Hammond XK1c quick review

Hammond is shipping their newest model, the XK1c. This replaces the discontinued XK1. The engine is much the same as the SK series but without the other non-organ voices. The form factor is also very similar but lacking the SK’s non-organ voice controls. It also features different end blocks with a more traditional wood grain.

Hammond XK1c

Hammond XK1c

The organ engine has a few differences from the current OS in the SK series (though this may change). First is a MIX parameter for the chorus/vibrato, which controls the balance between the dry signal and the affected signal. Users have been asking for this ability for some time. It allows you to dial in some “age” to the virtual chorus/vibrato line, not unlike the capacitors in a real tonewheel organ aging over time. The range is from -64 (dry) to +64 (100% wet).

Another difference is the COLOR parameter in the Leslie simulation menu. This imparts some tonal characteristics reminiscent of cabinet resonance to the Leslie sim.

Hammond also added some very subtle details to make the sound even more authentic. The drawbars exhibit a very understated ‘click’ in the audio when moved. It is barely noticeable but tonewheel Hammond organs do the same thing, even those with smooth drawbars. A similar understated ‘click’ is audible when holding a note or chord and pressing the chorus/vibrato tabs on or off. Again, a tonewheel console like a B3 does this as well and it isn’t loud or distracting.

Here is a quick improvisation using the very first stock preset on the XK1c and the internal Leslie sim. This was recorded straight into Cubase 7 with no external processing except for a very light limiter added to the final mix for web delivery purposes. The reverb is also from the XK1c.

The sound right out of the box is very good. To my ear, Hammond’s past instruments all needed substantial tweaking before they sounded as good as their potential, but the XK1c comes from the factory sounding really great. The presets are for the most part well programmed and display the range of tones available. One of my favorites is a re-creation of a 1940’s Hammond BV through a Leslie 31H tallboy.

I will be making a custom tonewheel set for it based on my ’54 Hammond C2 and this will be available on my site as well as the Hammond site for free.

I think Hammond has a real winner with this product. A 13lbs Hammond organ with the big sound of the original 400lbs beast for $1495? Sounds good to me!

52 thoughts on “Hammond XK1c quick review

  1. Beautiful!
    Actually, I’d love to see a video if yours that demonstrates how you create those custom tone-wheel settings, because seems like you’re the only one who knows how to do it effectively 🙂

    Thanks so much
    Adi D

  2. Can you dial in Leslie rotor and horn max and min speeds and acceleration speeds independently? Can you lessen the key click? Thanks!

    • Yes, you can alter the Leslie lower rotor and upper horn rotor speeds, both max and min, independently. Yes, you can also lessen the key click or increase it if you’d like.

  3. Jim do you know if it is possible to add a Half Moon switch on too the Xk1c seeing as how i have a Mini Vent and I really miss the Half moon switch like traditional Hammonds

  4. Thanks Jim, heard rumor of a module to replace the slow fast switch on the mini vent with an external plug for a Half Moon is that True?, And also if you ‘ve played the new Xk1c what’s your opinion of the Leslie on board compared to a Mini vent, and is the mini worth it or is waiting for th Mark 11 vent the best

    • I can’t answer whether the Mini Vent is worth it to you. That’s a personal decision. The sim in the XK1c is very good. It’s getting to the point where it’s a matter of what flavor you like.

      Yes, Neo Instruments was talking about a modification for the Mini Vent for REMOTE switching capability. I haven’t heard anything more on when it will be released, however.

  5. Hi Jim,
    I have a XK-1 I play through a vintage Leslie 147, and love it. I split the keyboard and play left hand bass. I wish I could pan the bass to one side of the stereo so I could feed it to a Bass amp. Do you know if the SK1/2 or XK-1e can do this. With my present set up could I use a crossover and feed it to a bass amp. Thanks

    • As far as I know, none of the current Hammond models can do that. It’s a good idea, though. I’ll bring it up to the Hammond folks. Using a crossover is a good substitute.

      • Thanks Jim, I think that would be a great feature for left hand bass players.
        Hammond organs are my passion (obsession?), and I’ve learned a lot from your videos/recordings. Keep up the good work.

  6. Pingback: Hammond XK1c video demo | jimalfredson.com

  7. Jim, I’m surprised of the great sound the XK1C produces! I play the keys in a rockband and sold my old Hammond XB2 (with vintage 147 leslie), tired of all the heavy stuf to bring on stage each gig. Now, i want to buy a new organ but it is difficult for me to choose between this new one or the older SK1 series. Is the organsound and digital leslie much improved and different form the SK series? On my new organ i want to try to get as close as possible to my old rocking sound 😉 What would be your advice?

