Acoustic & Electronic Instruments, Musicians, News, Tutorials, Videos & Interesting Finds
Acoustic & Electronic Instruments, Musicians, News, Tutorials, Videos & Interesting Finds

Hammond XK-4: digital comes to B-3

Very few electronic instruments are as iconic as the Hammond B-3, and its influence and sound can be felt and heard across many genres and styles of music. Once you hear it, you never forget it, and many musicians (who haven’t been lucky enough to play let alone own one) would love to be able to do so.

Yet Hammond themselves class the B-3 as an antique. Manufactured for just twenty years between 1954 and 1974, even the most recent models are now nearly fifty years old — and heavy, rather unreliable and prone to breaking down.

So Hammond has been working on digital versions of this instrument for many years — since 2002 in fact — and while the original company is no more, having been purchased by Suzuki, it seems clear from the announcement and media that the love and attention to detail in bringing such a loved analogue instrument into the digital realm is strong. So enter the XK-4.

It features a new modelled Tone Wheel 2 sound engine, virtual multi-contact keyboard, a new digital Leslie algorithm, new tube modelling system, user assignable knobs/switches, a colour display, pitch bend/mod wheels, and an 11-pin Leslie jack for connecting to an external Leslie speaker.

Of course it’s not a reproduction, more a reimagining, of the B-3 but there are fingerprints of the old instrument everywhere, from the wooden casing to the sounds and feel themselves. Purists may cringe, of course, but perhaps even they would rather experience probably the closest anyone can get to a B-3 without actually touching one, for a reasonable price, acceptable weight, and with more character and controllability than many of the plugins and emulations which exist.

Importantly, and ironically something which digital reproductions don’t do well by default, is the attention to detailing the imperfections which give the warmth and unmistakable sounds of the Hammond B-3. This includes pitch and volume fluctuations caused by the original physical characteristics of the instrument.

Main feature highlights:

  • Traditional drawbar organ tone reproduced in detail by the new sound engine “MTW2”.
  • Intuitive and easy-to-understand user interface for easy access to all functions.
  • A color display enables highly visible and intuitive operation, in both performance and programming situations
  • Pitch bend and programmable modulation wheels
  • User-assignable knobs and switches which can be used to control internal functions and external devices.
  • A Master Equalizer providing tonal control of any performance environment.
  • Our exclusive virtual multi-contact system expresses the distinctive feel of a vintage Hammond’s multi-contact keyboards. Additionally, multi-contact feel on the pedals will be present if you connect any of our (optional) XPK-130G/XPK-200GL/SK25 MIDI pedalboards.
  • The onboard Digital Leslie adopts a new-generation algorithm modeling the airflow of Leslie rotors, faithfully reproducing their unique tone and three-dimensional effect.
  • A new tube modeling system reproducing “vacuum tube warmth”-highly desired by all Hammond players
  • An exclusive system emulating the “matching transformer” of vintage Hammond organs adds fullness to the sound.
  • In addition to hyper-accurate drawbar tones, the XK-4 also features Italian, British, and Japanese transistor combo organ models, with the ability to register these instruments in the authentic manner.
  • Multiple ranks of Classical and Theatre Pipe Organ tones, which can be registered in the traditional manner. These sounds may be custom tailored to your liking.

Pricing and availability to be confirmed.