Best Organ VST Plugins – 2020 Complete Round-up

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Word “organ” changed the object it represents along with the evolution of modern music. A new instrument had arrived and took a major part in the music history so much that we now have to emphasize every time and say church or pipe organ if we want to talk about the original organ instrument.

Our Top Picks for Organ VST Plugins

  • Dual Manual Hammond B-3
  • 86 factory patches
  • FX and drawbar modulators
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  • 4 B-3 Tonewheel models
  • 200 drawbar presets
  • Physically modeled Leslie
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  • Sample-based Hammond B-3
  • Over 120 factory presets
  • Editable rotary cabinet
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Comparison Chart of the Best Organ VST Plugins

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Physically modelled dual manual Hammond B-3
  • 86 factory presets
  • Beautiful graphical user interface
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  • 4 sample based Tonewheel B-3 models
  • 200 drawbar presets
  • Physically modeled Rotary speaker by UVI
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  • Affordable sample-based emulation of Hammond B-3
  • Over 120 factory presets
  • Editable convolution rotary cabinet
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  • Organ software officially endorsed by a Hammond
  • 24 drawbar setting per preset
  • Leslie with 7 amps and 5 cabinets
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  • VOX Continental 300 emulation
  • 182 presets included and 3 playing modes
  • Ultra rare Jennings J70 modelling
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  • Physically modelled Farfisa Compact Deluxe plugin
  • 147 factory presets provided
  • Several modern add-on features installed
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  • True emulation of Leslie 122 rotary speaker
  • Separate controls for horn and drum
  • 3 reverb types and tube amplifier emulation
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  • Sample based church organ emulation
  • 18 pre-programmed combinations
  • Low CPU footprint
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What is an Organ and What Does it Do?

The original organ is one of the largest musical instruments that can weigh hundreds of tons. It’s an instrument that creates sound by air movement through the pipes and it can be played with both hands using keyboard interface and feet by using a pedal system.

Apart from pipe version, non-piped organs generated sound in various ways - exciting free reeds by air, using mechanics or simply using a loudspeaker to generate a sound from a set of rotating 91 tonewheels and a system of at least 9 drawbars that creates a specific sonic timbre by emphasizing certain harmonics and vibrato effect. 

History of Organs

History of the organ depends regarding what types of organ instruments we’re talking about, so, let’s split this section into categories:

Classical (Pipe) Organ

The first organ was recorded back in the 3rd century B.C. and it used water to produce sound. The version that we know today which uses the “air and pipe” system was created in the Byzantine Empire and transferred to the rest of Europe. Catholic church found a place in liturgies for it and from that ground it spread further among classical composers. 

Reed (Pump) Organ

This organ produced the sound by using reeds just like an accordion. It was much cheaper and easier to transport so it could be held even at home. Some of the most famous instruments were Harmonium, Melodeon, and Chord Organ.

Electronic Organ

This organ type changed the music world we know. It was first designed in the 1930s to replace church organs, but it got famous by rock’n’roll music in the 1960s  thanks to the most famous keyboard instruments of all-time, the Hammond B-3. Farfisa and Vox Continental organs also found its place in history and became an irreplaceable flavor of this music era. Nowadays, modern affordable replicas brought the interest of mainstream music back to the organs.

What Are The Best Uses For Organ VST Plugins? 

We’ll give you some ideas right now

Rock Music

Electronic organs such as Hammond are the main keyboard sound for any rock song and so many artists promoted it. It requires an almost guitar-like playing approach and can stand out as both lead and rhythm instruments.

Soul Music

Reed organs can put you that mellow and ethereal sound that will soothe all the vibes necessary for making an outstanding soul track. Remove some lower drawbars from the Hammond and you’ll probably nail it as well.

Riff Companion

Instead of stacking numerous guitar tracks, consider applying an organ track instead. It will provide you a different sonic flavor and push your song towards that warm retro sound everyone loves. This technique applies to the bass line as well, especially if you switch on those percussion elements every Hammond has.

