Sunday, April 05, 2009

A new instrument arrives

On Friday an old Hammond L-100 organ took up residence in our library. Grandma Thvedt saw an ad in the local paper and thought we'd like it. Grandpa and I went to look at it several days ago, and it was in pretty good cosmetic shape, and it functioned well, too, so Grandpa bought it as a gift for the kids. I think it was a pretty good deal at $25. We planned to come back later and wrestle the thing over here, but by Friday I'd thought better of that plan -- it weighs a ton -- and called a local moving company. It cost more to move it than to buy it, but I'm still well pleased with the bargain.

Since the arrival I've had a little time to read up on Hammond tonewheel organs, and to try all of the available settings. It has a few problems, but nothing really serious. The worst is probably the non-working A-flat pedal, but even that's not so bad. The pedals cover only one octave anyway, so they're already pretty limited.

Today I opened it up to do a little maintenance. They're meant to be oiled once a year. On the inside of the back panel, somebody had noted two dates when it had been oiled -- once in 1988, and once in 1992. I don't know for sure, but this organ probably was built some time in the first half of the 1960s. I'm a little curious about the care it's had over the decades.

Some of the drawbars, which are pretty much the whole reason you'd want an old Hammond, need their contacts cleaned, including most especially the one that controls the fundamental tone for the upper manual. I'll be opening it up again in the near future to tackle that job. I'll try to remember to take some pictures of the inside -- it's really something.

We're really having a lot of fun with it. I caught Thomas making some wild sounds on it by turning it off and on while playing. I put the kibosh on that. I read that Keith Emerson used to do the same thing on his L-100, but he also stuck knives between the keys to get sustained notes and some other pretty crazy things.