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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Comment of the Moment: A New Tone on Tour?

old black guitar
Neil Young's Les Paul Guitar "Old Black"

The recent post on Neil having a new tone on tour generated a bit of discussion. It does seem that the reference to Neil switching to digital equipment is highly doubtful but the use of a Hagstrom guitar seems a foregone conclusion. Here's Thrasher's Wheat's Comment of the Moment:
I have heard "rumor" of Neil exploring a new tone but I, too, am a little dubious. Neil has used a lot of combos before and the "sound" is much more dependent on the style of playing. In the late-60's early 70's he was using Old Black without the Firebird pickup in the bridge position (I think it was a Dearmond Dynosonic which is a single coil), a Gretsch 6120 with Filterons and, of course the stereo White Falcon with Filterons. Old Black was refitted with a firebird pickup. On the Time Fades Away tour, he played a Flying V with humbuckers and used a 52 Nocaster (single coils) to record much of Tonights the Night. So, his guitar tone has ranged from single coil (Fender-style and p-90s) and humbuckers.

His amp tone has changed, too. With BS, he used a Twin Reverb a fair amount and that circuit has a decidedly different tone from the rebiased 5e3 (Deluxe) and the Tremolux he paired with it in the early 70'. I don't think he started using the Deluxe with the 280 Maggie and the Exterminator until about the mid-70's. For portions of Freedom, he was actually using Marshall stacks.

Bottom line is this, his guitar tone has changed but his indiosyncratic playing style has made it seem more "unchanging". Note that the Hagstrom has a tremola - that's really important. I'm not sure how the single coils will compress but if he is amp modding, it won't matter anyway.

But, again, I am really dubious. He is such a tone freak and Larry Cragg is a major "complex wave form, no transistor" guy. If he comes out with the Hagstrom, I might be a bit surprised but I expect the sound will be vintage Neil.

More on Neil Young's Sound and Tone. Also, see interview with Neil's guitar tech Larry Cragg -- The Welder.


At 9/27/2007 05:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't say I followed all the details of that post. But I'm hoping for a new sound. Not that I don't like Ol black's sound but something different would be cool. Guess we won't really know until we hear the album and tour. can't wait

At 9/27/2007 05:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Makes no difference to me because as far as I'm concerned neil's emotions are what come through the guitar regardless of what he's playing. And that's all that matters to me.

At 9/27/2007 10:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Neil on tour for the Silver and Gold album and he came out and did an encore of "Mellow My Mind" playing a telecaster type instrument (I couldn't tell the make 'cause I was way in the back). Anyways, the twangy sound of that guitar was a really nice sound for him (especially on mellow my mind). Has anyone else seen Neil playing his telecaster or know of an album that it's featured on?

At 9/28/2007 03:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's used the Telecaster on loads of things. I think he's using it for Mellow My Mind on the Friends & Relatives DVD?

The Baldwin Exterminator is a transistor amp, and Neil has used other amps over the years, as noted in previous posts. He's also used the little Silvertone tube amp when he played the little club gigs w/ CH a few years back.

At 9/28/2007 04:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil would just love this stuff???

At 9/28/2007 11:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the guitar sound on "On the beach" sound like a Telecaster to me, especially Reolution Blues and the title song.

At 9/28/2007 10:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am simply looking forward to hearing him so often we place quite a bit of someone's ability on the Gear they use, meaning where would some players be without Distortion or Overdrive?
Look at how pared down Neil was for The Blue do what you do Neil, I'm there soaking it in!! And I have my own "Old Black" built to spec on Neil's with some direct help from Mr. Cragg so I know the Value of that Guitar...and man o' man!! Pure joy.

At 9/29/2007 02:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That telecaster Neil plays is the "nocaster" mentioned above. It's a Broadcaster (the tele's stylistic predecessor) with the "broadcaster" cut off the headstock sticker, before they started labeling them telecasters.

As for On The Beach, I've always wondered what he's using. Walk On is from the end of the Tonight's The Night sessions, so I'm guessing that's the nocaster. Don't know about the others (Revolution Blues, Vampire Blues, On The Beach).
He did have Old Black back by the end of the TTN tour so he could be using that.

Spin the Black Circle

At 9/29/2007 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Ben said...

I can tell most of you have seen him live before. I have not, and I know there will be limited opportunities to see him in my lifetime. I may never see Crazy Horse. But I was at least hoping to see him rocking on Old Black a little this tour, and I know he has the complete right to do whatever he wants, but if he doesn't rock Old Black, I will be somewhat disappointed.

At 9/29/2007 08:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While his rig might be different, and he has a more varied arsenal of guitars, I bet Old Black makes at least a small appearance. We'll find out soon.

Spin the Black Circle

At 10/21/2007 12:23:00 AM, Blogger Ben said...

By the way David Crosby plays guitar on Revolution Blues


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