Cinematic Music

Pipe organ on the other hand is a magnificent instrument whenever you have to showcase all the glory of classical music. If you’re scoring for any kind of medieval scene or a video game, using pipe organs in your piece will shift your project immediately to the baroque era. Add some choirs over it and it will be really hard to make a miss.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Organ VST Plugins 

Here’s the list of the best Organ VSTs on the market:

Best Overall:
Arturia B-3 V

PROS

  • 86 factory presets
  • Output effects and Drawbar modulators
  • Every manual has a separate MIDI interface
  • Physically modeled dual manual Hammond B-3
  • Extra controls for adjusting the model parameters

CONS

  • Distortion effect could be improved
  • Pre-recorded MIDI phrases would be awesome

Features and Specifications

This plugin uses physical modeling that allows you a complete recreation and editing of every single sound parameter from the original Hammond B3 including changing some fixed analog circuits. It comes with 86 factory presets and is packed with dozens of effect pedals such as flanger, chorus or overdrive, convolution reverbs, and amp speakers, including several Leslie simulations that were emulated to the tiniest details possible in both closed and open cabinet variations. They are fully customizable so you can assign a different speed for the horn and drum part individually.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Arturia is well-known for its physical modeling approach for recreating many vintage keyboards and synthesizers in outstanding quality and beautiful visual design and always providing you with some modern features. 

This time, B-3 V comes with a modulation section to automate the movement of drawbars using envelopes. The rotaries are one of the best we’ve heard so far and there is even a twin amp guitar speaker included. The dual manual system is something that every Hammond lover will appreciate and having a separate MIDI interface makes this unit a true dual combo, just like the real counterpart.

PROS

  • Bass pedal system also included
  • 4 sample-based Tonewheel models
  • 200 drawbar presets available on-the-fly
  • Physically modeled Rotary speaker by UVI
  • Distortion, reverb, Vibrato, Chorus and 3-band EQ built-in

CONS

  • Might be too detailed for beginners
  • Black keys switch available only at the Lower set

Features and Specifications

B-5 Organ comes with 1,200 samples in a 275MB of compressed FLAC format. It provides you with the full drawbar control and around 200 drawbars preset that you can change instantly. There are four tonewheel models to select from - B-3, A-100, and two C-3 from 1960 and 1969, each representing a different sound engine. Besides 7 Leslies cabinets captured with its own acoustic noise, there are 25 more simulations available. Support for all three keyboard parts with the option to use a separate MIDI channel is present including even a Bass Pedal system. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Acoustic Samples found a way to avoid phasing issues often occurring in sample-based organ VSTs. They sampled each tone and reproduced everything available on the original machine. Chorus and vibrato were carefully sampled and phase-aligned for all six settings as well.

But, while being sample-based it still uses physical modeling where it makes a difference, like rotary speaker emulation, for example, or real key contact and fully customizable percussion part. We also approve that they paid attention to the black keys placed at the Lower manual so that you could recall presets by using them.

Best for the Money:
AiR Music DB-33

PROS

  • Over 120 factory presets
  • Tube overdrive emulation
  • Editable convolution rotary cabinet
  • CPU-friendly - requires only 2GB of RAM
  • Affordable sample-based emulation of Hammond B-3

CONS

  • 10.15 Catalina not yet supported
  • Provides only one set of manuals

Features and Specifications

This sample-based emulation is packed with 1GB of Hammond B3 samples and provides you with more than 120 factory presets. It also provides you with the custom rotary cabinet that is modeled by the impulse response approach. Tube overdrive is also emulated so you can get the necessary timbre required for certain hard rock sounds. User Interface is plain and simple, showing you all the necessary parameters on the front panel, including 9 virtual drawbars, percussion switches, and key click knob so you can readjust your organ sound on the fly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This plugin is an example that Hammond B3 doesn’t need to be so expensive to sound decent. Also, it shows us that software can be optimized so it won’t demand 8GB of RAM memory. Sure, it won’t have all the details found in premium VST instrument software, but if you plan to use it occasionally or for something other than hard rock music, it will be good enough. And on top of that, the Leslie effect provided within the package is available as a stand-alone unit as well so you can apply it on the other instruments, too.

Best Hammond Organ VST:
IK Multimedia Hammond B-3X

PROS

  • 24 drawbar setting per preset
  • Several different tonewheels sets
  • Leslie with 7 amps and 5 cabinets
  • Organ software officially endorsed by a Hammond
  • Extended stompbox effects including post-effect racks

CONS

  • It could be better CPU-optimized
  • Feels more expensive than it should be

Features and Specifications

Hammond B-3X is a sampled based emulation of the Hammond B-3 hardware. It comes with 24 drawbar settings for each preset and several tonewheels sets based on several specific Hammond organs and an official Leslie speaker with 7 amps and 5 cabinets. Every sound parameter is editable, key click on and off the volume, color, percussion volume and decay, and so on. It also provides us with a dedicated tab for live performance. 

