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Thread: Crescendo pedal for a Hammond Tone wheel organ?

  1. #1
    Senior Member paulj0557's Avatar
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    Crescendo pedal for a Hammond Tone wheel organ?

    This is something I've thought about from time to time...a crescendo pedal on a Hammond. I'll be honest, I owned and played a Hammond organ for a few years before I even knew what a crescendo pedal was, and this knowledge was gained from an interest in theater organs. Ironically very few electronic, and or electromechanical organs have crescendo pedals that I am aware of. Please name the models that do have crescendo pedals, and which could have benefited by the addition of one. I think the Conn 650 has one. I'm curious to know which tabs are used and the sequence from toe-up to toe-down. I know that pipe organs will more generally have a crescendo, but were they more prevalent on theater pipe organs than classical pipe organs? Any particular reason why they are not more common on non-pipe organs?

    Here is a Wurlitzer 4800 pedal that was on Ebay for $29 last year. I kick myself that I didn't buy it, but I didn't see it until the auction end Since it didn't sell I contacted the seller to see if they were going to list it again, but no response. I think it did finally sell, but I missed it again or decided not to buy it.
    Fortunately this image is a good model to use if one were to build one from scratch.


    Swell/Crescendo Pedal- Wurlitzer 4800 electrostatic reed organ



    Notice the angle of the contacts to sweep the voices.




    If you were to use a 'memory volume circuit' where the swell pedal's volume level could be 'held' by a switch or knee lever, then you could switch to crescendo mode using the same pedal. Or the volume would operate as normal- quiet to loud in parallel to the crescendo sweep, but then have the 'hold volume/memory' setting as a secondary option.
    The midi world is open to any sort of combination, but for older organs it's all hard wired circuits for the most part. As far as a memory circuit for the volume it could be something as simple as a brake cable to disengage the tension on the shaft of the pot, or a potentiometer IC such as the AD5245
    http://www.newark.com/jsp/search/pro...FC-GB100000001 http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/85380.pdf
    Last edited by paulj0557; 04-23-2012 at 07:01 AM.
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    Moderator andyg's Avatar
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    The 650 has two pedals, One tibia and one main. No crescendo and, to be honest, most owners hit the tab that linked main and tibia together on the left hand (foot?) pedal. Some smaller Conns had 'stereo expression' where the main level could be set with a slider and the tibias controlled via the single pedal. I'm not sure that owners used that much either.

    I can't see that it would be an easy job on a tonewheel organ. Or other organs, for that matter.

    As for why it didn't appear on home organs. Complexity and cost, if it were possible at all, and the fact that most amateur home players would not have used it anyway. It was on some of the TPO's I used to play, but I rarely used it. And that's as a pro, I think the average amateur will tell you that they have enough to do with two manuals, pedals and a pedal for dynamics - without adding something else into the mix!
    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member indianajo's Avatar
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    As far as adding sounds in some factory preprogrammed order, I'm not sure that is artistic enough to warrant construction. However, as far as programming sound sequences in a user defined order, I'm working on that for my H100. E. Power Biggs moves through a variety of sounds in my favorite piece on LP, and I dispair of doing that with the presets on a two manual organ, particularly as many of the sounds are not the ones hammond wired to the preset keys. EPB was using a 3 manual organ also, which would be both an economic problem (rogers 3 manuals are not almost free) and a physical one, as my arms are shorter than those of Europeans. So I'm going to sequence the sounds on program boards and set up a kick "piston" (Allen Bradley push button) to move from sound set 1 to sound set 2 and so on at the touch of the button. This will affect the sounds on both UM, LM, and pedals, at each count.
    The drawbars are a set of 8 step resistors from 0 to 2 ohms. These are emulated by wires screwed to a 9 stainless steel bars with 11 colors of wires going to them for the 8 levels of the drawbars. There are resistors between rows of bars for the preset key levels. There are sets of wires for the preset keys. The wires to the bar can be compactly emulated with with pin and jumper networks on a PCB, to program the sounds. In one direction the pins would connect to one of the preset bar columns. The rows of pins can be scanned by a network of relays, which I have been purchasing as I can afford them. The pedals are not currently on the stainless preset rack, but the pedal drawbars can be paralleled in a similar manner by additional columns on the PCB. Some pedal sound extension is being contemplated, the 4 I have are a bit limited.
    The pushbutton can be debounced by a timer and then input to the up clock of a 1-16 counter IC, followed by two 1 of 8 decoder IC, driving transistors to drive the relay sets one at a time. My objection to custom IC's would not pertain, as CMOS parts have been standard since 1976 and cost about $.50 each.
    If one wanted to drive this setup with a crescendo pedal, rather than troublesome hard contacts that corrode one could more profitably use a light-sensor arrangement on the pedal with multiple slits in a card, with each slit enabling the clock line for one more count. The pedal is attached to the card and moves it up and down. Like the analog lamp light sensor in many organ pedals, but digital input instead of analog. A LED instead of an incandescent lamp would solve the burnout problem, but you would still have to clean out the product of spiders occasionally. But really, I think I would have enough control with an up and down count pushbuttons.
    Having more than one PCB of jumpers in the back would allow one to program multiple sets of sounds, including one with the "factory" crecendo set.
    And as far as all the Hauptwerk and Jorgan fans out there, this doesn't involve fiddling around with a computer screen to change from one set of sounds with another. Nor do you have to wait for the computer to boot up if the power blinks. Once the programming is done by moving jumpers around, the control is all immediate. If lightning strikes the pole outside, you could be out 4 $.50 standard IC's. The rest of the organ is impervious to surges on the power line.
    Last edited by indianajo; 04-23-2012 at 02:16 PM.
    city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC,Steinway 40" console piano, Sohmer 39" piano, Ensoniq EPS, Wurlitzer 4500, Dynakit ST120, ST70 amps, Herald Ra88 Mixer, Peavey SP2XT speakers,BIC turntable; country Hammond H112.

