Poor Man's Leslie
Leslie was an important part of the rock sound in the '60s. Bands like
Steppenwolf used a heavy Leslie sound on the organ for songs such as 'Born to be
Wild' and Cream used a Leslie for a unique guitar sound on the song 'Badge'.
This year one of the Hoffman forum members began building
a Leslie unit based on the Leslie 16 which later became the Fender Vibratone. I
became interested in his project and soon began watching eBay for parts. I soon
realized you could get a small complete Leslie system that came from an organ
that had been parted out. These were similar to the Leslie 16/18 units but were
scaled down versions that used a single 8" speaker and smaller drive motors.
These smaller units were not as popular on eBay so the price was right for me.
So, I picked one up and began tinkering with it.
Once on the bench I was able to get some joy from the unit simply by connecting the speaker to an amp and applying 120VAC to one
of the drive motors. I changed speeds using gator clip leads. I discovered that
these little units sound pretty good as is but I really wanted a larger speaker.
And a cabinet. And a footswitch to control the thing. So, it became a project.
This is the original unit, complete with dual speed drive
motors and full range 8" Rola speaker.
I first built a very rugged footswitch to control the motors.
One switch applies power to the motors and the other switch selects either the
fast or slow motor. The indicator is continuously illuminated when in fast mode
and will blink when in slow mode.
Here's the schematic for the entire unit. I opted for
simplicity and used no relays to control the motors. This required a heavy duty
footswitch controller. It's all point to point construction inside a very rugged
cast iron electrical switch box. I don't have the caps across the switch contacts
in my unit but I would install them if I was actually playing a venue.
I replaced the particle board with a larger 1/2" plywood
sound board. I used the old board as a template for drilling holes. Then I
modified the board to use a 12" speaker.
I mounted a Weber 12" California speaker to the sound board.
And here's the motorized drum side of the sound board.
One more picture of the completed sound board ready to be mounted inside the
A little woodworking, painting, casters, etc., and the box is
ready with the sound board installed.
All buttoned up.
Overall dimensions are 18.5" wide x 21" high x 16" deep. This
project is done.
My poor man's Leslie is ready to jam!
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