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Monday, September 24, 2007

FWIW: A New Tone on Tour?

FWIW, this comment was posted on An Open Letter To Neil Young On Ticket Prices For The Turnstiles:
My friend was just talking to Larry Cragg (who he knows pretty well) and Larry said that Neil is going for a whole new guitar tone on this tour (hence the picture with the strat-like guitar, which Neil used to say he didn't like). He'll be using solid-state amps and a digital modeler. He is also going to be "reinventing" some of his old stuff for the second part of the show, using this new tone.

Hmmm. No Old Black??? A Hagstrom? We'll see soon. As for Neil going digital. I think not. From what I understand, Neil would never give up the warmth of analog tubes.
Photo by Larry Cragg (via Rolling Stone)


At 9/24/2007 06:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh oh. I'm not going to buy a Hagstrom and I'm not getting rid of my Tweed Deluxe.


At 9/24/2007 07:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking forward to it. Love old black, but I'm glad he isn't done trying new things.

At 9/24/2007 07:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Whatever happened to the Broadcaster? Hardly ever remember hearing that one on record, save for TTN...

At 9/24/2007 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Ben said...

This had a good chance of being the most disturbing thing I've ever read.

At 9/24/2007 08:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno about disturbing. I think its kinda exciting that he's trying something new. Looking forward to it


At 9/24/2007 08:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if he would only change the ticket price so we could go see him!

At 9/24/2007 09:38:00 PM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

Neil Young would never use a digital amp modeler. He said as much in an interview a year or two ago (not that he really needed to).

At 9/24/2007 10:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a bit of a third hand, anonymous sourced story, so in retrospect I'll believe it when I see it. Perhaps he's floating twisted rumors because he's upset with all the chatter about his wife. I think he'll also cover Prairie Wind material and maybe some Greendale, so she will have a prominent role.............
Uh oh again.


At 9/25/2007 12:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if this is the Chrome Dreams II tour, what should we can the new guitar?
Old Black II
Young Black
The Black "Strat"ion

At 9/25/2007 01:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a good phrase to sum up Neil: he's "predictably unpredictable". I hope when / if Neil turns 75, he'll decide to do a rap record. that would be awesome. I hate rap. but i'd buy it.

At 9/26/2007 01:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering if any guitar players might be able to explain what difference in sound we might expect from Neils new guitar ?

I'm sure alot of people are curious !

At 9/27/2007 01:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to the above question on what we might expect, it's really anybody's guess. Sounds like it won't be the standard "twin-pushed-to-the-absolute-limit-just-shy-of-meltdown" sound we've grown accustomed to, or even the more subtle warmth of the Greendale sound.
Neil's never used this gear before in public though so the difference could be subtle to most ears or radical.
My guess is that it will still be instantly identifiable as Neil just on the way he handles a guitar, regardless of tone.

Spin the Black Circle

At 9/27/2007 03:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is the most horrifying thing I have ever heard. If NY ever starts using a digital modeling amp I will boil myself alive in a vat of oil.

Hagstroms are nice guitars, tho'. More "open" sounding than the compressed, focused sound of Ol' Black.

At 9/27/2007 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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 is 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 the 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.

At 9/27/2007 04:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the guitar is a hagstrom
the same guitar that david bowie used on spiders from mars.

second the pick ups are monophonic and it was made aroudn 66 - 68.

so its old vintage and loud

plus neil could play a shit ten dollar guitar and it still sound awesome

do not worry

see the man enjoy the music and mellow your minds

At 10/10/2007 11:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy crap!! I owned that same model guitar for 15 years and just sold it last summer (for $250 I think).

Specifically, it's a "Hagstrom 1" also called the "Kent". A Swedish made guitar. Hagstrom does make some fine instruments, but this was not one of them! This is one of those very cheaply made '60s guitars, little more than a toy. The body is very light cheap pine, which is completely covered up, because it won't hold a finish: the whole top half is actually plastic, essentially one large pickguard. The back is covered with naugahide. The neck is very nice, though. It has a teakwood fingerboard. It's the thinest neck I've seen, any other neck would warp at that thinness, but Hagstrom got around that by running a V shaped steel beam through the length of it (not a standard truss rod). The neck is also narrower than any other guitar, so the strings are closer together. The frets are very low. The whole neck is very compact -- Hagstrom advertised it as "the fastest neck in the world". Like other guitars of it's ilk it has lots of switches on it, which just turn on and off various capacitors. The vibrato bar has a wide range and is very loosey-goosey, I could see Neil having lots of fun with that. The pickups are adequate single coils, but given to "microphoning", feedback, hum, picking up radio signals, etc. The sound is limited to the mid-treble, no bottom, high end rolled off, not much sustain, probably due to the very light body. But in that range it sounds good: clear, but not alot of nuance, kind of distant or hollow. At least it sounded that way through a Fender amp. When its played at full volume it distorts nicely and you get all kinds of wild unpredictable sounds. I can see why it would appeal to Neil, although it is as far away from a Les Paul as you can get!

The only professional I know of who ever played the Hagstrom 1 was a guy in DEVO (a rust colored one, hint, hint).

Coincidently, I used this guitar to record a cover of "Revolution Blues" a few years ago.

- Paul

At 10/24/2007 07:05:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Is he actually using the Hagstrom on tour? Thanks!

At 10/25/2007 02:07:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I saw Joan Osbourne open for the Who a few years ago and her guitarist used a Hag 12 on one song. Sounded great. Also there's a guy in the Woggles named Buzz Hagstrom.


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