Archive for the ‘ Classic Gear ’ Category

Classic Gear: Pedal Steel Guitar

Pedal Steel GuitarThe pedal steel guitar’s journey to Nashville began in the Hawaiian Islands. Islanders would take an old guitar, lose the frets, raise the strings, and then slide the dull edge of a steel knife to sound wavering chords up and down the strings. Further tinkering from the Dopyer Brothers led to the invention of the Dobro, the classic bluegrass instrument. The Dobro eventually morphed into the lap steel, which when electrified was one of the first electric guitars, and along with ukulele became one of the signature sounds of Hawaii. After Gibson added pedals to their lap steel, calling it the Electraharp, pedal modifications developed until the standardized pedal steel was born.

Unlike the lap steel, the pedal steel guitar is not limited in its voicings – it allows for an unlimited amount of inversions and chords. By depressing pedals and knee levers while playing, the pedal steel performer can raise or lower each string up to two steps. Combined with the crying slide of the steel bar used to fret the strings, this affords the pedal steel guitar its expressive and distinct whine that Lloyd Green would call “the other voice in country music.”

However, pedal steel’s use is not limited exclusively to country music. The pedal steel has been used in rock music by David Gilmour, Manassas, and Steely Dan. King Sunny Adé even incorporated the instrument into Jùjú music, bringing the story of the steel all the way to Nigeria.

Examples
Webb Pierce’s “Slowly” was the first record to feature pedal steel guitar. Bud Isaacs had attached a pedal to his console steel guitar that yanked the pitch of two strings, affording quick access to two common tunings. During the very first chords you can hear Isaacs bend a string up and back down, a resounding ‘hello’ from country music’s new signature instrument.

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Webb Pierce “Slowly”

Long time steel guitarist for Buck Owen’s Buckaroos, Tom Brumley was another celebrated player, who would go on to record with Rick Nelson, Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band, and plenty others. This tune, adapted from either an old Hawaiian lap steel rag, or the 1920’s “Guitar Rag” helped popularize the pedal steel in C&W circles, and is still performed today by most every steel guitar player.

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Buckaroos “Steel Guitar Rag”

Buddy Emmons, “the Big E,” wasn’t only one of the world’s greatest steel players, he also damn near invented the thing (when you order a pedal steel, you have to specify if you want an Emmons or [Jimmy] Day setup). A lap steel player early as age 11, Buddy went on to play with the likes of Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, and The Everly Brothers and formed the successful pedal steel manufacturing company, Sho-Bud. On his 1963 Pedal Steel Jazz record, Emmons set out to demonstrate the versatility of the instrument.

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Buddy Emmons “Gravy Waltz”

Even if you can’t stand Frank Zappa, this next track is worth a listen for what may be the hottest steel solo I’ve ever heard. After some characteristically bizarre orchestrated mayhem, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, legend of the steel (too many appearances to name), stretches way out over one of FZ’s most addicting grooves.

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Frank Zappa “It Just Might Be A One Shot Deal”

Classic Gear: Harpsichord

HarpsichordIt’s by no means an essential piece to the quintessential rock band, nonetheless the harpsichord,dating from the 1500s and the predecessor to the piano, served a distinct sound on plenty of essential late sixties records, earning it “classic” status, and the first acoustic spot in our ongoing series on classic gear.

The first difference you’ll notice from the piano is the inverted keys. The black and white keys are reversed (a sleek effect, almost as sexy as grey and white). The sonic difference from the piano results from the way the keyboard vibrates each string. Piano keys “hammer” the string, while harpsichords “pluck.” This plucking action gives the harpsichord the extra bright tinny sound so often associated with classical music and what would become known as “baroque pop.”

