Drawbars Again?

Yep – We are talking about drawbars again. Who would have thought it would be one of the most popular topics on the site? Certainly not me! Jeff contacted me regarding his most recent Wersi HD article. I’ve attached a short description below. Make sure you take a listen to the demos at http://www.wersiorganshowcase.com/vb3.html along with the complete Wersi HD project. Jeff has done an outstanding job explaining the overall configuration and how you can do the same thing.

Thanks Jeff!

In this next set of Wersi HD Series demos we feature the drawbar sounds of the VB3 virtual tonewheel organ from Genuine Soundware and Instruments (GSI). Note that this is a later version than that previously available as a VST on OAS instruments. It incorporates a number of additional features and enhancements, so OAS owners can expect a significant improvement in their drawbar sounds. Also, unlike the ‘Wersi Edition’ available in the OAX, it’s the full feature commercial version offering many extra playing features and tonal adjustments. So OAX owners will have the benefit of a much more versatile and higher quality drawbar facility.

The VB3 can be played exactly like the actual instrument either live or by using presets. In addition, some extra features that were not present on the original instrument are also available. A string bass with adjustable release time is provided on the pedals, and both manuals have a sustain function, activated by either an expression pedal footswitch or a toe piston. This will hold and sustain any notes played when the keys are released. A Leslie Speaker speed select switch can also be programmed into the footswitches and/or toe pistons thereby enabling a quick and convenient transition between Chorale and Tremolo modes. A keyboard split function with adjustable split point is provided to enable both VB3 manuals to be played on the same Wersi keyboard, either upper or lower. This frees up the other Wersi keyboard for use with other OAS/X sounds. Alternatively, the normal Wersi keyboard split feature can be utilised to place either of the VB3 manuals on either side of the split.

This version also includes a set of drawbars for the pedals, two sets of drawbars for each of the upper and lower manuals, and independent vibrato and chorus controls for each manual, adjustable for depth as well as speed. Variable length and depth reverberation is provided by emulating the spring reverberation unit installed in the original instruments. A set of 9 configurable drawbar presets are also provided for each manual, selected in the original instrument by reverse coloured keys at the lower end of each manual. The VB3 enables these preset keys to be assigned to the bottom octave of each Wersi manual. A further two of these keys can switch between the two sets of manual drawbars. In addition, an entire configuration for the organ including all the drawbar settings and associated controls can be stored and recalled as presets. A completely redesigned Leslie Speaker system is included together with six different types of Leslie Speaker. Five distinct tonewheel scaling options are provided that enable the user to define different ratios for the harmonic drawbars. Although essentially a Hammond organ emulator, this enables other drawbar systems e.g. Wersi analogue and digital units, to be constructed. Three different B3 organ variants are also available.

Unlike the other software used on the HD Series, the VB3 is not a stand-alone package. It needs to run either as a VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plug-in or an AU (Audio Unit) plug-in inside a suitable host program either on a PC or an Apple Mac. A wide range of compatible host software is available for this purpose. This also enables us to utilise all the features provided by the host, including equalisation, reverberation and the ability to run multiple VB3 instances. The latter enables a range of completely new effects to be created that cannot be obtained on the original instrument.

For the first demo we choose the VB3’s model 122 Leslie Speaker in both Chorale and Tremolo modes in this classic song by Procol Harum. The original drawbar settings used by the group’s guitarist Mathew Fisher have been used for the recording. The organ sounds are complemented by a drum pattern from the OAS accompaniment unit and a guitar rhythm from the OAS Rhythm Designer.

The second demo demonstrates the advantages of running multiple instances of VB3 in the host program. Sounds with a vibrato setting are used on the upper manual whilst those with a Leslie Speaker setting are used on the lower manual, the sort of thing Klaus Wunderlich might do in his recordings. However, he needed a multi-track recording studio to do it!!  The drawbar chimes are added from the Wersi OAS drawbar unit.

The third demo illustrates how the VB3 drawbar sounds can be combined with any of the other organ sounds. We use a variety of orchestral sounds from the OAS sound database and a style from the Open Art Arranger.

You can find the demos and more details of VB3 at:-


Just click on the ‘Sample Sets and Demos’ button and select the ‘VB3 Virtual Hammond Organ’ entry.

