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Clean players who use Les Pauls

Pat Boyack

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Oct 19, 2011
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4,161
That's a new one for me. They mostly played live and mic'd up to the board from what I know. Buddy Guy complained they wouldn't let him wack up his amp in the studio.

Yes and T-Bone's Capitol and Imperial recordings were him plugging straight into the board? Doubt it.

THIS is a clean sound and he is plugging straight into the console......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sYUthjyTb8

.....and THIS was into the console? Doesn't sound like it to me. This is a cranked amp with plenty of ambient mic placing and "hair of the dog". :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCxbN9ZeHTA

Don't mean to argue but let's get it right.
 

chuckNC

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Apr 24, 2012
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Originally Posted by chuckNC
The first time I heard Mike Bloomfield (and knew it was him) was on a Chess album called Muddy and The Wolf. I wouldn't call the sound here through-the-board clean but I think it is within the parameters of the OP's question. And it's some good playing too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iltUij2wi2Y



Ahh, "Fathers & Sons", one of my favorites.
Yeah, but the album I bought only had some of Muddy's stuff from "Fathers and Sons." It was a single record and the balance of the stuff was from Wolf's "London Sessions." I bought it at a record store because it was right there and looked good. It was! Eric sounded pretty good playing Brownie on that disc too.

Record stores, wow! Some department stores had record departments too. You always had to page through the stuff and see if they had anything good. Seems like a lifetime ago now.
 

chuckNC

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That's a new one for me. They mostly played live and mic'd up to the board from what I know. Buddy Guy complained they wouldn't let him wack up his amp in the studio.
That's because Buddy played a Bassman. Chess got those heavenly sounds by using mic placement and a cranked Bassman needed a much bigger room than they were using!:laugh2: Little Walter went many a round with Leonard Chess about using his mic/amp combo in the studio. Chess saw it as a big headache. Walter saw it as his sound. He also felt that the band had to hear him in the room to be able to play off him properly. Sometimes Walter prevailed, other times no. Earlier on, when he was selling well for Chess, he usually got to use the amp. :hmm
 
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I realize that Bloomfield got some sustain from his amp, but using mainly Super and Twin reverbs, his tone was much cleaner than most of the Marshall guys. I've always considered small Fender amps 'clean' tones, compared to Marshalls and other high-gain amps. Obviously a cranked tweed Deluxe or Bassman is not a clean sound, but I think most of you understand what I mean. I'm not talking about "plugging directly into the board like Les Paul" clean, but what "most" of us refer to as a clean tone, like a Twin or a Deluxe Reverb amp.

I would agree Bloomfield's clean tone is fantastic. I believe the live version of Mary Anne is a great example of what you are talking about. Beautiful clean playing in the beginning you can hear when he increases the volume and starts pushing the amp a bit to build intensity. Bloomfield was a master absolutely love the way he plays.

I think the dynamics are missing with a lot of modern players that was more common with the great players in the sixties.
 

roadrunner

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Aug 25, 2001
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That's a new one for me. They mostly played live and mic'd up to the board from what I know. Buddy Guy complained they wouldn't let him wack up his amp in the studio.

That they did Big Al. They also recorded direct, certainly not all the time but more than you'd think.

There's a great pic of Chuck B., recording at chess with his amp, a small(er) tweed, leaning back on a folding chair and Chuck stooping down to sing into the mic... which was halfway between the two. Recording guitars, and just about everything else was a question of balance back then. There wasn't a "we can fix it in the mix" mentality, it had to be right going in. I've heard more than one old engineer say, "Things were pre-mixed back in the day. It had to be right, as it was recorded."
Recording direct simply made things easier.

Freddie King's Let's Hide Away and Dance Away album has some great clean LP tones. At least what most would call clean. P90s and a Fender amp clean.

Freddie's instrumental record is a landmark, and all those songs are classics. Tonewise? I've never been able to really nail that tone without cranking an amp, and turning down the guitar to clean it up a bit. Pretty hard to get a clean sound from a P90 guitar and a tweed or brown Fender. Clean(er)... yes, certainly. Clean? Not even close.

Yes and T-Bone's Capitol and Imperial recordings were him plugging straight into the board? Doubt it.

THIS is a clean sound and he is plugging straight into the console......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sYUthjyTb8

.....and THIS was into the console? Doesn't sound like it to me. This is a cranked amp with plenty of ambient mic placing and "hair of the dog". :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCxbN9ZeHTA

Don't mean to argue but let's get it right.