Examples
Besides the standards (Yardbirds “For Your Love;” Stones “Lady Jane,” “Yesterday’s Papers,” “In Another Land;” Kinks “Two Sisters,” “Session Man;” Beatles  “Lucy In The Sky,” “Because” (actually a Baldwin Electric Harpsichord) and “In My Life” emulates the harpsichord with a sped up piano solo — find more here) below are a few examples that put this ‘ancient’ instrument to good use in the 60s:

Lords of ‘baroque pop,’ the Left Banke frequently rocked the harpsichord, decorating many of their gems with that other-timely sound. The Left Banke Anthology comes highly recommended.

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The Left Banke – I Haven’t Got The Nerve

The End might have borrowed the Stones’ harpsichord for the Introspection sessions, which were produced by Bill Wyman. This performance is from legendary session man, Nicky Hopkins (the subject, and harpsichordist, of Ray Davies’ “Session Man” indeed).

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The End – Loving, Sacred Loving

Curt Boettcher set out to make the greatest album of all time when he finally got a chance to record Begin in 1968. Harpsichord gets used and abused on this powerhouse leadoff, an unbelievable track for all first timers:

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The Millennium – Prelude

And of course Rod Argent and the Zombos, they used harpsichord as well as piano, organ, harmonium, and Mellotron all over Odessey and Oracle. Come to think of it, it’s hard to find a psychedelic masterpiece without harpsichord on there somewhere! 

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The Zombies – I Want Her She Wants Me

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Classic Gear: Guitar Amps

Young aspiring musicians won’t narrow their eyes on some guitar amp and dream of one day becoming a rock star. That inspiration will strike first from the gleaming make of some classic guitar or keyboard, not the big ugly box they’re leaning on. But without a proper tribute to the beastly speaker boxes that made the sound of rock come alive, our classic gear series simply cannot continue.

The first thing you should know about these amps is they run on vacuum tubes. Tube Amps produce a warmer sound than Solid-State amplifiiers. In my opinion this is almost as significant as the difference between analog and digital. You can tell if it’s a tube amp by looking in the back for those big light bulb-like tubes, or if it takes a little while to warm-up after you click the ‘on’ switch. There are merits to Solid-State technology of course, but early in the 60s you had no other choice but a tube, lending to its revered and classic status.


Vox AC30

Vox AC30

Visually gorgeous and beautiful in its sound, the AC30 must top any list of classic guitar amps. The AC30 was strongly associated with the British Invasion; the Vox company was started in Kent, England and quickly found itself providing amps to the main bloodline of 6os rock n’roll. Much of the Vox’s characteristic sound is attribitued to its revolutionary Celestion loudspeakers, but the real kicker on this amp is the “Top Boost” channel, which adds a bright distortion in the style of a Kinks guitar sound. Everybody used a Vox in those days: The Beatles, The Kinks, The Stones, The Yardbirds, Queen, it’s still highly regarded today and was used by modern legends like Paul Weller and Kurt Cobain.

According to this history of the AC30, the Shadows had a mutally beneficial relationship with this amp during its roll-out in 1959/60. Here’s a cut from Britain’s most influential rock instrumental album:

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The Shadows “Theme From A Filleted Place”



Fender Twin Reverb

Fender Twin Reverb Another legendary guitar amp, the Twin Reverb was often paired with a Rhodes keyboard as well. Better known in their silverface models, the blackface is pictured at right as these were produced first between 1963 and 1967. Other classic models from Fender include the Deluxe Reverb or the Princeton Reverb, but the Twin remains its most iconic, resting at the apex of perfect guitar amp design.

One of the great things about the Twin Reverb was the built-in spring reverb unit. If you were to kick the amp or pick it up and drop it or shake it, you get this awesome storm effect from the spring clanging around. Bands would often do this during the melt down of a live show; it’s a classic easter egg effect. You can hear Roy Nichol’s Tele & Twin combination on Merle Haggard’s Okie From Muskogee live album (source).

