Using the EVB3 Model Parameters

The model parameters provide precise control over your organ sound. These include not only basic level and tonal balance controls, but also and more interestingly a number of parameters that emulate the sonic characteristics—and technical “flaws” or limitations—of the original Hammond B3. You can even emulate the quirks of the B3 by “aging” the virtual components.

If you’d like further information about the technical aspects of the Hammond B3 and the concepts behind tonewheel sound generation, see A Brief Hammond History and Tonewheel Sound Generation.

Pitch Parameters

The EVB3 offers several parameters that change its pitch behavior, adding flexibility that isn’t possible with the original instrument. The EVB3 is tuned to an equal-tempered scale. As a deviation from this standard tuning, you can stretch the tuning in the bass and treble ranges, much like acoustic pianos (especially upright pianos). You can also randomly detune the sound using the Warmth parameter, and you can even use the pitch bend wheel of your keyboard to bend the sound. The latter isn’t true to the original, but it’s a nice creative option.

Figure. Pitch parameters.
  • Upper Stretch slider: Controls the amount of deviation from the equal-tempered scale in the treble end of the sound. The higher the value, the further up the high notes are tuned. At a setting of 0, the EVB3 is tuned to an equal-tempered scale, with each octave up exactly doubling the frequency. Also see About Stretch Tuning .
  • Lower Stretch slider: Controls the amount of deviation from the equal-tempered scale in the bass frequencies. The higher the value, the farther down the low notes are tuned. At a setting of 0, the EVB3 is tuned to an equal-tempered scale, with each octave below exactly halving the frequency.
  • Warmth slider: Controls the amount of random deviation from an equal-tempered scale. High Warmth values can add life to your organ sounds, but you should be conservative with this parameter, as higher values tend to sound a little out of tune.

    Note: Use of both Warmth and Stretch may result in a detuned sound, which is similar to a heavy chorus effect. Set Warmth to 0 if you’re after a purer sound.

  • Pitchbend Up/Down sliders: The Hammond B3 has no pitch bend facilities. Therefore, use of pitch bend is not suitable for realistic organ simulations, but it does provide a number of creative options.
    • You can independently set the pitch bend up/down sensitivity—in semitone steps—with the Pitchbend Up and Pitchbend Down parameters. The maximum sensitivity for upward bends is one octave.

    • You can also set the Pitch Bend Down parameter to “Brake,” which gradually slows down the tonewheels until they totally stop—when your keyboard’s pitch bend control is at the minimum position.

    Note: The Brake setting recreates an effect heard at the end of “Knife Edge” by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Keith Emerson’s virtuoso Hammond work was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder that was gently slowed to a total stop.

About Stretch Tuning

The tones of clavinets, harpsichords, and pianos have inharmonicities in their harmonic structure. The frequencies of these overtones (harmonics) are not exact, whole-number multiples of the base frequency. This means that the overtones of lower (tuned) notes are more closely related to the main frequencies of the upper notes. Due to the lack of strings, this inharmonic relationship is not true of organs.

The stretch feature was principally included for situations where you want to use the EVB3 in an arrangement alongside a recording of an acoustic piano.

EVB3 Click Parameters

The key contacts of electromechanical tonewheel organs tend to saw a little on the busbar, thus introducing a short click sound. If any corrosion occurs to the key contacts or busbar, this will increase the length, and level, of this click. This aspect of the B3’s design causes irregular scratching noises (commonly referred to as key click) when striking and releasing keys. Hammond fans like these clicking noises, as they introduce a transient, percussive quality to the note.

The EVB3 allows you to adjust the volume and sound of the key click. The tonal color and volume of clicks are altered randomly, and independently, from the click on and click off (release) volume settings.

You can use the Click On and Click Off knobs (in the silver section above the Condition parameters) to independently control the click volume for the beginning (Click On), and release of the note (Click Off). The click off is quieter, even if both controls are set to the same value, as this mirrors the behavior of the original instrument. See Using the EVB3 Global Tone Parameters for information on these controls.

Figure. Click parameters.
  • Click Min/Max sliders: You can determine a range for click duration, which can vary between a short “tick” and a longer “scratch.” A random click duration (that falls within the defined range) is used as you play.
    • Use the Click Min parameter to define the minimum click duration.

    • Set the maximum click duration with Click Max.

    Note: Even if both parameters have identical values, there is still a random variation in sound. This variation makes some clicks seem shorter than the value set with Click Min.

  • Click Color slider: Sets the tonal color of the click. This acts as a global control for the treble portion of the click sound, which overrides (but works alongside) the random click color variations.
  • Velo to Click slider (Extended Parameters area): Sets the velocity sensitivity of the click parameters. It is found in the Extended Parameters area (accessed by clicking the disclosure triangle at the lower left of the EVB3 interface).

EVB3 Condition Parameters

Technical limitations of electromechanical drawbar organs, with tonewheels, can cause some strange tonal artifacts, such as crosstalk. These quirks form an integral part of the B3’s charm. You can adjust the following parameters to define the age of your EVB3.

Figure. Condition parameters.
  • Drawbar Leak slider: Determines the minimum output level of the drawbars, when they are set to their minimum positions. The B3 tonewheel generators aren’t completely quiet—even if all drawbars are at their minimum positions. This is due to leakage of the tonewheels, causing crosstalk at the output.
    • Use a value of 0 to completely eliminate drawbar leakage.

    • Use the maximum setting to make drawbar leakage most definitely audible.

  • Leakage slider: Adds a sound resulting from the crosstalk between all tonewheels—including the tonewheels of notes that you don’t play. Adjust this slider to add a “breathy” quality to your organ sound.
  • Crosstalk slider: There are two tonewheels, four octaves apart, on each rotating shaft, for each key (pitch). The signal of the lower wheel contains a small amount of audible crosstalk, induced by the higher wheel, and vice versa. You can adjust the level of this crosstalk with the Crosstalk slider. See Tonewheel Sound Generation for further information. You should note that because crosstalk is audible only on certain B3 tonewheels, any “rumble” when chords are played is avoided.
  • Random FM slider: If the tonewheel generator of a B3 is clean, all frequencies are even and in tune. The three-fold decoupling of the tonewheels—via springs, flexible couplings, and flywheels—is very effective, but it can’t compensate for irregularities that come with dirt and grease in the driving gears. A gradual build-up of grime in the mechanism makes the tonewheel assembly turn unevenly on its axis. This irregular revolution is transmitted to the tonewheels and, therefore, the sound. You can use the Random FM slider to simulate this effect—which is audible only in higher frequency ranges.
  • Filter Age slider: The high frequency output signals of the B3’s tonewheel generators are passed through bandpass filters. The center frequency of these filters varies as the capacitors (used for filtering) get older. You can use the Filter Age parameter to alter the center frequencies of the filters, thereby emulating aging capacitors.

    Note: This colors the sound of the jitter applied by Random FM and the background noise resulting from leakage. This parameter also influences the intonation of the organ, if you use a pitch bend.

EVB3 Organ Parameters

The Organ parameters alter the basic tonal quality of the EVB3.

Figure. Organ parameters.
  • Max Wheels slider: Determines the number of tonewheels that are emulated. Reduce the value to minimize processing load, as emulating all tonewheel generators (even if unused) consumes significant CPU processing power. You should note that reducing the value will diminish some overtones, so keep the number high if you’re after an ultrarealistic simulation.
  • Tonal Balance slider: Changes the mix relationship of the higher and lower tonewheels. Use positive values to achieve a lighter and brighter sound. Feel free to experiment with different Tonal Balance and Equalizer settings. See Using the EVB3’s Integrated Equalizer, for further information.
  • Shape slider: You can subtly alter the waveform of the sounds emanating from the tonewheel generator using the Shape parameter. While the Hammond’s tone generators produce pure sine waves (albeit with a few artifacts), other organs deliver distorted waveforms. You can use the Shape parameter to produce sounds that resemble the tones of Farfisa, Solina, or Yamaha organs. The Shape parameter is placed after the filters that follow the sine generators.
    • Move the Shape parameter to the right to make the tone brighter (and louder).

    • Move the Shape parameter to the left to make the tone duller (and softer).

  • Bass Filter slider: The tone of the pedal drawbars often sounds somewhat brilliant, within the overall context of the combined upper/lower/pedal sound. To circumvent this issue, and to suppress the treble of the bass register, adjust the Bass Filter slider. At the maximum position you will only hear a solid bass organ fundamental in the bass register.
  • Ultra Bass button: When turned on, another low octave is added to the playable range of both the upper and lower manuals. These additional low octaves, and the ability to independently transpose both manuals (see Transposing the EVB3 by Octaves), are not available on the original B3.
  • Lower Volume and Pedal Volume sliders: Drag these sliders to the left or right to set relative levels between the upper and lower manuals and the pedalboard.
  • Perc field: Set to Only B to simulate the B preset key restriction. If you want percussion to always be available, choose Always. See Using the EVB3 Percussion Effect.

EVB3 Sustain Parameters

The time it takes for a note to fade out to silence, after the key has been released, is called the release time—in synthesizers. The EVB3 allows you to control this parameter—although it is known as sustain in organ terminology.

Figure. Sustain parameters.
  • Up/Low/Ped knobs: These three parameters allow you to independently control the sustain (release) phase of the upper (Up), lower (Low), and pedal (Ped) registers.
  • Mode button: Allows you to choose one of two sustain behaviors:
    • Choose “smart mode” to cut the sustain phase of released notes when you play new notes.

    • Choose “normal mode” to allow polyphonic sustain phases—all released notes will continue to sustain, even if new notes are played.

    Note: Smart mode allows you to set long sustain times, even in the bass register, which would cause rumbling dissonances if you used “normal mode.”