Help me tame the B3ast.
August 10, 2007 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Help me get started learning to play the mighty B3, pretty please?

Some background:

I've always loved the B3 sound, and one day I intend to be a worthy owner of a well preserved specimen. Today is not that day. However, around a year ago I finished college and bought myself a Voce V5 as a graduation present. It failed to inspire. Then about a week ago I found an old chord organ sitting on a tree-lawn, right next to a Leslie 147. This afternoon I busted out the soldering iron and wired the V5 into the Leslie. MY GOD!!!

I live in a double that is currently half empty, and I'm enough of a geek to spend every single evening learning to wail on this chill-inducing rig until the "for rent" sign goes down or an angry mob turns up out front. The only problem is that my meager piano skills don't translate to the organ, so I really suck. Bad. I'd love to learn some Jimmy Smith tunes, but I feel I should start with the roots and work my way there. Classic gospel seems like a good place to start, but all I can find on the web are video lessons and overpriced dvd/book packages. Are you familiar with any of these?

Also, I can only somewhat decipher sheet music, and have no inclination to improve in this aspect.

The point:
Where can I find authentic midi recordings in this style to feed to synthesia? Do you know of any resources that list common gospel chord progressions? Any that take a theoretical approach (I-IV-V, etc)? And finally, do you know any northeast-ohioans skilled in this art who would be interested in teaching me in the real world?
posted by waxboy to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Jimmy Smith spent a year or so in a warehouse practicing all day until he became The Jimmy Smith. Good luck man.
posted by 4Lnqvv at 8:10 PM on August 10, 2007

Also, I can only somewhat decipher sheet music, and have no inclination to improve in this aspect.

Honestly, sheet music isn't that hard to decipher on a keyboard instrument. I'd practice a little bit, and maybe hit a local music store to pick up some cheap books or sheet music, and practice from there. Once you can sight-read a little bit, you'll have a much easier time picking stuff up, playing funky arpeggios, screwing around with different chord progressions, and all that jazz.

Also, listen to tons of the kind of stuff you want to play. I once tried to pick up jazz piano without being a all that familiar with jazz, and found it more or less impossible, even with a dozen or so years of classical piano under my belt.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:59 PM on August 10, 2007

the best hammond playing is like blues guitar playing- there are conventions for sure, but it's basically all improvisation. it's a smart move to start with the building blocks and work your way up to playing in the style of the greats, rather than learning a limp, lifeless, yet note for note accurate rendition of something that was completely improvised in the first place.

i don't know of any specific method books or programs. if you know enough piano to play chords from memory and not reading them, and can work on a single note bass-line with your left hand, i'd say work on that for a long time. i think you might stint yourself trying to take a sheet music based approach. develop your ear to the point where you can play a chord/bass line/melody based on playing it. play along with a LOT of records until you get there. basically, a guitarist approach.

and then you have to remember that the real b3 has two keyboards plus bass pedals, plus drawbars which are tweaked to change tones on the fly, plus leslie speed changes which factor in to the overall sound.

the 'lesser' hammonds are so much cheaper than the B3 it's not even funny- even the one that has a different case. my l-100 was practically free. i'd say keep your eyes out for a dual-keyb + bass pedals hammond sooner rather than later, as so much of that playing is inherent in the feel of the instrument.
posted by tremspeed at 8:03 PM on August 11, 2007

play a chord/bass line etc based on HEARING it that should say...
posted by tremspeed at 8:03 PM on August 11, 2007

Could this maybe help?
posted by MrHappyGoLucky at 9:12 AM on August 14, 2007

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