Corky’s VST Organ Tips and Tweaks Page 🎹


Some good stuff for sure.


I switch using a MIDI foot controller, so both hands stay on the boards. Switching Leslie speed often is a fundamental part of Rick Wright’s organ technique. He rarely changes draw bar settings in a song, so it is all in the Leslie, and some great chord choices.


I like the “speed up then drop” at the end of phrases. It teases that maybe you are going into the chorus … but then don’t.

It’s not very “genuine B3” but I think @Torsten talks about using after touch for Leslie speeds. I’ve used that occasionally (more like when I forgot my foot pedal).


It would be interesting to set up aftertouch as a latching switch- press for on (fast), press again for off.


Whatever works and eases personal performance is what you should use. I have used many different ways, but I find myself returning to mod wheel Leslie and foot pedal linked to VST swell pedal. Since I’ve played Hammonds for so long, it is feels natural to me to switch rotary speed with left hand (like the half moon switch) and a swell pedal. To each his own…nothing wrong with that.


Indeed, but often I’m playing left hand organ and right hand lead, so at that point I’ve ran out of hands, but have two feet going spare… :wink:


Many moons ago, we did a split gig with another group in D.C. and they had a B-3 (and I got hooked on playing them during that run). It had no Slow/Fast switch on the lower keyboard, so I asked the owner how he operated the Leslie. He grinned and pointed to the Swell Pedal. To my amusement, he had attached a generic foot switch with electricians tape! I witnessed the Foot Controller in its infancy! :joy:


That is some old school rigging ! :sunglasses:


I think there was a stock thing back in the day of a side mounted kick switch that looked like a big metal plate. I’ve seen them; maybe they were mods.
Like this, but obviously from the 60s or earlier:


As usual a bunch of great replies and knowledge from everyone! I really liked the Booker T - “Time is Tight” Thx @Corky!

My sincerest thanks for all the tutoring :smiley:



No, I’m talking “1-Room Old School”!


Just received “The Hammond Organ - An Introduction To The Instrument And The Players Who Made It Famous” by Scott Faragher. Nicely done book published by Hal Leonard in 2011. I bought it new on ebay for $20. It starts out with company history, then an overview of how they work and the various components followed by well laid out and detailed descriptions of all the models. At page 100 it starts covering the Leslie for 35 pages in a similar fashion. Then he covers the physical digital models in a chapter called “The New Hammonds”. From page 193 to 386 the book covers “The Players”. The author lives in Nashville and writes with authority about Hammonds and the music made on them.


Sounds nice! I’d love to hear his takes on the clonewheels. Does he get into VSTs at all? I can get it as a Kindle edition on Amazon for $13… really tempting.


I’ve had it for several yrs. I remember vsts being touched on breifly, but not much there as it was 2011. Seems like B4 was the only one mentioned. It’s been awhile since I looked at it.


In Section VIII there is a chapter called “The Clones”. The author states before he discusses the Diversi Organ for a couple of pages that he intended to focus only on Hammond and Leslie products including Hammond/Suzuki. He covers up to the XK-3C which I think was release at the 2008 NAMM. He quotes Steve Hayes of Speakeasy Vintage Music that gospel churches and recording studios are where you are going to find most vintage Hammond organs going forward. I would have added stage rental companies. He covers the New B-3 and states that it’s, although digital, a “real” B3. I haven’t seen any discussion of VST plugins in the book.


I’m an old timer and here are a few of my thoughts.

I’ve owned and played several Hammonds for years in live bands. I still have quite a few parts along with my chopped M cabinet with an E generator, and key bed with waterfall keys that have been rewired to extend the 16’ down another octave and powered by a B3 amp. I’ve split a complete 147 Leslie into two self made cabinets, one for horn, one for drum, making it more portable. I had the time of my life using dual 122 Leslies on stage. What a sweet treat that was! :sunglasses:

I currently own VB3, VB3 II, B5, and am currently testing Blue3. They all suck.

Pull each drawbar out one at a time and play every note across the full range of the keyboard. None of them have a consistent sound from one end to the other. Frequencies drop out when they should carry forward to the next batch of notes. Yes, Blue3 is guilty of that too. Regardless of whether they are sampled or synthesized they should fade out gradually across a range and not just drop off. They don’t spend enough time matching frequencies to the notes on each side of the one being played.

