Here’s a youtube video to share. I’m taking my PRS for a test drive with my Axe FX Ultra looking to capture some of that sweet 82 Jerry tone. I wasn’t quite sure how to title this post (or where to put it for that matter – but here it is under Jerry tone). I could have called it China Cat licks- because that’s a great tune to study in terms of modal playin’ and structure. …and the 82 Alpine China Cat is a great one to explore – the jam has a lot going on including a modal change just before Rider where they introduce a variation on the Mind Left Body theme – and Garcia plays around the D in a different mode – and if I knew my modes – which I don’t - I’m sure I could explain it better.
I also caught this show – it was my third show and I went with two high school buddy’s and my guitar teacher – who was just getting into the Dead. The most memorable thing about that show was the drive from Toronto. Around midnight we witnessed what looked like 3 ballistic missiles slowly stream across the sky side by side while we were driving the back roads across Illinois on our way to catch the ferry which would take us across Lake Michigan the following morning. We thought we were crazy but the local news station also reported other folks seeing them.This was in the thick of the cold war and there were a lot of anti-nuke demonstrations going on in Toronto that previous winter. This was back in the good ole days of $11 Dead tickets and assured mutual destruction!
It’s a great show – Phil played slide during space, very pretty Wheel and a rockin’ Dew (DP’s 32).
So in keeping with the intent of past posts here’s my take at an 82 Garcia tone. I feel I’m so close yet light years away. The fact I’m using a 25” scale PRS with a rosewood fretboard and Mahogany neck, not exactly a Garcia instrument, adds to the challenge.
I think that modern Garcia clean tone needs some movement – hence a slight hint of a rotary cabinet and delay - which gets added after the second solo. I also forgo the typical amp setting – twin reverb in favour of a Bogner – hey whatever works – rules are meant to be broken – and I broke every one in the Jerry book including adding some compression. It just sounded more modern. I also rolled back the volume on my guitar to get it in the tone ballpark.
I find with the Axe FX, I need to actually be playing along with the tone I'm trying to match, rather than just dialling in how “I think” things should sound- adjusting things like compression, amp settings, reverb and delay in real time. I suppose it’s a great plug for the Ultra or an FX II – once you get close you’ve got a record of what you did – as the mix of effects gets more complex. My settings are shared on the video. I think by the time Garcia got to the late 80’s he had a lot more things dialled in terms of effects – but they were subtle. Listening to the Spring 90 tour he sound gets pretty processed even without the midi on.
Any one mastered this tone yet?