Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby BJolley » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:21 pm

Something that has always intrigued me about Jerry's tone was his ability to play somewhere between clean and distorted. It seemed that he could squeeze just a tinge of grit during solos/picking but that grit never overloaded his chords. Whenever I try to add a bit of drive into my chain it is usually too soft to register on individual notes but magnifies with each additional string played simultaneously and quickly comes excessive when chording. I assume Jerry is getting this sound without any distortion pedal and is just a function of his playing, his pickups, and his amp. Or is this a function of the Dist + or later distortion pedals? Anyone have some insight on this?
Last edited by BJolley on Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Not quiet clean but not quiet distorted

Postby barefootdave » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:57 pm

It is currently being discussed in another thread that perhaps he is manipulating the volume control on the guitar to keep the chords clean and clear?
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Re: Not quiet clean but not quiet distorted

Postby BJolley » Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:54 pm

Thanks. Do you know what that other thread is called?
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Re: Not quiet clean but not quiet distorted

Postby Bear62 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:41 pm

I believe you meant "Quite".
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby BJolley » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:23 pm

I believe you are correct. I wonder if I can fix that silly typo?
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby mrMix » Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:27 am

Volume knob and pick attack...
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby BJolley » Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:29 pm

That's two that believe vol adjustment plays a roll. But do we think he gets this from the Fender Twin preamplifier without any distortion pedal added, or is there a distortion pedal in the mix? If the former, how hard does he have to push the Twin to break up? Playing thru a stock reissue 85w Twin with Super 2 in mid/split position my ears are bleeding at 3 and the sound is still crystal clear with guitar at full vol. But if he's using a pedal, doesn't the OBEL take the vol knob's effect on distortion out of the mix?

Here's an example of a late 80's Bertha. Check his tone at about 3:01-> in the solo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e231uv5A ... ata_player

By the way, the knowledge offered on this site is just awesome.
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby mijknahs » Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:53 pm

The best minds here believe that "THAT SOUND" came from a combination of the output transistors slightly clipping on the McIntosh power amp AND the JBL E120s driven into saturation (slight distortion).
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby barefootdave » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:58 am

This is the link to the other thread you asked about:

viewtopic.php?f=327&t=11020
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:43 pm

mijknahs wrote:The best minds here believe that "THAT SOUND" came from a combination of the output transistors slightly clipping on the McIntosh power amp AND the JBL E120s driven into saturation (slight distortion).


Agreed. And it even goes for the era before the E120's when it was D120's and K120's.

I love the title of this thread: "Not quite clean but not quite distorted"

Man, that just about sums up the most illusive and sought after holy grail aspect we all struggle with. We know Jerry's gear and tone settings and pickups and pick and speakers, etc, but it's HOW it's all implemented and operated to achieve this clean/dirty thing we hear is the tricky part. Most of us find that it's very hard to play with a 100% clean rig as it sounds sterile and TOO ice-picky when we pick hard, little warmth and sustain and zero forgiveness. But Jerry seemed to strike the balance where he got that hi-fi sound that expressed a lot of nuance, had great sweetness and fullness and clarity and tone quality, but he got just enough clipping and distortion to tame the pick attack transients to help with smoothing things out and getting a bit more sustain in the sound and just a hint of grit, but still a mostly clean sound.

I think that it does come down to the maxing and gentle clipping of the power amplifier and also the sound that JBL speakers make when they're pushed to their maximum, and that bit of speaker saturation which also is a form of limiting and distortion. But ultimately, it takes tremendous talent to wrangle this beast. I know that anyone with this setup finds that they can really nail Jerry's tone, but they also find that it took Jerry's incredible hands to operate this kind of setup in a musical way. Most of us simply don't have that kind of pick dynamic control. It seems that everyone who tries this approach we speak of instantly gains a whole new level of reverence and respect for Jerry's guitar playing talent. One of the things he was SO amazing at was this picking dynamic control. All those years and gazillion notes played thru such a loud and clean rig really made him a master, a true master of that style.

