Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hammond XTP Spinet for the Space Age

In my opinion, the Hammond XTP is the best of the early spinets. It is based on the T-400 series transistorized organs, and the cabinet is based on the X-66 and X-77 style that looks good from any angle. This is very different from the open-back organs that look like a "science project." The cabinet looks like a capital "H" laying on its side. The open spaces between the keyboards and the pedals have two detachable speaker cubes that can (and should!) be dismounted and remotely located. One is a simple speaker with RCA cable, the other is a Yamaha whirlythingamajig (techspeak for styrofoam-coned rectangular speaker on a rotating arm with counterbalance) with a 7-pin connector that does a fair job of imitating the sound of a Leslie Speaker.

Aside from the usual troublesome plastic drawbar assemblies for the T-400 series, this organ is a must-own for the serious Hammond Addict. I still have one in the other warehouse, along with an extra Yammycube. I haven't gotten around to fixing it up yet. Leave me a comment if you can't live without one, and I'll get right to work on it.

"Hi, my name is Feeshy and I'm a Hammond Addict."

[everyone says] "HI FEESHY"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hammond Tone Cabinets (HTCs)

These old Hammond Tone Cabinets used to be the lowest item on the totem pole. If I didn't have enough room inside the shop/warehouse, it would be the HTCs that would have to spend the night outside on Death Row. People always seemed to want Leslie Speakers with their Hammonds, and the HTC would be just another extra to haul away and take up space. When too many piled up I used to give them away to a local Hammond Nut, who would make bookshelves out of them.

All of that is now changed!

I've been having more calls for rebuilt HTCs lately from some of my local churches. Not every church needs or likes the animation provided by the Leslie Speakers. I used to say that if a HTC is working, it will work for a long time until it dies. But if the electrolytic capacitors are still original, they are in horribly bad shape now. They all need to be replaced with new ones. The reverb return wire usually has a rotted out center core, and is shorted in several places. The speakers might be blown to shreds or in perfect shape. Anyway, I've got another church that needs another HTC to replace their worn-out one. Problem is, these monsters aren't easy to work on. So I have to psyche myself up and tackle yet another HTC next week.

HTCs are self-powered speaker systems designed for the Hammond Organs from 1936 to the end of the run. Most of them have vacuum-tube amps (valves, for our UK friends). They usually have reverb (invented by Hammond) and two or 3 channels for bi-amping purposes. The cabinets are almost all open-back types, meaning they are not tuned for sound-enhancement purposes.

I've often thought about designing and building a front-end for the Hammond Tone Cabinet. It would be a preamp built into a "Box of Knobs" for use as a Guitar Amplifier. The preamp would simply plug into the 6-pin male connector on the HTC. It could be used on any 6-pin HTC. If any of my readers have an interest in a product like this, leave me a comment and I'll raise it up my list of priorities.