    Kind regards, Richard

    • Hi, Richard. It does sound good, doesn’t it? The engines in the SK and XK1c are the same. The XK1c has a couple new features, including a chorus/vibrato MIX parameter, and a COLOR parameter in the Leslie sim. These new features will be added to the SK series in an OS update coming soon. So really, either organ is a viable choice. The question is whether you need the non-organ sounds in the SK.

      • Jimmy, Thanks for your reply! I No urgent need for the extra sounds on the SK series. I’m using an Roland Fantom in my setup for piano, strings and all other samples. Although the “keyboard looks” of the SK with more knobs for real time editing is a big pro for this one.The Vintage look on the XK1C therefore with the “yellow colored” keys and wooden sites also is very lovely..

        I’ll let you know when the decision is made 😉

        Kind regards,


      • Hey Jim, Finally! Proud owner since yesterday of a brand new XK-1C! What an awesome sound! Made my first patch already with a 147 cabinet and a little bit of dist. for a bit crunchy sound.. Great stuff!! Still a lot of exploring to do! Nice!!

  8. Hi Jim:
    I keep listening to this over and over:)! I also bought this tune on ITunes along with some other tracks I liked as well.
    As you know from our emails that I got the XK-1c based on this demo and and your feedback. I didn’t need the extra voices of the SK series as you know. I have the GSI Burn Rotary Sim and thought it was great but after a couple of weeks playinng the internal leslie sim and the burn sim I feel that Hammond finnally got it right and now prefer the hammond leslie sim over the burn sim. The Hammond leslie has more body and tone whereas the GSI Burn Sim default settings sound thinner but still very good, but not enough to justify having the external sim.
    I think you mention that there’s a setting for the B3 tone to be set to –1 to be the same tonal curve as a Real B3. Did you use that settinnig for the video or is that the default setting for the vintage b3?

    • Tony, I think I did adjust the TC setting down just a hair because the initial stock sound was a bit too bright for my tastes. I am still working on a tonewheel set for the XK1c. Should be done soon.

  9. Greatest demo for XK1-c in my opinion. It brings the traditional sound of the Hammond organ to my mind.

    Best regards

  10. Really inspiring to listen andread your review; and after years of waiting I have my first Hammond in my hands; Exciting ! now its time to practice – any recommendations for beginner scores?

    Cheers, Gernot

  11. I got my XK-1c in December to replace the Sk-1 as I didn’t need the extra voices. I’m especially pleased about the upgraded Leslie and scanner sim as I was trying to avoid using an external unit. If you’re looking for a dedicated organ keyboard as part of your rig, then this is the one!

    BobP, Bedford UK

  12. Hi Jim, did you ever finish that tonewheel set? I’d love to take it for a spin! Can’t find a link to download anywhere…

      • Thanks! I just got my XK-1c yesterday, and I can see how creating a custom tonewheel set could be a lot of work…lots of advanced options to configure there!

      • I second that! I’d love to get hold of the XK-1C customer tonewheel set when it becomes available.

        Thanks Jim for continuing to work these up across all the various platforms that you have. I can imagine it takes considerable time and I think it’s great that you continue to share the results with us!

          • Thanks Jim. I saw your FB post about tonight. Have a great gig in LA with JM! One question. I’m not accustomed to downloading libraries on the Hammond. Does the custom tonewheel set overwrite multiple presets or just one. How do I find the sounds once they are downloaded? Thanks!

          • Are there specific instructions somewhere about how to import custom sets? Thx!

  13. Hi all

    is there any video guide showing how to change a preset; the manual is for a newbie quite condense 🙂
    I am not completly sure if i have additional user presets in addition to the factory presets or if i am going to overwrite the factory ones.

    Currently enjoying to master http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHqtjs0MnXM
    green onions played by rounder – does anybody have the scores for that?

    Cheers, Gernot

  14. This is for Jim or for the room. I just got my unit last week. I am currently using a Yamaha FC-7 as the swell pedal. Does anyone have any comparative experience between that and the Hammond EXP-50 to let me (and the room, I guess) know if it’s worth the $200+ to have the Hammond swell pedal? They look like they are indeed built like a tank, but so is the FC-7. I imagine the compelling factor would be the velocity curve on the EXP-50 being tuned to the authentic B3 pedal, but I just don’t know how different the experience would be over the FC-7. Anyone have some first-hand knowledge to share? Thanks!

    • Mark, make sure you change the XK1c to use the FC-7 correctly. You need to go into the CONTROL sub menu and change the pedal to PED(REV) so that the FC-7 behaves correctly.

