Understanding Bobby...

Understanding Bobby...

Postby mgbills » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:35 am

Good Morning All.

I would like to start this discussion with some personally history. In the early 80's when I first started seeing The Boys...I just didn't get Bob. Somewhere in the mid 80's I deduced that he had a deep love for this feed-backy ....fingernails on chalk-boardy ...cat-in-a-vise(y)...kind of screech.

As I've become increasingly serious about the guitar, I began to really appreciate the gap he fills, and the texture's he provides. I even found early examples of how the feed-back could be cool. I'm thinking Dark Star's & Birdsong jams from '72 back.

Last year at the Furthur shows in Eugene, OR ...I was really diggin' Bob. He was playing that Strat predominantly...I was right down front...and he was on. Really on. Got it. Forgave him for years of Weir-dnessws. No screechy Bob.

This weekend I spent 3 days with Furthur in Portland, OR. Bob's playing the Blue Lighning Hollow (or semi-hollow) body, and the 335 (or 355) or whatever. Friday...he starts with feedback....and he rides it all weekend. I'm watching the folks around me, and I'm not the only one who's "Confused" by that sound. I've often thought (in my various altered states) that maybe Bob just see's me...and then throws in extra Errreeeeeek Errreeeeek Errreeeek just for me :-)

http://www.hoegguitars.com/blue-lightning-bolt/
The guitar is beautiful. Thanks Rich.

Can someone enlighten me? I've heard it said that Trey rides the edge of feedback successfully. I've read it on this board that Jerry used feedback for added coolness. Is this thing Bob does amazingly difficult? Do others find it cool or pleasing or trippy? Is this part of the GD experience that I'm simply not understanding? I'm willing to stay positive about the whole thing...but it kind felt like Bob found an old golf club he loved in '85...and used it for the whole 18 holes.

Please Help!
Peace
Marty

p.s. - I'm trying to be positive about this. Sincerely. I'm hoping that it's a misunderstanding on my part. I don't have to like every aspect of everything, and the experience is not just there for me. Maybe it just not the right sound for my particular ears.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby Smolder » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:00 am

Not sure if I'm totally on track with you... but I ride the space between sustain and feedback a lot when in single note mode. I don't really 'think' about it much, but I recognize that with certain pickups, and particularly with jbl's (love the 15 even more than the 12). I have a tendency to move closer and face the speakers when I want to extend the sustain or even take it to controlled (or not) feedback. It's kind of like 'how far do you want to drip that honey across the toast'.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby strumminsix » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:13 am

I hear, too often, a more high pitched than chimey distortion with sustain. Is that what you are thinking of?
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby playingdead » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:33 am

When I met Bobby after a Furthur show at Radio City a couple years ago, my buddy told him that his guitar tone during Fire on the Mountain was so bright that it made the fillings in his teeth hurt. Bobby just grinned and said his hearing was pretty shot and that it didn't sound very bright to HIM.

High frequencies are the first thing you lose in your hearing. So it may not sound screechy in his ears.

Sometimes Weir would go for a tone that seemed counterintuitive. I remember Jerry and Bob discussing "Lazy River Road" and Garcia remarking that he wished the band wouldn't play it quite so "politely." Weir commented that his guitar tone on it couldn't be any ruder, and Garcia laughed and said that was true. That was the abrasive, screechy slide tone, as I recall.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby mgbills » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:11 pm

Yes. Yes. & Yes.

Smolder - I think this is the positive side, and the way that Jerry & others use it in a positive way.

Strummin - That is what I hear. At times I felt like Bob had #4 - 0.10's on his guitar. To my ear, it was feedback...and not at all pleasant.

Playing' - Exactly. Literally made my eardrums reverberate and my teeth ache.

My hearing isn't perfect, but it was clearly affecting others. I had a couple conversations with my compatriots about the intentionality of that sound. Here is what we thought:
1) We hear the treble screech as "11" on the scale. Bob hears a "5".
2) Why isn't the FOH board shaving that a bit? Answer: "Cause Bob told the guy to put that knob on "11".
3) By Saturday we were considering making t-shirts that said "Healy was right!" or "Bob rules the Strat!".

Do you all think the hollow body contributes to the screech factor? All my hollow bodies are acoustic, and the last time I tried to mic one I nearly tore off the side of my head with the feedback.