24 thoughts on “Drawbars Again?

  • 06/26/2017 at 16:07

    Hi Curt,

    I like the sound of your more surgical VST investigation.

    Let me know when you’re ready to start opening up the patient and I can give you more detailed information on what we should be able to do with the various packages.


    • 06/25/2017 at 18:38

      Hi Ross
      As far as I am aware the Logic 5 organ only comes with the Logic Pro X DAW, which is only available for MACs.

  • 06/25/2017 at 15:22

    Hi Curt,

    Thanks for that, yes that screen image looks very familiar. You’re quite right, the acid test is how well any of this software performs with the OAX. A guy takes a pair of shoes back to the shoe shop. He’d only being wearing them a week and already they’d fallen to bits. The shop assistant asked “Have you been wearing these shoes sir?”, the guy replied “Of course I have”. “Well then sir” said the shop assistant “That’s your problem, these shoes are not for walking in, they’re fashion shoes!!”. Over the time that I’ve been running this sort of software on the Wersi I’ve developed three criteria that have to be satisfied in order to determine whether an installation is of any use or not, and this applies to both external and internal operation. This is what I have discovered.

    1) Optimum Sound Quality
    In sample based applications, the polyphony (number of voices) can build up alarmingly putting a great strain on the CPU. In circumstances like these we have to resort to measures like reducing the sample bit length and/or limiting the polyphony in order to keep the application running. All of these reduce the quality of the sound. So just because a particular application runs doesn’t necessarily mean that it can run at optimum quality. It’s entirely dependent on the computing resources available. In the case of the VB3 this doesn’t really apply because the computing requirements are small.

    2) Seamless Integration
    Can we place any of the sounds from this software on the manuals and pedals, save them as user sounds, use them in total presets, layer them with other OAS/X sounds and with each other. The latter requirement implies that we have to cater for a number of software packages running simultaneously if we wish to use a sound from each one. Anything up to 16 on the Sonic since we have the capability to layer up to 16 sounds.

    3) Transparent Operation
    Does this software run unobtrusively in the background such that we can take a sound and use it instantly, or are we having to load/execute various packages before this can take place.

    So specifically for the VB3 package running in the VST host, can we do the following:-

    *The VB3 appears to use fairly standard MIDI controllers so I found that all these mapped automatically to the external MIDI codes (expression pedal, console volume slider, octave select button etc.). So is any mapping necessary with the VST.

    *There’s a manual sustain/Leslie speed select option in the ‘Global Options Menu’. Is this mapped to an expression pedal footswitch/toe piston that’s been set to a ‘Sustain’ setting.

    *Do the 9 drawbar presets at the bottom of the VB3 menu map to the lower octave notes of the upper and lower manuals respectively. In a 61 key model you may have to move the keyboard down an octave, in a 76 key model it should map directly.

    *Can we save a VB3 preset as a VST sound (using the ‘Preset Options Menu’) and have this recalled for use in a Total Preset with other OAX sounds.

    *Can we run multiple instances of VB3 and save these as a single VST preset.

    * If we don’t get the warm rich Hammond drawbar sound, can we link this to an equaliser VST to make appropriate tonal adjustments.

    I know you’re a busy man at the moment Curt, but could you put the above on your ‘To Do’ list so that when you can open up a window in the time-space continuum you can have a go at implementing them. This will enable us to discern whether what we have here is either just something fashionable or something we can do some serious walking in !


    • 06/25/2017 at 18:55

      In OAS the GM controllers are automatically assigned and looking at the OAX manual the same applies, the rest of the codes can be manually assigned in both OAS and OAX. (Only for VST in OAS, and both VST and Midi in OAX)

      Sustain/Leslie: as above (Sustain function is standard GM function)

      Bottom Pre-sets: there is something seriously amiss if it doesn’t.