      I have both the FC7 and the EXP50 and yes the EXP50 is a bit more authentic in terms of the feel and the angle, but the question is whether it is worth $200 for that. I don’t think it is.

  15. Thanks Jim. I did make that change for the FC-7. I kept the default velocity curve. Seems to work just fine. Appreciate the input. Hard to miss what I never had with the authentic experience. I think unless I find a couple hundred burning a hole in my pocket I’ll keep using the FC-7. Thanks!

  16. Jim,
    Can you clear something up for me? My XK2 keybed has always felt great to me. I don’t own an xk3 or 3c but held off purchase of an xk1 because I didn’t like the feel. The sound of the XK2 is ageing poorly, I know, but I love the way it feels when playing. Is the Xk1c like the XK2. I am told that the SK line are from Fatar and that the XK3c is from Hammond. What is in the XK1c? Are any of them like the XK2. Please help me with my “on line” info overload.

    • EJ,

      I have played the XK2 before but I cannot remember the action specifically. The SK series and the XK1c share the same action, which is indeed a Fatar made keybed. I like the feel better than the XK3 / XK3c. One thing to note is that the action tends to loosen up over time. When I first received my SK2, I was not totally sold on the action. It was rather stiff. But it loosens up the more you play. I know this because I compared it to the new, out of the box XK1c I got and the XK1c was noticeably stiffer. It has now loosened up as well.

  17. OK Jim, E.J. again.
    Its hard to believe that in a town like Atlanta I can’t find an SK1 to try out. If I was to bite the bullet and buy an SK1-73 now, when is the next replacement coming out? Am I going to buy this and wish I waited a little while? I know it’s able to download changes but is the next greatest thing about to come out?

    • It’s pretty sweet. I don’t have any inside info on upcoming products but I say buy what you need and don’t worry about it.

  18. Hi. I recently noticed a clitch (as far as I know it was on original Hammonds as well) when playing with my band. I have big problem with high notes somewhere after C5 are much more crispier than the lower ones and there comes the problem: when I set my sound so that I can hear myself in the mix and everything is in balance the higher notes after c5 cut through everyones ears and is not acceptable but when I setup the thing so those high notes wont be so cutting everything lower will be hidden in overall mix. Is there a way to overcome this issue? I really need all notes to be equal in volume ning “crisp”.

    • You can lower the output of the upper tones in the custom tonewheel submenu. I would experiment with that or download my XK1c tonewheel set, which is based on my 1954 Hammond C2 and has a lovely, mellow upper end.

  19. Great comments..I just ordered one of these but I’m concerned about what amp to use. I have a Marshall MG30 in the closet I use for practice…will it work…Do I need something different.

    • I find that these instruments sound best through a full range, powered PA speaker (like the DXR series from Yamaha). The Marhsall MG30 is made for guitar and is thus was not made for full range sound reproduction. But try it; you never know, it might sound cool.

      • Thats where I’m going to start…see what I get. Most music stores have a 30 day return policy so I can try out several different amps to get the right one. There are a couple of recommend “keyboard” amps by Roland.

  20. Dear all, after a long decision periode I was by Hammond Germany recently to test the Xk1c and SK1. The Xk1c sounds better to me. But I ordered the Sk1 now because of more flexibility.
    Now my Question: Is there available any complete original Soundset from the XK1c to load into SK1?
    Michael F. Means it could be possible that this can come with the new system update 8.4. Jim do you know any about this?

    • As far as I know, the setup files are not compatible between the XK1c and SK1. Do you want the presets from the XK1c in the SK1?

      • Yes, so I feel most of the XK1c sounds are better than the presets of SK1. More powerful. I am not shure if it is only a reason of the parameter setting or does it depend on an other, better OS? Do I really have a chance to create the same sound quality on SK1? There is an comparison by the Poland company between Xk1c and a SK1. In this Video for me the winner is XK1c. May be that could also be the fact of unequal tonewheel settings.

        Oh, yes again. That is what I want , the XK1c presets into the SK1 by same sound quality. In other case i should delete my order and change to xk. My choice for SK was mainly the third plug for switches and the further potis for EQ, reverb, overdrive… The extravoices are nice to have but not so important.

        • It’s not really an OS thing. Both units have the same parameters. I think the difference is that the SK1 must reserve some of it’s available DSP for the other, non-organ sounds, whereas the XK1c can use the full DSP for the organ. This is why the Leslie simulator and chorus/vibrato sound deeper and more 3D.

          • Thank you Jimmy for your answers.you are right. I had a phone call this days with a technical engineer of Hammond NL .He said the same ,
            I expect my SK1 on Friday. As Leslie i use me Vent 2. Regards Markus. Stuttgart

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