It takes 700MB of installation space and Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM as suggested system requirements. 

 Why it Stands Out to Us

This software was created in close collaboration with the Hammond USA and is officially licensed as the Hammond VST instrument by Hammond Organ Company. IK Multimedia also engaged top Hammond players in making this software and applied changes and suggestions they provided. 

It includes some simulations of the aging components often found in real Hammon hardware so several crosstalks and leakages can be created. It also provides the largest stomp box collection ever found in organ VST along with a detailed parallel guitar amp with spring reverb and 4x12 cabinet and post-processing FET compressor, 4-band EQ, and a reverb rack module effect.

Best Vox Organ VST:
Arturia Vox Continental V

PROS

  • VOX Continental 300 emulation
  • Ultra rare Jennings J70 modeling included
  • 182 presets included and 3 playing modes
  • Beautiful user interface of red and orange VOX skin
  • Fender Tube Amps and Leslie Rotary Speaker emulated

CONS

  • Leslie could be somewhat better
  • Could provide more stompboxes

Features and Specifications

Arturia recreated the original VOX Continental 300 layout by using physical modeling technology. Several vintage amps are also provided in the pack as they were the essential part of the sound source so you get to pick from several Fender and Marshall amps sounded with the Shure, Sennheiser, and Neumann microphones and let’s not forget the Leslie rotary speaker, several stompbox effects and convolution reverb. If you want more in-depth editing, Open mode allows you to tune individual pitch and change the timing of key contact.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Every knob, switch, and the slider is placed exactly on the same spot as found on the hardware version, even the color of the user interface matches the skin of the outboard VOX. The sound comparison we’ve heard is so close that no one would guess the original on a blind test. Extended Mode will provide the Continental V with additional String waveform to all three manuals, a full complement of drawbars, tremolo switch, and different percussion.

So, if you want to create the sound of the Beatles, the Animals, or the Doors we highly recommend this product for you.

Best Farfisa Organ VST:
Arturia Farfisa V

PROS

  • 147 factory presets provided
  • Several modern add-on features installed
  • Upper, lower manual - even bass pedal included
  • Physically modeled Farfisa Compact Deluxe plugin
  • Convolution reverbs, stompbox effects and guitar amp modules

CONS

  • No 32-bit OS support
  • Might sound too vintage for some users

Features and Specifications

Farfisa V is based upon physically modeled Farfisa Compact Deluxe and Duo combo organs. It provides you with both Upper and Lower manuals and even bass pedals section with switchable one or two octaves split range and ability to change the bass tone between Sharp (Flute) to Soft (Strings). 

Speaking of sound, Farfisa V runs through the modeled combo amp output and there are a bunch of stompbox effects you can organize in any order you want with the simple drag-and-drop movement. On top of that, you have 20 IR to select for the convolution reverb.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Farfisa was spread all across the hits of the 1960s so this software will serve you well if you’re looking to recreate a vibe of that era. But, as always, apart from the beautiful design Arturia made took another step and gave us the impression of how they believe this model would look if it was made today. That’s why you have an option to create your own waveforms via the ToneDraw feature or customize the envelopes and pick different waveforms for bass sound as well. On top of that, tremolo and Repeater can be synced to your project tempo.

Best Leslie Simulator VST:
XILS-lab LX122 Pro

PROS

  • Slow and Fast buttons MIDI-assignable
  • True emulation of Leslie 122 rotary speaker
  • 3 reverb types and tube amplifier emulation
  • Separate controls for horn and drum rotary speed
  • Cabinet recorded with dual microphones using True Stereo Dynamic Engine

CONS

  • Lack of good factory presets
  • Not so inspiring user interface

Features and Specifications

LX122 models the Leslie 122 by applying True Stereo Dynamic Engine. It emulates the cabinet room placement followed by a dual microphone recording setup. Microphones can be angled and change the amount of ambiance effect. Both horn and drum are fully editable regarding speed so you can adjust the exact rotation for both chorus and tremolo effect including a brake function.