      VB3 Pre-set: Yes

      Multiple VB3: Yes

      Equaliser VST: Yes

      Remember it’s a VST 3 Host in OAX

      Hope this helps


      • 06/26/2017 at 03:42

        Just to add that every user VST loaded, gets its own level control and 5 band EQ, so in most cases you will not need an external VST EQ. (It would be nice to have an 8 band parametric EQ though)


    • 06/26/2017 at 09:36

      I find this whole conversation very interesting and I’m thinking about creating a new section of the site dedicated to “VST Fun”

      I’m thinking we could go back and revisit the whole Hauptwerk install we did along with REALLY taking the time to map all of the various things between OAX and the various VST’s we have played around with.

      Just to keep things interesting a few screen shots. These are all based on the VB3 VST we have been discussing in this thread.

      * The initial splash screen when the VST loads and where you would license if you purchase vs. running the demo that I have – http://wersiclubusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/VB3_VST_OAX_Load.png

      * This is where things get “interesting”. Right click on one of the controls on the VB3 VST and a “MIDI Learn” option is presented. In theory we should be able to take advantage of this BUT I’m not to sure OAX transmits the needed MIDI data from some things I tried a few months ago – 🙁 http://wersiclubusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/VB3_VST_OAX_Learn.png

      * Various controllers that could be used to help integrate a VST into OAX:

      * “VST User Sounds” – A quick way to get to the VST sounds. This screen comes up when you touch “User Sounds” on the organ console. It was pre-loaded by OAX since we have the VB3 VST loaded – http://wersiclubusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/VB3_VST_OAX_User_Sounds.png

      I’m booked until early August working on something else but I really would like to spend some time on this and document what we can / can’t do with VST’s running directly onboard in OAX.


  • 06/25/2017 at 12:34

    Hi Curt,

    Good man, I do hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you hit the floor !

    Lets us know how you get on.


  • 06/25/2017 at 12:04

    Hi Ross,

    Like Curt I don’t have a crystal ball when it comes to future Wersi releases, but as far as the VB3 provision is concerned there could be two possibilities. One would be that Wersi produce a new version of what they call the ‘Wersi Edition’ to include more of the features available in the commercial edition. Since they wrap their own software around this product in order to integrate it into the OAX, this would mean devoting resources to rewrite this software, and my guess is that with more development work needed on the OAX, they’ll give priority to the latter. The other possibility would be for Wersi to release the commercial version as a Wersi approved VST in much the same way as they have done previously for the OAS instruments. This would be a better proposition since you would then have the benefit of all the features of the commercial version, and if any tweaks and adjustments were necessary to make it work in the OAX VST host, these will have been done.

    With regard to an appropriate platform to run the commercial VB3 version, here I’m going to give Curt the shock of his life. I would suggest that as a first step you follow Bill’s suggestion and try loading this into the OAX VST host. If it works, you will have a much enhanced VB3 provision that I’m sure other Sonic owners thinking of doing the same would be very interested in. For me and other OAS/X owners who have already implemented the HD upgrade, it’s a no-brainer because we already have the technology infrastructure in place, so it’s just a simple matter of loading and installing the VB3 software.

    Many owners will be quite happy with what they have on the instrument, and the VST provision provides a useful means of expanding its capabilities. However, there’s a bigger vision here. The point to make about the HD Series upgrade is that the presence of a powerful general purpose second processor in the system gives us immense flexibility to run all kinds of applications, not just those related to sound generation and processing. So we shouldn’t think of this technology as ONLY an alternative means of running auxiliary VST type software. This is just the entry level application, it can do much more than that. What we have is a very versatile, multi-purpose music system with unlimited development potential, capable of enhancing the playing experience in all kinds of new and different ways. Up until now we’ve just been concentrating on the aspects of the system relating to improving the quality of the sounds, but this is only the first reel of the movie folks. I’ve seen the whole film and it’s a blockbuster, there’s lots more exciting and innovative stuff to come. In the immortal words of Al Jolson to an astonished audience hearing him speak in the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, “You ain’t seen nothing yet !”.