No arguement here Pat! Try this little experiment sometime. Get ahold of an ES-150, with a Charlie Christian pickup... and plug it into a '40's Fender or Gibson amp. Then get a band together with good horn section. Then record it using an old RCA tube desk, with 2 or maybe if you're lucky, 4 channels. Yeah man, do that. Get everything to balance with the drummer, the horns, the piano, and play live... all in the room at once. Let me know how that clean thing's workin' for ya after that, ok?:rofl :salude If you can get close to anything within two ballparks (actually I'll give you 20 ballparks) of 'Bone's early sound with a setup like that... well, you're a miracle worker!:dude:

The first link you posted was a Johnny Watson tune btw. Was that recorded direct? Sounds nice!

The second thing, BB's "Singin' The Blues" album Classic record. First tune, yup, that's an amp and some glorious tone but check out track 3, "Everyday (5:57)..." for an example of what I'm talking about :salude... guitar>>>>desk>>>> either a chamber or an old EMT plate, for the reverb.
Oh, fun fact about that record, and BB's first hit, "3 o' Clock Blues" recorded at the black YMCA in Memphis, 1950... who's the guitar player? I'll give ya a hint... it ain't BB. Ah, those old myths, crumbling before our eyes... sorry man, hate to let the air out of yer cake.

The Crown stuff was a lot of older RPM, Kent and Modern sides that were leased to Crown, a budget record label. The Crown stuff was sold at gas stations, cafes and drugstores, usually for .99 (or less) per record. Crown released a f*ck ton of stuff on BB, I think 13 albums or something like that? The later stuff was recorded on the fly whenever B' was in town and available. Some of that stuff is recorded direct. Listen to the Crown release, "Blues in My Heart", to see what I'm talking about.
 

Pat Boyack

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Oct 19, 2011
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That they did Big Al. They also recorded direct, certainly not all the time but more than you'd think.

There's a great pic of Chuck B., recording at chess with his amp, a small(er) tweed, leaning back on a folding chair and Chuck stooping down to sing into the mic... which was halfway between the two. Recording guitars, and just about everything else was a question of balance back then. There wasn't a "we can fix it in the mix" mentality, it had to be right going in. I've heard more than one old engineer say, "Things were pre-mixed back in the day. It had to be right, as it was recorded."
Recording direct simply made things easier.



Freddie's instrumental record is a landmark, and all those songs are classics. Tonewise? I've never been able to really nail that tone without cranking an amp, and turning down the guitar to clean it up a bit. Pretty hard to get a clean sound from a P90 guitar and a tweed or brown Fender. Clean(er)... yes, certainly. Clean? Not even close.



No arguement here Pat! Try this little experiment sometime. Get ahold of an ES-150, with a Charlie Christian pickup... and plug it into a '40's Fender or Gibson amp. Then get a band together with good horn section. Then record it using an old RCA tube desk, with 2 or maybe if you're lucky, 4 channels. Yeah man, do that. Get everything to balance with the drummer, the horns, the piano, and play live... all in the room at once. Let me know how that clean thing's workin' for ya after that, ok?:rofl :salude If you can get close to anything within two ballparks (actually I'll give you 20 ballparks) of 'Bone's early sound with a setup like that... well, you're a miracle worker!:dude:

The first link you posted was a Johnny Watson tune btw. Was that recorded direct? Sounds nice!

The second thing, BB's "Singin' The Blues" album Classic record. First tune, yup, that's an amp and some glorious tone but check out track 3, "Everyday (5:57)..." for an example of what I'm talking about :salude... guitar>>>>desk>>>> either a chamber or an old EMT plate, for the reverb.
Oh, fun fact about that record, and BB's first hit, "3 o' Clock Blues" recorded at the black YMCA in Memphis, 1950... who's the guitar player? I'll give ya a hint... it ain't BB. Ah, those old myths, crumbling before our eyes... sorry man, hate to let the air out of yer cake.

The Crown stuff was a lot of older RPM, Kent and Modern sides that were leased to Crown, a budget record label. The Crown stuff was sold at gas stations, cafes and drugstores, usually for .99 (or less) per record. Crown released a f*ck ton of stuff on BB, I think 13 albums or something like that? The later stuff was recorded on the fly whenever B' was in town and available. Some of that stuff is recorded direct. Listen to the Crown release, "Blues in My Heart", to see what I'm talking about.

