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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Larry Cragg: The Welder

old black guitar
Neil Young's Les Paul Guitar "Old Black" and Tech Larry Cragg

Larry Cragg, Neil Young's guitar tech, is referred to as "The Welder" in an article in The ToneQuest Report.
TQR: I read in an interview where Neil was asked how well Old Black stays in tune and he replied, “It doesn’t.”

Larry Cragg: It does if I tune it. When he tries it’s impossible. You can see him wildly wiggling the vibrato and then play the last chord in the song and it’s still in tune, and you can get through a lot of songs before it has to be tuned. What you have to do is not check to see if you’re in tune until after you wiggle the vibrato and see what note that is. If I can get him to wiggle the arm instead of trying to re-tune it with the tuning keys, it will go right back.

TQR: Well, how do you do that?

Larry Cragg: It is a hard guitar to tune in the first place, and every day I’m doing a whole lot of things to it that have to be done every day.

Thanks to Bad News Beat and Chuck on Rust!

More on Neil Young's tone and Larry Cragg.

“There’s a lot of frustration in trying to get music out when you’re the only one who hears it, especially if you have something in your head that’s not normal.” – Neil Young


At 5/20/2007 04:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Neil Young, honestly and truly. One of the things that's bothered me, though, is how much his fans make of his equipment. This guy's been working as his guitar tech since '76, right? And Neil Young got his Whizzer contraption in '78 or so, right? But Neil Young made his greatest stretch of albums from '69-'75, with Rust Never Sleeps also being awesome in '79. So why are people so amped about the equipment Neil Young was using in the 80's when he was making his crappiest albums?

At 5/20/2007 09:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't recall Old Black being a big factor in the 80s........ that was the decade of the synclavier..and those albums weren't crappy, imo anyway.
Old black was the featured guitar on most of the albums you refer to, starting with EKTIN...truly a legendary guitar.
when Neil rocks hard, it is usually with Old Black, thanks for the story......

At 5/20/2007 09:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have seen Neil many times.. last year here in vancouver doing L.W.W.
when he came onstage people around me were yelling " look-- there's Old Black!" (including me..) by the end of the show, sweat was flying, strings were broken, but nothing sounded sweeter then Neil jamming away on Old Black in tune or out of tune thanks Neil and thanks Larry!

At 5/20/2007 01:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Neil's 80's era music. Re*ac*tor is awesome. The 80's music may be less mainstream/commercial but doesn't mean it isn't good. My 2 cents, maybe go listen again to the 80's music. On second thought, listening isn't enough. Absorb it, let it wash over you and through you.. If you don't like it, you don't like it but for me, it's all good.

At 5/21/2007 10:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all love Neil. And Old Black... the back side is so good, never seen it before, it would make a good picture or painting, did you see it? the face...I could see a really neat picture using that face as the face and it is really Neil's black could be good.

At 5/21/2007 10:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody's Rockin is totally his best album!

At 5/22/2007 02:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

was old black used on the weld album/tour???? Anyone know? -by the way he bought old black for 50 bucks!

At 5/22/2007 04:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil predominantly used Old Black (a Gold Top painted black) on the Weld tour. He also used 2 other Gold Tops, not painted, 1 is an exact replica of Old Black (bigsby, firebird pick-up)...which he used on the more chunkier songs...Old Blacks Firebird pick-up is unique as it is extremely microphinic. The 3rd guitar is a gold-top, but the original P-90's remained. Check out the cover of Weld, as well as watch the video and you'll see Old Black. It's not neccesarily the guitar itself that gets that crazy tone. It's the firebird bridge pick-up, with his 50's Fender Deluxe on 11. Guitars and amps back then all had minds of their own. He just "happened" upon that sound out of an extremely lucky combination of equipment. All his other effects are really pretty primitive, although even to this day the Whizzer still remains very state of the art.

At 5/23/2007 04:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Neil traded a White Falcon to Jim Messina for Ol' Black...tho I never saw Messina use anything but a Tele, or eventually a Strat...


At 5/30/2007 02:44:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Old Black is the key to Neil's electric sound (along with his Fender Deluxe), period. Yeah, he's used the Gretsch, the Gold Top (On Ragged Glory predominantly), the Falcon, and his army of acoustics; but it's Old Black that makes its presence known on Neil's classic electric. Cowgirl in the Sand, Cinnamon Girl, Cortez the Killer, Rockin' in the Free World, I'm the Ocean. And especially on two songs where its sound is unmistakable: Like a Hurricane ('77) and Hey Hey My My ('78).

To say Neil's equipment isn't key to his (electric) sound would be an insult, Neil himself maintains that only because of the unique and freakish nature of his equipment does his sound distinguish itself from anyone else's, ever. Like a Hurricane is the greatest electric solo Neil ever created, and Old Black is so undeniably the reason he was able to get that sound which none could ever recreate.

Hey Hey My My shows just what the Whizzer's technology can do, transforming Neil's sound from a clean, shrieking death howl, into a barrage of microphonic/ecoplex feedback that trudges along in amuffled, controlled explosion.

That's what I think.

At 5/01/2009 12:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That first poster doesn't have a clue. Neil in concert has never been bad, never. And his guitar sound is better now than it ever has. He/she must be too young to know.

At 6/19/2009 12:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy folks,

Back in say 67'-early 69' Neil used a tone/sound that sounds to me like he was going for a pedal steel type of sound.Which I just LOVE.He used it on songs like Here We Are In The Years,Slowly Burning,Falcon Lake(Ash on the Floor) to name a few.I just REALLY LOVE this sound/effect.I'm pretty sure he was playing a Gretsch.But how did he achieve that sound?If anyone out there can help or relate please let me know.Thanks

The Mugwump

At 12/13/2011 04:35:00 AM, Blogger Walter said...

anyone information about his gear on "this note's for you" espacially on the songs Coupe DeVille & One Thing, I'd like that sound very much......greetings, Walter Holland

At 7/18/2012 03:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain what the whizzer actually does? I know it bypasses everything and sends sound strainght to the amp, but why does that change the sounds? Thanks

At 7/18/2012 03:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does the whizzer actually do and how does it change his sound?

At 8/26/2013 01:14:00 PM, Blogger blueskiwi said...

'the Whizzer' is a mechanical contraption to physically adjust the controls on the amp... so it has a part that sits on top of the amp and a separate footswitch box which will be at the front of the stage where Neil can change between different preset amp settings (plus other effects units)


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