    Interestingly, Bohm are following the same pathway. They’ve had for some time now a separate PC based processor option in their products, including in this new model just announced, the Sempra. This because they use a propriety real time operating system for main instrument control rather than Windows. They call this option the ‘Cloud Studio’, it’s completely integrated into the instrument and it comes with a variety of pre-installed software similar to what I’m using on the HD Series. It’s an expensive option though folks (over 5000 euros), much cheaper to go for the HD Series upgrade. Come to think of it though, I might have missed a trick here, perhaps I should be talking to Wersi about a licensing agreement. Hmm ……


    • 06/25/2017 at 12:14

      Jeff – That “thump” you heard was me falling out of my chair! You are correct. I’m VERY surprised by your comment. With all this chit-chat about VB3 maybe I should give it a go on my Sonic and share what I learn? I should be working on our IMMusic project but I do need a little break from that so I’m downloading the VB3 demo version in another window right now.

      Let’s see what I learn in the next hour or two.

      • 06/25/2017 at 13:04

        The quick answer is it takes all of 5 minutes to install. A link to a quick screen shot of the VST running on my Sonic and yep – I hear drawbars! I didn’t take the time to assign the various controllers (no time for that right now).


        In the manual they do give you the info you need to map / assign. Of course that is the real test – To see how well those functions would integrate into OAX.

        Default MIDI Map CONTROL TYPE Control Change Number

        Upper Manual Drawbars A/B Switch 49 (can be changed manually from the .dat file)
        Upper Manual Drawbars – SET A 40-48
        Upper Manual Drawbars – SET B 12-20
        Lower Manual Drawbars A/B Switch 59 (can be changed manually from the .dat file)
        Lower Manual Drawbars – SET A 50-58
        Lower Manual Drawbars – SET B 21-29
        Pedal Drawbars 16’=33, 8’=35
        Vibrato Type 73
        Vibrato Lower 30
        Vibrato Upper 31
        Percussion On/Off 66
        Percussion Volume 70
        Percussion Decay 71
        Percussion Harmonic 72
        Keyclick Level 75 Tube
        Overdrive Switch 67
        Tube Overdrive Drive 76
        Tube Overdrive Edge 78
        Reverb 84
        Rotary Speaker Bypass 85
        Rotary Speaker Speed (Fast/Slow) 1
        Rotary Speaker Treble Horn Slow Speed 81
        Rotary Speaker Treble Horn Fast Speed 82
        Rotary Speaker Treble Horn Acceleration 83
        Rotary Speaker Bass Horn Slow Speed 91
        Rotary Speaker Bass Horn Fast Speed 92
        Rotary Speaker Bass Horn Acceleration 93
        Rotary Speaker Brake 68
        Rotary Speaker Spread 9
        Rotary Speaker Balance 10
        Overall Tone 8
        Expression Pedal 11
        Overall Volume 7

  • 06/22/2017 at 18:16

    Hi Curt
    Thanks for the infrormation, if Wersi are releasing the new version as an update then I will be relieved of the stress and wait. Cheers

  • 06/22/2017 at 09:41

    Hi Ross,

    Many thanks for your enquiry regarding the VB3 VST. Here are my thoughts in answer to your questions.

    Just to clarify, the HD Series project was originally conceived to provide OAS owners with the capability to bring their instruments bang up to date by being able to run the very latest new generation software. It wasn’t possible to utilise the VST provision to do this for two reasons. Firstly, the VST host within the OAS is an old version which doesn’t conform to the latest VST standard and so won’t support the majority of this type of software. Secondly, a lot of this software is very demanding on computing resources and there isn’t sufficient computing power in the instrument’s processor to handle this. So the second processor option was the only viable solution. On OAX instruments however the story is different. Here we have an up to date VST provision and much more computing power. So ‘theoretically’ (and I stress the word ‘theoretically’!) the sort of software I’m running on the HD series should run within this VST provision.

