How To Clean A Hammond B3 Organ

Cleaning a Hammond B3 Organ may seem like an intimidating task, but it can be relatively simple. While deep cleaning may need to be referred to a professional, routine maintenance can easily be done by the owner. Always be sure the instrument is disconnected from its power source before attempting to service it.

Cleaning a Hammond B3 Organ is not as difficult as it sounds, but it does take a lot of time and attention to detail.  Read on to learn the basics of organ maintenance.

To clean a Hammond B3 Organ:

  1. Access all moving parts by removing the music rack holder or the back cover of the organ.
  2. Gently clean rear end of keys and drawbars, being careful not to break the delicate wires that carry the circuitry.
  3. Clean the surface of the keys with a gentle detergent or Windex-type cleaner.
  4. Wipe down the pedals with an oil-based cleaner.

Clean In Four Steps

Cleaning a B3 organ is done in at least four steps, depending on how in-depth you want to go. For simple, routine cleaning, the four areas you want to focus on are:

  • Drawbars
  • Keyboards
  • Pedals
  • Cabinet

It is possible to take the entire instrument apart and do a thorough deep clean by removing keys and drawbars, but if yearly maintenance is your end goal, you won’t need to do major disassembly to get your instrument in good working order again.

Cleaning the Drawbars Is Hardest

To clean the drawbars on a Hammond B3 organ, remove the back cover of the organ so that you can get to the inner parts of the drawbar and keys. Spray the business end of the drawbars with a contact cleaner and gently work each drawbar back and forth, fully extending it and then pushing it all the way in.

This will dislodge all the dust particles from the contacts.

The plastic tabs on the drawbars should be cleaned with a damp cloth and a mild detergent to avoid damage to the plastic.

Cleaning the Keyboard Is Simpler

To clean the keyboard, gently and carefully scrub the surface of the keys with a mild detergent and a damp cloth. Do not use a wet cloth! If water drips down into the keyboard, it may damage the function of the organ. Do not clean them with a dry cloth either because it may leave scratches on the keys. Cloth should only be slightly dampened.

To clean the sides of the keys, hold down the key next to it on either side, and wipe down the sides. Repeat up and down both registers to make sure all grease is removed from the keys.

If a key is “sticking” or not responding properly, you can strike it 15-20 times in quick succession; this will often dislodge the dust particles that are interfering with the contacts.

The tone toggles and buttons that are included on the registers also need to be cleaned, and for these, a Q-tip works well to clean the edges of their housing. For the start-up switches, a soft-bristled toothbrush is effective for cleaning the faceplates.

For a deep clean involving complete disassembly of the organ registers, be sure to contact a professional. This is an in-depth procedure that requires expert knowledge of the instrument’s construction.

Cleaning The Pedals Requires A Bit Of Muscle

Cleaning the bass pedal set of a Hammond B3 is simpler than cleaning the other parts, but it is the hardest to handle. These things are heavy! Minimal disassembling has to be done, but it can be difficult to get the pedal base into a position that facilitates cleaning.

Pull the pedal base away from the organ. If there are any covers on the base, remove them for complete access. You will need to stand the base on end to be able to clean both front and back of the pedals. Do not stand base on the end that houses the contacts! This may bend a contact, preventing one or more pedals from working properly when reassembled.

Using a non-abrasive cleaner and a soft cloth, simply wipe down the wooden base and pedals, being careful to get into all the crevices and corners. Clean the contacts with your choice of contact cleaner, wipe off and allow to dry before reassembling.

It may also be a good idea to remove the pedals from the base so you can vacuum the inside of the base to remove any debris that might keep the pedals from fully depressing.

Cleaning the Organ Cabinet Is Easy

Cleaning the organ cabinet is probably the easiest of all. Simply wipe down all external surfaces with a good wood polish and a soft cloth. If your organ cabinet has wooden artwork or cutaways, these areas may need special attention with a Q-tip and a mild detergent.

While the back of the cabinet is open for drawbar cleaning, it’s a good idea to dust or vacuum inside since dust often builds up in these areas. Just be super careful that you don’t break any wires or compromise any connections between wires.

How Often Should You Clean A B3

There’s no hard and fast rule for how often a Hammond B3 should be cleaned, but there are some general guidelines. For example, your organ will need less maintenance if it is:

  • Placed in an area that has little traffic
  • Covered
  • Played infrequently.

You may need to clean it more often if you

  • Haul it to gigs
  • Play it daily
  • Place it in a highly trafficked area
  • Leave it uncovered.

In any case, it’s a good idea to clean your organ at least once a year, preferably when you polish it. This will ensure that your B3 is getting the care it deserves on a regular schedule. Most experts recommend scheduling your yearly organ maintenance on a special date like your birthday, so that you’re more likely to remember to do it.

The Best Cleaning Agents Are Versatile

So now that you know how to clean your Hammond B3, maybe you’re wondering what solutions you should be using to clean your vintage organ. It can be a delicate balancing act to find something that will clean without causing damage to some of the more sensitive materials in your Hammond organ.

Two classes of cleaners need consideration:

  • Contact cleaners
  • Wood cleaners

Contact Cleaners Mix Tough with Gentle

For your metal contacts, you want a cleaner that dissolves

  • Dust
  • Dirt
  • Grease
  • Grime

It needs to be strong enough to remove all the gunk on your contacts without compromising the plastic coating on the wires around your contacts. One of the best cleaners on the market is DeoxIT 5% Spray Contact Cleaner.

This solution is tough enough to clean up the dirtiest metal contact, but gentle enough to leave your plastics unharmed. Usually it comes with a plastic extension tube for getting into those hard-to-reach places.

Polishers Need To Shine Without Sticking

As for polishing the wooden cabinet and pedal base, most household polishers will work. But to avoid build-up, you may want to stay away from products like Pledge. These products seem to “melt” some types of wood, leaving them a bit sticky at best and structurally compromised at worst.

Oil-based polishers are usually a good choice since they polish without building up on the wood surface.  For a high sheen, you can use a commercial product like Turtle Wax that will add a protective coating to your Hammond’s finish, making it more scratch resistant.

Care Keeps Your Organ Functioning

Cleaning your Hammond Organ should not be neglected for the instrument’s sake. With proper and regular cleaning, your Hammond B3 will continue bringing you hours of enjoyment for years to come.

Josh Olswanger

I've been playing and writing music since the age of 13. My father is a piano tuner/technician of 40 years, and I've been musically involved in all aspects from composing, to recording, producing and playing live for most of my life. I've always had a fascination and appreciation for all types of music and musical instruments, so creating this site is a perfect outlet to share my knowledge.

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