getting that nice chet finger style sound

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by musicman100, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Age:
    37
    Aug 15, 2008
    England
    thoughts please from any of you guys that play chet atkins style on getting that nice clean sweet sound.
    I don't mean what guitar to use. I mean more of the amp settings and effect levels.

    cheers
     
  2. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

    Age:
    66
    Oct 9, 2008
    Slovenia
    A big part of it is using a thumb pick and muting the bass strings with the palm of the left hand to get that "thump" in the bass parts. You don't want the bass notes ringing and overpowering the melody. That said, I tried using a thumb pick and gave up on it, so I don't get the sound quite right.

    Chet got a nice mellow sound, so with a modern amp, you need to turn the treble down. He also liked echo/delay, so it helps to use some sort of delay (I have a Boss pedal). Not a lot of repeats, more of a slapback.
     
  3. ChetEddy

    ChetEddy Gretschie

    134
    Apr 8, 2011
    rockymtns.
    I'm guessing you're going after the "early" Chet sound,which in my opinion is the best.Short delay,11's,amp not too loud,filtertrons the best,settings no more than half at the most,tweak according to your amp.Using a thumbpick is ideal,but you can get a good sound without one.
     
  4. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

    Age:
    66
    Oct 9, 2008
    Slovenia
    There's a guy who posts on the other Gretsch site named Richard Hudson who has released a couple of CDs of Chet songs. He does a very good job of it, but he gets a brighter tone than Chet did. Maybe it's partly because of new recording equipment having a wider frequency range than the old stuff.
     
  5. T simmons

    T simmons Friend of Fred

    Age:
    57
    Jun 5, 2013
    California
    Another thing that Chet did was practice for hours.Thats the key.
     
  6. ChetEddy

    ChetEddy Gretschie

    134
    Apr 8, 2011
    rockymtns.
    I knew i left something out,you're absolutely right.You have to practice this constantly,even after you've memoized it.
     
  7. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Age:
    37
    Aug 15, 2008
    England
    You have to practice any thing If you want to be good at it. Never mind the style.
     
  8. Crooner

    Crooner Friend of Fred

    Apr 15, 2009
    Boston
    The truth is that 99% of the sound you seek is in your hands and fingers. To get there, find the right technique and practice, practice, practice.
     
  9. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Age:
    37
    Aug 15, 2008
    England
    Thanks for your replys. Its more the electric sound eg amp, that I meant not the Technique.
    The technique side of the sound is a big part but that goes for most style if you are trying to achieve a good sound not just Atkins.
     
  10. dallasblues

    dallasblues Gretschie

    Age:
    44
    153
    Jan 14, 2012
    Dallas, TX
    I can't say exactly what type of gear he used to achieve that tone. Unfortunately there are just so many variables that it'd be hard to replicate what we hear on his recordings. For instance... type of guitar, pickups, pickup height, strings, amp, speaker(s), tubes, studio configurations, type of microphone, mic placement etc.

    I suppose if you had a tone represented in a specific recording of his you could make a rough generalization or two. If, let's say, you like his sound from a record from the early to mid 50's, you might be able to deduce that he's using a 6120, possibly with dynasonic pickups. He'd most certainly be playing through a tube amplifier. Now which one exactly would be hard to say... but you get the idea.
     
  11. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Did Chet ever use a compressor?
     
  12. NSM245

    NSM245 Synchromatic

    518
    May 7, 2011
    Scotland
    Precise tone settings will change depending on what amp you use. Chet used different set-ups at different points of his career - in his early days he used Dynasonic pups but said often that he wasn't totally happy with them. His favourite guitar, and the one used on most of his recordings from say around the mid sixties was a Country Gentleman guitar with a Supertron at the neck and a Filtertron at the bridge. He used a variety of amps - often a Standel, especially in the studio. He also used, in the 70s, many different amps - he was often seen on tour with a Peavey.

    I don't know what kind of amp you are using but on a Vox AC type amp, you can get close to the sound by using the Powertron/Filtertron combination - mainly neck pup with a little bridge pup mixed in with it. Set the bass on the amp to around 6, set the middle away up around 9 or even full up, and treble on 4 or 5. The AC30 is inclined to be a little trebly, so if you are on, say, a Fender amp, you may need to raise the treble a little. Put the master volume on the guitar around 8 or so, have an echo set for one repeat, very quickly after the main note, a very small amount of compression and set your reverb around 3 or so, and you're good to go. But....as others have said....the real secret is in your hands.
     
  13. Valvey

    Valvey Electromatic

    11
    Apr 8, 2013
    morgantown wv
    I'm guessing the early Chet used heavy gauge flatwound strings also.
     
  14. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    I read a story that someone complemented Chet on the sound his guitar made. He placed it on a chair, walked away from it and said "how about now?"
     
  15. NSM245

    NSM245 Synchromatic

    518
    May 7, 2011
    Scotland
    According to Paul Yandell, who played with Chet and was his right hand man for over 20 years, Chet never used flatwounds - he described them as 'dead as a doornail, no sustain' and made a sound like 'there's a quilt over the amp'. Chet himself is quoted as saying, in 1979, that he used Gretsch "Chet Atkins Country Style Strings". He gave the gauges as .010, .012, .020 wound, .028, .038, .048 or .050.

    He used Peavey amps for a while then switched to Music Man amps, which were his favourites for touring, according to Yandell. He played through a 15 inch speaker. He used a Standell for most of his recordings but thought it wasn't robust enough to take on the road.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice