This Novachord was made by Hammond Instrument Co. in Chicago, Illinois, around 1939-1942. It is a model H, serial #1173, with 72 keys (F – e), 3 pedals (volume and sustain), and 1 swell pedal (sustain by either foot). Sounds are generated by 12 oscillators using frequency division. There are 14 control knobs which can be set to produce various sounds:

Deep Tone (off, 1, 2, 3)
First Resonator (off, 1, 2, 3)
Second Resonator (off, 1, 2, 3)
Third Resonator (off, 1, 2, 3)
Brilliant Tone (off, 1, 2, 3)
Full Tone (off, 1, 2, 3)
Balancer (soft bass to strong, bass)
Bright – Mellow
Attack ((1 (fast) – 7 (slow))
Combination – Percussion – Singing
Volume ((4 (high) - 1 (low))
Normal Vibrato (off/on)
Small Vibrato (off/on)
Starter (lift/release)

and an On/Off toggle

This instrument features the following patents:

U.S. Patent #RE20825, dated August 9, 1938 by Gilbert Smiley for producing musical sounds electronically.

U.S. Patent #RE20831, dated August 16, 1938 by Gilbert Smiley for an electronic musical instrument.

U.S. Patent #2117002, dated May 10, 1938 by Laurens Hammond for a keyboard for musical instruments.

U.S. Patent #2126464, dated August 9, 1938 by Laurens Hammond for an electrical musical instrument.

U.S. Parent #2126682, dated August 9, 1938 by Laurens Hammond for an electrical musical instrument.

Date Made: 1939-1942

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Illinois, Chicago

See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments, Music & Musical Instruments, Electronic Musical Instruments


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Russell K. Gernhofer

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MI.71.10Catalog Number: 71.10Accession Number: 292941

Object Name: novachord

Physical Description: wood (overall material)metal (overall material)glass (overall material)Measurements: overall: 38 1/2 in x 53 in x 37 1/2 in; 97.79 cm x 134.62 cm x 95.25 cm


Record Id: nmah_606057

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