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Spring Reverb Demo on Farfisa Compact by Brendan

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Merle Haggard “Okie From Muskogee (Live)”

 

Marshall Plexi

Marshall Plexi

Sometimes a combo amp like those above had the right sound, but couldn’t visually communicate the ferocious roar contained within. Enter the Marshall Stack. A Marshall head amplifier resting atop a speaker cabinet (or two) has an image that immediately communicates “loud.” Legend has it that the Marshall stack was invented when Pete Townshend asked Jim Marshall to build him a “weapon” to overpower rowdy audiences. Marshalls from the mid to late 60s had plexiglass faceplate covers, which earned them the “Plexi” nickname. The Marshall stack is the preferred rig of guitar gods like Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend and the classic solution for the guitarist who wants it as big and loud as possible. As Spinal Tap fans know, Nigel Tufnel had his Marshall’s volume knob modded to go “up to 11.

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The Who “The Ox”

Honorable Mentions
Fender Bassman
Orange AD-50
Mesa/Boogie Mark IV Combo
Ampeg B-15
Dumble Overdrive Special

The Beatles with their AC30s “She Loves You”

Classic Gear: “The Telecaster”

The Fender Telecaster is perhaps the most iconic and revered electric guitar. Maybe 2nd fiddle to its brother the Stratocaster, championed by Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, the Tele (telly) is simply cooler, still in style today thanks to its boxier, understated design. Distinguishing guitar models by their sound is usually a job only for guitar geeks, but the Tele’s clean treble cut can be heard a mile away by anyone.

One of the neat things about the Telecaster is an element nobody uses. The bottom pickup, close to the bridge and mainly responsible for the Tele’s characteristic high tones, was originally designed with a faceplate (like so) dubbed an “ashtray.” But since it would get in the way of so many player’s strumming hand, the ashtray would be ripped off in nearly every case, influencing future designs to forego the plate completely, leaving an uncovered and unfinished metal bracket encasing the pickup. Accidental design couldn’t get much better.

The Telecaster is known for its many modifications though, and often is a guitar hot-rodder’s first pick. The most common mod is the addition of humbucker pickups, used to fatten up the sound. Another popular modification is the addition of a B-Bender, used by country guitarists to emulate the pedal steel (see below). While the model pictured to the right is the classic, popular variants include the Thinline, featuring a small hollow body section with a fancy F-hole, and the Deluxe, though these models both use humbuckers and tend to lose the characteristic sound to a degree.

The hard body and close bridge pickup give the Tele its thin, gritty sound that has been a staple for the genres of country, rock, blues, and funk music – Sly Stone, among others, proved this guitar was perfect for the high-end choppy rhythms that drive the genre. As for the rest let’s take a listen:

Examples
Buck Owens and his Buckaroos defined the guitar-bassline and chickin pickin’ style integral to the Bakersfield sound. Don Rich, Buck’s right hand man, was not only a fine singer but an excellent country guitar player and hero for the telecaster. This song is straight up country rock ahead of its time:

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Buck Owens and his Buckaroos – Buckaroo

Keith Richards popularized use of the Telecaster in a rock context using alternate tunings and strumming the hell out of it. Probably the best riff-based guitarist out there, his licks are one of a kind and owe a lot to the Telecaster.

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The Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler

Co-inventor of the B-Bender and a big favorite around these parts, Clarence White owned one of baddest Telecasters of all time (now apparently heisted by Marty Stuart). A set of complex mechanics in the back enabled CW to bend his 2nd highest string upwards a full step, mimicking the sound of a pedal steel guitar. In the track below, an excellent instrumental version of this classic, listen to him pluck the harmonic note and bend it up… nasty.  For more on how the B-Bender works, take a look at this guy’s video. [EDIT: Okay, I just learned this Nashville West recording was pre-bender, must be a whammy bar].

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Nashville West – Ode To Billy Joe

Speaking of badass Tele’s, you’ve got to respect Joe Strummer’s committment to a good guitar, using his beautiful beat-to-death axe exclusively his whole life. “Ignore Alien Orders” read the sticker that defined his guitar for so many… sometimes you just need a good sticker on your Tele.

