Comment of the Moment: A New Tone on Tour?
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.