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Photos Of Clarence's Roy Noble Guitar
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MojoDreads



Joined: 16 Nov 2006
Posts: 5
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:06 am    Post subject: Photos Of Clarence's Roy Noble Guitar Reply with quote

There has been much interest and speculation regarding Clarence White's Noble guitar. These photos were sent to me directly from Roy Noble himself. I had them assembled into a photo montage for ease of viewing. Since Roy offered no written description, I have no idea when these photos were taken, or who owned the guitar at the time. It has been commonly accepted that Clarence's legendary Noble was made in 1968... this photo shows otherwise.

MojoDreads



Last edited by MojoDreads on Thu Nov 30, 2006 2:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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meatandpotatas



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 183
Location: The Great Northwest

PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MojoDreads,
Good to see you over here, thanks for posting the pics. I've seen alot of detailed pictures of Clarence's former Teles posted here, but not many pics of his acoustics. This is a great addition.

James E.
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1361
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi..thanks for posting here...

Let's see..Clarence owned a Whitebook (now owned by Roland) and he had a Noble as well. I believe the Noble was traded to Clarence by Bob Warford (who posts on this site) in exchange for Clarence's old white Tele (used on Sweetheart of the Rodeo)... Bob would be able to confirm this and perhaps verify the pix above... The current whereabouts are unknown. Bob are you out there?
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, that is Noble #69, which I bought from Roy, and later traded to Clarence for the white Telecaster... beautiful guitar, beautiful sound...

Bob
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Steve-o



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 115
Location: Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob, may I ask you a question? If anyone can clear this up, I think it is you. Here is what I wrote on another thread about Clarence's Noble:
"I went to college with Roy Noble, and he made his very first steel-string instruments for two of my pickin' pals from school (one six and one twelve). A classical player himself, Roy had built nothing but nylon-strings, and when the request was made by my friend, Roy disappeared into the library for about two weeks. He emerged and went on to make a beautiful rosewood dreadnought for the guy in his backyard shop over in Van Nuys. Watching a genius like Roy work with the most basic of tools was an experience, let me tell you. Back to Clarence's guitar- I was over at Roy's house when he took it out, unfinished, and strung it up to hear how it sounded. Astounding is the only word I can think of. We took turns paying it for about a half hour, and I remember thinking it was definitely worthy of its owner. With regard to the question over on the web link- it most certainly was built in 1967.....by 1968 I had been drafted and was nowhere near Southern California!"
All this is true- I didn't make it up. However, it is always said that Clarence's Noble guitar came from you in a trade. Since I was drafted right after seeing what Roy said was the guitar he built for Clarence, I wasn't around for the "delivery", so maybe that particular guitar never went to Clarence. Is that the guitar that ended up going to you? Can you shed any light on the sequence of events? I would just love to know how this all worked out. Thanks a lot- sorry the post is so long.
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve-o:

Don't know about whether or not Roy ever built a guitar for Clarence, but I can put together some of the timing for you as it relates to Noble #69, and see if it all fits together.

I was trying to recall where I got Roy's name originally, and it seems to me that it was from Clarence. At any rate, in about the Spring of 1967, while I was playing with the Kentucky Colonels/White Brothers, I decided it was time to work on acoustic guitar as well as banjo - playing with Clarence nightly could make you think a lot about acoustic guitar - and went to see Roy Noble at his home, which I believe was in Glendale. I don't know where he made his guitars, but I do recall that he saved all the sound hole cutouts from his guitars, all strung on a piece of fishing line like an oversized necklace. I also recall that he showed me a guitar that he had essentially covered with line drawings or patterns with, I think, a technical fountain pen, like a Rapidograph - the guitar was unfinished wood, with all these involved patterns on it. I don't think it was for sale.

Frankly, I don't recall whether I ordered a guitar from him, or bought one that he showed me there, but I think the guitar was already made, and the soundhole cutout was already on his string of soundholes when I visited him.

Being 20 years old at the time, when everything had a sexual context, the serial number of that guitar, #69, was memorable to me. Embarassing, but true.

