The Hammond electric organ was invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934. Originally intended and indeed used in churches as a cheaper replacement for the costlier wind-driven pipe organs, the psychedelic 60’s and rock ‘n roll 70’s would change all that as it became the keyboard instrument of choice for many jazz, rock and blues players. Using additive synthesis of waveforms drawn from a harmonic series (the use of columns of air oscillating to create standing waves, the combination of which – air and standing wave – will create a sound wave), the distinctive sound of the B-3 organ, often played through a Leslie speaker, was as significant to the evolution of rock music as the electric guitar. Although the last electromechanical Hammond organ came off the assembly line in the mid-1970’s the legendary sound has lived on such has been its impact on modern music. There have been numerous emulations throughout the 80’s, 90’s and indeed in the 21st century some respectable soft-synth versions of the B-3 organ but let’s face it, nothing compares to playing an instrument brandishing the original Hammond logo.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to appreciate the fine good looks of the new Hammond SK-1. The designers have taken great care to create an instrument that pays homage to its predecessor with a classy finish that cries out retro. The crimson wood side panels, the retro drawbar slider knobs and overall finish make a bold statement of vintage class.
Whilst Hammond has endeavoured to recreate the magic of their vintage electromechanical organs, thankfully in one area they haven’t; weight and size. Weighing in at a paltry 7 kg’s and measuring roughly 90 x 30 x 10 cm it’s fair to say the SK1 is a truly portable instrument and this alone will guarantee its popularity on many a stage from now on. As far as emulating the original B-3, portability aside, the SK1 is going to please Hammond fans in two key areas; the nine mechanical pitch drawbars, an iconic feature of the original Hammond organ that essentially served as a built in mixer by allowing you to control the levels of various frequency waveforms, is a key feature as well as the built-in digital Leslie feature, which emulates the Doppler Effect of a true Leslie speaker remarkably well. This Doppler Effect from the Leslie speaker was a key part of the personality of the original Hammond and the emulation on the new SK1 is superb and whilst self-proclaimed purists on forums worldwide may start nitpicking, for the rest of us B-3 fans these two features alone make the SK1 a sure thing. A notable feature missing are bass pedals but remember because this is a digital emulation you can split the keyboard and actually play the lower register.
Digital = More
Now once the purists have run out of steam lamenting about the virtues of pure analogue vs. digital the rest of us will be overjoyed with the power and feature-rich add-ons the SK1 offers starting off course with the host of additional voices available which means your Hammond does more than just emulate Hammond organ sounds to include emulations such as Vox, Continental and various Farfisa models. The range of onboard effects, including adjustable vibrato/chorus, reverb and overdrive are all wonderful benefits of the digital platform. The full MIDI and USB capabilities also bring Hammond firmly into the 21st Century. The USB is great as you can save your own customised patches direct to flash or hard drive aside from connecting to your DAW.
There have already been dozens of comparisons between the Nord C2, Electro and the SK1. Each of these instruments has their own virtues and depending on your requirements you’ll no doubt buy accordingly. What I like about the SK1 is that this is a dedicated organ catering specifically for organ players and it’s a Hammond! What could be cooler than that? For advanced usage there is also the SK2 which has an extra layer of 61 notes for double-decker organ ripping. Expect to see the SK1 and SK2 on many a gigging stage soon! A highly desirable keyboard – it has the looks, the sound, the playability, portability and the features.
Supplied by: Tradelius Music Group 031-502 3080 | www.tradelius.co.za
Suggested Retail Price: Sk1 – R 21,595-00 | SK2 – R 38,995-00 V.AT incl.