Springtime and Music – and a Hammond update

Not updating this page very often – I’ll have to get into practice this, even if it’s only for me to take time to reflect on what I’ve been doing (or not doing).

Here goes –

Writing and Recording

Been focusing on a few songs, but am not getting a lot of traction on them. Allen Marshall (guitarist and co-conspirator) and I are trying to renew our musical working relationship. Hopefully we’ll get some traction this summer on this.


Last August I went looking for a Hammond Console (as opposed to a spinet, of which the M3 is one). I found an RT3, which is basically the BIG brother of the Hammond B3. While I don’t use the additional feature of the RT3, someday I just may. the RT3 has a larger set of bass pedals as well as additional pedal voices. It is also wider to accommodate them, by about 8 inches and outweighs the B3 by enough that you need an additional person to lift it. This makes the RT3 more of a permanent installation candidate, which suits me fine (don’t want to haul around 450 pounds of organ to gigs). It and the Leslie speaker fill about 20-25% of my studio space, so it’s getting crowded in there.

This past week I had a local Hammond tech out to look at it, and he proclaimed it in very good shape. However, the drawbars (the sliders that allow you to customize the Hammond sound ) need to be cleaned, which requires they be removed. The goal is to have them back by the end of July and have a very happy RT3.


Joined a local, new band called “Freefall” in December. I played with two of the members previously (guitarist Craig and vocalist Keely), I didn’t know the rest of the players. Turns out Greg (bass), Jerry (drums ) and Nikki (vocals) are excellent. We tried to pick songs that were popular, but off the beaten track of every other middle-aged-classic-rock-band. The challenging tunes include Kansas, Toto, Genesis, Heart, a bit of Styx, Peter Gabriel and others. If I had my druthers we’d “play songs you won’t hear other classic rock bands play” and fill out our sets accordingly. For me, it’s about the song and doing a good job playing the song as a band. Some songs will take time to work out, some songs are not playable live , but there are enough songs out there that fit in the wheelhouse that I think we could have fun, be challenged, and make it a great time for the audience.


Don’t talk much about the family on this site, but considering the lack of progress on the current album I think making mention – however brief – will give people an idea of the challenges.

  1. Two teenagers
  2. Busy wife (real estate agent now, and getting busier)
  3. Elderly family members
  4. Day job, plus investment properties (bought two in the last year, and currently renovating one)

Enough said.

Stay tuned – Will be adding photos of the studio and the keyboard station build soon –


Quest for a Hammond

Looking through Craigslist on Wednesday, I found an ad for a Hammond M3. Kelly and I talked about it, I called the seller, and Thursday night I picked up TWO M3’s. The seller (Jay) just bought a B2 and didn’t have room. One M3 needs some work, and the second is actually in really good shape, having been worked on by a local  company a few years ago.


Here are some pictures:

M3 #1:

Serial Number 69137

Worked on fairly recently.

M3 69137 Front   M3 69137 Front 3


M3 #2:

Serial Number 111919

Needs some work

111919 Top

   111919 Top

M3 111919 Front 3


Tomorrow I rearrange the garage and studio, and get 69137 in the studio and powered up. Eventually I’ll get time to work on 111919 and get it up and running.

Keyboard Stand Build #1

I’ve been following this thread and seen some cool ideas.

I rearrranged my studio last fall to give me some dedicated space for editing and other “non-keyboard” work (including tasks that turn my studio into a work-cave, not just a music-cave). This translated into me moving my main keyboard (a QS8) onto one side of the room, and my Numa organ onto the other. While it’s very much like a 70’s era live keyboard surround, they’re too far away from each other to do my Keith Emerson impersonation.

On my main desk I have a small keyboard controller (Line6 KB37) that I can use for limited performance).

One thing I’ve always been challenged with is the setup working for each of the distinct jobs I perform at the main (large) keyboard, including:

  • Performance/Recording: Focused on playing. Need some way to run transport controls, select tracks, and minimal editing (usually through controllers).
  • Composing / Arranging / Orchestration: I do this by hand, and eventually translate it into Finale. This requires a music desk, and has always been the most ignored portion of my studio since I couldn’t come up with a design that had the appropriate footprint and worksurface that I could deal with. I modeled this after a grand piano, with a “scoring” desk attached (see picture). BTW – I’ve never been able to use Finale fast enough to capture ideas, so I’ve given up, but it’s a great tool to share and archive.
  • Programming / Gig Preparation: This ranges from having a place to put a module, iPad, or other controller above the QS8, to a full keyboard.

I think what inspired me was a Korg keyboard from about 10 years ago (M3 maybe) that had a programmer / display module that could slide one way or the other. To accommodate all of the needs above I decided to steal the idea of having the “modules” slide on some steel rods. I’ll use conduit as it’s really sturdy but not as heavy as steel pipe. The modules will ride on trucks (built using a friend’s 3D printer) and can be swapped out as needed.

The original sketch has a music stand, but I’ll probably have a modules.  The conduit and modules will take the rear half of the case. I didn’t build them in because I’m not yet sure what the right height, distance, etc. will be (thus I’m calling it a prototype).

This past weekend I took the first step and built the main keyboard surround with a friend, Mike Day, in his woodshop. It looks surprisingly like a cutdown B3 shell. It’s got 3 sides, a base, and will sit on a keyboard/DJ table for stability. Eventually (if I ever move from prototype phase to “furniture” phase) I’d probably build nicer legs that match the décor. Here’s the rendering I did in Sketchup:

Sketchup drawing #1

Sketchup drawing #1


My plan is to build a number of modules that I can interchange quickly based on the use.

Here are some shots from Mike’s woodshop.

Dry fit of keyboard stand

Dry fit of keyboard stand

Clamped woodwork

Clamped woodwork


We’ll let the glue dry this week, and next week I’ll put together the rails and inserts. Maybe I’ll even get to stain and finish it.

Sunday in the studio 1/18/15

Got some time in the studio this weekend, focusing on two organ oriented tunes. I even managed to get a keeper solo on one of them.

When working by myself I find it easy to get caught up in adding more and more, and losing perspective of what the tune is supposed to be about. Today I actually figured out that things weren’t coming together because I was pushing something that I shouldn’t be pushing – sometimes time (or other parts coming first) is the only real solution.

You’ll get a chance to hear one or the other of these tunes soon….