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Clarence's tone
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Muttcaster



Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 130
Location: New Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:12 am    Post subject: Clarence's tone Reply with quote

I've been listening to CW on Tele again recently and it strikes me how much I like his tone. Aside from the note choice and execution, I just like the way his guitars sound- and I think the Nashville West era tone is right up there. To me, his tone sounds more mid-rangy and a lot less ice-picky than many of today's Tele-slingers. Is this:

a) my imagination

b) an artifact of the recordings

c) a real thing?

Assuming (c), does this come primarily from:

1) his amps

2) his attack

3) the guitars

4) truly a mix of all 3?
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meatandpotatas



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

PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not really qualified to answer this, but I'll agree on the NW-era tone. That's one of my benchmarks, the other being Hag-era James Burton.

I think the notion of "tone", as we think of it, may be lost on the modern music industry. As they say, records have gotten so compressed. Guitars are bogged down with a dozen pedals in a chain. Amps are often solid state. The tone I like to hear doesn't really stand a chance in the mainstream. Leaving the mainstream for a minute, I do like Redd Volkaert's tone pretty well, at least on the live DVD I have.

Some of the other Tele-experts here could go more in-depth on why Clarence sounded like he did. From what I've learned here, and on my own time experimenting with the guitar in-hand, it's clearly all three of the things you mentioned. Again, the gear philosophy has changed so much, but you can't discount his attack either. When your gear really lets the dynamics shine through, it's amazing how the slightest change of touch in the right hand can change the sound entirely.


James
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Brian



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

PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Especially from the Nashville West era/recording...it really seems CW's tone is pure Fender ...vintage sounding pickups...and to my ears it nails the tone of blackface Vibrolux Reverb. I have that amp and Alan Hamel - wound pickups....wound to replicate Alan's idea of what Clarence 56 Tele bridge pickup would be. And I can nail that tone with that setup.

It is that combination along with Clarence's touch and string gauge (he used light gauge strings with an extra skinny third string)...

Later with the Byrds it's the same thing except with just louder and larger FEnder amps with occasional boost/distortion/fuzz pedal.
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the majority of the sound any player gets is due to his or her personal approach - angle of attack, where on the string one hits, how hard, picks or fingernails, etc.

Mechanical factors include, of course, the guitar, possibly the wood the body is made of, certainly the string sizes, pickups, the neck, the height of the action, the amp, amp settings, etc.

Interestingly enough, I do have examples of Clarence playing the same song (Buckaroo), through the same Vibrolux amp, same amp settings, same string sizes, only 4 months between recordings, the only difference being that in the first, he was playing the guitar that later was the first bender guitar, now owned by Marty Stuart. In the second, he was playing the white Telecaster that I now own. At the time, neither guitar had a bender on it.

Both were recorded direct from the speaker out of his Vibrolux amo, onto the same Tandberg reel-to-reel recorder.

The difference is very noticeable, very interesting, and does clarify a bit of the contribution of all these variables to the final sound.

I'll try to figure out a way to get sound bites of these two comparable recordings to Mur or Brian, so they can post them here.

The difference made by the guitars is very noticeable, yet it is clear that the same player is playing them both.

Bob
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Bill Hisle



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

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Bob, it would be great to hear the clips if they can be posted.

I also think it would be very interesting to hear your version of Buckaroo side by side with Clarence's version. It would be fun to hear two obviously excellent players playing though the same equipment - the white Tele thorugh a Vibrolux. Not to pick one over the other, but it would be a great opportunity to "hear" how two different pickers "feel" the same song using the same equipment. Idea
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Brian



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

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bob for these wonderful recordings!!!

"Attached are two Buckaroo solos by Clarence. The one entitled Buckaroo sunburst was played on August 25, 1967 at the Jefferson Bowl, Culver City, CA, and, as suggested by the name, was played on the Telecaster that is currently owned by Marty Stuart. The one entitled Buckaroo white was played on November 27, 1967 at Nashville West, El Monte, CA, and was played on the white Telecaster that I now own.

Both were recorded with the left channel direct from the external speaker output jack on the back of Clarence's Vibrolux amp. As I recall, his amp settings were "7" for Volume, Treble, and Bass, both times. I don't know what reverb settings he used. The right channel in each case was taken from the house system.

Same player, almost at the same time, same band, same amp, same settings, different guitars. Interesting comparison.

