30,000 clarinova can combine sounds like a basic stop organ can. In order to reproduce traditional organ sheet music sounds, you have to have the stops mantioned in the music available, which a clarinova won't have.

This is a good point, and it really goes back to what kind of service this is.

Traditional liturgical services are better served with layers of stops. Modern nonliturgical gospel services seem to like something more like a B3 or theater organ. I played for one Protestant preacher who wanted me to do runs and fills during his sermon like they do on TV. (no I wasn't up to that!)

The Yamaha can't layer stops in and of itself. However used as a MIDI controller it could. For software solutions go look at the Hauptwerk site, they even have a freeware download that's fun to play with. Those are traditional church organs, for a theatre organ approach download Miditizer. I suspect there are lots of hardware MIDI organ modules but I'm not knowledgable. And certainly once you have the Yamaha you can also go for better piano sound samples. So it's not a bad solution but it won't be stand alone like you're thinking.


gotta go practice
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700648
03/25/08 01:24 PM
03/25/08 01:24 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 119
Everett, WA
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Also think of who's likely to be playing it. If it's a geeky person like me, the advice above about MIDI controllers and downloads might work. But for something that's owned by the church for several years, you're more likely to find a traditional pianst or organist to play it and in that case, all the gadgets would likely scare them away. I'd recommend something that the organist can play with just the controls in front of them that were built into the instrument.

I still recommend about the cheapest new or used, two-manual stop organ with 25 or 32 pedals you can find(likely a used Allen or Rogers). Or if the type of church music will allow it, go for a Hammond drawbar organ with Leslie speaker.

If you don't want one of those, either save a LOT more money for a pipe organ or buy a $1500 synth with unweighted organ keys, easy controls and organ sounds you can live with. Look for layering features where you can layer 1 and two octave higher sounds on top of the base sound. Not easy to find on a synth.

The Clavinova would be about my last choice unless you plan to replace your existing Walter Grand with it. Organs don't have weighted piano keys like the Clavinova does.


PianoMagic.com student
Recordings and piano pic at: RayMetz.com/Piano
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700649
03/25/08 01:39 PM
03/25/08 01:39 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 363
Illinois (Chicago Area)
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KevinIQ77 Offline OP
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Illinois (Chicago Area)
RayMatz,

Thank you for your excellent comments/ideas. I should clarify that the "organ" is for my friend's Lutheran church, not my church.

The Walter grand is wonderful and we wouldn't even consider replacing it.

Sounds like many people are not impressed with the Clavinova and prefer used organs to save money. Is that because most are organ purists (which I can totally understand) or because the Clavinova (or comparable) is simply not suitable?

Kevin

Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700650
03/25/08 10:02 PM
03/25/08 10:02 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 258
Trent Woods, NC
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Trent Woods, NC
If your friend's Lutheran church is like the majority of Lutheran churches, the service generally uses liturgical music. This style of music is most frequently rendered with either organ by itself or combination of piano and organ.

I play some organ, although I play more modern synthesizer and am studying classical piano. I would have more consideration of the Clavinova line of instruments if it were being considered for piano sound. I am definitely not an organ purist, but; in my profession for years, I advised church committees and assisted them in selection of instruments (operating as a consultant, rather than selling for any specific dealer).

My recommendation: Look for a used analog or digital organ. Rodgers and Allen are both top line brands, some of the larger Baldwin instruments (such ss the model 632, 635, 640, 645), especially in a console (fuil size manuals and 32 note pedalboard) would be ideal in a modest price range.

The matter of church organist should also be considered. Sad to say, today; qualified organists are more rare than they were a few decades ago. Pianists are not taught how to play organ pedals (and for that matter, the touch is vastly different between piano and organ - style of playing also different). Very much of the degree of satisfaction in the church will be dependent upon the abilities of the player of the instrument chosen.

