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What's the deal with Hammond Organs in general and the B3 in particular. Why are they revered as they are? What's the difference between the B3 and the M3. If you had an opportunity to pick up either at a good price, would you? Why?

I ask because I've been hearing a lot about these lately and I'm just wondering what's up with'em.



What's the difference between the B3 and the M3 organ?

The M3 has an internal speaker where the B3 uses a "Leslie" which is a speaker consisting of a rotating tweeter and a woofer pointing down into a spinning baffled drum. The Leslie is a lot of the "sound" of an organ as one can switch the rotation speed during a performance.


Nate Tschetter Mon, 07/21/2003 - 15:15


Hammond Organs are revered because they are fine instruments. Entire arangements can be performed by the hands and feet of a skilled operator. Its an extremely expressive instrument capable of a multitude of tones and dynamics.

The M3 has an internal speaker where the B3 uses a "Leslie" which is a speaker consisting of a rotating tweater and a woofer pointing down into a spinning baffled drum. The Leslie is a lot of the "sound" of an organ as one can switch the rotation speed during a performance.

There are additional http://theatreorgan… differences like half the number of drawbars on the M3, no presets, etc.

An A100 is probably closer to a B3 than an M3.

Nate Tschetter Mon, 07/21/2003 - 16:30


Yes, that's gonna be B3 (or C3).

You'll hear B3 on all sorts of recording. If you like Jazz, check out Jimmy Smith's "Organ Grinder Swing" or "The Cat". Santana's version of "Oye Como Va" uses B3 played by Gregg Rollie. If you're a Tower of Power fan, check out Chester Thompson's playing on "Squib Cakes".

Many examples out there, I'm sure others will chime in with their favorites.

UncleBob58 Tue, 07/22/2003 - 07:08

The John Lord sound in Deep Purple in the "old days" (Mid 70's) was a C-3 with a hyped pre-amp section, and a customized Electro-Harmonix ring modulator (check out Space Truckin' on Made In Japan) pumped through a Marshall 100. I don't remember all the details but that is the basics.

I used to use a B-3 into a HiWatt 100 into the speaker of a 122 Leslie and the horn was the stock amp with an Altec driver.

Uncle Bob


UncleBob58 Tue, 07/22/2003 - 07:23


Check out Kieth Emerson, Emerson Lake and Palmer.


  • Emerson Lake and Palmer
    Pictures at an Exhibition (Great live album)
    Brain Salad Surgery
    The later stuff is okay but the first five are the meat and potatoes. You may also want to check out the Nice, pre-ELP Kieth Emerson. The end of the live album features Kieth absolutely trashing an L-100.

    He was a mad-man, tipping an M-1 or L-100 on a corner and feeding back the reverb into a Marshall cranked to 10, playing it backwards, stabbing knives into the keys, lighting it on fire, rolling it all over the stage, laying it on top of himself and humping it. The Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond! A fantastic player too!

    Fun Stuff!!!

    Uncle Bob


  • anonymous Wed, 07/23/2003 - 15:12

    For the record, an A100 is virtually identical to a B3 or C3 except for the built in speaker and hideous case. Virtually all Hammond chops ("luggable" B3's to take to gigs, weighing a mere 225 lbs or so) are done from A100's, because it would be a crime to chop a B3.

    Other great Hammond artists:

    Soulive (contemporary jazz/funk)
    Dr. Lonnie Smith (get down organ trio)
    Joey DeFrancesco (the current king of the B3, this jazzer has the fastest hands around)

    KurtFoster Wed, 07/23/2003 - 16:57

    What I have heard:
    “A”100 predecessor to the “B”3.. squared off keys.. little harder to fly up and down the keyboard without chewing up your fingers..

    “B”3 / “C”3, I have heard this is the same organ but with a different cabinet. "C" is a designation for "Church". "M"3, Home organ. As Nate said, has an internal speaker. But it can be used with a Leslie cab if you have it adapted and disable the internal speaker. It is reasonably easy to have done. The "M" does not have as many tone wheels as the "B" or "C" so at a point as you ascend the keyboard it "folds back".. but it still sounds good and all but the most trained ears will not be able to tell if it is a "B" or an "M".. The “M” also does not have as many keys, drawbars, presets or bass pedals as an “A”100, “B” or “C”.