Thanks for the serious replys.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby strumminsix » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:17 pm

mgbills wrote:My hearing isn't perfect, but it was clearly affecting others. I had a couple conversations with my compatriots about the intentionality of that sound. Here is what we thought:
1) We hear the treble screech as "11" on the scale. Bob hears a "5".
2) Why isn't the FOH board shaving that a bit? Answer: "Cause Bob told the guy to put that knob on "11".
3) By Saturday we were considering making t-shirts that said "Healy was right!" or "Bob rules the Strat!".

Do you all think the hollow body contributes to the screech factor? All my hollow bodies are acoustic, and the last time I tried to mic one I nearly tore off the side of my head with the feedback.

His tone sounds the same on every guitar to my ears.

To answer #2, Bobby isn't all that present in the mains when I have seen Furthur... Disappointing.

Healy was unprofessional to Weir. He f'd with his vocals and guitar tone and ruined too many shows by acting like a bitter man with too many toys.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby mgbills » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:25 pm

Strummin' -

He was very present in Portland, and at times ...too much so. Eugene his presence in the mains was as good as I've ever heard. It was so positive that I rewrote most of my prior opinions.

Secondly, I retract the t-shirt comment. It was a poor attempt at humor, and I only have heard dribs & drabs of the backstory on that situation. I should've let that go.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby mkaufman » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:07 pm

His sound varies night to night. Sometimes he can be heard perfectly and sometimes barely at all.

Personally, I don't understand the inconsistency. You would think that those working the board would be able to hear and adjust accordingly.

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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby strumminsix » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:14 pm

mgbills wrote:Strummin' -

He was very present in Portland, and at times ...too much so. Eugene his presence in the mains was as good as I've ever heard. It was so positive that I rewrote most of my prior opinions.

Secondly, I retract the t-shirt comment. It was a poor attempt at humor, and I only have heard dribs & drabs of the backstory on that situation. I should've let that go.

Lucky, I'm super jealous, dude. I was like 5th row keys side with a clear visual line of sight to Bobby's rig, barely heard him!!

Sorry, didn't get the humor. Now that I know it was tongue-in-cheek, funny :lol:
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby mgbills » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:49 pm

I was directly in front of Phil on Thursday, but somebody was consistently smoking cigs from the wrong end. Either that or he was smoking a dread he found. Either way...I had to abdicate. I found this cool spot in the left middle, to the right of the first maple, and the sound was great.

I will say that Bob did go up & down in terms of volume. I said it in the other thread, but that interplay between Phil, John, & Jeff was unbelievable. I would say they walked a fine line between Jam band & Jazz band. Very jazzy at times.

Did anybody catch the 18 or so teases coming out of that King Solomom's Marbles jam? My wife picks about 95% of teases out of the ether, and it even had her spinning.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby TI4-1009 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:57 pm

I think my Bobby experience this summer at Canandaigua is similar?

http://www.rukind.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=310&t=12527

And I'm also a Bobby convert. Took me a long time, but I learned he's the glue that's holding things together. I may break down and try a few of the Bobby lessons from Seth just to get a better understanding of what's really going on.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby Jimaroe » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:34 pm

"And I'm also a Bobby convert. Took me a long time, but I learned he's the glue that's holding things together."

I think this is a great take. As a "fanatical listener" since 87' I was and always will be a Jerry guy. However, the more I learn and play and discover a deeper understanding of the instrument, the more impressed I become with the nuances Bobby brings to the music. I'm probably not going to articulate this exactly right, but the voicing and subtleties Weir brings are WAY under appreciated outside of forums such as this one.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby Smolder » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:56 pm

Bobby is a phenomenal player. It's just a shame he was never more prominent in the mix with the dead. He is the glue that allows jerry to play lead and phil to play low lead. I wish I could hear him better so that I could learn more. There are just a few shows that showcase what he's doing.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby mgbills » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:51 pm

Sorry T14 ....I totally missed that thread. We're on the same wavelength.

So the consensus is (at this point) : We'd love to hear more, but maybe not more of that particular sound. I'm still hoping there are other perspectives out there....or at least something.

He really rang this thing for 3 nights straight. I'm astounded that the FOH didn't at least tame it a bit. Something about it just doesn't make sense.

It could be that I'm completely exhausted after working today, and spending 3 late nights with those wonderful chaps.
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Re: Understanding Bobby...

Postby TI4-1009 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:32 am

One thought- after Healy got canned for messing with Bobby in the mix, no one else is going to make THAT mistake again! :lol:
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