All points taken my friend. :yah I'll get to those this evening and check them out. :hank
 

roadrunner

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Aug 25, 2001
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All points taken my friend. :yah I'll get to those this evening and check them out. :hank

Here's a cool outtake from the "Everyday... " session in '54. You can hear BB talking to his piano player before they start the next take... talking to him from the control room on the talkback mic. That's kind of the first clue about how some, certainly not all, of these things were done back then. BB's not out in the room with the band. There's also this bit of info about the recording of this song... according to producer Jules Bihari, "We jacked BB's guitar straight into the board..."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4CklyiCEk
 

Fornax

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Apr 20, 2011
Messages
54
Great and enlightening responses!

Defining the lines between clean, brown, tube sustain, etc. is arbitrary, of course, as your brown might be my blue, but still fun to discuss! I'm looking for players using Les Pauls whose tone approaches the crystalline sounds of "My Best Friend's Girl," or anything by Robert Cray. Danny Gatton may have set a benchmark with his playing using his LP Custom.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
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14,294
Yes and T-Bone's Capitol and Imperial recordings were him plugging straight into the board? Doubt it.

THIS is a clean sound and he is plugging straight into the console......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sYUthjyTb8

.....and THIS was into the console? Doesn't sound like it to me. This is a cranked amp with plenty of ambient mic placing and "hair of the dog". :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCxbN9ZeHTA

Don't mean to argue but let's get it right.

I think you misunderstood my meaning, Brother Boyack. The new one on me was that they plugged any of those old Blues Men into the console. I've seen them and can't imagine how it could be done. Not with a hot blues combo. The early stuff was recorded MONO and mics placed to get the right balance with some help from the faders, (more correctly big ass knobs). What I meant when I said mic'd to the console was mic's picking up the amplified sound, not plugging the electric guitar into the console.

Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.
 

Pat Boyack

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Oct 19, 2011
Messages
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I think you misunderstood my meaning, Brother Boyack. The new one on me was that they plugged any of those old Blues Men into the console. I've seen them and can't imagine how it could be done. Not with a hot blues combo. The early stuff was recorded MONO and mics placed to get the right balance with some help from the faders, (more correctly big ass knobs). What I meant when I said mic'd to the console was mic's picking up the amplified sound, not plugging the electric guitar into the console.

Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.

I understood exactly what you meant my friend. I feel the same as you. I've been playing a d listening to guys like BB for over 25 years and surprised by Roadrunner's claim. I haven't had time to listen to the recordings he pointed out yet.
 

Big Al

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I understood exactly what you meant my friend. I feel the same as you. I've been playing a d listening to guys like BB for over 25 years and surprised by Roadrunner's claim. I haven't had time to listen to the recordings he pointed out yet.

Oh, nevermind. I was quoted so I thought you were addressing me. If they DID inject the guitar how would the player monitor his playing? I rarely have ever seen headphones used by instrumental musicians in live recordings, and monitor speakers used while tracking is unthinkable.
 

roadrunner

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Aug 25, 2001
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Oh, nevermind. I was quoted so I thought you were addressing me. If they DID inject the guitar how would the player monitor his playing? I rarely have ever seen headphones used by instrumental musicians in live recordings, and monitor speakers used while tracking is unthinkable.

It's actually really simple Big Al... you put the guitar player in control room, with his guitar and a the vocal mic. There's a monitor speaker in the control room, if the singer needs to hear more of the band. Check out the link I posted in my previous post... you'll hear BB, talking to the band, from the control room.

Monitor speakers, during tracking, unthinkable? Not unthinkable at all, and they would do it if the need came up.



I know this thread is about Les Pauls, sorry for the hijack... and yes, Peter Green, some of the best clean sounding Les Paul tone ever, I love Greeny's sound!
 

Pat Boyack

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Oct 19, 2011
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Some of that stuff is recorded direct. Listen to the Crown release, "Blues in My Heart", to see what I'm talking about.

OK, "some" being the key word here. It sure sounded like you were saying it was a common thing. I don't think it was.

And who DID play guitar on "3 O'clock Blues"? Newborn?
 

Pat Boyack

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It's actually really simple Big Al... you put the guitar player in control room, with his guitar and a the vocal mic. There's a monitor speaker in the control room, if the singer needs to hear more of the band. Check out the link I posted in my previous post... you'll hear BB, talking to the band, from the control room.

Monitor speakers, during tracking, unthinkable? Not unthinkable at all, and they would do it if the need came up.

Some problems with this.

Feedback and bleed from the the control room speaker into B's vocal mic and most studios had 4 channel boards. How could that have been done?
 
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