Skip to main content

recording a Leslie

What works best for you?
Thanks Roly


Kurt Foster Thu, 01/16/2003 - 07:40

I agree who is playing is more important than anything else. IMO this is so on [I[any instrument. As far as keeping the equipment in good repair that too is important. Consulting other people who have similar gear is always a good source of information. When I was in SF I was very fortunate to have some great techs available to help me keep things in good repair. Michael Gore of Bay Area Studio Engineering (SF) took care of all the studio gear, console, outboard, mics and also provided invaluable advice as to equipment purchases and studio design. It was Michael that convinced me to try a set of NS 10's despite my objections. I am sooo glad I listened. I really lucked out and found a guy named Rod Camp (Camps Organ Service) out of Pleasanton CA to help tune and maintain the Hammond , the Leslie and all the electronic keyboard equipment. I also had the grand piano tuned and repaired (if needed once a month by a wonderful piano tuner Barbara Gibson. I saw all of this as a necessary expense to keep all of my lovely toys in good working order and as protection of my considerable investment. But most important, being in the Bay Area I had access to a pool of wonderful musicians to squeeze the music out of my coveted toys. Without them all the great gear would have been nothing but inanimate objects. It really is in the "fingers" so to speak. Fats
Tannoys, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK, PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

anonymous Thu, 01/16/2003 - 13:06

Ok, here's my take.. these Hammonds and Leslie's will make noise, this is part of the mystique and soul of them. The ability of the musician to control these two is part of the art. This is not a lot different than learning how to tune drums in different rooms, and use your dynamics as a drummer. At the same time, the engineer must, again, must really deal with these kinds of instruments (drums, Leslie, hammonds, old amp, etc) carefully. There is a beauty to catch, and some heartache to avoid. BUT, the heartache should not be avoided with gates and denoisers. Try using different mics, try a different gain structure at both the sound source (organ and leslie) and at the console/preamp areas. I have yet to be stumped at this ... and I'm sure the time will come, but when it does, I think the comment I will make will be .. "Let's get this fixed before we record."
Not to throw stones, but I have a nice old Premier reverb tank, that has now been to three people who are more than qualified to fix it. It is not fixed yet, so it's time to find yet another guy .. all of these guys know more than most of us could ever know.. but I do know enough to not use the tank, as much as I fondly remember it's huge wash before I gave it to the 1st guy to fix, who actually broke it more!
The point being, if you have that much noise, it must need further work, or it is doing some very quiet solo stuff and a gnat farting would also be heard (and I have the abilty to mic those gnats!).
I will look tonight for the link to an info site I had for leslie repair and troubleshooting info.

I have printed info on this somewhere also for the Rhodes and Leslie combo I use in my studio .. hang on I'll find it somehow!

audiowkstation Thu, 01/16/2003 - 13:22

Got two storys for everyone.

Remember "echos" by Pink Floyd? The opening squawks?

Now I got this info firsthand. They were working in the studio, their were some cabs and this one leslie had a crack in both of the plastic tweeter horns running down the side. One was a 2 inch split and the other about 5 inches. The diaphram also was slightly scratchy (blown) the voice coil was rubbing in the gap slightly. Well the early recordings were made and that was they sound that was wanted and documented the settings......then clean up and fix up day at the studio and the cab dissapeared. The scratch tapes were erased for greener pastures. When they were laying the hammond for the "real" takes, they could not get that sound. Settings the same. Where is that old cab????? Just could not get it but it was recorded on compact cassette for rehearsal sakes. They wanted that sound and had to search all over London for that fabulous sound from the cracked and damaged driver on the leslie. They found it and the rest is history. If you purchase "ECHOS" you will hear it and it cannot be replecated today. I do not know if that horn and diaphram ended up in a museum or the trash bin but that is a very true story. It is awesome that they decided on the blown set!

Next. Donald Fagen the nightfly (song is Walk between raindrops)

That was a worn out and beat to hell organ and leslie. It was the only setup that will do for that song and I will admit, it is some seriously organic sound. I love it folks, it kicks major ass, even some notes did not work as well and if you have a top system, you can hear the gear wheels grinding too!!! Really organic.

Now, the 3 dollar question. Has anyone heard a box that was damn close? I have heard a Kurzweil that was pretty convincing....

Kurt Foster Fri, 01/17/2003 - 09:50

Well, us older guys remember the old Echoplex units that were not so quiet too right? I still have an old Binson Echorec that is unreal, and a bit noisey too, but that is "the sound", right?

Yep!!! And lots of Pros have used them, like Led Zeppelin.. Fats
Tannoys, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK, PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

Nate Tschetter Fri, 01/17/2003 - 10:06


Well, not _entirely_ on topic, but related. Yesterday while bumbling around the NAMM floor, I had a chance to play the Korg BX2 (I think that's the name) dual-manual version of the CX2. Wow...I mean, all these companies are really honing in on the nuances. Its _really_ quite playable. Dunno how it will sound through a Leslie but even a DX7 can be made to sound quite convinving through a cabinet.

Then I wandered over to the Roland booth and tried their VK77 (again, I think that's the model). It certainly had more output to the cans. The ergonomics where a bit different to the CX2 but it had some cool stuff happening on the d-Beam. You could assign it to do swell, Leslie speed and some other stuff but the coolest thing was the "spring reverb tank crash" sound. You wave your hand at it and its like yo'ure kicking a Fender Twin!

Its funny, many of the soft synths do the B3 quite well. From Native Instruments to Emagic's (I think this one is the best) there are some more than acceptable simulations out there these days. Nothing beats the real thing but shit, I don't wanna have to move the real thing either.

Kurt Foster Fri, 01/17/2003 - 10:18

In the end it is all going into DAW most of the time (these days) unless your one of the privileged few who get the pleasure of working in a top flight studio. Once it's in the box, it is questionable in my mind how much of the nuances are retained anyway. That is one reason I have been selling off my collection of vintage guitar amps. I use a Fuxtone Line Sux now and it approximates the sound of many amps in one package. I don't say it sounds as good and my old 55 narrow panel Deluxe, but there isn't much difference once it comes back out of the box. The Korg CX has been around for a long time and while it's not a true tone wheel organ it does a very reasonable simulation. Very useable. My new slogan "Its good enough for digital". BTW “Glue The Moose” LMAO!!! ………… Fats
Tannoys, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK, PMC .
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

SonOfSmawg Sat, 01/18/2003 - 05:26

I only have one keyboard, an Alesis QS6.1, which was only about $600, but pretty much does everything that my meager keyboard demands require. It has a couple of decent Piano sounds, and some VERY nice "screamin synth" sounds, but my favorite part about it, and the reason that I bought it, is for it's organ sounds.
I like the 70's rock organ sounds, ala Keith Emerson, Deep Purple, Rick Wakeman, Focus ... that sort of stuff. I'm not into that shyte that brings to memory Saturday afternoons at the roller skating rink.
For organ sounds, my "cheapo" little Alesis sounds great going directly into Digi001. No MIDI (that ruins that kewl organ feel), just plug it in and jam away. Of course, I suck at keyboards, so I guess I'm not even qualified to say "It sounds fine to me", but ... well ... it sounds REAL GOOD to me. LOL.