It was around Summer of 1967, after Clarence and I had played with Rick Nelson (Clarence on acoustic guitar, me on banjo, and a very impressive James Burton on electric) that I started getting really interested in electric guitar, and in August, having recently turned 21 years old, I went to hear Clarence play at a bar in a bowling alley in Culver City, CA. At that time, he was playing the sunburst Telecaster that went on to be the testbed for the first b-bender.

Initially, he loaned me a couple of electrics (a Mosrite and a Jazzmaster, as I recall..), and then I bought a couple of Fenders from dealers.

In November, 1967, I went to see him again, this time in El Monte, CA, at a club called Nashville West (although the house band at the time was called the Roustabouts, and had different players from the group of the same name as the club). At that point, Clarence was playing the white Telecaster that I now have. I still had the Noble at that time.

It seems to me that it was sometime in mid-1968 that I was talking to Clarence about electric guitar, and how taken I was with it, when he told me that the white Telecaster (which he had used on "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" sessions earlier that year) was not being used, because the bender (then referred to, I believe, as a "pull-string") had been completed on the sunburst Tele. He had played my Noble several times, and liked it, and I really liked the feel and sound of the white Telecaster, and we agreed to trade.

I wish I could fix the date of that trade more precisely, but I know it was not later than early 1969, and I think it was in the last half of 1968.

So there you have it - just about everything I can recall about the Noble acoustic, and how it got to Clarence.

Hope that helps, and if you (or anyone else, for that matter) have any other details to refine or correct my recollection, they would be welcome....

Bob
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Bill Hisle



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 106
Location: East Oz

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob, another question about the bender on your white Tele. Could you tell us about your decision process in building and installing a bender on your Tele. Was it the stuff CW was doing at the time that influenced you to build the bender? Were there any other players using benders at the time, or was CW the only one you were aware of? Could you also re-tell the story of you and your Dad building your bender, and the thought/design/enginerring process behind that?

As always, your input is greatly appreciated and always interesting and informative. Thanks!
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill:

The brief (sorf of) version of the story, and answers to your questions are as follows:

First, as far as I know, there was only one shoulder-strap-actuated bender guitar in existence at the time, and that was Clarence's. The mechanism was so mysterious that I recall Gene Parsons telling me that Fender had people coming to venues where Clarence was playing, with cameras on poles to try to get photos of the guitar and mechanism. Mine turned out to be the second, as far as I know, and the only other one using the same Fender steel guitar parts as Gene used in Clarence's.

Anyway, thanks to the kindness and friendship of Clarence and Gene, Gene not only showed me the mechanism, but told me how they had used Fender steel guitar parts for the tuning fingers and rockers. Knowing what parts to get, I went to Fender and bought 4 of each of them. Both Clarence and Gene encouraged me to put a bender on my guitar. Gene also shared a problem that had developed with Clarence's guitar - originally, the lever that the strap hooked to was simply held to the body with a screw, but the torque of actuating the bender put lateral forces on the screw, and it gradually became loose in the wood. To fix that problem, Gene had drilled out a larger hole and lined it with a metal bushing, instead of staying with the wood screw fixation method.

My Dad was a mechanical engineer who had previously been a machinist, and he and I went over the design as shown to me by Gene. Dad felt that a system involving a bell crank would work well, and decided to use aluminum with teflon underneath it as a guide for the actuating lever, so the problem Gene had noticed would be avoided.

By this time, Clarence was using the mechanism only on the b string (remember that the original mechanism had tuning fingers on strings 1-4, to allow for combinations). For my guitar, I decided to still keep the possibility of mechanically bending 4 strings, but used the 2nd-5th strings, instead. The mechanism used allowed for sharping or flatting of each string, and the potential uses and combinations were still unknown.

Dad made drawings of the mechanism he designed (I should still have them around somewhere - maybe it would be interesting to some of the folks here if I could find and post them - let me know). I got the slitted back plate (made of very hard stainless steel) and the block for the tuning screws (aluminum) fabricated at the Physics Department shop at U. C. Riverside, where I was a graduate student at the time in Physiological Psychology and Biochemistry. The springs used to balance the mechanism were defective discards from the place where my Dad worked - they were shutter springs for reconnaissance cameras. How they were defective, I will never know, but they've worked perfectly now for almost 40 years without adjustment.

