Delay, Reverb or both for rockabilly?

kpnash

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2020
62
Germany, Karlsruhe Area
That's how it was back in the 50s.

Sam Phillips achieved a slapback echo with the Ampex tape machines at Sun

Here's how it worked. A tape machine had its playback head slightly behind the recording one. Normally it was meant for sound engineers to monitor recordings. But in this case, playback head was used to capture delayed signal that was being sent to one more tape machine. I'm not sure about Sun Records though. Most Sun rockabilly songs I'm thinking of have dry guitar parts? But that technique was surely used by Owen Bradley and his guys.

An example would be this song that has a part where delayed signal is used to produce the beat of straight 8th notes, the same trick used in some other songs recorded at Bradley's, most notably Johnny Carroll's Hot Rock, the trick itself is explained here at 3:15 (no affiliation lol):



Now if we do some math, the tempo is AFAIK 118 bpm half notes, that makes 472 8th notes per minute. One minute is 60000 ms. That means it has to be delayed by 127 millis to produce an 8th note. On the original recording it's not spot on, those repeated 8ths feel a tiny bit faster, that's why I say 120. Another reference could be Gene Vincent's Double Talkin' Baby where delay was used... I don't know what for, they must have been trying to hide something :) But at roughly 109 bpms, those repeated 8th notes feel a bit slower than you'd expect them to be...

In any case, this is what we can hear on those vintage recordings. For other stuff like neorockabilly etc. things might be different, so it's all about what kind of distinct bang you're after!
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,236
Firenze, Italy
A friend of mine runs an all analog recording studio and has a bunch of those reel to reel machines, so I've tried that trick with a Revox A77 (I think) with variable speed on Cramps-like guitar tones and it really sounded fantastic.
A bit complicated to run live though, although those Revox are not that big and heavy (nothing like a Twin or a Ac30)... :)
 

AllenK

Gretschie
Feb 7, 2019
499
Staffordshire Moorlands, UK
I've found my Memphis Sun pedal on the Room setting plus the Reverb on my Roland Blues Cube Hot set around 3-4 gives a Rockabilly sound I like when playing at home. Playing live, if the acoustics on the gig venue have strong echo anyway I reduce the amp Reverb setting and/or switch to my DM-2W.

If the venue has a particularly strong echo then the DM-2W set to a single repeat with the delay setting at 12 o'clock works well on its own. Otherwise, the DM-2W plus amp Reverb around 4 holds its own.
 
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gasmoney

Electromatic
Aug 6, 2014
37
usa
Rockabilly from 54’-59’ is the golden era, And slap back echo is a big part of the sound. Reverb not so much.
Good tight echo from any number of pedals will suffice. Room reverb is part of the sound you hear on old recordings as mentioned. But the guitar is just echo.
I’ve been picking rockabilly since 1984. I like a lot of different pedals for echo.
I was a die hard analog tape echoplex loyalist but then the nocturne mystery brain 301 arrived.

Until I got the 301 brain there was no pedal that provided me with an almost exact Cliff Gallup or Scotty Moore sound. The 301 brain is quite an amazing pedal. Period. It can be dialed in so well for any particular guitar player. The other features on the pedal enhance the sound nuances even more so.
Reverb for surf and blues.
Echo for rockabilly
Tavo for the win
 

Runamok

Country Gent
Sheesh, not all rockabilly from back in the day had slapback tape echo. Some of it was just the room ambience, corridors, toilets, water tanks or whatever. Some of the great Chess recordings were without echo. Sometimes I find its a relief to leave echo off and use a bit of reverb from the El Pescador....not all reverb is surf either
Its never a good idea to put a toilet on stage as an effect.
 

SLICKFASTER

Country Gent
Dec 29, 2009
1,303
USA
Rockabilly from 54’-59’ is the golden era, And slap back echo is a big part of the sound. Reverb not so much.
Good tight echo from any number of pedals will suffice. Room reverb is part of the sound you hear on old recordings as mentioned. But the guitar is just echo.
I’ve been picking rockabilly since 1984. I like a lot of different pedals for echo.
I was a die hard analog tape echoplex loyalist but then the nocturne mystery brain 301 arrived.

Until I got the 301 brain there was no pedal that provided me with an almost exact Cliff Gallup or Scotty Moore sound. The 301 brain is quite an amazing pedal. Period. It can be dialed in so well for any particular guitar player. The other features on the pedal enhance the sound nuances even more so.
Reverb for surf and blues.
Echo for rockabilly
Tavo for the win
How do you set up you 301’s echo controls for the Gallop/ Moore sound? Iv been fiddling all over the place n could use your perspective..
 


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