How I Fell In Love
With The Vintage Hammond Organ Sound

When I was 12 years old, I decided to pursue music as my life's profession.   I started playing small parties and weddings when I was 13 years old.   My parents bought me a little portable organ and I also had a theater organ for the home.   I so often wondered why my music didn't sound as good as the music I heard on the radio.   I thought it must have been my playing, but then one day, an older friend and fellow musician invited me to hear a professional organist who was playing nearby. He was trying to convince me to upgrade my keyboard setup.   I went to hear his friend and the sound of his instrument sent chills up and down my body.   I went over to his instrument after a break and discovered it was a Hammond organ with an external Leslie. I asked if I could play it.   That's when I discovered it wasn't my playing but it was the instrument I was playing.   At the age of 14, I fell in love with the sound of what is now called the Vintage Hammond Sound. At the age of 15, I begged and borrowed every penny I could and bought a C-3 Hammond Organ and 122 Leslie. At age 16, I bought a van and started playing professionally in the Philadelphia area. That Hammond went everywhere! It was on an ocean cruiser; it was all over the country; and it even fell over in a truck in New Jersey and the keyboard popped out! I called a friend and he came and helped me pop the keyboard back in and it was playing that night.   We had to super glue a key back on, but that was it!   That organ stayed in trucks in the winter, suffered the heat of the summer, the humidity of spring, and the abuse of road managers. It was as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida. I have had it for 35 years and it still plays and I use it every week!

In 1974, God changed my life. I got married and went to music school and studied church music. I was an Organ/Piano major; and again, that Hammond became a workhorse for my practice instrument. A friend of mine helped me tear a wall out of our little 10' x 55' trailer so we could fit my Hammond into a spare bedroom.   After graduating from college and seminary, I worked for a large music retailer for quite a few years. Out of roughly 10 sales people, I sold half of the Hammond organ consoles in the company . The owner later made me director of church organ sales. That year, I broke all sales records in the company, mostly from my Hammond Organ Sales.  

One day, a little lady came into the store and said, "Do you have any church organs?" I said, "Yes I do." I asked, "What kind of Organ are you interested in, a console or spinet?" She said, "Anything but a hammond.." I said, "Why do you say that?" She said, "Our church has had an old Hammond and I hate it." I said, "Why is that?" She said, "Well it needs service and it makes a buzzing sound." Then she said, "I played at my friend's church and they just got a new Allen and it sounds wonderful. And my other friend who goes to such and such church has a Rogers and it is wonderful too!" Then I asked her how old the Hammond was in her church that has the buzz. She said, "Oh it must be 38 years old at least." I asked how old were the Rogers and Allans she played? She said, "Oh, they are only a year or two old." I said "How many 38 year old Allans or Rogers have you played lately?" She said, "None." I asked, "Do you know any church that has a 38 year old Allan, Rogers, Baldwin or anything that is still playing at all?" She said, "no."

Then the light bulb came on. I said, "Maam, think about what you just said... your 38 year old Hammond has a buzz and is junk. How many of your friends have had service calls on their new Rogers or Allans?" She said, "Well, come to think of it ...," and she mentioned several churches who had service calls on their newer organs that they paid $20,000 to $30,000 for. I asked, "How much did your church pay for that Hammond 38 years ago, and how many service problems have you had?" She said, "Well, none except recently!" That dear little lady left an hour later a happy owner of a Hammond Organ...

Let's just talk common sense for those who will hear it. If you have lots of money to waste in the Lord's work, go ahead and waste it. I graduated with my music degree in 1978 and played my recital on a three manual Rogers Organ that cost our school over $48,000. They have over $100,000 budgeted for a new replacement organ. They have had service problem after service problem because they move it around a lot. In fact, the last concert at the school that I attended, the director told me they wrapped up over $1000.00 in service calls and the organ is still not working properly. I paid about $3000.00 for my Hammond in 1968, and it is still playing and being used every week in our church. We had it rebuilt for about $3,100 and it should last another 30 years with proper oiling. Let's imagine a church paid that same price of $3,000 for a Hammond Model C Organ in original condition and paid $3900 to have it rebuilt. That's about $7000.00. A new Rogers or Allen would cost at least $20,000 - $30,000 with external speakers. That is a savings of at least $10,000.00 and I'll guarantee you that for the next 30 years most vintage refurbished Hammonds will have less service problems than any other organ you can buy on this planet. That $10,000.00 saved can buy a lot of other items in the church like a nice new sound system or a digital keyboard for the bells and whistle sounds. In fact you can buy a new $1,000.00 keyboard, and throw it away every year or two like you do your computer. Electronic items are always becoming cheaper and you get more for your money 10 years from now than you will today. However, the acoustical electronic sound of a Hammond is getting more and more expensive to properly reproduce. And 10 years from now that Vintage Hammond most likely will appreciate

When I was director of Church sales, I was frustrated to no end. Every large church organ console we ordered came in from the factory with service problems. Every time we moved them, we had service problems. I was embarrassed by the calls from the churches complaining about service problems. I finally quit and got into the piano service business. It was frustrating to no end to see churches wined and dined by organ companies who are making huge profits on gullible churches and church committees. If you have a church that likes to brag about how much money you spent on your organ console our company cannot help you. Buy a Rogers or an Allen or better yet, a pipe organ. But if you are a gospel church and you are trying to be wise stewards of God's money, a rebuilt Hammond with proper speakers is all you need. To augment the sound, I would suggest buying a newer digital sampled keyboard for the liturgical voices, and, or new modern sounds. Computers are made to be throw away items. Don't let smooth talking organ companies fool you. Most of their organs are nothing more than keyboards in fancy wood cabinets. In fact, some of the companies are now owned by keyboard companies. So what do you think is really under the hood of the wood cabinet?

If you need our help we can assist you in finding the right Hammond Organ. It is true that 30-50 year old Hammonds need service. But a properly rebuilt a Vintage Hammond can save you thousands of dollars and give you another 30 years of Vintage sound that the digitals have difficultly completely reproducing. Vintage instruments retain their value, computers are buy and throw away items. I still have every computer I ever had starting with a 286. They are soon headed for the dumpster. Why pay $38,000 dollars for a throw away item. Try to sell a 38 year old Allen or Rogers or Baldwin or Wurlitzer or anything else. You would have to pay someone to come and dispose of it!

This is my story of how I fell in love with the Vintage Hammond Organ. I am convinced it is the best instrument for gospel preaching churches on the planet. Properly refurbished or rebuilt with the proper speakers, it will give you the classic gospel sound that has endured for more years than any other electronic organ that is being sold today.

If you need help finding and purchasing a vintage Hammond Organ for your church ministry, contact us and we will do our best to serve you in your ministry needs. We have been involved in working with small churches on tight budgets for more than 30 years. I think we can best understand your needs. We would count it a privilege to serve you.


The last few years Hammond has come a long way in duplicating the sound of the Vintage Hammond organs. One of the greatest features of the new Hammonds is their Midi capability. We recently became a new Hammond Suzuki dealer. You will in most cases pay more for a new Hammond than a vintage rebuilt organ but if you want a nice neat package with 2 touch sensative Keyboards and you are willing to pay a little extra you might want to consider the New Hammond line. I looked into adding Midi to my Vintage Hammond and after I counted the cost and considered that I would still lack (touch sensitivity etc) I have recently decided to upgrade to a New Hammond for our church. I of course will leave my vintage Hammond in my recording studio... I like so many other musicians just like the feel and touch and nostalgia of the Old B-3! However, I have to say I have a lot more fun when I am just playing solo on the new XB-3 or Elegant.

Sincerely yours,
Frank Bissol