Organ? Check! Leslie Cabinet? Double Check!

Hello once again.

I have had quite an interesting Saturday this past weekend, not to mention the week following. My lovely wife and I were on the hunt for a file cabinet for my office this past weekend and decided to look around the local thrift stores to see what was available. As always upon entering a thrift store, I head to the “music” section and look at the latest offerings. Typically I pound around on the organs (they always have a ton of organs) hoping to find something of value or something to make me drool. Usually, I find nothing. However, this time I rounded the corner at the first thrift stop we went to and found a Leslie speaker cabinet. That’s right, someone found this to be something to give away to a thrift store. I about pooped my pants, I’ll be honest. My wife as my witness, I couldn’t leave the area until I found out if it worked and how much they wanted for it. Long story short, I gathered quite a crowd around me because of my hysterics. I was continually educating someone as to why I was excited by this thing and how this thing worked and what it was used for. Many had walked past it earlier in the day and had no idea what this big piece of drawless/doorless furniture was.

Eventually, a few musicians saw what I was up to and one of them was just as curious as me as to whether this thing actually worked. I never caught his name, but a genuinely nice guy.. we’ll call him Harpo (he played harmonica)… Harpo and I began to hook this thing up to the parent organ (a CONN) which was sitting next to it. We started it up and the chill of excitement tickled up my spine as I turned on the Leslie and… what a sweet sound. You could hear the horns and rotator begin to spin. I pressed a key and voila! It worked, tremelo and all. My wife located the price sticker and thrift was wanting to pawn it off for a measly $300. I kid you not. Eventually, another chap walked through and overheard my wife and I discussing the purchase and he informed us that it just so happened to be “half-off” day that day, so this combo suddenly dropped to $150! $150, I say!

What makes this such a find is that Leslie cabinets are a much sought after item in the music world. Many of your favorite rock albums from the 60’s and 70’s have Leslie cabinets on them (ever hear of The Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin'”?). Also, many rock guitarists re-amp their guitars through Leslie cabs because of it’s full bodied and beautiful sound. They can run up to $1500 in some cases for vintage Leslies. In fact, my brother informed me of an audio engineer we both know that actually drove hours and paid handsomely for a Leslie cab that didn’t even work. They’re selling this working Leslie AND organ for $150. I couldn’t pass it up. My only hold off was: 1) How am I gonna move these things (the organ weighs a ton). 2) Where am I gonna put it (my house is quite small).

Upon hemming and hawing, I decided to buy. As of now I have an organ and Leslie cab in my house… in my kitchen nook to be exact. Thanks for the muscle in moving the organ, Rich! Upon my research I found that this particular Leslie was made for this CONN organ, however it can be used with other brands as well. It appears to also be a pre-1958 Leslie cabinet. I have yet to find out exactly the date this one was made. But, I DID find many selling this particular Leslie (just the Leslie) for upwards of $1200. Purty good buy, dontcha think?

I do have a few tubes and what not I need to change and I need to just clean out the inside a bit as well…too much dust causing a hum/buzz. But, I am still enamoured by this sweet little organ and Leslie. So, allow me to show off my find. Check it out!

Here she is in all her glory. Ain’t she purdy?
The back view. You can see the metal seal and “general instuctions” on the back.
Another back view. This thing is 5′ tall. Big furniture. They don’t make ’em like this no more.
The general instructions.
The metal seal. When I first saw the cabinet, I turned it around to make sure the seal was there. This makes it an official Leslie cab!
Didn’t know about this. Apparently you use sewing machine oil. Keeps the thing spinning.
Here are the mighty tubes. There are many. I think I need to replace a few.
Another look at the tubes and motor.
The preamp and tubes. This is the volume control, this thing can get very loud.
The woofer rotator. I love hearing this thing start up. Sounds like a quieter helicopter.
Inside the cab. All the speakers, motors and old wiring. I just love old wiring. It looks so…. old.
Jensen Woofer.
Rotating horns.
The whole enchilada.
My kitchen nook will never sound the same. We just happened to get a hymnal before I bought this thing. Looks good with a hymnal on it. lol:)

 

And lastly, here is a little history of the Hammond organ and Leslie cabinet. Hammond and Leslie ¬†go hand in hand. But, there were many an organ player out there that couldn’t afford a Hammond, so Leslie accommodated the lesser known, more affordable organs as well… such as CONN. CONN was typically the organ of choice for churches, because of it’s affordability.

 

 

I will be opening up the CONN organ shortly and be posting pics of it’s innards. Not to mention, I will be posting some recordings of the CONN/Leslie when I get the mics set up, so you all can hear the angels sing such as I did.

Till then….

David (Cali Dingo)

 

 

 

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