Besides Leslie, LX122 provides you with 3 reverbs with dedicated knobs for time and damping along with the drive knob for the tube amp emulation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Leslie is an essential part of every Hammond sound so investing in a proper one may turn out to be a cheaper and more reasonable solution than buying an Organ VST, especially if you have some hardware or software keyboard already. Drive found in tube amplifier works really nice, so this VST effect will suit even heavier songs. We also like that apart from having a separate control for horn and drum speed control there is also a switch that controls both simultaneously in case you don’t have so many free buttons on your MIDI keyboard.

Best Pipe Organ VST:
Best Service Organum Venezia

PROS

  • Very low CPU footprint
  • 18 pre-programmed combinations
  • Sample-based church organ emulation
  • Wonderful church convolution ambiance
  • Infinite legato with seamless sample loop switching

CONS

  • No key switching keyboard interface
  • Not so much in-depth sound editing

Features and Specifications

Organum Venezia is a sample-based software that honors Cavaillé-Coll’s creation, the most famous manufacturer of the typical French romantic organ. 

This library is packed with 18 different combinations from Grand Organ and Positive manual stops, Combination stops, Old Style, and Pedalboard stop, all available at the front panel along with the sliders for the Reverb and Volume control. They put special attention to capturing the ambiance of the church where the organ is located by sampling every single stop independently in Tutti, Flute, and Reed mode.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Pipe Organ is an extremely versatile instrument. It can sound victorious in Tutti mode, or bright while playing Reeds only or even more gentle if you go and pick the Flute so it’s up to you to decide what character your song needs the most. Our guess is that you will use Tutti mode the most as it represents the most typical and expected sound from such an instrument. And luckily, this preset is actually a showcase of the whole VST collection.

While this plugin probably won’t replace the real pipe organs out there, it may be a solid choice for any performing musician.

Pros and Cons of Organ VST Plugins 

Let us give you some hints that may not seem so logical at first:

Pros

Below are the main pros:

Guitar Substitute

Organ VSTs are just like an electric guitar - one of the kind instruments that stand out on its own wherever you put them. Its sound signature is unmatched and it can even replace any need for guitar tracks for your project as it works with overdrive and distortion units as good as the real guitar and works even better as a percussive song element.

Versatile

You may think that organs are limited to vintage music only. But there are some iconic EDM tracks that used organ either as bass or theme instrument. Check “Show me Some Love” and “Gypsy Woman” and you’ll get a better idea of how versatile an organ can actually be as an instrument.

Color Changer

Applying any kind of organ to your song can drastically change the color of your song. If you’re struggling to get the right vibe, this may be a game-changer for you.

Cons

Below are the main cons:

Frequency Battle

As it covers the same spectrum as the electric guitar you may have trouble making space for it in your song mix, especially if your song sounds like a very crowded place.

Conclusion 

Organs are those instruments that actually made a keyboard player rock star, just like a real guitarist. So, if you’re interested in any kind of rock music and especially hard rock and prog rock (or metal), a decent Organ VST is always a nice add-on to your studio gear.

People Also Ask

There are certain trivia about organ instruments so let’s find out what’s that reverse-color octave on real organs, what is Leslie made for, what kind of MIDI controller you would need for this VST and what should you expect if you decide to go deep with the Organ VST:

What’s the Biggest Pipe Organ?

Based on the number of pipes, Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in Atlantic City has 7 manuals and 33,114 pipes. It weighs 150 tons. But, the heaviest one is Wanamaker Grand Court Organ at Philadelphia's John Wanamaker department store and it weighs 287 tons with 6 manuals and 28,750 pipes.

What Are the Black Keys on an Organ?

Black keys could be considered as the actual pioneers of the key switch system found in many VST instruments, like orchestral VST. Those keys don’t produce a sound, they are patches for different registrations where black and white keys call a certain preset from the panel and the lowest C cancels any sound.

What is a Leslie?

Leslie speaker is a sound modification combo unit made from an amplifier and speaker that’s used with Hammond B3. The effect is made by a sound source rotating around a specific pivot point which produces tremolo and a variation in pitch. It usually works at two speeds and has a specific brake circuit. 

How Many Keys For an Organ VST?

While 61 would be considered as an ideal size, 49 could work too. There is a need to use more than 61 keys as no hardware organ ever used such a key range. If you want you may even combine two MIDI controllers one on the top of another for a dual drawbar interface.

Are Organ VST Plugins Hard to Learn?

It won’t be hard if you have any experience with playing keyboards, there are a couple of licks and mindset “notes” you would have to apply if you want to make your playing fully professional. For other musicians with no keyboard skills, there is good news - it’s easier to learn than a piano.