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Reggae organ tips
You would be hard pressed to find any conscious reggae music without the reggae organ sound.
Artist like Bruno Mars (who have had two reggae hits, Billionaire and The Lazy Song) and others may not use the
reggae organ in their songs, but the reggae organ sound is still an essential ingredient in reggae
Who used it?
All of the top reggae bands use a reggae organ.
If you listen to the Wailers, Third World, UB40 and Iration, just to name a few, you will hear the reggae organ in
their songs time and time again.
To get the roots reggae sound, the reggae organ is essential.
What types of organs?
The traditional reggae organ fills came from the Hammond B3 organ.
A fuller organ was also used at times.
There may have been others, but they are not worth mentioning since they weren’t popular and may not have been
ideal for the reggae organ sound.
Keyboards are mostly used these days as a substitute for the traditional reggae organ.
They make a very good substitute because of their flexibility.
The main brands are Korg, Yamaha and Roland.
Any of their higher end models will do the job (M3, Kronos, Motif and Fantom).
What kind of sound?
This is where it gets very tricky.
The reggae organ sound is not that easily achieved.
It’s like a bass organ kind of sound but not overly so, with some low mid-range to it.
The highs are generally dialled out, which makes the sound somewhat dark.
Your best hope of achieving this sound is to listen to some roots reggae and try to copy the reggae organ
If this fails (unlikely), experiment until you get a sound you like.
How is it used?
The reggae organ is used to give a choppy sound which adds movement and body to the rhythm section.
To me, it gives the beat a 3-D feel.
It’s not necessarily used only to add fills, but is normally played throughout an entire song.
The reggae organ is sometimes played along with the keyboard (listen to Iration’s song Get Back to Me) or the
chords are played using two bangs in quick successions.
At other times the chords are played and sustained for a second or two.
The main purpose of the reggae organ however, is to produce the reggae bubble or shuffle sound; A style of playing
unique to reggae.
Again listen to a lot of roots reggae music to become familiar with this sound.
The first reggae organ player that springs to mind is Jackie Mittoo.
I am not going to name drop but he played for many of reggaes top acts back in the day.
I believe you can still get his music online or you can listen to his tracks on YouTube.
Others you may what to check out who played the reggae organ include keyboardist like Earl Lindo, Pablo Black, Paul
Crossdale, Ansel Collins, Robbie Lyn, Frankie Waul and Ibo Cooper.
There are loads more.
Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below.
For more on the reggae organ and reggae keyboard