The rest of the parts were bought or home-made by my Dad, with me providing a very small bit of assistance and a lot of moral support and enthusiasm. He used a diagonal from a screen door to provide adjustment of lever position, built the bell crank by hand (with hand tools), formed, heated, and bent the actuating lever from stainless steel, etc.

The surprising part of all this is that, just as was the case for the springs, the entire mechanism has gone all these years without need for repair, lubrication (thanks in large part to ball bearings and teflon-lined guides), or even adjustment (other than b string tuning).

And, after all these years, I've still never hooked up any strings but the b string to the mechanism, and never explored the flatting side of any of the design. Maybe someday...

Incidentally, the entire mechanism can be seen in photos taken by Brian Friend and posted on this forum.

Hope that info is useful.

Bob
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1361
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob Warford wrote:

Incidentally, the entire mechanism can be seen in photos taken by Brian Friend and posted on this forum.

Hope that info is useful.

Bob


Hi Bob...

Thanks for the detailed historical info...it is greatly appreciated and really interesting.

For the record... the photos taken of your bender internal construction details were taken by Jim Sliff (Silverface) at one of our first Clarence Whote Forum jams... I took additional photos of your Tele and Vibrolux Reverb out at the 2003 Gramfest in Joshua Tree... Additionally..at a later jam, I took detailed photos of the interior electronics of your Vibrolux Reverb and was able to figure out what circuit mods Red Rhodes had made to your amp...

Brian
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops - Brian's right. Apologies to Silverface...

Bob
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Bill Hisle



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 106
Location: East Oz

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Bob. Thanks so much for all your insights and living history. I appreciate your willingness to share with all of us and let us take a peak into what was going on in those inovative days!

"I was a graduate student at the time in Physiological Psychology and Biochemistry."

A little more of the Bob Warford story slips out. Is there anything you haven't done? Surprised Smile
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Steve-o



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 115
Location: Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob- Thanks so much for all that info on the Roy Noble guitar. Just a guess, of course, but I would be willing to bet that you bought the guitar Roy said he built for Clarence. My guess is based on two things- the time frame you placed on the sale, and the three-piece back (I believe he told us it was the first time he had done this). I think it is wonderfully serendipitous that it went to you and then made its way to him. Keep on keepin' on with those great stories!
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve-o:

Thanks for the info - as I mentioned, I think it was Clarence that referred me to Roy Noble in the first place, so I assume that they knew each other... Strange serendipity, indeed, and it makes sense.

Bob
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john bodle



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 59
Location: crosby,mn

PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:41 pm    Post subject: clarences noble Reply with quote

I read that this Noble guitar kind of surfaced @ 7-8 years ago ( in the clarence white chronicles > via a fellow up in kentucky ) with I think John Delgatto trying to return it to the white family, maybe ? . I always hoped it that it made it back to ya michelle!!!!!!!! Boy I felt the tone was really there on that one . Of course you could have taken a yard stick , a hub cap and strung it with rubber bands and I believe clarence could have made it sound great !!!!! sounds biased huh? Very Happy john
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1361
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re-visiting this thread...super interestiing. Recently I've been focusing on my flatpicking, so interest in a new dreadnaught has surfaced (one of these days!)... and naturally to what Clarence played.

Studying the Guitar Workshop DVD carefully for playing tips and investigating the guitar Clarence was playing.. it does look like a Noble that he was playing. They look alot like a D-18 from the front, but you can clearly see the Noble Custom Guitars label in the sound hole and other element ssuch as the rosette pattern, and narrow head stock and tuners... as well as the light wood-colored? binding around the edges of the body. From the rear camera shots though the back of the guitar looks dark and any chance of ID'ing the back to that 3 piece with light color cannot be distinguished.

So it looks like a Noble but is it possible that is is a different one that serial number 69 above?

BTW...is their any other construction details about the Noble? What kind of wood is used in the top, back and sides?
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