Date = 1974

Country = Japan

Type = Analogue

Drum Voices = 11

Rhythms = 16 x 4 (Vari) = 64 (Preset)

Rhythm Combining = Too right!







Back in 1970, the Hammond Corporation joined forces with Sakato Shokai of Osaka, Japan to form "Nihon Hammond". This company would not only take over manufacture of Hammond organs but was also responsible for the implementation of new products which included, (for the first time) the new transistorised analogue drum machines which were fitted into their organ consoles and sold as stand-alone units.

These "rhythmers" incorporated technology licensed from the Ace Tone and the later Roland Corporation which was not unusual in Japan at that time, (as you've probably already read elsewhere on this site).

As far as we're able to trace, there were three Hammond analogue drum machine models. The first two appeared in 1972. The "Hammond Auto" was a licensed copy of...







the Ace Tone FR-2L (which also appears in these sample pages) and was identical in every respect to the Ace Tone unit. There was also the smaller "Hammond Rhythm 2" which was based on the Ace Tone FR-3.

In 1974, Hammond commissioned their own "Auto-Vari 64" which, (although borrowing heavily from the monolithic Roland flagship TR-77) contained some very unique and ground-breaking features at the time and would go on to sell very well and appear in two, (cosmetically altered) variants.







The most important of these features was the "Auto-Vari" section, (see pic left) which enabled the player to select from four variations of the main 16 patterns, (giving a total of 64 rhythms) which could be programmed to run in a repeating chain between 2-16 measures. Also, each rhythm consisted of 2 measures (or bars) although we did find that the Rock rhythms were in fact two identical bars... Whether all this actually worked in practise however, remains to be seen as some of the rhythm variations aren't as harmonious as they may have liked.







Reflecting on the AutoVari 64 today, the main thing that strikes you when coming face-to-face with this beast is its sheer size! This is the largest drum machine we've ever seen, (and we thought the TR-77 was a monster).

The rhythms themselves on the whole are very good on this machine and there are plenty of them. It has to be said though, that one or two can be either very minimal or a little too cluttered. We're not too sure what the "Liverpool" beat was about either. We were expecting some kind of "Mersey Beat" kind of thing but in fact these are nothing of the sort. They're actually half-time ballad type beats with extremely minimal instrumentation, (great for getting single hits though).

The sounds do contain some apparent "lifts" from the Roland TR-77, (mainly the kick, snare and hi-hat) but somehow seem a little more refined with a smoother/crisper sound. The kick does suffer from the same lack of attack click as the TR-77 though, making it more of a bowel crushing "whumph" than a smack in the chest! The percussion sounds are pretty unique and would therefore be the most distinct. The rimshot in particular seems to comprise of two simultaneous sounds, (a low level snare and a pitched tone rather than just the latter). The only weakness in our view is what Hammond refer to as a "Sandblock" which is really just a white-noise burst which may be a tad too high in the mix and could have done with being much shorter (and hence more percussive). Thankfully with REX files we can sort all that now with our digital tricknology.







Sadly, there is no control over the output of the individual instruments via mute switches or faders. The Auto-Vari does have a "balance" pot (common on machines of the time) for adjusting the level of Cymbal to Bass Drum but this is found on the back of the machine by the outputs, (pic right). We have seen an example of the AV64 which was modded with individual outputs though... now that WOULD be something!













As mentioned, there were two models of the Auto-Vari 64. The original was produced from 1974 to 1979 and was replaced by the Mk 2 in 1980 which ran for a short time until production ceased entirely due to digital sampling technology. In some part due to the success of the Auto-Vari, (which sold incredibly well) the Mk 2 version was mainly just a cosmetic update and the sounds and patterns remained identical to the original with the exception of Afro-Latin being replaced by the hip "Disco" and a tap tempo function being added.







In hindsight, there are a few features that could have been included that would have made this machine even more useful in a studio environment but the Auto-Vari wasn't designed for that. It's also a pity for the samplists that, (without modification) there are two drum sounds which don't appear in isolation in any of the patterns. Those being the Cowbell and the Rimshot. In our case, we managed to find hits that only had a hi-hat over them but we made a point of including these in the individual hits anyhow, (just remember to not program a hi-hat to play at the same time).

That said, the amount of sampling material we've been able to extract from this machine is immense! Not only have we sampled all of the 64 rhythms but we've taken FULL advantage of the rhythm combining options and provided you with 117 additional combination rhythms. We could have gone even further but there does come a time when you have to say that some of the combinations are a bit of a mess and back off. We think you'd be hard pushed not to get inspired by the extremely useful patterns included in our monster sample pack and once you hear it, it may go some way to explain why the Auto-Vari is now creeping its way into studios across the world as a secondary unit to the CR-78 and Korg Mini Pops 7.

We're also told that some people actually like and get off on that white-noise "Sandblock" ;o)







Sample Pack Info:











Recycle RX2 Loops:

Single drum hits (WAV):

This sample set contains 181 four bar loops. That gives you the original 64 rhythm patterns plus evey useable combination of patterns that we could prise out of this beast. Once again, we've gone overboard but we never get any complaints for doing so!

The Auto-VAri 64 set contains an unbelievable 296 individual drum hits:

Thats: 32 Kicks, 80 Snares, 112 Hi-Hat/Cymbals and 72 percussion sounds, nice!







What's so special about these sample packs? Quite simply, there isn't anywhere on the internet or in any commercial sample library where you can get this stuff. We made these samples because nobody else has.







All Dubsounds sample packs are sampled directly from our own drum machines. They are definitely NOT ripped from sample CD's, unlike many you see on Ebay at the moment, (which is a bit sad). All the rhythms are recorded directly into Pro-Tools from the machine's audio output and are not equalised, compressed or effected in any way. We want you to have the closest thing to the real machine as possible but with the added benefits of seamless integration into your VST host. The only thing we have done is to CAREFULLY remove any unwanted electrical noise and hum present in the signal, (if required) and taking extreme care to avoid damaging the delicate percussive transients. These samples were made for our own use first and foremost!







Hammond Auto-Vari 64 - 181 loops - (HUGE 120Mb download)








Please note:

Before buying; please make sure that you have read the information on the drum sounds intro page