Organs: "King of Instruments"
"There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." So said Johann Sebastian Bach, perhaps the most influential organists of all time. Mozart would later refer to the pipe organ as the "King of Instruments," and rightly so; it is by far the largest musical instrument, some models having as many as 16,000 pipes. For the last millennium, churches have used pipe organs as their premier liturgical instrument. And outside the West, reed organs continue to play a vital role in Indian and Qawwali music; the instrument is ubiquitous in Sikh, Sufi, and Hindu worship.
Organs in the 1900s
In the last 100 years, the organ has been modernized and introduced to all sorts of new genres: jazz, funk, rock, prog, etc. Electronic organs first appeared in the 1930s; without pipes, they required outside amplification, and were smaller than traditional pipe organs. Electronic organs were created to replace church organs, but models like the Hammond B-3 soon caught the attention of jazz, gospel, and ultimately rock musicians. In fact, small electronic organs produced throughout the mid-20th century paved the way for modern keyboards.
In the 1960s, portable electronic "combo" organs - made by Farfisa, Vox, and others - caught on with groups like The Doors and Led Zeppelin. Eventually, integrated circuit technology led to the first digital organs. Physical modeling and additive synthesis, as well as sampling, allow today's digital organs to accurately reproduce vintage organ sounds. With just the click of a button, musicians can switch from a cathedral-size pipe organ to a 1930s gospel setup. Organs also continue to play a significant role in theater, film scoring, and even professional sports.
Organs Today: A Few Notable Examples
Sweetwater carries a variety of digital organs for any budget. A great place to start is the The Hammond XC-1c - a highly portable, moderately priced combo organ. 61 "waterfall" keys give a quintessential organ feel, allowing players to glissando with hurting their fingers. The XC-1c also features plenty of faithful re-creations of Hammond, Vox, Farfisa, and pipe organ tones - with onboard effects and nine drawbars. In the old days, electronic Hammond organs were played through "Leslie" speakers, which gave a sought-after tremolo effect. A simulated Leslie effect is still standard on many organs.
The Nord C2D Combo Organ is another notable model; with not one but two keyboards (or "manuals"). Each manual has two sets of physical drawbars, and the C2D features an exceptional Baroque Pipe Organ among its myriad tones. The Hammond XK Vintage System is a third option - with all the benefits of a modern digitized organ, and the red walnut looks of an old-school Hammond B3. With two XK-3c manuals, a 25-key pedalboard, an XK vintage stand, bench, and more, It's an undeniably grand setup. Sweetwater also carries plenty of organ accessories: gig bags, pedals, foot switches, cables, and more. Call one of our Sales Engineers, and we'll help you on your way to organ bliss.
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.