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The Clash – The Right Profile

As always, let us know about your own favorite Tele players or recordings…

Classic Gear: Combo Organs

Forget the Hammond B3 and her clunky brethren, the organ of choice for the discerning (and touring) 60s rock band was bound to be colorful, compact, and a scorcher in sound. The suitcase style combo organs, revered for their “cheezy” timbre, defined a classic sound for many well-known outfits and devoured the churchy sound from the organs of yore, paving the way to the synthesizer age. Welcome to the wonderful reedy world of combo organs.

Vox Continental

The Vox Continental (1962)
Lord and master of all things combo, this line of organ is probably revered as much for its sound as for its sleek look. The beautiful inverted, harpsichord-like keys, smooth pull drawbars, and striking red flat-top cover set the bar for portable organ design over the next 10 years. Initially meant to replace the B3 for touring musicians, the distinct transistor sound of the Continental caught on with groups like the The Animals and Sir Douglas Quintet and was used most famously on Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gada-Da-Vida. The Super Continental boasted two sets of keyboards (known as “manuals”) and even more customization of sound with a “percussion” feature, while stripped down versions like the Jaguar featured only preset buttons, without the drawbars, and a slightly thinner sound. Hard to go wrong with the Vox Con tho; let’s hear it tear. “Lay it on me, Augie“:

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Sir Douglas Quintet – She’s About A Mover

Farfisa Compact

Farfisa Compact (1965)
They’ll tell you any combo organ recording from the 60s… if it’s not a Vox Continental it’s the Farfisa Compact. The Farfisa sound is somewhat distinct, sounding punchy and chewier than the Vox, and the “Farfisa” name does seem to embody the whole combo-organ sound in our collective consciousness. The Italian-made Farfisa was converted from the company’s transistor accordians, and became the 2nd most popular combo organ after the Vox; probably a more affordable choice for tons of 60s garage bands. The octave of black keys on the left could be switched to a bass sound that was separate from the white keys, and uniquely, you could push the lever on the bottom with your knee to open the filter of the sound during performance. The Compact line spawned many fine instruments including the Farfisa Compact Duo (two manuals), the brilliantly designed (but non-transistor) Farfisa FAST and Professional, and a series of interesting organ/synthesizer hybrids. Here’s a clip of Herbie Hancock riffing nasty on a busted Farfisa for Miles Davis’s Tribute to Jack Johnson:

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Miles Davis – Clip from “Right Off”

Gibson G101

Gibson G-101 (1966)
Ray Manzarek used the Vox Continental for the first two Doors albums, but switched and stayed with the G-101, also known as the Kalamazoo. His use of the instrument, combined with a Rhodes Piano Bass set on top, has lended to its classic, sought-after status. Not only did the G-101 have black bass keys like the Compact, but an additional set of gray keys that could switch between an extended bass section or extended treble section. Other features included vibrato, tremolo, and sustain controls. What most distinguished it from other combos were its Piano and Harpsichord sounds, similiar to sounds heard on Back Door Man (The Doors) and Lucy in the Sky, respectively.

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The Doors – Roadhouse Blues (Live in Pittsburgh, May 2, 1970)
(buy new release)

Almost all thanks for this post goes to the heavenly Combo Organ Heaven site, a gem of the internet and loving tribute to these underappreciated and no longer manufactured keyboards.

Honorable Mentions
Ace Tone Top Series
Elka Panther Series
Lowrey T1 (G101 cousin)
Fender Contempo
Yamaha YC Series

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Classic Gear: The Minimoog

Minimoog

Bob Moog’s modular systems were some of the first widely used synthesizers, but the Minimoog was created for portability and performance, designed for keyboard players looking to easily tweak some expression into their playing. Use of the Minimoog gained popularity in the early 70s and quickly found its place in nearly all genres of music. Today the Mini is still the most in-demand vintage analog synthesizer and has achieved iconic status.

