Which is the counterfeit? Can you tell?

Many retail and online companies are now selling flat out counterfeit B3 Hammond organs as Genuine B3 Organs for Genuine B3 prices. We've personally examined many counterfeit B3's lately with customers finding out after the fact that they purchased a counterfeit B3 while being told it was a genuine B3 and paying Genuine B3 prices.

The organ on the LEFT is a counterfeit, and the one on the right is a Genuine Vintage Hammond B3 and the one below the other two is also a counterfeit. COULD YOU TELL?

As Members of the Better Business Bureau we cannot condone this. The value of a Counterfeit B3 is VERY LOW in the $1000-2000 range and when you go to sell it you will find out in a hurry that you have a counterfeit on your hands. If you have fallen victim to the purchase of an undisclosed counterfeit B3, contact the state Attorney General office in the state the dealer is doing business in. If in doubt, send us email and photos of the inside and outside of the cabinetry and we will help you determine this. Some counterfeits are better than others, but we know what to look for. Preferably contact us BEFORE you buy to avoid any problems. Getting your money back from slysters that do this is nearly impossible. It is not criminal to sell one of these counterfeits provided it is disclosed that it is not, in fact, a Genuine B3 organ but an organ put together from parts or some other way distinguished. Watch for folks dodging the question "Is this a Genuine B3?" with misleading answers. If in doubt, shop elsewhere. A Counterfeit B3 is no bargain at any price and has little to no resale value compared to a Genuine B3. Please submit any photos you have of a counterfeit B3 that you have or know of so we can post them to help the public awareness of this latest fraud.

Here are some telltale signs. If you haven't been around a Genuine Hammond B3 much then how could you be expected to know what they look like? You can't and the crooks are counting on this. The collection of photos here will grow as users submit them and we find them also. Generally a counterfeit B3 will have the guts and keyboards of a cheap Hammond A-100 organ installed into a cabinet that looks like a B3 cabinet.

1. We are tipped off immediately by the B3 on the left because there is no keyhole in the photograph.

A Genuine B3 has either of two types of locks. The first is the original style followed by a change sometime around 1969 to a "jailhouse" or "skeleton key" type lock as shown below.

2. We also notice there is no trim piece along the side of this B3.

An Original B3, Above, and Counterfeits, Below

3. We also notice right away that there is no foot rest on this pedalboard like a real B3 would have.

Another counterfeit B3

4. Lets mosey around to the back and see what kind of moxie this gal is made of. We should find two thumbscrews holding the back on which we can remove by hand.

OOPS! What is this! No thumbscrews! Instead we have 4 drywall screws. And that back looks funky already. Looks like a piece of plywood with some stain on it from this angle. Hammond didn't use anything like that. Even the side is obviously veneered in strips and not like anything Hammond would have made.

Let's take out those drywall screws and see what we have here. Hmmm. The back falls off in our hand. A real B3 back will stay in place as it has little wood blocks on the back of it to hold it in place even if the thumbscrews are removed.

What does an original back look like? If you've never seen one, how would you know?

The orignal B3 back has little wood blocks on it that permit it to stay in place even if you were missing the big thumbscrews that hold it on. In the picture below, we show the finished side. Notice the high quality finish and the hole where the big thumbscrews go through to hold the back on.

The trim piece along the back matches with the thick trim piece shown in item #2 that regular B3s all have from each front cheek all the way around the back.

5. A good clue is that the wood the cabinet is made from is NEW. Genuine Hammond B3s will have wood that is at least 40 years old. You can see that the wood is new in this counterfeit.

6. Inside a genuine Hammond B3 you will find a GENUINE Hammond name plate and serial number. Here are photos of two Genuine Hammond organ nameplates.

7. The dead giveaway that you are buying an A-100 instead of a B3 is the length of the pedal wiring harnass. Only A-100's had the longer harnass.

Photo Above is counterfeit B3, BELOW is an original B3. NOTE HOW the PEDAL WIRING HARNASS is exactly the correct length. No excess to wrap around.

And another Genuine B3 below shows the same short length pedal harnass

8. The wiring harness for the shielded wires is also excessive in length. Before 1969 we never saw this in a Genuine B3, but after 1969 you will find Hammond B3's that are original that have the long length shielded wires. Here is a photo of our counterfeit:

The above photos show long shielded lines indicating that most likely these are A-100 guts in a B3 counterfeit cabinet.

The Above is a genuine B3 with the normal exact length of shielded cables installed. Caveat though! B3's after 1969, as shown in the photo below of a Genuine B3, seem to have long wires even if they are genuine B3s. Check the wiring harnass for the pedals to be sure.

