Musico supplied me with the new Hammond SK2 a while back and said, “Take it out and give it a run.” And so I did. I was so impressed with its size, versatility and sound quality, that it pretty much hasn’t left my side! The guys at Hammond have come up with a unique hybrid keyboard that satisfies all demands. Years ago, when I first started playing Hammond, if you wanted other sounds you needed other boards, like a Rhodes , Wurlitzer or Clavinet, which translates into carrying heaps of gear and a strain on the back! Well that has all changed now with the introduction of the new line of SK1and SK2 combo organs. Whilst not compromising the organ sound in any way, Hammond have added a plethora of very real and usable sounds.

A quick rundown of the specs give you an idea of what Hammond have achieved. Equipped with the same sound engine (VASE III) as the highly acclaimed Hammond B3 and XK-3c products,  the SK models feature the best Hammond has to offer; the legendary Hammond B-3 Sound, high quality Acoustic pianos, Vintage Electric pianos, Vintage strings, Pipe-organs and many other sounds and effects.
With the ability to download additional library sounds via USB, the Hammond SK models allow players unique possibilities for individual setups.

My first ‘live’ experience was over in W.A. last year headlining the Bridgetown Blues festival with Fiona Boyes, legendary and world acclaimed Aussie guitarist. In a typical blues trio format, guitar, organ and drums, I plugged the SK1 directly into the PA system. Even the sound engineer couldn’t believe his ears! The improved Leslie simulation eliminates the need to carry a real one, and even though I was on left-hand bass duties, it was really easy to manipulate the drawbars and mix in the pianos and clavinets, whilst not dropping a beat.

The next test was to see how it performed in the studio. I have been very privileged to be a part of Aussie icon Archie Roach’s latest recording. He has used a line-up of organ, bass and drums as the base for the record, adding all the pepper and spice (brass and choir) later on. I took in the SK2 (double manual version), and plugged it into my old Leslie 122. Upon playing it through the sophisticated recording setup at Audrey Studio’s, all sceptics were silenced as the ‘tweekability’ of the organ meant that I could dial up any sound I wanted. From soft whispers to rock-driven overdrive, the SK2 is remarkably versatile. Even Paul Kelly (see photo), who dropped in to record a couple of songs with Archie, was blown away!

Overall it’s great to see that Hammond has stepped up to the plate and silenced the competition on this latest release. This organ is a must-have for anyone looking for the Hammond sound, with the added benefit of some really hip pianos, clavs, Rhodes, Wurlitzers and other stuff. It’s lightweight, has a retro style and its ease of operation makes it a must for both professional and amateur musicians!!


Tim Neal

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