Sound is produced by one, two, or three oscillators – basically tone generators that can produce sawtooth, square, or triangle waves – and then processed through a mixer, noise generator, filter, and amplifier, all with fully adjustable controls. Further control of the sound was easily accessible via the modulation and pitch wheels located to the left of the keys.

It’s a monophonic synth, meaning you can only play one note at a time (ie. no chords). Mono synths are useful for leads however, in that quick melodic runs (and bass lines) never have overlapping notes and sound exceptionally neat and fluid. Besides, tweakable sound modules hardwired inside this unit guaranteed that the lack of polyphony could never be a limitation. Performing with the Minimoog goes beyond the keyboard; to truly master the instrument you have to play the knobs.

Today Minis trade at high prices on ebay and demand has led Moog Music to produce a reissue, the Minimoog Voyager boasting MIDI support and the ability to save presets. For analog purists they have even introduced the Voyager Old School with absolutely no digital interference. French company, Arturia has even released a faithful software emulation of the Mini, the Minimoog V (as well as several other classic synths).

Note: the word “Moog” rhymes with “rogue” or “vogue.” This is detailed at the Robert Moog wikipedia page and the official Moog homepage. It is considered polite not to correct people who pronounce it with a cow’s “moo” but those insisting that your “mogue” pronunciation is incorrect will not be tolerated.

Examples
Sun Ra’s “Seen III Took 4″ from The Solar-Myth Approach Vol. I is a great example of the minimoog. I believe he used a prototype that he got directly from Bob Moog on a trip to Trumansburg in 1970. It was the model B, as opposed to the Mini D that became the standard. -Kenneth

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Sun Ra – Seen III Took 4

Don Preston tears the Mini apart during the encore of the Mothers performance on Fillmore East, June 1971.

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The Mothers – Lonesome Electric Turkey

After three experimental records, Kraftwerk released Autobahn in 1974, a massive success and a blueprint for much of electronic pop to come. Here’s an awesome cut from side 2:

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Kraftwerk – Kometenmelodie 2 (Comet Melody 2)

To be honest, it can be difficult discerning which records used the Minimoog unless it is specifically noted in the credits. But I am sure the Beach Boys had a Mini lying around during the Love You sessions. First time listeners and critics often mistake this 1977 record for a low point in the Beach Boys career, but I assure you it is brilliant synthesizer pop and the best Brian Wilson album.

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The Beach Boys – I’ll Bet He’s Nice

Let us know if you think of some other essential Minimoog recordings!

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Classic Gear: Classic Effects

Crybaby (Wah-Wah Pedal)Vox Clyde McCoy

The Wah Pedal is often the first tool added to a budding guitarist’s arsenal, the old standby for waka-jawaka rhythms or a classic Hendrix sound. Moving the pedal up and down alters the tone, specifically the filter, of your sound. Playing guitar leads while adjusting the pedal can give the notes an expressive, mouthy quality, almost like the guitar was trying to say the word ‘wah’ or ‘wow.’ Jimi’s guitar style is one of the smoothest in history, but he couldn’t have pulled off Voodoo Child without a wah-wah.

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Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child

Space Echo (Tape Delay)Space Echo

A beautifully designed effects box, the Space Echo RE-201 is the most well-known and sought after tape delay. A delay or echo unit continuously records whatever sound you are feeding in there, and repeats it back, creating an echo that is adjustable via speed and depth controls. Modern effects units accomplish this via digital recording, but what makes tape delay so cool is that it actually records and plays back pure analog from a looping piece of magnetic tape.

The Space Echo was king of a long line of tape delay units including the Echoplex, Binson Echorec, Meazzi Echomatic and many other fine specimens. Check out the Binson Echorec all over Gandalf’s self-titled debut, notably the vocal for Golden Earrings.

