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Before You Buy A Vintage Tonewheel Organ!

Please Use Caution. . .

When Purchasing a Used or Restored Vintage Hammond and Leslie Speaker that is far away from you.


We have seen many times people and Churches purchase a Vintage Tonewheel Organ and Leslie Speaker only to find out that they didn't get what they thought they were. Below are some common sense as well as important things you should think about before buying something from a long distance away.

Pit Falls you should think about.

Distance from you!

Remember the further away the person or company that is selling you something, the less recourse you have.

  • Should you have a problem with the organ and speaker what are they going to do for you?

  • Don't take someones verbal commitment, get it in writing.

  • Also ask them to produce a list of clients in your area and call a few.

Get a Written Warranty!

This is were most people and Churches get burnt. The person or company that sells you the organ and speaker tells you there is a warranty. OK?

  1. So what's covered?

  2. What do you the customer have to do?

  3. Who is paying for the Warranty Service up front your or the seller?

ANSWER! Simple you should receive a written and signed warranty that details the specifics of the terms of the warranty.

DO NOT ACCEPT "Covered by our "fill in the blank" Warranty" that is written or typed on an invoice. Remember you want to know what is covered and what isn't covered.

This organ was rebuilt or overhauled.

We see and hear this all the time only to have to tell someone that their purchase wasn't. Get it in writing what was done to the organ and speaker. Don't take someones "word" that it was.

We have seen People, Touring Bands, like Justin Timberlake and Churches buy organs that were installed into new cabinets and the organ had nothing done to it. We have had one organ that had water damage in side and smelled like it been in a fire. They had no recourse as they had nothing in writing to fall back on.

Certified or Factory Vintage Tonewheel Service Dealer.

There is no such thing. If someone tells you they are or the have it listed on their website simply ask them to prove it in writing. You should be aware that there is an electronic keyboard and organ service technician organization called MITA but there is no specific service or factory certification for vintage tonewheel organs. Call Hammond Suzuki and ask them.

Factory Rebuilt.

For the Record. Hammond Suzuki does not rebuild nor do the support the vintage tonewheel Hammond Organs.

There are people and companies that say the have a Factory. One of the best things you can do is check out their address on Google Maps. Just put in their address. You just might get a surprise at what someone says is a "factory."

National Electric Code Compliance

Today this is becoming more and more important for Churches or Institutions. Why? First by the National Electric Code the old 5 or 6 pin cables that go from the organ to the Leslie Speaker are illegal. Plus the organ must be properly grounded. The National Electric Code does not allow the 120 volts electric and audio signals go in the same cable for permanent instillations. There is NO GRAND FATHER CLAUSE!

What can happen if your organ and speaker aren't NEC compliant.

  • First if you have an insurance or fire inspection you may be told that you can't use the organ until it's wired correctly. You could even be fined by the fire Marshall or electrical inspector. Even your insurance could be void until it's corrected. This is not an electricians job but an organ service techs job as the Leslie has to be rewired as well both electrically and electronically.

  • Second. If you have a fire and the organ and Leslie are the suspected as the cause and it's not NEC Compliant there is a remote chance that your insurance could be void, especially if you were told.

  • Electrical Shock. We have heard of people getting mild electrical shocks from the organ. These old tonewheel organs where built starting in 1936 and not until the late 1970's did the proper grounding become a concern. Even today all electrical devices must use polarized AC plugs if not the 3 prong plugs. Something as simple as a damp carpet and touching the organ when it is powered on could cause a bad shock.

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Private Party Purchase.

Your purchase in this case mostly likely is "AS IS." Remember that you are purchasing a product that is 50 plus years old. So and organ and speaker purchased from a private individual you are taking a chance. An organ and speaker that has been setting and not used for a long time is as bad as an organ that needs a lot of repair.

The following list is not just related to a private purchase but also from a company or person that sells vintage organs.

  • The power wires in most vintage tonewheel organs are dry rotted and must replaced. If not you can short out the motor of the tonewheel system and cause damage to the preamp as well as maybe starting a fire.

  • The scanner will need to be cleaned.

  • The Tonewheel Generator maybe frozen or stop working.

  • Chrystalin Growth in the switches causing issues with the percussion or the vibrato/chorus.
  • Keyboard and Pedal buss bars need a cleaning.

  • Up Stop Felts for the keyboard and pedals maybe compressed and need replacement.

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Collector or the "Gray Market Seller"

This is has been around for a while but is increasingly becoming a problem for you the consumer.

What do we mean by Collector or Gray Market Sellers?

These are people that claim this is a hobby or "work out" of their garage. There are many different forms. Bottom line is most of these people are working under the table. In other words they don't have a permit or business license let alone insurance. Many of them will tell you they have done work on the item they are showing you but at best they have only blown the dust out of a unit and cleaned it up. BE VERY CAREFUL.

Most of these people only will deal in cash. That should set off all kinds of alarms. We know of one client that flew from Colorado Springs to Up State New York only to walk away from a B3 and Leslie because he felt he was being rushed into a cash only deal.

Again your on your own and BUYER BEWARE.

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When you purchase from Drawbar City here is what you get;

  1. A written warranty stating what is covered and the terms and conditions of the warranty.

  2. A detail list of everything done to the organ and speaker.

  3. 90 percent of the time we personally deliver the instrument to you or the Church.

    • If we can personally deliver it we can make arrangements to be there when or just after it is delivered

    • Overseas or to Canada are not included.

  4. In most cases we as a company come to you to take care of warranty issue, should a problem arise. If not we arrange to have someone qualified to take care of it.

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