    It’s important however for OAX owners to understand that there is an essential difference between trying to run this software in the OAX VST host and running it on a second processor. The second processor is a standard computer system with a standard operating system. All the software vendors validate their products on this platform so we can be sure that whatever we buy will install and run successfully. I’ve been running a variety of new generation software this way on the Wersi now for the past 18 months. It’s easy and straightforward to install, it operates reliably (if it crashes, it’s always the Wersi and not the second processor!) it integrates seamlessly with the Wersi MIDI system, and I’ve not yet encountered anything that I’ve wanted to do that I couldn’t. By contrast, the OAX VST provision is a FEATURE of the instrument, it’s not central to the core design, sounds are generated by a completely different mechanism. So any software we wish to run has first to be compatible with the VST host, then it has to communicate successfully with the OAX, and then all of this has to run within Wersi’s reconfigured version of Windows 10. When computer systems fail it’s invariably at the interface between the different parts of the system. The more of these there are, the higher the probability that something won’t work. It you’ve been following Curt’s adventures with trying to get VSTs to work, you’ll know that he’s hit exactly this problem. So the only way to find out if any of this software will work is to try it and see. Bill’s suggestion is a good one, try installing the trial VB3 version. It hisses at you every couple of minutes which is quite annoying (this is so you’ll have to buy the proper version), but it will give you a good idea of whether it will work or not.

    Now let’s move up from the ‘nuts and bolts’ of getting individual VSTs to work, because there’s a bigger picture here particularly in relation to getting the right sound and also to futureproofing. With regard to getting the right sound, installing and running a VST is only half the job. The essential characteristic of all of this new generation software is its authenticity. On all my recordings so far I’ve tried to give the sense that I’m not playing an electronic organ imitating a particular instrument, but rather the instrument itself. So if you didn’t know otherwise you might think that the recording had actually been made on a cathedral organ, or a Wurlitzer, or a Hammond. Wersi owners will probably be surprised to discover that none of this type of software sounds good when first installed on the instrument. This is because although it’s authentic at the source, it gets mangled at the destination by the instrument’s amplification system. In the case of the VB3 for example, the Hammond sound was produced by a valve amplifier which colours the sound in a completely different way to modern transistor amplifiers. So all these software packages require quite a bit of tonal adjustment in order to get them sounding right. To achieve this we need two adjustment capabilities, one at the source and one at the destination. The source adjustment is done within the software itself. All this new generation software provides extensive tonal adjustment capability, so this is not a problem. The destination adjustment has to be done further down the audio chain. I imagine we’ve all had the experience of calling up an OAS/X instrument that didn’t sound quite right and needed tweaking. Adjusting the mixer controls are not usually an option because these are general controls so getting one instrument to sound better often results in making others sound worse. OAS owners have the 6 Hypersonic Sound Controls, but only one or two of these are typically tonal adjustments (others being attack, release etc.) so not much capability there. [OAS owners who have the Sound Factory activated have more options]. So you might find that having installed the VB3 you need some further tonal adjustment to get the right sound. You might have noticed in my VB3 write up that I made mention of being able to use the extensive tonal adjustment features of the VST host program (Mainstage in this instance) to obtain the required sound. As it happens, with the Scala amplifier I didn’t need to do this but I still had to make adjustments to the external audio inputs mixer. The OAX VST provision has limited tonal adjustment capability, so if the drawbar sound isn’t sounding right (and with the Sonic amplifier the chances are that it won’t), then we need an additional tonal adjustment capability, and this means installing some kind of equalisation VST. Now it’s all getting more involved and complicated.

    With regard to futureproofing, computing technology moves at a rapid pace. So what’s state of the art today is obsolete tomorrow. The demands of continually developing software are insatiable and the hardware is always struggling to keep up. So in order to keep a Wersi instrument supportive of new generation software we need Wersi to do two things, keep the VST provision current and update the hardware. The experience of OAS owners in relation to the VST provision is not encouraging. To be fair, very few owners use this feature so Wersi tend to concentrate their development effort in other areas like expanding the capabilities of the OAS/X. As far as hardware is concerned, upgrading the motherboard is not something most owners will want to do themselves so will go for the Wersi recommended product. And given Wersi’s propensity for charging telephone number prices for everything, this won’t be cheap. Deploying a second processor means we have complete control over upgrades. If you are technically competent you can do this yourself, otherwise simply replace the computer with a more up to date model as and when required. It doesn’t matter then what Wersi do or don’t do, you’re completely futureproofed, or should I say Wersiproofed!!

    So for me, even if I were an OAX owner, it’s a no-brainer.


