Neil Young tone?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by Randy99CL, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Synchromatic

    786
    Feb 17, 2020
    Albuquerque
    I'm sure this has been discussed a million times in the last 50 years but nothing good came from a search.

    I listen to Neil Young's albums of the late '60s and early '70s for his classic "Gretsch Rock Sound" as I hear it.

    I know he's famous for his White Falcons, is that what he played on those albums?

    The question of the day: which pickups did his guitars have and would I get close to that sound by installing those pups in my 2622 (or a 5420 that I buy just for this purpose)???
    Left Channel.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  2. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    304
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Filtertrons, no? His 6120 and his White Falcons both had them.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. MotorCentaur

    MotorCentaur Gretschie

    338
    May 11, 2016
    Seattle
    I think it would be his Fender Tweed Deluxe and whatever he "slaved" it into, as much or more than anything else...
     
  4. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    304
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    I'd also be curious to know how the stereo wiring on the Falcon affects his tone, even when it's run in mono.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    The stereo Falcon separates the top three strings from the bottom three strings.

    The 4 switches on the upper base string side allows numerous combinations of these "split Filtertrons."

    Neil in stereo action. Notice the distortion of the bottom strings compared to the top strings.

     
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  6. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I’ve seen him play the Les Paul for that song back in the 70’s. And a lot of that signature tone comes from the Les Paul.
     
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  7. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    IIRC, Neil hadn't traded his mono Falcon with Stills for the stereo Falcon yet.

    He also started using his newest guitar around this time too, the LP.

    I don't hear the stereo in this song, so his Gretsch guitars had regular Filters in them.

    TV Ray Butts would be the closest modern day Filters to the '50's units in Neils Gretsch.

    Neil was also getting into the tweed Deluxe too. Good old all natural distortion.
     
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  8. lathoto

    lathoto Gretschie

    301
    Apr 23, 2020
    Ohio
    This guy does more with less by stacking the overdrive with a delay kicker. While you're at it look up the "Whizzer."

     
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  9. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Synchromatic

    786
    Feb 17, 2020
    Albuquerque
    Down by the River?? I have learned that almost anything can be made to sound like almost anything else with the right combination of stuff. Within reason, of course.

    Thankfully the engineers didn't have as much experience with stereo recording then as now and the guitar isolated in the left channel really sounds to me like it must be a Gretsch and that is the sound I'm looking for. BTW, I have a fairly costly set of powered component speakers (with sub) on my computer and the sound is way above their pay grade.

    I've read about Neil's amps and Whizzers. What I am hearing of that exact guitar sound is pretty clean.

    And thanks G5422T, I looked up the TVJ Ray Butts and the mount won't fit any SLs or EMs. The TVJ Classics might get me there. I'm just starting this quest for sound and will need to learn a lot more before I buy anything.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  10. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    You bet. Classics would be pretty close.

    If you were ordering a pair new, go with no potting. You could also have them put a neck Classic in a bridge housing, which would give you more of the original lower output, and string to pole spacing.

    Best of luck on your quest. It's always fun!
     
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  11. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I think you're right - that era and on that album. You can find Youtubes '69-'70 with the Gretsch. But somewhere not long after, he switched and I've not seen anything but his black Les Paul since. My first time seeing him is around '78 and it was the Les Paul and every time since. It can be done clean either way.
     
  12. lathoto

    lathoto Gretschie

    301
    Apr 23, 2020
    Ohio
    That's Danny Whitten (RIP) in the left speaker playing Neil's White Falcon through a Showman.
     
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  13. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Synchromatic

    786
    Feb 17, 2020
    Albuquerque
    Wow, thanks for the info! I googled Danny and read his Wiki page, what a tragic story!
    I really was about 99.9% sure that was a Gretsch, it is really distinctive and I love that sound.
    It is funny that I couldn't name what most artists were playing back then (or maybe I just don't remember anymore, LOL) but that sound of Neil's Gretsches was always distinctive and memorable. Clear, jangly, just incredible and to this day I can't remember hearing another that sounds like that.

    Edit: That sound is why I bought a Gretsch and why I am here.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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  14. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    I'm with you on Neil's Gretsch sound.

    That's why I love TV's RB pups. Closest thing to that vintage Filters sound that's stuck in my head!

    They just push a modern Gretsch to being one step closer to those sounds.
     
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  15. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    How close would unpotted Classics get to the Ray Butts?
     
  16. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Synchromatic

    786
    Feb 17, 2020
    Albuquerque
    Earlier tonight I grabbed this off the TV Jones website.
    TV Jones pickups.jpg
    Looks like the TV Classics are sonically very close to the Ray Butts.
    Go to the site for an explanation of how the potting affects the sound.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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  17. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    This.
    I love Neil’s Gretsch sound but his signature tone is, to me, the Live Rust one. And that’s P90 + mini HB.
    As for getting there with a Gretsch, I had decent results when my 6120 still had the ceramic Filtertrons. A bit too much compression, but it allowed the Tweed to give more grind with less need of pushing the volume knob. After that, it’s only stacking clean boosts and some delay. It wasn’t available at the time, but I bet that Mystery Brain and something like a Micro Amp stacked would be perfect for the job.
     
  18. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Tnx for that, I just grabbed an unpotted Classic from my locals. I didn't realise they were this close to the Ray Butts.
     
  19. lathoto

    lathoto Gretschie

    301
    Apr 23, 2020
    Ohio
    On "Mr. Soul" Neil plugged his guitar straight into the console to get this lead guitar tone on his Gretsch. After some research I believe he was the first guitarist to do that.

     
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  20. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    I'm not sure Neil's early tone was amp into amp was it? Isn't that a later thing?
     
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