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Gandalf – Golden Earrings

Mutron III

Mu-Tron III (Envelope Filter)

An Envelope Filter (or Follower) is a hard effect to describe sonically, but easy to place categorically. It’s kind of an instant-funk stomp-box that supplies an automatic ‘wah’ to your playing. This effect was developed in 1972, by Mike Beigel and Aaron Newman when they decided to see if they could create new products from parts of the synthesizer. Stevie W first used the Mu-Tron in combination with his clavinet for Higher Ground and Jerry Garcia also owes a large debt to this little box for a piece of his signature guitar sound.

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Grateful Dead – Shakedown Street

 

Eventide Harmonizer H949

Eventide Harmonizer (Harmonizer)

Tony Visconti famously described the Eventide Harmonizer to David Bowie as an effect that “fucks with the fabric of time.” This was one of the first digital effects boxes and was capable of changing the pitch of a signal without sacrificing the tempo. This meant you could sing or play guitar into the Eventide, and what you played could be doubled at a higher or lower pitch (harmonized). Get fancy with the tweaking and all manner of wild, early-digital sounds were possible.

Tony Visconti kept this machine a secret when producers tried to ask how he got such unique drum sounds on Low, the first record to use the Eventide. Crunchy drums aside, it’s clear his use of this awesome rack unit was pretty liberal all over Low.

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David Bowie – Speed Of Life

Classic Gear: The Fender Rhodes

Press your hand to these keys for the first time and you’ll hear it, the smooth electric ring with a touch of grit and lots of soul. It’s hard not to sound good on a keyboard this classic, but the best players can muscle out a powerful growl. You probably know the sound.

The Rhodes is not an electronic instrument or a synthesizer, it works mechanically like a regular piano. Rather than hammering strings, each key on the Rhodes strikes a thin metal rod, called a tine, that is cut to length and amplified through a pickup. A few knobs on the faceplate can alter the tone or vibrato, but modification of the raw sound is barely needed. Plug this baby in a Twin Reverb and you’re good to go.

It was invented by Harold Rhodes as a bedside piano for wounded GIs, and manufactured by the Fender company as early as 1959, but portable (though damn heavy) stage models produced in the late 60s would drive its popularity and acceptance by artists from jazz, rock, soul, or any genre. Being one of the most important piano innovations of our time, the Rhodes is still dearly loved and highly collected today. As Ray Charles would say during Harold Rhodes’ lifetime achievement Grammy award presentation, “The Rhodes was a musical atom bomb, changing the face of the music landscape forever.”

Examples
First let’s hear from Herbie Hancock from his 1970s Rhodes promo record. This is a great introduction to the capability and sound of the Rhodes from one of the deepest keyboard explorers ever.

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Herbie Hancock “Demonstrates The Rhodes Sound; Side A”

Get Back features some nasty Rhodes soloing by “fifth Beatle,” Billy Preston. The Let It Be Naked release is said to better represent Preston’s fine contributions to the Beatles’ music.

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The Beatles “Get Back”

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Classic Gear: The Theremin

ThereminThe Theremin was one of the first electronic instruments and the only musical instrument that is played without being touched. The looping antenna on the left controls volume, and the straight antenna on the right controls pitch.

When you move your hand closer to the pitch antenna, the sound will rise from a low tone to a high tone, releasing a deafening squeal should you touch it. For the volume antenna, moving your hand closer will soften the sound in amplitude and touching it will cut the sound off entirely. Knobs typically control things like the tuning of the instrument and timbre of the sound (sine wave or triangle wave). For futher clarification, take a look at this short youtube demo.

The device was invented by Russian scientist, Léon Theremin, in 1919 and has enjoyed a life of relative novelty, often relegated to scary sounds records and sci-fi movie soundtracks. It was notably used in the soundtrack of movies such as Spellbound and The Day The Earth Stood Still performed by Dr. Samuel Hoffmann. Other artists have fully exploited the instrument’s expressive range, similar to that of a cello or violin, in classical music (see Clara Rockmore below).