    • 06/25/2017 at 00:42

      Hi Jeff many thanks for your detailed insight on the VB3 VST software, very interesting and appreciated.
      I am still not sure if you are recommending using the onboard or a seperate computer for the OAX instruments, would you mind clarifying that.
      From what Curt is saying it looks as though Wersi will be releasing this as an update not far down the track. As desperate as I may be for some decent organ sounds with Leslie controlled simulation, maybe I will be a little patient and wait as this may be a little easier on the stress levels.


      • 06/25/2017 at 07:20

        Ross – Hopefully I didn’t misstate anything. I have no insight into any future Wersi releases. I would be VERY (pleasantly) surprised if they did. Said another way – Don’t hold your breath for that!

        Jeff will more than likely point you towards using an external PC or Mac to host all of your VST needs.

  • 06/22/2017 at 06:52

    I wished that Wersi would switch from Windows base computers to Apple computers. Because the computer inside of my Wersi Pegasus Wing has been un-reliable and there is no tech support to work on the problems that I have been encountering. I have contacted Wersi in Germany and also the local Wersi dealer in Pensylvania as both Ralph Conti of sales and Chris who is the technicial has been no help in solving the technical problems. When the original company was located in Lancaster, there was much tech support and I was always able to rely on them. If Wersi would switch over to Apple, I would then be able to go to any Apple Store for any serious issues.

    • 06/22/2017 at 09:14

      The Apple OS cannot be used by anybody except Apple, (It is a closed system) hence the reason Windows is used. (Linux doesn’t have enough software support, so is also not an option)
      If it is the computer part that is causing problems, then it can be taken into any PC repair shop to be fixed, however, if it is the Wersi software or hardware that is the problem, then only Wersi can fix it. (This would also apply if it used the Apple OS, as Apple could only fix the computer parts and Apple OS)
      Windows 7 (As used on the Pegasus Wing) is a well-known and stable system (Although a bit crude compared to Win 10) and any problems have probably already been encountered before, so a quick google search (Other search engines are available) will probably tell you how to fix it.

      • 06/26/2017 at 07:54

        The problem with bringing it to any PC repair shop is that the information from the computer is in German and I had a friend tried to find a way to change the langauge to english, but everything other than the main OAS is in the German langauge. I do not think that I will find any computer technician that knows the German language. In America is mostly Spanish and English. The OAS operating is in English, but on the main computer is in German.

        • 06/26/2017 at 08:53

          While you can’t change the language on Windows 7 Home without a fresh install of the English version, everything is in the same place, so if you know Win 7 (And PC repair companies will) then troubleshooting can still be done. (They may charge you a premium for it though)
          Hope this helps

  • 06/21/2017 at 22:17

    I have just read the article again. Are you saying that with the OAX instrument the software has to be loaded to a separate computer, what is wrong with using the OAX built in computer?

    • 06/22/2017 at 09:53

      Always an interesting discussion Ross. Jeff, Bill and I have gone back and forth a few times about it. I tried a little of both and they both have pros and cons.

      I’m not really speaking for the others but Jeff tends to lean towards using an external system for the most flexibility and Bill leans towards using whats on board in the organ. If I stated that wrong guys speak up!

      I’ll just say that OAX could use a little more work in the area of VST support but it does work and I’ve loaded a number of different VST’s on my Sonic for fun and to prove it could be done. They all have been demo versions or free software.

      As suggested by others – Certainly worth giving one of the demo’s a try and see if you like the way it integrates (or doesn’t!). 🙂

  • 06/21/2017 at 21:47

    Very interesting article thank you Jeff.
    Unless I have missed something, when this VST is loaded to a Wersi OAX instrument do the Wersi drawbars become active to the software as they are with current VB3 version of installed software?

    • 06/22/2017 at 03:37

      HI Ross
      You will need to try it out to see if the drawbars can be assigned to it, (It needs to be done manually then saved) so download the trial version to see, if not, then you will have to wait for a future update from Wersi which activates this feature. (You can still adjust using the screen though)
      When loading the VB3 into the OAX VST Host, choose the 128 option which should allow all the VB3 pre-sets to be loaded and assigned automatically. (In OAS it was called a sound list)
      If you really want to live dangerously, you could try replacing the Wersi VB3 with the full version and see if you could get it to work with the Wersi VB3 controls. (If you have even the slightest doubt though, don’t even think about it)
      Have fun


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