Most music lovers know what a Hammond organ is and are aware that Leslie is a rotary effect traditionally applied to that instrument. We knew that much when, last week, we approached the Hammond booth at Summer NAMM 2016, inquiring about three stompboxes featuring the name “Leslie” on them. That’s when Hammond’s Gregg Gronowski briefly instructed us on the story of the Leslie effect
Long story short, in the ’40s, inventor Donald Leslie, after coming up with what is currently known as the Leslie speaker design, demonstrated it to Laurens Hammond, who, in quick succession, didn’t like it, declined to market it, and modified his products so that they wouldn’t work with it
Leslie quickly found a workaround and started selling his effects independently. Organ players loved it so much that the rotary speaker became a standard feature not only on Hammonds, but also Wurlitzer, Conn and other keyboards of the time. After the company was sold to CBS in 1965, in 1980 Hammond decided to buy the Leslie brand and designs, finally marrying these two names that seemed to be made for each other. For the record, Laurens, who probably would have never allowed that union, had died in 1973.
But let’s return to the stompboxes: Hammond had already released a Leslie pedal in 2013, the rather cumbersome Leslie “Cream” pedal, a digital stompbox that models four different Leslie cabinets that were created through the years. 2015 saw the light of a new, smaller version of it, the Leslie G-Pedal, designed specifically for guitar – this video explains the differences between the two.
At Summer NAMM 2016 we had the chance to see the new product of the family, the red Leslie K pedal, identical in size to the G-Pedal, but designed specifically for keyboardists, with “Overdrive” and “Level” knobs replacing the “Wet” and “Dry” ones on the right half of the stompbox.