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Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by dlew919, May 20, 2020.
B B King
Wow, what a question! Where to begin with?
Most of Velvet Underground tones are great. The whole eponym first album has incredible sounds, including the Ostrich guitar. Including sounds which are not guitar (e.g. the celesta + bass intro of Sunday Morning). Or the super mellow Pale Blue Eyes solo. Even the basic strumming in What Goes On appeals me. And some have Gretsch inside BTW.
Scotty Moore's early tones, such as the I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine solo.
More modern tones: Adrian Belew for Bowie is great (Red Sails, Boys Keep Swinging) and so is Robert Fripp (It's No Game, Fashion).
Asa Brenner of the Modern Lovers mark II plays so simple but I dig it.
Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry! CHUCK BERRY!!!
P.S.: Distortion? Jimi Hendrix and Ron Asheton.
Hell yeah! Love the raunch of the junky proto-punk tunes, the chaotic noisefest stuff, & the beauty of stuff like Pale Blue Eyes, Lisa Says, I'm Set Free, etc.
I tend to like the clean sounds.
Chet Atkins: Clean, modest reverb, occasional slapback delay, Filtertron/Supertron/Blacktop pickups. Chet used a Standel amp a great deal of the time for a clean, bright sound. Chet was no slouch when it came to electronics and built some gear. As I recall, he built his own tube driven tremolo which was used on the song Slinky, and it sounded fantastic.
Pat Metheny: Clean, reverb/delay combined. I haven’t researched his gear, but I know that I can come close using an EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master, through my Winfield Tremor.
Mark Knopfler: Sultans of Swing sound. That sound has always reminded me of late ‘50s Rock n’ Roll.
Joe Pass: Somewhat unique among Jazz guitarists. While many Jazz players of that generation went for a very dark sound. Pass seemed to find a unique balance. A D’Aquisto Jazzline through a Polytone was the rig.
Johnny Smith: Johnny was a step beyond Joe Pass. The Johnny Smith Model Gibson had no gap between the fingerboard extension and the top. This gave very strong, very focused highs and a Smith Model played in the upper register is surprisingly bright. Overall, Johnny’s timbre was brighter than average for Jazz players.
In the ‘60s, Johnny used an Emrad Amp, a custom designed solid state amp designed to sound like the Gibson GA-75L amp that he used on his three Verve albums.
Don Rich: Buck Owens’ lead player all but defined the Bakersfield sound. He was known to play Telecasters, but I recall hearing that he was known to play a Jaguar, a Mosrite and even a Les Paul, but the sound I remember best is a Tele played through a Blackface Fender with the reverb set just a bit over the top.
B.B. King: The sound King got was a Gibson 355 through a Gibson Lab Series solid state amp with nothing but a patch cable in between. This doesn’t sound like a recipe for great timbre, but King’s sound was exceptionally good.
Freddie King: As best I understand it, Freddie was playing his ES 345 through a Brownface Showman. It’s a curious mix of clean and not so clean. The highs have a lot of sparkle and clarity, but the lower register sound has a fair degree of natural breakup. It could be a combination of the fairly hot Gibson Humbuckers driving the front end of a Brownface. Plug a Fender guitar into that same amp through a Fender Tube Reverb unit and you have the ultimate Surf setup, circa 1962.
Here’s the clip:
Hank Marvin: A Strat through an AC 15, and later an AC 30, with some interesting delay up front was Hank’s basic rig and the sound was tremendous. Hank took delay to a new level of creativity. The Shadows used AC 15s, until they gained so much popularity that they ended up needing more volume. Vox created the AC 30 as a result and that was adequate, until Beatlemania came along and made even the mighty AC 30 too small to be heard. That’s amazing, because in spite its 30 watt rating, an AC 30 can give the average Twin a good run for its money.
Larry Carlton: Carlton spent a lot of time straddling the boundary between clean and not so clean. Famed for using an ES 335, he also used a Strat for many years. He was known to use a Dumble amp, which was designed for a lot of gain up front.
While I don’t like heavily overdriven sounds (my tastes draw the line at to point where notes lose definition), I love how Carlton effortlessly and skillfully rides the boundary between clean and broken up, resulting in a warm, Bluesy sound that threatens to go over the top at any moment. The sound strikes me as natural and not the canned sound you hear from some artists. There is a degree of natural compression, but the dynamics are never compromised.