Bob Warford "

http://www.clarencewhiteforum.com/mp3/Buckaroosunburst.mp3
http://www.clarencewhiteforum.com/mp3/Buckaroowhite.mp3
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Brian



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

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob can you tell us more about the gigs that there were recorded at? band members etc.. Interesting about recording direct off the external speaker jack. You just plug this straight into the tape recorder?
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The band, in each case, was called The Roustabouts. Personnel differed slightly - in August, Richard Arlen played bass, Dennis Mathis played steel, and George Skinner was the drummer. Vocalists were Richard Arlen, Lee Ross (then also a country DJ on, I think, KFOX radio), and Jerry Inman.
They were playing at a bowling alley bar, the Jefferson Bowl, in Culver City, CA - it no longer exists.

In November, at Nashville West in El Monte, CA, the Roustabouts were Richard Arlen on bass and vocals, replaced from time to time by Jim Alley, Dennis Mathis again on steel, and Bo Wagner on drums and vocals.

I had a Tandberg reel-to-reel stereo tape recorder, and Clarence invited me to bring it in and record them - one input was from the external speaker output in the back of the Vibrolux; the other was out of the house system, all with the approval of the various band members.

Unfortunately, the musician's union was not so approving, and demanded that all recording cease. Nevertheless, I did get a few sets recorded, with the agreement that the recordings would not be disseminated or used commercially.

I thought that these brief excerpts, however, would not violate the spirit or intent of that agreement...

Bob
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rballister



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 174
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really different. The sound of the "sunburst" is (to me) the immediately recognizable Clarence tone that I associate with all his playing--somehow a little less treble edge than most tele players. Didn't Clarence play the "white" tele on Sweetheart? The Sweetheart rehearsal recordings sound quite different than the "white" tele recording of Buckaroo.
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Brian



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

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rballister wrote:
Really different. The sound of the "sunburst" is (to me) the immediately recognizable Clarence tone that I associate with all his playing--somehow a little less treble edge than most tele players. Didn't Clarence play the "white" tele on Sweetheart? The Sweetheart rehearsal recordings sound quite different than the "white" tele recording of Buckaroo.


I agree that there is definitely a difference.. The white one is instantly recognizable as Bob's guitar. To me listening to Sweetheart of the Rodeo..I can definitely hear the difference in tone..and recognize the white guitar tone. Especially on the outtakes of All I Have is Memories..etc...

My guess is that the neck difference's and then the pickups make the biggest change in tone between the 2 guitars..
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MarkT



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 57
Location: Chandler, Arizona

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Bob's guitar is Clarenece's old white one? Did it always have the rosewood fretboard neck?
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Brian



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

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkT wrote:
So Bob's guitar is Clarenece's old white one? Did it always have the rosewood fretboard neck?

Yes...and as long as Bob and Clarence have had it...it has an early 60's Strat rosewood neck (with re-shaped headstock on it)
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Bill Hisle



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

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Bob, thanks for sharing. As always, your contributions are invalueable. Thanks for letting us take a peak into some wonderful history, and the great musical contributions of not only Clarence, but yourself as well.
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philgerard



Joined: 19 Mar 2007
Posts: 99
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob and Brian,
Great Stuff!
I don't know what you guys think but to me these 2 recordings are mythbusters in 2 ways. First myth that tone is in your fingers - yes, you know it's Clarence from his style but each guitar is putting it's unique sound forward. And second that rosewood necks are more woody, mellow and maple is glassy, bright. Maybe, this one isn't totally busted but, here, to me Bob's white tele is the less mellow of the 2. Do we know if Clarence was using the same pickup position in both recordings? Bob, maybe you mentioned it but if you did, I forgot! Old age!
It's so great to have a glimpse into Clarence and Bob's playing and instruments!
Thanks,
Phil
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Bob Warford



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My recollection is that on Buckaroo, as on most songs he played, Clarence used the bridge pickup position only. In addition, where he did switch to use both pickups, the difference in sound was very obvious, so I'm about 99%+ sure that both these songs were with bridge pickup only.

As to the neck, I'm not sure what wood mine is made of, but thought it had an ebony fretboard (except for a short time, during which the Everly Brothers clip from the Ed Sullivan Show was captured, when I apparently temporarily switched the maple neck from another Tele I then owned to the white one). Whatever the neck is made of (and although I feel like an idiot not knowing, I would defer to Brian on that question - he's seen, played, and photographed the guitar and neck), Clarence was not really happy with it, and the reason suggests a bit of a difference in how hard he and I play(ed).

You can hear at times on the white Tele clip that the string is bouncing a bit off the next fret, or the neck itself, when Clarence plays a bit harder than usual. That Tele had (and has) very, very, very... low frets, and very low action. Clarence preferred a bit higher action and frets, while for me the lower action worked and works just fine. So I suspect that I pick a bit lighter, or with less force perpendicular to the plane of the neck/body, than Clarence did.

A bit more trivia that may interest some of you...

Bob
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