The Don Airey Hammond Sound

I was in conversation with Don Airey from Deep Purple recently and had a brief opportunity to ask him about his Hammond Organ setup and how he gets his sound. Although he didn’t want to give much away he was as ever the perfect gentleman and was very patient with my persistent questioning.

Don Airey's rig

I asked him about his sound and how his Leslie’s are run (in conjunction with the master volume amp that he uses). He told me that all the Hammonds that he uses are all A100’a and that they do directly in 2xLeslie147’s. These Leslies have been “souped up” (and I wouldn’t get much more detail than that). The Organ has been modified to also have a jack output. the quarter inch out from the A100 goes through a MoogerFooger RIng Modulator and an Omeris Reverb pedal until it reaches its final destination the Hughes and Kettner 100watt Puretone Amp and out of the 4 x12.H&K puretone used by Don Airey

I wondered whether the clarity of his sound came from a blend of tones from relatively clean Leslies and a very dirty lead channel through the H&K but no he said that the modified Leslies are really driving hard and providing all the overdrive that he needs for the rhythm channel and the H&K is for the old school Machine Head type Hammond tones. Don told me that for Now what and Infinite Bob Ezrin favoured the Leslie’s much more than the H&K

For a while he had an interesting looking device on the top of his Leslie which I wasn’t able to initially identify but Don confirmed that it was a Vermona Spring Reverb (which he doesn’t use any longer)

Vermona Spring reverb used by Don Airey

There are some interesting videos about showing Don being interviewed about his equipment too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRFQnHY5EWg

Finally, and in a typically self effacing way Don said that the secret to it all is the Hammond itself “but I wouldn’t know how to put that into words”,

Nice guy!

For more info on Don head on over to his website where you can find out what he’s up to and *where* he’s up to!

cheers, Nick

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