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Hammond XK-2 Keyboard

Hammond has managed to bring the magical sound of the B-3/Leslie combo into the 21st century-without bringing along the 400-pound dual-register keyboard and the equally imposing Leslie speaker cabinet. The new Hammond XK-2 puts classic B-3 features and sound into an ergonomically designed and easily transported single keyboard, weighing in at a sleek 30 pounds.

Its dark brown, faux wood-grain exterior, ivory-hued waterfall keys and nine drawbars give the XK-2 an authentic look and feel. It comes loaded with a 64-patch RAM library covering the gamut of classic organ settings from every style of music that has embraced the B-3’s warm sound over the years. A nice feature is that as you change patches, held notes sustain smoothly into the new sound. Front panel knobs and switches allow easy real-time control of reverb level, overdrive, vibrato, chorus, percussion and the excellent Leslie simulation. For many hardcore B-3 enthusiasts, there is no substitute for an actual rotating speaker, and Hammond has thoughtfully included a direct-to-Leslie

connector.

The sound and features of the XK-2 are very familiar to me, as I’ve been using the Hammond XM-1 Drawbar Sound Module and XMc-1 Drawbar Controller combination for four years and have truly loved it. There are so many on-the-fly variations that are easily achieved using the drawbars and Leslie simulator, and this adds incredible organic depth to my keyboard rig. I like to leave the Leslie in slow mode and use a foot switch to change it from slow to fast and back again throughout a tune.

Hammond seems to have thought of everything when it comes to the options one has to control the various aspects of the sound.

My pet peeve, however, is with the transpose function; it goes up or down by only six semitones, therefore not allowing an octave jump. Being able to easily switch octaves would be a useful and practical feature, especially when using the XK-2 in a MIDI rig with other sound sources.

The XK-2 is a model of simplicity and styling. It doesn’t try to be more than a B-3 simulator for the new millennium, and it does that very well.

Originally Published