NAMM 2023: With apologies to that chap who used to be on Top Gear and the guy who brought back dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, we’d say that the B3 is the most famous Hammond in history. A staple in gospel, jazz, soul, blues and rock music, an emulation of this classic drawbar organ is in almost every gigging keyboard player’s arsenal, and now Hammond is giving you a new way of getting That Sound in the form of the XK4.
The premise is that you’re getting the sound and feel of a B3 in a compact and affordable package (though we don’t yet know just how affordable). The XK4 includes 91 virtual tonewheels, drawbars, touch-response percussion, chorus-vibrato and a newly-designed digital Leslie speaker emulation.
This, then, is a modern instrument that promises to “sound and play like a 60-year-old antique”. To that end, the XK4 also models some of a vintage Hammond’s imperfections, which have been captured in the new Modeled Tone-Wheel 2 Engine. Expect to hear slight pitch fluctuations due to tonewheel backlash, and subtle volume fluctuations due to ‘decentering’.
The virtual multi-contact keyboard is another purported highlight - this is designed to emulate the distinct feel of a vintage Hammond’s electro-mechanical keyboard - while the colour display shows current settings. The switches and knobs are user-assignable, so you’ll always have quick access to your favourite functions, and there are pitchbend and (assignable) mod wheels.
A new tube modelling system is also in play - tweak the overdrive control to add the desired amount of warmth or drive - and, in addition to the B3, you also get Farfisa, Vox and Ace organ emulations. Even classical and theatre pipe organs are covered off.
Build quality appears to be luxurious - the XK4 has real beechwood side panels - and there are plenty of connectivity options.
Hammond is calling the XK4 “a modern miracle” and, while that might be overstating it a bit, it does appear to be a keyboard that gigging B3 aficionados will want to take a close look at, particularly as it weighs just 20 pounds. Now we just need to find out how much it’s going to cost.
More details - including a dealer locator - are on the Hammond website.