The Leslie simulators do not have enough parameters to tweak those irritating notes that come out sounding like a sick vibrato. The cross-over in a real Leslie is never considered. Some frequencies should go high to the horn while others go low to the drum. There needs to be separate mic placements for top and bottom. There is never enough distance between sound at the mic and sound 180 degrees away from it. We need more options! There should be a separate section devoted just to the mid section of the cabinet alone. Warmth and distortion are MAINLY created from over-driving the Leslie amp and not so much by the organ.

VSTs currently cannot capture the true sweet sound or playability of a real Hammond. Until keyboards come with nine key contacts for each note it will never happen. You cannot duplicate that with velocity and single contact keyboards. Right now the XK-5 is the closest thing there is to filling that void by using three contacts per key. My guess is keyboard manufacturers are going to start moving in that direction soon.

I can’t afford the $3700 price tag for the best replacement so I’ll just keep using my old KORG CX-3 for now. It still rocks on stage. It can be compared to a Pianoteq vst trying to emulate a real piano. It cuts through the mix and has its own solid beefy sound.


Hi Tweaker

Thanks for the thoughts. I am in agreement with many of the things you stated. I have expressed some of what you noted to the developers. I suggest you do, as I did, and email the creators of these plugs. Some actually listen to customer concerns…others could care less, and are even offended by suggestion. I could tell you which are which, but not here.
No doubt, Hammonds and Leslies have been the most difficult instruments to clone. It is getting better, but they are certainly not there yet.

However, here are a few points. I am never going to haul a Hammond & Leslie to another gig. I am not going to throw thousands of dollars at a dedicated keyboard, such as Nord, DMC-122, or even a used Korg CX-3, because IMHO they also are not a true representation of Hammond/Leslie either, and It is just another keyboard to haul around (and expensive to repair/replaced when a drunk knocks it over). I am also an old timer with 20 more years of enjoying these beasts than you, and the time came when I had to lighten my load, but not my wallet. So, I went totally soft-synth, and never looked back.

I am not satisfied with some of he untrue sounds I get from VSTs, but becoming lean on stage is a must at my age and a necessity when dealing with ever shrinking stages. At the close of the day, no audience member, no band member, no FOH person, and no venue manager gives a damn what your organ sounds like. Only we care, because we know what it is supposed to sound like, and a true sound inspires us to play better. Studio work is where things matter most. It is fascinating how many organists have approaced me at a gig, wondering how I get that great Hammond sound, then I show them the VST. They are always amazed, even in a city known for those amazing Hammond/Leslie sounds

I try not to be a purist (many times fail). I work with too many guitarists that have that covered. BUT, I can still rock the house with the cheesiest Hammond clone ever made…and only I will know the sound sucks, but I have a little more jingle in my pocket at the end of the night. :sunglasses:




Hi Tweaker,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding B3 VST’s! I haven’t played on a real B3 since a recording session several years ago where I played bass but they let me use the B3 while they mixed. Three years ago I retired my own analog recording setup and installed Reaper. That led to VST’s which led to VB3 1.4. It floored me that it was as close sounding as it is and inspired me to learn more about playing organ.

I’m now using VB3 II and the IK Leslie played on a pair of Axiom 61’s. You should try the IK Leslie, it was developed with Hammond/Suzuki - I can’t tell you exactly why but it seems to bring the whole experience a little closer. I’ve also played around with SDDR2 saturation into GSI Rotary or Blue3 Spin which was interesting.

As a long time guitar and bass player with friends who build custom tube amps its intuitive to me that emulations aren’t going to breathe like the real thing. On the other hand, Tony Monaco sounds a lot like himself playing on a Mojo so I feel there’s hope.

I looked into finding a controller that has the Fatar TP80 organ style keybed but ended up staying with my Axioms.

Regarding contacting the developers, I think they listen even if they don’t respond well, especially to someone who knows the real B3 was well as you (or Corky)


I’d only be concerned in a venue filled with accomplished, 70yo, Hammond players! :santa:t2:

Regular audience, not so much. :smirk:


It all comes down to what you’re willing to settle for. What pleases you. The sound of your instrument can make a very big difference in your playing. Yes, I play to make a little money but at the same time I’m very interested in satisfying myself with a sound that I love. VST’s are ok and it seems like everyone is taking that route for portability and even though I expect more frustration ahead I will continue my quest like all of you to find that ultimate plug.

As far as the IK Leslie goes, can anyone tell me, does it solve the ugly vibrato problem? Are you extremely happy with it? What’s the total cost? Does it ever go on sale? I get the feeling from some posts that I’ve read that several people are unhappy with the company and you need to buy two different pieces of software to get what you want.

Some insight into that would be much appreciated. Thanks.