Electronic Organs That Sound Like a Hammond B3

Written by linda harris
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Electronic Organs That Sound Like a Hammond B3
The sound of the Hammond B3 was once common in gospel, jazz and rock (organ image by Vitaliy Pakhnyushchyy from Fotolia.com)

Electronic organs such as the Hammond B3 were initially created to replicate the sound of pipe organs, often used in churches or theatres. The Hammond B3 gained fame in the 1960s thanks to its use in rock music. Steve Winwood and Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie have played a B3 throughout their careers. Other electronic organs produce a similar sound, such as those made by the Lowrey company, which still produces electronic organs with the classic pipe organ sound.


Lowrey organs come the closest to capturing the sound of the Hammond B3. Lowrey was the world's largest manufacturer of electronic organs in the 1960s and '70s, coinciding with the popularity of churchlike sounds in rock music. Today, each Lowrey instrument is assembled by hand. Entry-level organs have basic sounds (piano, guitar, vibes, theatre organ) and rhythm programs. More elaborate versions also have gospel, blues, foxtrot, swing, pop and Latin styles; more than 4,000 preset sounds; a graphic mixer with an LCD screen; and a CD recorder.

Roland Atelier AT90S

Roland's AT-90S is a large organ with 11 speakers. Its rich sound, of which there are 340 types, and 25 wooden pedals and reverb add to its concert hall feel. A floppy drive for loading extra sounds from a disk adds to its appeal. The AT-90S can play a full range of orchestral sounds.


Allen organs are designed for church and theatre performances. The organs do not synthesise sounds within the instruments themselves. Instead they contain a bank of sounds from the world's finest pipe organs that can be reproduced at the touch of a button. The company stocks spare parts for every model built since 1937, so any Allen instrument, no matter how old, can be repaired.


Hauptwerk is not an instrument, but rather software suitable for Macs and PCs that will transform a run-of-the-mill keyboard into a realistic-sounding digital pipe organ. The sounds available are countless, from French Baroque organ to Australian parish organ. Hauptwerk software is useful for musicians who want to replicate the sound of a church organ but cannot afford the real thing.

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