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Hammond C3 Organ
Led Zeppelin, ca. August 1974, Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England
General Specs
Features: 2x61 note manuals
25 note radiating pedalboard
Split Vibrato, Vibrato Chorus
Touch Response Percussion
4 sets Drawbars
18 Changeable Presets
Years In use: January 07, 1970 - May 25, 1975
John Paul Jones often recorded with a Hammond C3, and it was a common instrument on many of their early tours. Led Zeppelin's most memorable organ track, Thank You, was recorded in ca. June 1969 at Morgan Studios in London. On this song, Jones' beautiful organ parts are the main support during the verses. His style here reflects his many years playing organ in church as a boy. The organ is restrained, with no vibrato or distortion, and avoids sounding like a blues or jazz instrument. A tape delay, which echoes the organ track in the opposing speaker, creates an echo effect that enhances the "church" mood. At the same studio sessions, Since I've Been Loving You was recorded, but it was not released until Led Zeppelin III a year later.

Since I've Been Loving You became one of Led Zeppelin's most outstanding songs. Its extreme dynamics and fascinating chord progression show how Led Zeppelin were able to modify the traditional 12-bar blues. They would play it at nearly every concert for ten years, and it seemed to exemplify both the subtlety and power that the band possessed. Jones' Hammond organ is the perfect choice for this track, as its expression allows for subtle, quiet support to the verses, along with strong, exciting power during the choruses. By carefully working the volume (or "swell") pedal, Jones takes the organ from clear, pure organ tones to a more distorted, heavy overdrive that matches and enhances the powerful climaxes. The Leslie speaker is recorded with two microphones, panned wide apart for stereo; the main microphone sound is bright and sharp, and clearly indicates the textural changes of the track. The other microphone channel is almost entirely without treble and is panned to the left to fill the "space" behind the guitar. This creates a wide full sound without interfering with the balance between the organ and guitar, which are on opposite sides. The "bass" track is Hammond organ, as well, that was recorded seperately for clarity.

Night Flight from Physical Graffiti is another traditional organ sound; the Hammond is fed through the Leslie, and slightly distorted. During the song, Jones plays basic chord changes and uses the Leslie speed changes to add excitement to the choruses.

On the early Led Zeppelin tours, there was often a C3 or B3, but it was likely that these heavy instruments were made available for each show, rather than the group carrying one from city to city. (At the time, Hammond organs were very common, and many halls had one available.) The Hammond was a very common sight on Jones' right side of the stage from 1970 until 1975. The Hammond was always run through a Leslie Speaker, which has become the traditional way to amplify a Hammond. The Leslie Speaker contains an amplifier and "spinning speaker" system that gives the sound animation and energy. Unfortunately, the Leslie amp was only 45 watts -- certainly not enough to be heard clearly on the loud stages of Led Zeppelin. So, the band would put the Leslie offstage in the dressing room and place microphones near it to send sound to the mixer. This clever arrangement created problems on a few occasions! Jones recalls: "People used to go in to the dressing room and shout things over the microphones. It would come over the PA... (laughs)." By the 1977 tour though, Jones was regretting not taking the Hammond with him, but admitted that there were already too many keyboard instruments covering the stage. There just was not enough room for it.

Photos

Hammond C3 Organ
John Paul Jones, January 09, 1970, Royal Albert Hall, City Of Westminster, London, England
Hammond C3 Organ
Led Zeppelin, ca. August 1974, Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England
 

Resources and Information:

http://vintagehammond.com/
http://www.geocities.com/~jpjkeys (defunct)
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