sl-prokeys was born April 5, 1995
Wes Garland: Webmaster
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On Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.
The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."
Addressing The Issue Of "Stock"
At ProKeys, we hope it's obvious that we love and respect Hammonds and Leslies very much. While we genuinely believe a stock Hammond is most often preferable to a modified one, there are many areas of Hammonds and Leslies in which changes are a distinct benefit.
We don't think "modification" is a dirty word, but "the Hammond is broke and won't play" ARE dirty words.
Unlike some of today's judgmental Hammond "STOCK FREAKS", we don't worship stock as if it were a form of religion.
We see nothing wrong with deviating from a stock configuration if the benefits outweigh the problems. Our FIRST goal is to build a Hammond that sounds and operates as perfectly as possible. If we can retain "all stock", then we do. Because our Hammonds spend a lot of time on stages and are moved constantly, several stock components simply don't apply anymore. Also, because many of the original parts are no longer available, we've had to find suitable substitutes.
A good example of this is our LSCA-3 and the cable interface used with it. PLEASE READ THIS PAGE.
Since 1963, we have had problems with the stock 6 pin Amphenol connectors on Leslie cables. Through the years, we've met and spoken with countless other Hammond players who feel the same way. We've been to nightclub gigs where a broken Amphenol forced the Hammond player to take the night off, because he couldn't repair it in time.
Amphenols break easily, pins come loose, they're a headache to repair or replace, and they can melt with too much soldering heat.
They come in 5, 6, 8, 9, and 11 pin configurations - which leads to this question: exactly what is the "stock, standard interface"?
There is a superfluity of "recommended" "1940-designed Leslie adapters", the list is as long as your arm. They were designed in the 1930s-1940s, and they obviously were never intended for working musicians who typically set up and tear down for each job.
In one, four letter word, I think they're junk. In a five letter word, they're cheap. That equals "cheap junk". Maybe they were acceptable in 1940, but today, we have options available.
We've chosen to use a connector system that is far superior to - not to mention easily ten times the price of - the original Amphenols.
Our cable connectors are called AMP-CPC connectors. They come in dozens (maybe hundreds) of configurations. We use a large (17) shell size, with 9 conductors. The exact part numbers are:
SHELL SIZE 17 - 9 conductor - for Leslie
By electing to deviate from stock, we have rendered our equipment incompatible with the "stock interface" - whatever that may be.
One look at our cable system should convince anybody - there won't be any problems here for a long, long, long time. We also make our tremolo switches removable, using the same type AMP-CPC connectors with a smaller shell size.
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This "stock interface" issue is actually a non issue. Unless, for some unknown reason, our equipment HAS to be connected to someone else's equipment, there is no compatibility issue at all.
Stated a different way, our Hammonds and Leslies are always used together. We don't rent a Hammond for use with other Leslies, or rent Leslies for use with other Hammonds. All of our rentals are for a complete system, consisting of a Hammond and Leslies. No exceptions. If we happened to blow up a Leslie at a gig, it's pretty doubtful that somebody would run home to bring their Leslie, only to find out that we can't plug it in. Besides, we always have three or four other Leslies there, anyway. So this "industry standard compatibility" issue actually affects ONLY the people who intend to rent a single Leslie, without the organ, or vice versa.
If you happen to be an absolute "STOCK FREAK", and adamantly insist that there's no room for improvement, then Amphenols are your ticket. Stop by, dig around in our garbage can. We just throw them away around here.
At ProKeys, we've made numerous changes to stock, original Hammond and Leslie equipment. Some of the areas we have improved are in the vibrato scanner, Leslie amplifiers, console wiring harnesses, power wiring and switching, remote tone, percussion, and chorus controls, and various other areas.
The fanatics view our modifications with revulsion, as if we've done something terribly, horribly wrong. Except for one thing: we've done something right. We've solved problems logically.
But the facts remain constant: our Hammonds and Leslies speak for themselves. They go out to the gigs, they sound great, and they don't fail or cause problems. Since 1963, Hammonds have been part of my daily life. In this time, I've had the chance to learn what can use improvement and what should be left alone.
About a year ago, I spent over four months working on a project on one of my really prized B3s. The goal was to use computer style ribbon cable and connectors to connect the generator to the manuals and pedals. We completely eliminated the original wiring harnesses, fabricated mounting plates for the ribbon connectors, and wired for hours and hours. This connecting system permits instant disconnect whenever the organ needs maintenance. Or, it allows swapping manuals or the generator in and out of a particular organ. The idea actually worked very well, after a couple of months of trial and error. And several different styles of connectors. And yards of ribbon.
We spent hundreds of dollars on ribbon, chassis and cable connectors, parts and pieces. We also invested several, several hundred hours on this project. I hoped to install the ribbons in all of my Hammonds.
Unfortunately, all that work went down the drain. When we listened to the Hammond, the amount of crosstalk had increased beyond an acceptable level. Our disappointment was tremendous. Everything from this project is scheduled to be removed, and the stock wiring harnesses replaced. But how would we have known about the increased crosstalk if we hadn't wired the ribbons? Sometimes, Hammonds are mighty frustrating!