Editor's note: During our review of the Nord C2 combo organ, which appears in the May 2011 issue, we lent it to Grammy-winning organist and composer Booker T. Jones, and asked him for his comments. We were surprised by how much this legendary Hammond traditionalist liked the Nord C2, and are honored to present his mini-review below, in its entirety.
CLICK HERE to read our August 2009 interview with Booker.
CLICK HERE for the video portion of the above interview on its own.
"I almost didn't get this review written because I was playing the thing. Don’t get me wrong--I’m Booker T. – I am a Hammond B-3 person at my core. But, I became infatuated with the Nord. As I write this, my Hammond New B-3 is in a trailer in southern California, and this red thing is in my music room and I’m playing with it, and loving it. I guess, if truth be known, there were no B-3, there would never have been a C2.
"The C2 looks good. Red, shiny and sexy. I had seen the C1 down at Keyboard’s offices a couple of years ago and just shunned it, but Stephen Fortner virually shoved this one in my car after dinner one night. I’m glad he did. I have Leslies, so there are connections for that as well as simple quarter inch plugs for use with my Apogee Duet.
"There are switches for the Pipe, Vox and Farfisa models, but as those organs really aren't for what I do, they didn’t get in the way. There are buttons and LEDs for the drawbar presets, vibrato, key click, and percussion. There are the usual Memory Protect, Fine Tune, Transpose, and other such controls that you find on most keyboards. Nord [Clavia] has included connections for all sort of pedals, but you propbably don’t want to play piano on this thing, so all you need is the volume pedal and a footswitch to toggle the Leslie simulation speed.
"Of course the first thing I had to try was “Green Onions.” It sounded great--good action and tonewheel simulation. Then I had to try “Hip Hug-Her.” Pretty intuitive getting Chorus 3 vibrato on the great [upper] manual. It took me a minute to get used to pushing drawbar buttons instead of pulling out physical drawbars. But even with the C2's drawbar buttons, you don’t have to open your eyes if you listen.
"When changing programs, be deliberate. The C2 can get confused and hang up if you go up and down the programs too quickly. This is the only other time you really need to open your eyes when playing the C2. But it’s probably best to use one program per song and just modify the drawbars and tones manually like you would on a B-3.
"As a MIDI controller, it worked great in my home studio recording program of choice, Ableton Live. Because I had two manuals, it was nice not to have to split the keyboard, like I do when using Native Instruments B4.
"In conclusion, I believe the beauty of the original Hammond B-3 is it’s simplicity. The C2 can be made simple also. Just don’t use anything but the B-3 model, and assign each song a different program and memorize that for your show or your session. If you want to be gigging at age 65, like me, and save your back, you'd better get one!" --Booker T. Jones