Hammond S6 Chord Organ Part 3: A good days work

There was an estate sale in my neighborhood I spent an hour at (no musical instruments other than an overpriced piano or Hi-Fi audio), a trip to be made to the hardware store for some building materials and trip to the store for dinner makings, so progress was a challenge. In the last set of pictures you can see the shadows are getting long. I started feeling some time pressure to get to it if I was going to have it together before I went to bed, I started rationalizing about at what point I could say I was successful. I still needed to test a bunch of tubes, find a 5U4 and make a power cord. I had to take a break and cook some steaks, but I ran back and forth between BBQ and the project. My dad joked he would hold the flash light. My back was getting tired, so I didn’t relish the thought of not being done by dark. I ate fast, but it was still delicious. Must finish. I decided if it was assembled, and the tubes tested before I went to bed I could take my time bringing it up on a variac and testing stuff the next morning.

Looks pretty good. That bar hanging down in front of the speakers is a volume swell control. I discovered it was also the power switch when I was testing things.
I used some plumbing channel locks to straighten out the flange on this bent corner. Those two empty solder connectors are where the power cord goes. Need to add a fuse at some point. I bet there are a few places this could fail such that it would cook a bunch of stuff if it didn’t have a fuse.
Voila! Snatched from the jaws of fate at the last possible moment. Not a bad result for all the day held for this thing. I did not pick up some odd bit of hardware that allows for adjustment of the angle of the music stand. I’ll add “Hammond S6” to my ebay search roster until I find one. Need to give this a good cleaning, hit some of the rougher patches with sand paper and restore-a-finish and get over it. It is what it is.
Most of these connections were still connected so I marked them for reassembly. I need to get some 10-32 screws to mount the power supply at the hardware store tomorrow.
Most of these connections were still connected so I marked them for reassembly. I need to get some 10-32 screws to mount the power supply at the hardware store tomorrow.

I tested all the tubes when it got dark and every one was good, but two of the 12AU7s were not very well balanced so I pulled two same construction replacements from the vault that tested much better and called it a day. The organ was back together and I did what I said I would. My plan for the next day was to install the tubes, get the missing screws from the hardware store, do a few hour variac bring up and see if it worked.

The next morning I did just that and once I figured out that I forgot to solder the speaker wires the organ came to life! Every note sounded, and every control impacted the sound in a musical way. The chord organ part is amazing. Buzzy chorusy string pads are reminiscent of Beach House, Grandaddy and Sparklehorse. Moody, dark and full. It IS a Hammond my friend with one in his studio said when I texted him the good news.

A few hours later stuff was beginning to show its age. The pedal that fills out the chord organ sound with a bass accompaniment started having some issues with the tone, and after being on and playing for maybe 6 hours it sort of lost its composure. There are a lot of contacts to clean, which I will get to this week, and a few electrolytic capacitors I might as well replace. It’ll take time to get it right, but it’s no longer in parts and in danger of becoming a parts machine or land fill. I found a tuning procedure, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Will have to take it slow.

There is a modification I found to add an overdrive type bass boost – going to have to do that. I have a PR-40 tone cabinet I’d like to hook up to it, but I need to figure out the best way to get a signal out of the S6 and into the PR-40. Manual says hook it up to the speaker terminals, but that doesn’t sound like the ideal approach, Any recommendations – comment below and I’ll discuss.

Maybe $150 in tubes. This might be the only thing I have that uses 12BH7s. This GE 5U4GB is a suitable replacement I think.
Job well done. Tubes in, power supply screwed down and basically back to where it was 24 hours earlier except for the damage to the exterior.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s