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#3084835 02/20/21 07:14 PM
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May I ask a really stupid question? Too bad; I'm going to anyway! laugh

It occurs to me I've never laid hands on an electric organ. (Keep it clean, Pete ... wink ) How does the average, say, Hammond organ keyboard compare to a digital piano or a synthesizer keyboard? From what I can tell, the actions are lighter than a DP, but are they as light as the average synth? How about key length and width, about the same as a DP or smaller? Is there usually much of a concern about pivot length, or is that just not an issue? Oh, I do know about the whole "waterfall" design, so I have that going for me. laugh

Inform me, please!


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Hi,TheophilusCarter,

I still have my Hammond organ from when I was a kid. It was a smaller model (not too many bells and whistles), but I loved it so much when I got it as a teenager after asking my dad for it for a whole year! I measured very quickly the key lengths below. I loved the build quality of my hammond organ. It still plays to this day 40 years later! (though some of the contacts can use some cleaning). I had a Korg M1 synthesizer many years ago too and had no trouble adjusting to the synth after playing the organ. Found both to be comfortable on the hands and fun to play. Compared to my acoustic grand the action is very light but feels solid and I really liked it as a kid. I could probably adjust fairly easily to this type of action given my background with the organ. The piano keys are definitely longer and wider and one mine probably have an action on the heavier side.

When I started playing piano ~10 years it was a huge adjustment for me (it still is I think! LOL!). I felt I really did not have the finger strength or skill to play on the piano keyboard at all and found it difficult to control dynamics (still do!) My acoustic is an older Yamaha and I've never had it regulated though, but if I ever do I would ask the action to be made a bit lighter which would make it easier to play. I feel now after all these years I am just starting to be able to get some dynamic range from playing on my acoustic. I have a Casio digital downstairs. I can go measure that soon and update my post just for comparison.

Hammond Organ:
White Key Length: 13 cm
Width: 2.1 cm

Black Key Length: 7.8 cm (at top of black key)

Acoustic Grand:
White Key Length: 15 cm
Width: 2.4 cm

Black Key Length: 9 cm (at top of black key)

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Action feel is not one-dimensional thing, to keep things relatively simple one might say it's two dimensional-thing, there is static weight of keys and dynamic weight (inertia), static means that you have to push a key with some force before it starts moving, for grand piano usually 55g, inertia means that when you try to push the key faster (play louder), you feel more resistance from the key, for fortissimo blow it may be over 2000g. For acoustic pianos and most digital pianos inertia is high so you have that effect described above, for synthesizers and organs there is almost no inertia, so you don't feel difference in resistance when you play harder (it makes sense for organs, not so much for dynamic synthesizers), because of that static weight of keys in synthesizers and organs is usually bigger, at least 70g but usually not much more than that,so if you are not trying to play organ very soft (which doesn't even make sense) it will feel much lighter than any digital or acoustic piano, and more similar to synthesizers.

Last edited by ambrozy; 02/20/21 11:07 PM.
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Originally Posted by TheophilusCarter
(Keep it clean, Pete ... wink )

I don't think you have to worry about him. wink

Last edited by EVC2017; 02/21/21 06:37 AM.

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Originally Posted by ZoeCalgary
Hammond Organ:
White Key Length: 13 cm
Width: 2.1 cm

Black Key Length: 7.8 cm (at top of black key)

Acoustic Grand:
White Key Length: 15 cm
Width: 2.4 cm

Black Key Length: 9 cm (at top of black key)

FWIW, at some point in the distant past, I have measured the octave width of a couple of synthesizers and, IIRC, the church's organ and they were similar. The C to C (including) width were equivalent to C to B of the piano. I believe it is standard (ish).


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Thanks for the feedback, folks; appreciated. I'm thinking of dipping my toes into the the world of electric organs, and might splurge on a Hammond XK-1c before the year is out. I'll let you know if I do!


Decent upright bassist; aspiring decent pianist
Present: Roland DP-603, Roland FP-30, Yamaha MX61, Casio CDP-130
Past: Casio PX-830, Casio PX-160
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Original (tonewheel) Hammond organs have a very light touch. The waterfall keys are appreciated by those who like to do glissandos with their palms. The newer models like the XK-1c use more standard synthesizer-like keyboards and might feel a little bit heavier to someone used to an original Hammond, though they might have been optimized to feel as original as possible.


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Originally Posted by EVC2017
Originally Posted by ZoeCalgary
Hammond Organ:
White Key Length: 13 cm
Width: 2.1 cm

Black Key Length: 7.8 cm (at top of black key)

Acoustic Grand:
White Key Length: 15 cm
Width: 2.4 cm

Black Key Length: 9 cm (at top of black key)

FWIW, at some point in the distant past, I have measured the octave width of a couple of synthesizers and, IIRC, the church's organ and they were similar. The C to C (including) width were equivalent to C to B of the piano. I believe it is standard (ish).

I am not sure for organ, but there is no standard for piano. In fact, the size of the piano keyboard has increased constantly in the last several decades (not sure about centuries). My 1926 grand piano has an octave that is 3mm shorter than my Yamaha NU1. I recently measured many more (I'm looking for an upgrade) and I am find them all over the place, but more often older means smaller. Sure, marginally smaller, but it's is makes a difference if you are struggling to get a ninth or perhaps a tenth. These guys are trying to standardize the current size and introduce two smaller ones: http://dsstandardfoundation.org/

See also http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/1125591/Key%20Width.html from someone much more knowledgeable than most of us here.

Last edited by Del Vento; 02/23/21 07:56 PM.

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