9. A Genuine B3 has the preamp bolted down with bolts into threaded T-nuts. The counterfeit has the preamp simply screwed into place with wood screws from the nearby Home Depot.

Counterfeit, above, and Genuine B3 from underneath, below, shows T-nuts.

Above is original B3, Below Another view of the counterfeit preamp held in by wood screws

10. Another clue is the height of the generator spring holding rail. The A-100 uses shorter springs than an original B3. Below is a picture of a counterfeit, where they have adjusted the rail to a lower position so it will work with the shorter springs that accompany the generator from an A-100 organ.

11. A Genuine B3 also has unfinished inside wood surfaces. This particular counterfeit has finished inside wood surfaces on the side panels.

Counterfeit shown above has some finished inside surfaces. Original B3 below is unfinished inside.

12. As shown in the counterfeit B3 photo in #11, you can see there is no dust felt across the top of the inside of the organ. The following photo depicts an original B3 with felt intact:

13. The counterfeit shown in #11 also has a square wood brace instead of the professional Original B3 triangle shaped wood pieces to help secure the lid to the sides. Original B3 is shown here:

14. If we look around we find other problems with counterfeit B3 organs. The B3 organs had plastic pipes for wires to run up and down in that are brown in color and secured into place by brackets. This counterfeit has metal pipes, and no method to secure the pipes to the organ so they bounce around freely.

The above shows the pipes painted clearly the wrong color. They are made of metal. The original B3 depicted below shows the retaining brackets that hold the pipe in place, and the original brown color plastic tubes.

15. The Original B3 organ had a cover on the back of the expression pedal. Also it had a single hex head bolt under the expression pedal as one of the 4 bolts holding the panel the expression pedal attaches to to the pedal switch assembly.

Photo above of a counterfeit B3 expression pedal assembly. Below, a genuine B3

16. The counterfeit in this photo has a Trek II OBX box for making connections. It is very similar to an original B3 box, the tip off is the newness and shiny look it has compared to a 40+ year old original.

The Above is a Counterfeit, the Below is an Original B3

17. In the picture immediately above and the one immediately below you can also see that the Original Hammond organs used brass screws and bolts for any Hardware that was to be seen outside the organ.

18. Generally the Counterfeits we've seen have problems getting the pedals to fit correctly as shown below.

19. The keyboards in a Genuine B3 are held down by 4 bolts. This particular counterfit was misdrilled so the holes didn't line up. Therefore only 2 bolts were holding down the insides to the cabinet.

Below are two photographs of original B3s for comparison.

20. A-100 organs often (but not always) used a single clip assembly to hold the front piece of wood that runs in front of the lower keyboard, to the keyboards. B3s had a more robust clip arrangement. Without this clip, if one picked up the organ or pulled on that piece of wood it would break off. It could also vibrate or generally be loose.

A Counterfeit B3 above, and an original B3 Below.

21. Another common "counterfeit" B3 involves putting A-100 guts into an older BC or BV style cabinet. This is obvious immediately by looking at the legs. The old organ is gutted out, its insides destroyed (which should be a criminal offense in our opinion as there aren't going to ever be any more old fashioned Hammonds) and A-100 guts put into the cabinet. This destroys two organs, the A-100 and the victim BC. The original A-100 cabinet is thrown away and the guts for the old BC, BV or whatever organ are discarded also. These photographs show the true B3 leg fluting, and also the same leg on a BC, BV. Notice how more profound the fluting is on the older organs. The benches will be the same way for each model. Don't buy anything like this, it will have no heritage or resale value unless its priced accordingly.

22. As for the Counterfeit B3 in the original question, "which is a counterfeit and which isn't?" The pedalboard once removed was even notated by a previous owner as being an A-100. Another clue would be to look for exclusively A-100 colors (i.e. Red mahogany, light Walnut, Oak, Brown mahogany, gray mahogany, black, Light cherry, dark cherry) that were often stamped on pedals made for those organs. B3's as a rule came in Walnut and Cherrywood and generally the pedals were not stamped with color notes.

These pictures show another counterfeit, this time an obvious A-100 transplanted into an old BV Case. Sad that a BV was murdered, and A-100 was murdered to make a non authentic Hammond. There aren't going to be any more original Hammonds so it sure is sad to see this happen so someone can shyster someone else out of a few $$.

Help us keep this page up to date, send us pictures and tales of counterfeits, and alas, corrections, that you know of for inclusion.


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