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SPECIAL: collection of examples of the sound of a Leslie speaker when used with a guitar … and some more information sources

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Of course, the Leslie speaker was designed in the first place to work with a Hammond organ – and it does indeed work miracles there!! However, guitarists are always being curious and continuously seek new sounds, and so it was not too long before the Leslie got used fro amplifying the guitar, as well.

In the “Chorale” setting (slow speed of the motors powering the rotating horn and woofer drum), the Leslie provides the guitar with a subtle, highly complex chorus effect that (on record) depends much on how the Leslie is miked up . It can be a beautiful and somewhat eerie sound. With the guitar naturally having a much more lively sound than an electronic (or electromechanical) organ, the Leslie’s chorus effect can sometimes be almost too subtle to be clearly heard, but to those who know it (and love it) it is extremely special. On the downside, the continuously moving and shifting sound can deprive the guitar of a certain directness and make it “melt” too much into the background (if other sounds are present).

The “Tremolo” setting (fast speed of the rotors) generates a very lively, distinct vibrato (the term “tremolo” could not be more incorrect here!)

Below are some sound snippets exemplifying the sound of a Leslie connected to a guitar (most of these examples are with the rotors on “slow” – but you can easily identify the “fast” setting because it is so idiosyncratic! ).

Further down below a list of literature and links to info can be found.


A. Audio examples for the sound of a Leslie amplifying the guitar:

Neal Schon used a Leslie A LOT in the early days of Journey (the album “Next” is practically in its entirety one big demo for how guitar sounds played through a Leslie on “Slow”) :

You’re on your own:


Look into the Future


Midnight Dreamer







The Beatles (the sound of a Leslie is all over “Abbey Road”):



Sun King


Let it be




No Matter What



Tommy Bolin (with Billy Cobham):

Stratus (a great example of the two Leslie speeds – first slow, then fast)



Carlos Santana:

Samba Pa Ti (you may contest this but that special chorus-y sound can only be a Leslie, in my opinion)


Just in Time to see the Sun


Song of the Wind (actually, that’s the part where Neal Schon solos but both he and Carlos – who plays the second solo – seem to be using the same rig – the sound EXTREMELY similar to the point where I could not have told them apart had I not seen them play the tune live and witnessed how they share the song)



John McLaughlin

My Foolish Heart



Jimi Hendrix:

Little Wing





David Gilmour:

Any Colour You like (another example of switching the speeds of the rotors)


Brain Damage



Boz Scaggs:

Baby’s calling me Home (a particularly nice example for both rotor-speeds and the acceleration/deceleration effect)



Peter Frampton (very apt at using the Leslie with the two rotor-speeds and acceleration/deceleration):

Lines on my Face


Do You Feel like We do


A most charming demo of the Leslie by Peter F., and additional info can be found here on youtube; check in particular the intro and from 42:50. The whole video is very informative and worth viewing, actually.



Eric Clapton:



Doing that Scrapyard Thing


Presence of the Lord





Jimmy Page:

Black Dog


Good Times Bad Times (an example of the “fast” setting)



Joe Walsh:

Cast Your Fate to the Wind





Stevie Ray Vaughan (used the Fender Vibratone – a version of the Leslie 16 – a lot in the fast setting) :

Cold Shot


Couldn’t stand the Weather




Billy Gibbons:

Hot, Blue and Righteous



The Hollies:

The Air that I Breathe





By the way: if you think that – for some of these examples – I am wrong (i.e. there is no Leslie involved), drop me a line (at! I’d be very interested to discuss the “Leslie question”.



B. Information sources regarding the Leslie

Here is also some further material and information sources on the Leslie speaker:



Vail, M.: Beauty in the B – the Hammond Organ (ISBN 0-87930-705-6)

Fragher, S.: The Hammond Organ (ISBN 978-1-4584-0287-5)


Internet Resources:

as always, we need to check plausibility of the given info i.a. by comparing with other sources …


Interview with Don Leslie: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!


General info: – some of the info here might be questionable – seems to be quite well established info,


Not bad at all: the info from the Strymon company:


Fender Vibratone/Leslie 16:


… and last not least some scientific sources:

– /1/ Smith, J.; Serafin, S.; Abel, J.: Doppler Simulation and the Leslie; Proc. of the 5th Int. Conferenceon Digital Audio Effects (DAFx-02), Hamburg, Germany, September 26-28, 2002


– /2/ Henricksen, C.A.: UnearthingtheMysteries of the Leslie Cabinet, RecordingEngineer/ProducerMagazine, April 1981


– /3/ Herrera, J.; Hanson, C.; Abel, J.: Discrete Time Emulation of the Leslie Speaker; Convention Paper 7925, 127th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), October 9-12, 2009, New York, NY.


– /4/ Kronland-Martinet, R; Voinier, T.: Real-timePerceptional Simulation of MovingSources: Applicationto the Leslie Cabinet and 3D Sound Immersion; EURASIP Journal on Audio, Speech, and Music Processing, Vol. 2008, Art. ID 849696


– /5/Anderson, D.: Digital Implementation of a Leslie Speaker Effect; Lab Report 2, DESC9115, Semester 1, 2014


… there’s much much more out there …..

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