Hammond S6 Chord Organ (1958)
The Hammond S6 was designed by Laurens Hammond in the late 1950s. It has an interesting dual tone generator for the keyboard. Completely valve powered, with no tonewheel generator, common in Hammond organs of that era. It has a knee lever which switches it on, and also controls the volume.
It has a polyphonic ‘organ’ sound (either ‘Strings’ or ‘Flutes’ or both) and then there is a monophonic synth sound (very like a solovox) which you can add over the top.
The tabs, which are very like the Hammond Solovox of the 1940’s, give you vibrato, sustain (but not on key release like the Novachord or the Lowrey DSO-1), various different envelopes (fast decay, solo percussion and solo woodwinds) and filters (deep tone, full tone, first voice second voice and brilliant.)
This was the first organ to ever use Accordion-style chord buttons. You can press the emphasis bar (directly in front of the player) to emphasise the chords, and there are two pedals, one will give you a root note and the other will play a fifth of every chord.
There are also individual volume controls for the Pedal, Organ and Solo sounds.
Very little has ever been heard of these keyboards, other than it is known that George Harrison wrote his 1967 Beatles song ‘Blue Jay Way’ on an S6 whilst waiting for his friends to arrive. You can hear the song has an undulating chord pattern, rocking between a C diminished 7th and a C major chord. Very easy to stumble across on this keyboard!
Here is a piece of music written by Steve Christie which features the S6 playing a fast, flutey pattern using the solo monophonic sounds, and then some polyphonic flute organ. Also featured in this is our Leutke baby grand.