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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby BJolley » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:24 am

Brad, great analysis. I was reviewing some videos of your Earth Drive pedal. Is that pedal intended to help with this not clean/not dirty nuance of Jerry tone or is it designed for more extreme clipping?
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby tcsned » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:47 am

Not to put words in Brad's mouth, but that's exactly what I use it for. I set the gain about 1/3 of the way up or lower and it really nails that slightly overdriven power tube tone. It really rocks at higher gain settings too and is not just a one-trick-pony. I'm eventually gonna get a second one to have one set for more drive.
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby Poor Peter » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:34 pm

barefootdave wrote:
Agreed. And it even goes for the era before the E120's when it was D120's and K120's.

I love the title of this thread: "Not quite clean but not quite distorted"

Man, that just about sums up the most illusive and sought after holy grail aspect we all struggle with. We know Jerry's gear and tone settings and pickups and pick and speakers, etc, but it's HOW it's all implemented and operated to achieve this clean/dirty thing we hear is the tricky part. Most of us find that it's very hard to play with a 100% clean rig as it sounds sterile and TOO ice-picky when we pick hard, little warmth and sustain and zero forgiveness. But Jerry seemed to strike the balance where he got that hi-fi sound that expressed a lot of nuance, had great sweetness and fullness and clarity and tone quality, but he got just enough clipping and distortion to tame the pick attack transients to help with smoothing things out and getting a bit more sustain in the sound and just a hint of grit, but still a mostly clean sound.

I think that it does come down to the maxing and gentle clipping of the power amplifier and also the sound that JBL speakers make when they're pushed to their maximum, and that bit of speaker saturation which also is a form of limiting and distortion. But ultimately, it takes tremendous talent to wrangle this beast. I know that anyone with this setup finds that they can really nail Jerry's tone, but they also find that it took Jerry's incredible hands to operate this kind of setup in a musical way. Most of us simply don't have that kind of pick dynamic control. It seems that everyone who tries this approach we speak of instantly gains a whole new level of reverence and respect for Jerry's guitar playing talent. One of the things he was SO amazing at was this picking dynamic control. All those years and gazillion notes played thru such a loud and clean rig really made him a master, a true master of that style.

B


Let us not forget that he also had a band behind him that hung on his every note, not quite to the extreme that we did, but always knew where he was and where he wanted to go, and allowed him to articulate the guitar the way he did.
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby TI4-1009 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:41 am

From the 70's on Jer had either the MXR or one or more of the Boss distortion/overdrive pedals in his rack. Do we know that he wasn't using them to get any of the "not quite clean, not quite distorted" edge? (as opposed to the clipping/pushing/technique part of it)
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Re: Not quite clean but not quite distorted

Postby mgbills » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:43 am

Also as a bit of a tangent...

For players new to thick picks & clean rigs...play them. If you plug in, and stop at "This doesn't sound right", you'll never learn to tame the beast. I'm by no means a master...more of a hard-working amateur. When I first started playing some years ago, my son gave me a heavy pick (one of the 2mm jobs with a gator on it...and feels a bit like sandpaper). He said "you want this." Shit..I couldn't strum with the thing at first. Six weeks later...wasn't even thinking about it. By the time I recieved my first bag of Adamas pics...it was a complete non-issue.

Play you're rig (s) daily. Make small tweaks. Make it a friend to your ears, head, & hands. Your subconscious brain will make adaptations & corrections that you can't currently visualize. It wont help with distortion issues, but it will help reduce rig despair.

+1 for the Earth Drive. Also, in breaking with convention...I have been known to use the middle pickup as a humbucker to add dirt. When the ED is set light, as tcsned has suggested...it growls considerably more if you flip that switch. This may not be an option for people doing strickly GD, but it sure is fun for those of us who are forced to play a broader pallette. Personally...I would play nothing but...however experience is experience.
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