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    Member jhelm_waterw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulj0557 View Post
    This is something I've thought about from time to time...a crescendo pedal on a Hammond.
    My rudimentary understanding of a crescendo pedal is that it actually changes stops/registration?
    I supposed you could wire one up that brings in/out some of the higher drawbars on a hammond.
    You'd be best using a straight CV setup on a pot on the pedal.
    That CV could then control some kind of switch board which either mutes or engages the upper 6 drawbars.
    It could be binary to start (just mute/unmute) then you could probably get more fancy if you used a uProcessor.

    Maybe even fade them in, maybe have "memory patches" to determine how it works.
    (like one patch only affects the 4 and 8 drawbar, another patch affects 8, 4 and 2, another patch...)
    I'd probably guess you can do some of this in the digital clones.
    They typically have assignable expression pedals.
    Jeremy H.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member jimmywilliams's Avatar
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    A crescendo pedal would gradually bring in the higher pitched and "louder" ranks like the reeds in a pipe organ - The Hammond tone wheel organ however only has one single fully unified flute "rank" and you can look at the drawbars as couplers to bring in different octaves from the same rank.
    I don't know what effect you are going for but to gradually build up a full flute rank ensemble maybe you could start with the 8 by itself, the the higher octaves, and then the fractional footages? Either way you would need to bypass any manual or preset drawbar settings and that piece can make the project very complicated. Also you would have to decide how to work in differerent "volume levels" of the drawbar pitches too - something that is not relevant with a regular crescendo setup where the ranks of pipes are not adjustable volume that I am aware of.
    Since it is a pipe organ concept (and emulated by the higher end electronic organs like Allen and Rodgers that do have discrete stops/stop families) maybe people more familiar with those types of organs can give you some design advice.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member indianajo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmywilliams View Post
    A crescendo pedal would gradually bring in the higher pitched and "louder" ranks like the reeds in a pipe organ - The Hammond tone wheel organ however only has one single fully unified flute "rank" and you can look at the drawbars as couplers to bring in different octaves from the same rank.