For me, Neil Young defined the Gretsch sound in Rock in the late '60s.
Not at all in keeping with my Mr. Clean tastes, Clapton’s sound on the Bluesbreaker album is world class. I’ve played the Marshall Bluesbreaker amp and found it to be very “elastic” in its response. I’ve never played anything quite like it. Clapton’s “Bluesbreaker” amp was built to his specs as a Marshall that would fit in the trunk of a car. I don’t have a schematic, but my ear tells me that there is no negative feedback circuit, which would explain the elastic, somewhat squishy response the amp offers. IIRC, the Bluesbreaker is rated at 35 watts. I’ve played the 18 watt Marshall 1974 amp and I’d be hard pressed to say that the Bluesbreaker has any more clean headroom.
While a prefer a bit more starch in my collar, so to speak, the Bluesbreaker is a unique amp. The closest comparison I can think of would be the ‘59 Bassman, which also has a very elastic response curve once you push it a bit.
Mike Bloomfield on either a Tele or Les Paul Standard
Leslie West with a Les Paul Jr.
Ritchie Blackmore and a Stratocaster
George Harrison with either a Gretsch or a Tele
Eric Clapton using anything other than a Stratocaster
Jeff Beck using anything he so chooses
Reflecting on this, I did really like the sound Clapton got from a Stratocaster on "The London Howling Wolf Sessions"
Jeff Beck! How could I have forgotten him?
WTH! How do you pick? I like a lot of tones and that is a problem. Probably why I am always drooling over a new different speaker. So here are just a few. Gene and Roy And their Martins. Ricky Nelson particularly the guita used in Rio Bravo, Elvis on the train inGI blues. Judas Priests Guitarist, Metallica, Eagles, Monkeys, LaCuna Coil, Joan Jet, Dick Dale, Jerry Reed and Chet, Brian Setzer, and the list goes on and on but in the end I gravitate to Martins the most. I would be hard pressed to find a tone from memory I don’t like.
Clapton during the Mayall and Cream years
Johnny Winter, the first several Columbia albums
The Three Kings: B.B., Freddie, and Albert
George Barnes on multiple albums
That's just the ones I can think of in about three minutes.
Somehow I forgot Albert King. Johnny Winter and Roy Buchanan
As I recall reading somewhere, Jim Marshall had a Bassman in his shop at the time, and got some electronic engineer friends to try to copy the circuitry as best they could. Result being the first JTM45, which is now a museum piece in the Marshall factory.
Here's an interesting story about B.B. King's tone. - A guitarist friend of mine was playing in a blues/rock band, and when the band asked him if he could get a 'more B.B. King sound', he explained that he couldn't as he had a Strat, and that B.B. played a Gibson.
Fast forward a bit, the band was playing a club in London, when who should walk in?!!!
B.B. was asked to do a number which he duely did taking my friend's Strat, and guess what - sounded classic B.B.!!!
Pretty much, the Marshall was a Bassman built with parts readily available in Great Britain.
A lot of it is no technique.
Oddly, while Gretsches are far and away my favourite guitars to own and play, most of the records with my favourite guitar tones were recorded with Gibsons.
David Gilmour's LP on "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2" is like caramel.
Eric Clapton's SG "Woman Tone" on "Sunshine of Your Love" is iconic.
Steve Hackett's LP on "Firth of Fifth" flows like a river.
Mark Knopfler's LP on "Brothers in Arms" is dark and rich and gorgeous.
Carlos Santana's SG on "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" is a laser-beam of pure tone that could cut the hull of a battleship.
And just to give Fender some love:
John and George's Strats on "Nowhere Man" are shimmering and chiming.
SRV's tone is fat and delicious.
B.B. King's sound was a Gibson 335 thru a Gibson Lab 5 amp. Inherent in that was the Varitone-the ultimate mud switch. He usually stayed on the neck pickup as well. On any other rig, it was likely the neck pickup only, and the tone switch rolled way down.
Chuck Berry, Steve Cropper, Muddy Waters, Pete Townshend, Johnny Ramone, Malcolmand Angus Young... different tones... Personally I like when I take my Fender amp on a natural begin overdrive and it still sounds clean but hot.