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Preamps to run an Electro through Leslies


frogmonkey

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Some of you might remember my excitement over my acquisition of an A100 along with two Leslies, a 251 and a 122. Well, I'm still very excited. The organ and the 251 are currently at a recording studio across town, where I'm almost done recording a CD.

 

I surprised myself by preferring the sound of the 251 over the 122. It gives me a nice mellow woody sound, and when I pull out some drawbars and floor the pedal, it gives just a touch of distortion. Notably it gives me a particular distortion in high frequencies that really speaks to me. It is subtle.

 

I'm now thinking about preamps to connect my Electro to one, both, or either of my two Leslies.

 

I know about the Trek II universal combo preamp, and that it would allow me to use either Leslie. I'm not finding a lot of information about it. I believe it is solid state, but I'm not sure. I have heard some guys using a Trek II solid state preamp with a chop, and I found their sounds to be too harsh for my tastes, without the subtlety that I'm after. I don't know if the preamp was to blame or not.

 

There's also the part of me that says if I'm going to use a Leslie, then I want tubes!

 

I've heard about the Speakeasy preamps, too. I don't know anything about how they sound, though. I think the Leslie 251 is a "145-type" Leslie that is wired like a 145. Can anyone confirm that? I see a Speakeasy preamp for a 145 in our classified section.

 

If anyone has insight about achieving the warm woody sound, with subtle distortion at the top of the dynamic range, with an Electro and a 251 or 122, please share. :)

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I have no experience with 251s, but I have personal experience with Speakeasy as a good reliable company that stands behind what they sell. Their products have value and sound fine. Best customer service on the planet. They have treated me very well. I had a problem, last month, with a 122AMA, owned several years, and they just replaced it with an updated model. No q's asked. You should call them Monday and ask them this question.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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As far as I know, the hookup for the 251 isn't the same as for the 147 because of the reverb channel.

 

My .02$ CAN about preamps: I own both a clasic Leslie preamp (solid state) and a Speakeasy (tube) and I think there isn't a huge difference between the two, although I slightly prefer the SE. What gives me the ultimate best Hammond classic tone is when I run my clone through a preamp from a Hammond like an AO-28 or AO-29. If you want to hear it for yourself, hook your Electro to the RCA connector behind the expression pedal on your A100. (do the hookup with the organ turned off).

of course that means you still have to hook the preamp to the Leslie, and figure out a way to switch speeds. I built a preamp using an AO-29 and I sometimes use it for gigs when I don't mind lugging it. Otherwise I think your best bet would be to go with a Speakeasy with either a 251 connection (don't know if they make it, but they probably could) or 122, depending on which one you plan to use with the Electro.

"Show me all the blueprints. I'm serious now, show me all the blueprints."

My homemade instruments

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I used Trek preamps back in the old days hooking a combo organ to a leslie, so I have nothing to say about the tone there.

 

Later, I used a Trek at a gig to hook my Hammond to a friend's 3 leslies that he brought. It should have sounded killer, but instead it was surprisingly thin and disappointing. I blame the Trek for choking the tone.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

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I used a Trek UC-1A to connect a V-Combo (VR-760) to a Leslie 44W (modified to have both chorale and tremolo). The UC-1A, though solid state, did a fine job sonically, IMO. Plus, it's a 'Swiss Army Knife' pre-amp - works with virtually all Leslies.

If having the pre-amp be tube based is important, I'd definitely check with Speakeasy. Having owned Speakeasy gear, I would agree that they make excellent products, and provide solid support -both pre and post sale.

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I really must get my problem with my SE resolved. I had a load of spare cash lying around end of last year (hey I ain't married yet) and wanted to hook up my KeyB to my 122. So I decided to buy a SE preamp. When I got it here in the UK and ran it, there was a lot of hum and buzz. Steve said it was a grounding issue. Tried disconnecting the earths which solved it in the house, I then did a gig with it first time a few months ago and it was buzzing like crazy. I know I need to go back to Steve, but I was wondering if anybody else has had this trouble, in particular 220V variants. It was every keyboard I tried, not just the computer based KeyB. I just haven't got round to sorting it yet.
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Ive owned Trek, Hamptone and Speakeasy leslie preamps. SPEAKEASY hands down. If you want to go whole hog, get an AMA for your Electro leslie combo. Pricey, but it will give you Jon Lord at a whisper, Greg Allman at screaming volumes.
Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I still have my Speakeasy for sale, with a 147 hookup.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

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I'm not sure if having a tube preamp is actually important, or if it is just a romantic notion in my head. :)

 

I should probably just go for the Trek, which seems like the most economical solution. I sure am ready to stop spending money on my rig. But not ready enough to sacrifice my search for the perfect organ sound :D I'll see what Speakeasy can do for me- I bet they can whip up a box that will run either of my Leslies.

 

Man, as I contemplate bringing one of these beautiful Leslies to occasional gigs, I'm feeling like they are precious way beyond the $ price I paid for them. $800 for that 122, and it is such a thing of beauty. It's $100 more than, say, a new K10, but will anyone be marveling at the sound and beauty of a k10 50 years from now?

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Ive owned Trek, Hamptone and Speakeasy leslie preamps. SPEAKEASY hands down. If you want to go whole hog, get an AMA for your Electro leslie combo. Pricey, but it will give you Jon Lord at a whisper, Greg Allman at screaming volumes.

 

I think you are more of a rocker than me :) How would you rate each one for my quest for a mellow woody tone at low volumes, with a just a touch of grit at the high volumes? I keep coming back to Charles Hodges' tone on Al Green records as a reference for my quiet sound.

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I think if post on a number of forums, you'll find claims like the above pretty RARE. I don't know of any other company that goes to the lengths Speakeasy does to make sure its customers are happy. I know they've done me right for years. I know for a fact that they have brought older equipment up to their most recent specs free of charge for people that bought the Speaekasy gear used on ebay. I'd like to know HOW someone got screwed by Speakeasy (especially when it's second/third had knowledge). I can only speak to what I know personally, and to that end, their gear is top notch, as is their service.

 

That said, I use Greg Allman as my example of the tone Frog is looking for (like on "Dreams"). You only get that with tubes. Warm and subtle grit, at low or high volume, TUBES.

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I have a UC-1A as well as an early Speakeasy pedal. The UC-1A is handy to have in that it has plugs on the back for pretty much every Leslie under the sun. But in terms of tone there's just no comparison. The Trek II is pretty harsh sounding even when not driven hard. Key percussion is especially piercing. The Speakeasy has a much warmer, more musical tone. After buying the Speakeasy, I have not used the UC-1A since. The only reason I keep the Trek II around is in case someday I come across a 122 or some other non-147-amped Leslie.

 

I can't attest to Speakeasy having "screwed people." I did have an issue with my Speakeasy pedal pretty early on, and Steve Hayes was on top of it. I have no complaints. If mine got stolen today I'd buy another one tomorrow.

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