    Either way you would need to bypass any manual or preset drawbar settings and that piece can make the project very complicated. Also you would have to decide how to work in differerent "volume levels" of the drawbar pitches too - something that is not relevant with a regular crescendo setup where the ranks of pipes are not adjustable volume that I am aware of.
    You can also look at a Hammond as an additive synthsizer. I'm much happier with the clarinet, oboe, trumpet, sounds on the H100 compared to the D2 I played at John's party 2 years ago. Those are reed sounds. Part of a reed sound, is leaving a hole in the middle of the drawbars, compared to having them all out.
    Volume control can be handled by moving the whole shape of drawbars in for the softer settings.
    I intend to "bypass" the preset keys by lifting one set of wires for one preset key I don't like off the rack, and connecting it to my PCB. The the outputs from the relays go back to the rack in that position. That way, when I push that preset key (string accomp is my least favorite) then I am using the PCB and kick buttons to set sounds, not the wires screwed to the rack. A crecendo PCB would have tibia on the lower settings and screaming Telstar screech on the highest setting.
    EPB's intro to organ album tells me principal stop has some 12ths overtone, or was it mixture? Anyway, I'm looking at injecting more screech with a divider sawtooth wave circuit using the extra brush contact on the uppers. If I don't lift the whole waveshaping tab filtration assy off the Wurlitzer 4300 I scored for $30 and hook it to the H100. The 4300 doesn't have a tab labeled "mixture" either, though.
    city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC,Steinway 40" console piano, Sohmer 39" piano, Ensoniq EPS, Wurlitzer 4500, Dynakit ST120, ST70 amps, Herald Ra88 Mixer, Peavey SP2XT speakers,BIC turntable; country Hammond H112.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Orgrinder010's Avatar
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    You'll be better off learning to register without a cres. pedal. On a theatre organ, much of the registrations are done in piston settings, which will (depending on a bunch of things, mainly the organist) give you the many tonal progressions and expressions the instrument can output. A cres. pedal is just a locked formula that really can't be trusted for every situation. Say, for example, you have a clarinet registration, when you engage the pedal, all the sudden you have loud diapason and soon after reeds added, and your nice solo tone is just a mutt of noise. Just my thoughts.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member paulj0557's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orgrinder010 View Post
    You'll be better off learning to register without a cres. pedal. On a theatre organ, much of the registrations are done in piston settings, which will (depending on a bunch of things, mainly the organist) give you the many tonal progressions and expressions the instrument can output. A cres. pedal is just a locked formula that really can't be trusted for every situation. Say, for example, you have a clarinet registration, when you engage the pedal, all the sudden you have loud diapason and soon after reeds added, and your nice solo tone is just a mutt of noise. Just my thoughts.
    I thought that a crescendo pedal was a convenience 'tool' more than a crutch. Once I knew the order of the pedal eventually I'd know when to access it based on feel. Certainly there would be the dud combinations, but having that sort of access would outweigh the negatives.

    A Hammond organ has plenty of sweet spots when combined with Leslie's and tone cabinets. I could really see a crescendo being very awesome if you could simply sweep the volume(X) through the peaks of any 9 draw bar registration(Y) (ie. preset registrations). You could use a knee lever to 'boost' the peak volume by 1-4 numbers at any given point during the sweep, or if you flip a little switch under the desk (option B) you can switch from 'peak boost' to 'peak widen'- in this mode, instead of the peaks being swept draw-bar by draw-bar, the X path widens by the amount of knee lever pressure, no pressure maintains the single draw bar focus, but as pressure is increased the number of draw bars effected by the sweep increases. In the digital clone world this is all cake, but I'm under the impression it would take some thoughtful engineering to make it work on a real tone wheel organ with the ultra low resistance needed for tone wheel manipulation...or something like that. All I know is there are things we can do that nobody's done yet, and we can do them to old Hammond organs
    As far as the dusty optics, it's not very hard to enclose photocells and with 'cool running' LED's.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member indianajo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orgrinder010 View Post
    You'll be better off learning to register without a cres. pedal. On a theatre organ, much of the registrations are done in piston settings, which will (depending on a bunch of things, mainly the organist) give you the many tonal progressions and expressions the instrument can output. A cres. pedal is just a locked formula that really can't be trusted for every situation. Say, for example, you have a clarinet registration, when you engage the pedal, all the sudden you have loud diapason and soon after reeds added, and your nice solo tone is just a mutt of noise. Just my thoughts.
    I don't intend to build a crescendo pedal for my own use, although as I have said it would be a simple add on to my my sound selection device using relays and a counter register. But I find the huge pistons on a side panel that are common on the huge used church consoles to be silly and obsolete, unless one spent thousands of hours already practicing to use such a control scheme. Such huge pistons are obviously useful on a tracker organ that has actual sliding wood selector bars, but excepting such a historically constructed instrument with the variable attack on keys and pedals, I don't see the point in pistons.
    Grouping sounds in useful expression packages at the touch of a single control would be useful, which hammond has done with the preset black keys but that is not ideal, either, I believe. What I find more attractive is the rack of small pushbuttons between the upper and lower manuals on, for example, the Hammond Elegante. If I decide to extend my up-down counter to a grouping control, The closely located small button I use will load a 4 bit number into my up-down counter, to select a particular combination of resistors (mixer volume) on different overtones.
    Last edited by indianajo; 04-25-2012 at 12:35 PM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member OrgansR4Me's Avatar
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    James, with my L102 came some great Hammond literature and there are recommendations for registrations that include some in which 1 or 2 drawbars pulled farther out can quickly add to the sound. Doesn't include the full compass of the organ obviously but the book states that just adding to every value in a registration doesn't always lead to improvement.

    Another interesting point the book gives is that the same drawbar settings react differently in different octaves and it gives pointers as to when to feature the upper end of the keyboard and when to use the lower. Mastery of the Hammond involves a few tricks of the trade evidently. Especially with regard to the spinet models where presets are limited.

    My little spinet does have the full organ tab in the upper so there is in effect "Sforzando"!

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