Drawbar Controller - Motorized or no?

My organ game is virtually nonexistent, but I want to get a fader/drawbar unit and start leveling up. I’m really stuck on how important motorized drawbars would be-- it seems to me like they’d be crucial to the whole operation, since the whole point of putting all the patches in C3 would be to not have to set the bars at the beginning of each tune?

My candidates at this point are the X-Touch Compact, with motorized faders, or the arduino D9U kit from Crumar (plus the x-touch mini to bring in the other knobs/trigger pads). The D9U looks like it would be a lot more fun, and a lot smaller, which I like-- but it just seems like the motorized faders would be a huge factor so that the bars would be in the same position as the presets to begin a tune. But then I wonder why nobody else is making motorized drawbars if it really is so important…

So, motorized is really valuable, or no? Thank you all for your input.

Don’t know why motorized would help. State changes could instantly change the drawbars. On most Hammonds, keyswitches serve that purpose. The newer Hammond VSTs provide many ways to achieve quick drawbar changes. The thing is, if you watch a real player, the drawbars are constantly being moved to sculpt the sound in that particular room. It would be a waste of money for me, as I can edit what I want immediately. Less gear, less worry.

I think you answered your own question. :grin:
Not in demand by the players.

Hi @jtillinghast

I bought an X-Touch compact for exactly that reason. It wasn’t what I expected and has moved over to my recording studio where it works great. I also have a Motor61, but it too was not satisfying for organ draw bars. Both work great as a mixer, but I’m still looking for a physical drawbars solution.


Thanks, both of you-- I must be thinking about this wrong, so maybe I just need to straighten my thinking out. If I end a tune with one set of drawbar settings on my physical controller, and then load up a second tune with a different set of settings, then I now have a mismatch, right? My physical drawbar is in the position from the first tune, but my software is now loading a preset with a different set of settings. My concern was that the next time I go to touch those drawbars I would get some big jumps and overreactions since the drawbars and the software don’t match. But maybe that’s just not the problem I’m thinking it would be?

If you sit at a real Hammond, your key switches(black keys) all have different drawbar settings, regardless of what setting you physically have. On many Hammonds, there are 4 sets of drawbars…2 sets for upper, 2 for lower. Those correspond to the Bb and B keys. That way, you can switch between the 2 current settings. The other key switches are preset.

That said, in C3, you can set up endless settings, and switch through a key press(or other midi controller), or a song/rack state. In this way, you never have to touch a drawbar.

Me being an old Hammond hack, I want my drawbars adjusted by hand. So, when I finally obtained a controller with sliders, I made a rack for that controller, and drawbars are working just fine. I normally know where to set my drawbars for the next song, and push them where I need them in 2 seconds. Number perfection is not a factor…it’s about tone and feel.

If you want to have an initial start setting at the beginning of the song, but want to adjust, then push all physical drawbars in, load song, adjust by slowly pulling drawbars out. Maybe a little noticeable jump, but nobody will know but you. Your ears are your guide.

Hammonds and humans are not perfect. No rocket science here. That is the beauty of it! :wink:

I will leave you with this…it says it all: knowing your instrument, and making it sing.

I would skip the motorized drawbars. Here’s how I approach this. If I have a Pink Floyd song, I just let C3 load my settings and I ride the mod wheel as Leslie controller. If I’m playing Allman Brothers I have a single button on my Axiom 61 that toggles the B and Bb to switch between those presets. Otherwise I manually control everything with the drawbars (and buttons I have assigned to the tablets).

EDIT - That DCU9 plus (one with controls for percussion etc) would be nice but it costs as much as I paid for my Axiom that has faders I converted to “drawbars”.

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See also the Ocean Beach DB-1 Controller at
[Ocean Beach Digital Products]


They look awesome, but according to their web page, they are no longer being made:

Yes Dave stopped making/selling them. he is selling the left over surplus of knobs:

That little Ocean Beach unit is nice! Let’s see, and it only cost OH SWEET MOTHER OF BABY JESUS

As for motorized drawbars, just one more things that is going to get dirty and wear out. And make a unit cost more.