    Nope never used it! Never heard it! I don't know nothin' about it.. It could be the best thing since sliced bacon! (really!) :D

    Rader Ranch Wed, 07/23/2003 - 17:28

    Originally posted by Kurt Foster:
    The "M" does not have as many tone wheels as the "B" or "C" so at a point as you ascend the keyboard it "folds back"

    this is worded a bit murky. to be clear, the M3 does not have foldback, one of the elements that give the B3's their sound. the few players i've talked to about it say they can hear the difference a mile away. i currently have an M3, and it definitely doesn't approach the B3-like character i'd love to have...i really need to find me a Leslie cabinet though, 'cause that internal speaker can't be expected to do much regardless...

    here's a page that explains how to add foldback to an M3...

    Todzilla Thu, 07/24/2003 - 09:57

    My opinion is:

    Real B3 + Simulated Rotating Speaker

    sounds worse than

    Sampled B3 + Real Rotating Speaker

    I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but the sampled Hammonds sound pretty good. Sure, they feel different and don't really address the drawbar issue very well, but as for Leslies, there's no way to scrimp on physically moving air in circles. Motion Sound is a pretty good economical compromise, but the Korg, Dynacord, Voce, Dunlop Leslie simulators suck, IMHO.

    Right now I've got a Peavey Spectrum Organ going through an ART tube pre into a Motion Sound Pro-3 (no tube). While it is not the same as a B3 into a Leslie tube pre into a Leslie 147, I am willing to bet that the sound difference ratio is less than either the hernia or ebay-inflated cost ratio.

    Flame on.

    Todzilla Thu, 07/24/2003 - 10:16

    Nate you're right.

    My point, which I garbled in extra verbage was that too many folks think it's all about the quality of the organ sound source and discount the all important circular air movement. I was one of them and bought and sold a couple of the units I mentioned.

    As for Motion Sound, I got a Pro-3 for $200, but it is pretty beat up. Sounds good tho...

    I'm all about getting 90% of the ultimate sound for 20% of the cost...

    anonymous Thu, 07/24/2003 - 11:26

    In '67 our band manager (and Sunn Amps' LA promo guy) swapped Sunn guitar and bass amps from his promo stock
    to Hammond for a B-3 and Leslie. It was a good thing our band had four healthy young players, as we got to hump that sucker wherever we went. As I remember, we miked the Leslie with two high-impedance SM57s or Unispheres and fed 'em into a pair of Sunn Coliseum Stacks. When it didn't feed back, it was monstrous.

    Recently I did a gig with a player who had one of the serious digital Hammond clones and the biggest Motion Sound amp (sorry, no model numbers -- I didn't know there was gonna be a quiz). For my money, and for my aching back, his setup was compact, roadworthy (no, Virginia, no need for Elmer's and bar clamps) and impeccably musical. But not cheap.

    Cheap was my 70s bar band's M-3 through a phase shifter with a volume pedal wired up as its "Speed" control and into a Music-Man-Twin-Reverb-clone. Was cheap, sounded cheap. Burned down in a North Hollywood bar fire along with my Blackface Super Reverb, my bro's '61 Bassman and a 2-day-old set of Rogers drums and irreplaceable Zildjians. The club owners were all in Vegas the night of the fire. Probably just a coincidence.


    No discussion of the Hammond B-3 can be complete without mentioning Stevie Winwood for his grungy-cream distortion sounds, and, of course:

    The Immortal Billy Preston.

    His hits, ("Will it Go Round in Circles", "Nuthin' From Nuthin'") and his work with Eric Clapton and others have influenced countless players, bands and styles. Preston designed and built the Hammond Pocket and always plays there.

    BTW, didn't the C-3 also lack percussion as a big difference from the B?

    And if "C" stands for "Church", what does "B" stand for?

    "Barroom" ?

    "Big Time Gigs With Union Cartage" ?

    Or simply, "Booker T" ?

    :cool: RW :roll:

    Nate Tschetter Thu, 07/24/2003 - 11:38


    Heh, Robert is always forget about _someone_ how could I forget about Billy P? But if we're gonna talk about him, we should start a clavinet thread too.

    The C2 is a C3 with no percussion as is the B2 to the B3. You can get the Trek percussion mod though and pretty much have a "3".

    Hmm...B must stand for "Ballbreaking". I recently recarpeted here and my Dad and I had to move my B about 10'. I started bitching and then Dad reminded me of the good ol' days when he would lug around:

    - B3
    - Leslie
    - Rhodes
    - Wurli
    - CP70
    - CS80
    - Clavinet
    - Full PA

    ...and I bitch about a Motif 8 and a pair of MS150s.

    BTW, Tod, that's an excellent way to put it: "I'm all about getting 90% of the ultimate sound for 20% of the cost... "

    Right on