Jim


Jim Cason
Promised LAN Computing, Inc.
Howard C171 Grand, Kurzweil PC3X, PC3, PC361, PC2X, PC2.
JBL 10&15 EONG2s, EV SxA100+s QSC K10s, HP & ThinkPad DAWs, eMu 1820M & 1616M.
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Formerly in electronic keyboard repair trade - semi-retired
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700651
03/26/08 02:02 AM
03/26/08 02:02 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 3
New Jersey
Leikela Offline
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New Jersey
It all breaks down to preference. The Yamaha dealer that I bought my CLP-240 from has an employee (the guy that dusts the pianos) who's church just bought a CLP-240. He says that his church absolutely loves it. I believe it was either an Episcipal or Lutheran church.

Also, for church goers who aren't neccesarily avid music people, they won't be able to tell the difference between organ sounds. Just yesterday I was playing the church organ setting on my CLP-240 and asked my husband where he felt he was and he did not hesitate in responding, "Church". LOL

Best of luck to your friend's church on their decision. Oh yeah and a CLP-240 goes for about $2100.


Yamaha CLP-240
Bought: 3/14/08
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700652
03/26/08 05:32 AM
03/26/08 05:32 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
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Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Kevin:
RayMatz,

Sounds like many people are not impressed with the Clavinova and prefer used organs to save money. Is that because most are organ purists (which I can totally understand) or because the Clavinova (or comparable) is simply not suitable?

Kevin
Not me. I like Clavinovas, and my church has one now.

I just don't like it as an organ substitute because you only get one organ sound. It isn't a bad organ sound, but a real organ player likes to vary the registration. Even a fake organ player like myself changes stops from verse to verse (I have one of my kids sit on the bench with me and add stops). Depending on how sophisticated your congregation is, they may not even notice. I still prefer the MIDI approach but it does require a technologically literate player. Of course, nothing prevents you from starting with the DP and adding the MIDI module later. I imagine a good MIDI organ module would cost in the neighborhood of $2000 USD, so that doubles your investment, but that's still a fraction of what even a cheap organ costs.

An organ player will hate the Clavinova (ours does) because of the touch. A clavinova has weighted keys like a piano, the organ has unweighted keys like a cheap 61 key keyboard.

Most people will just use the piano sound, but I was in an Episcopal church for Christmas where the player did a really nice job of mixing voices, including strings, all on a Clavinova, so it can be done even in a liturgical service. Perhaps I should mention the Clavinovas speakers won't be heard past the first pew, you need to plug it into a decent sound system, which your church probably has. I hope.


gotta go practice
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700653
03/26/08 04:30 PM
03/26/08 04:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 119
Everett, WA
RayMetz100 Offline
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Everett, WA
I wouldn't recommend a hammond style organ for a Lutheran church unless it's very small or progressive. You haven't mentioned the average Sunday attendance or max easter attendance, but I'm suspecting by the budget it's around 200 people? I would either get a throw-away organ like the Clavinova or synthizer that will one day be sold or serve the youth ministry for no more than $2000, or shoot for the higher end of your budget and find a real organ that can play traditional Luthern sheet music like a Rogers or Allen.

If you go for the real stop organ, first commit to narrowing your search to that alone and exclude synths, hammond organs, and digital pianos like the Clavinova. Next, call a couple Allen or Rodgers dealers in a large city and go for a visit, looking at models mo more than 3-4x the max budget. Finally, take the knowledge you've gained and hit the used market like eBay, Craigslist, and calls to other churches.

Sounds like this won't be you though since you're passing along advice to your Luethern friend.


PianoMagic.com student
Recordings and piano pic at: RayMetz.com/Piano
Re: Organ Alternative for Church #700654
03/26/08 05:00 PM
03/26/08 05:00 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 947
Texas
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Texas
Well, I am an organist by profession and am very fortunate to play a 3 manual 52 rank tracker organ with pipes made in Holland. So, I am very biased. I will certainly agree that a clavinova is going to be the least desirable option. I would agree that the church should look for a used Allen or Rodgers. There is a 3 manual Allen in the latest The American Organist that is $7,500. Another 2 manual Allen is $8,500 obo. For a Lutheran church, it seems that an electronic or digital would be the way to go. We have a 33 yo Allen in our chapel that keeps going and going, no need to be tuned. IMHO, even an old Hammond can be made to sound half way decent if the drawbars are set right and you DON'T use the vibrato switch. LOL


RickG
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