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I’ll chime in just because I can :wink:

While the original Hammonds had an alternative to this that makes a lot of sense, I get the need to have the drawbars moved to their actual settings. It is a kind of corollary to the continuous controller debate where you can avoid jumps in tone when you move the controller.

I too have the Behringer X Control and while I love having the moving fades for mixing, the moving drawbars is nice idea but I’m not certain that I’d spend the money on it… but then again I’m secondarily a Hammond player.

I will also chime in, even though this is my 2nd round. :grin:

If that is all you need, then rack states will put them where you want them, whenever you want them.

What I am reading on this thread, is the necessity to put the drawbars where you want them, when you want them, but don’t bother moving them yourself. Is that because the drawbars confuse people, or is it a lack of experience?

As I said above, the great Hammond players NEVER go for exact number settings. They pull and slam drawbars all the time during a song. It’s all about listening, and knowing what you are going for. Then there are others that only use 2-3 settings, which is set in the key presets. On the organ presets I give away, I’ve told everyone they are a reference guide, and to adjust what you need.

I see it like this…it’s like a trombone player carving notches in the slide for every position… OR a violin player putting frets on his violin…OR a Harmonica player gluing tabs on a harmonica to lip-feel the notes.

Now, repeating myself, unless you intend to move drawbars on your own, noting you have the experience, and a midi controller with sliders. what is the need of motorized drawbars? If you are lacking the experience to move drawbars, Cantabile can change them for you.

It takes tons of time and diligence to properly learn an instrument. But then again, purchasing a Player Piano would have saved me a lot of time, and effort.

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I guess what @PatAzzMusic means is that he wants the physical drawbars to reflect the state of the organ plugin when he is loading a new song or state, so he can

  • immediately see the drawbar settings
  • adjust the drawbars without any jumps (imagine the preset loaded is 888000000 and the phyiscal drawbars are at 888888888 - making adjustments to the upper drawbars will create drawbar level jumps.

That would actually be nice - kind of a “robot Hammond” :wink: - with motorized drawbars, you could have that.

To me, this is not such an issue - I’m usually too busy with singing and playing to bother with manual drawbar settings. For me, having two preset settings and the ability to morph between them with my mod wheel is sufficient in any specific situation. That’s the way I’ve set up my Hammond rack with my “MIDI Organizer” script for ReaJS - I can create rack states with two different drawbar settings pre-dialed and fade seamlessly between them. Good enough for me…



It’s really not to me either, It just makes no sense, especially at that price. But, if someone has the dime to spend, by all means go for it! To each his own. The GUI provides a great visual, and is not an additional cost.

True…then I could also use @dave_dore’s Chordz rack to play it for me, lol. :rofl:

Similar to a key preset. Yes, it works very well I must say.




@Torsten said it much more elegantly than I-- what he’s describing is exactly what I thought could be an issue: loading a state that says one thing, while the drawbars are saying another, and then making a small adjustment all of a sudden creates a big jump. I already have my states loaded into Cantabile, but don’t have any drawbars or sliders to make adjustments as I play. The goal isn’t to cheat out of learning Hammond-- My goal for all this time at home is to actually learn a little real Hammond technique instead of chumping through presets (and get some hardware interface that will let me do proper drawbar work). But I freely admit that my question comes from not knowing what I don’t know. It sounds like the “preset vs drawbars” jump that Torsten described isn’t really as big a concern as I had feared. I appreciate everyone sharing their experience!


In combination with the Autofader Rack you would be set, put your feet up and listen …:rofl::rofl:


Exactly!! :joy:
I could just sit at the bar and remotely press “play”!

Every once in awhile tell someone at the bar “damn…this dude’s good”.

Never fluffs a chord …how does he do it!

“I don’t know…what makes him so good” ala The Who.


I generally spend my Sundays behind a Hammond C3. I am certainly blessed.

When we’re playing away from the church, I use C3 with various plugins. When I’m playing Hammond plugins, I actually use the venerable Korg Nanokontrol for drawbars. It works for me, despite having only 8 sliders. I have the 1’ drawbar mapped to a knob.

Motorized faders that memorize drawbar position are less important to me. I find I can switch between presets pretty quickly and drawbar changes are rarely very subtle in my style of playing.