For many years, theremins were available as DIY kits in the back pages of boy scout magazines and music tech rags and thankfully they are still widely available. Robert Moog has long championed this simple electronic instrument and over the years has produced many of the most beautiful models, in completed or kit form.

For those interested in the theremin, electronic music, or great films in general, I cannot recommend the 1993 documentary Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey enough. It is more than the details of an electronic instrument but a story about love, devotion, and art. Highly recommended.

Examples
The most common example of the theremin’s use in pop music is actually not a real theremin. Paul Tanner performed the memorable “theremin” lines on his Tannerin or electro-theremin which was a mechanically controlled oscillator that shared a similar sound to the theremin, but was considerably easier to play. Matched with cellos digging out hard triplets, the Tannerin helped create one of the most interestingly produced choruses in pop history:

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The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations

For Between The Buttons, Brian Jones brought some very basic theremin, reminiscent of amplifier feedback, to this pounding Stones track:

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The Rolling Stones – Please Go Home

The same Dr. Hoffman mentioned above performed theremin for two tracks on Capt. Beefheart’s debut. P.S. if you dig this track don’t miss these videos containing spectacular live footage of the Magic Band.

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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Electricity

And now, the best for last.
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Classic Gear: The Rickenbacker 12-String

This Is What I Want For My Birfday

This is that thin wild sound. The one and only instrument to associate with terms like Byrdsian and jangly. An unmatched guitar in design, craftmanship, innovation, and sound. Rickenbacker makes a fine guitar with six strings, but 12 is the magic number.

Playing a 12-string guitar doesn’t mean you have to learn how to play with six more strings, it’s just that the strings are set in pairs. It’s played exactly the same as a regular guitar, but your finger is pressing down two strings at once, each tuned to different octaves.

Opposed to acoustic 12-string guitars (and mandolins, which are similarly designed with 4 pairs of strings), Rickenbackers are designed with the lower string on top of the high string, lending to its characteristic sound.

One of the lesser known features of these guitars is the Ric-O-Sound kit, which allows the pickups to split the signal of the guitar to two different outputs. Imagine plugging into a rich Fender Twin Reverb and patching the 2nd line through a Space Echo or a cheap old fuzzbox. The effect is like having two distinct guitar tones playing in exact synchronicity.

Lastly, just look at the thing. Damn beautiful. The twisted and tech-looking headstock, modernist slash f-hole, tiered white pick guard, and the signature “R” in the bridge. Pictured is the classic red Fireglo color scheme, one of many often changing themes in the Rickenbacker legacy, the other more famous colors being Mapleglo (Byrds) and Jetglo (Lennon).

Examples
George Harrison got his hands on the 2nd 12-string Rickenbacker ever made. The Beatles had access to every instrument their imaginations could conjure up so it’s no surprise they’re on top of the classic gear front again. Leads like the one in Hard Day’s Night tuned everybody in to the Rick’s wild sound:

The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

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Pete Townshend was an avid Rickenbacker user and one of the best rhythm guitarists of all time. This is a full example of the raucous rhythmic power of the 12er, with an excellently brief solo. The Who’s debut is too great for words:

The Who – I Can’t Explain

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The Byrds are the quintessential Rick band. Roger McGuinn is widely known as the king of the Rickenbacker 12-string. John Coltrane’s saxophone was inspiration to the devastating solo on this classic Byrds cut. Is he using the Ric-O-Sound on this one?

The Byrds – Eight Miles High

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The Byrds may have owned the gleaming mercury sound of this guitar (actually a key component in defining the word ‘jangle‘), but they didn’t trademark it, dammit! Let’s dive back under the radar with a great song from Instant Orange’s excellent 1973 lp:

Instant Orange – Plight of The Marie Celeste

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