Startup Procedure for a Hammond Tonewheel Organ

Introduction

The Hammond Organ has been a fixture in Rock and Roll bands for decades.  Unlike modern electronic keyboards, the best models of Hammonds use motors as a key component to generating their unique sounds.  These models are known as the tone-wheel Hammonds. It is not the simple matter of flipping on a switch to start one of these bad boys up.  It is not difficult to do, but you just need to know the right steps.  This article explains how to start a Hammond organ.

Things You Need

Determine whether or not you have a tone-wheel Hammond.  You can tell from the model number if you are familiar with the different Hammond models.  Some of the most common tone-wheel Hammonds are the B3, B2, C3, C2, A105, M3, M102, M111.  However, you can tell right away whether or not you need to follow the startup procedure by the on-off switches you see on the console.

If your organ has a simple on-off switch, you can just switch it on and off.  The tone-wheel Hammonds, however, have a pair of switches located above the keyboard toward the right end of the organ.  The left switch is labeled “Start”, and the right switch is labeled “Run”.  The “off” position of these switches is toward the keyboard.

A Hammond C2 Organ
Credit: aguy

Step By Step Startup Procedure

Step 1

Press the “Start” switch and hold it in position for 5-8 seconds.  You will hear the motors start to come up to speed.  The switch is spring loaded, so you need to hold it for that time. 

Hammond C2 Switches
Credit: aguy

Step 2

Wait a few seconds while the tubes warm up.  You will then start to hear the organ as you press the keys.  You are done!

A Hammond M111 Organ
Credit: aguy

Step 3

This procedure works on all Hammond tone-wheel organs.

Sometimes the “Start” switch has been replaced by a push-button.

On switches on a Hammond M111
Credit: aguy

Step 4

Release the “Start” switch.

Step 5

Wait a few seconds while the tubes warm up.  You will then start to hear the organ as you press the keys.  You are done!

Tips

This procedure works on all Hammond tone-wheel organs.

Sometimes the “Start” switch has been replaced by a push-button.

Warnings

You won’t hear any sounds (other than the motors) if you have not pulled out some drawbars or selected a preset tone.