The ingredients for Jerry tone

Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby augustwest1 » Thu May 22, 2014 8:46 am

One problem with his statement is that he uses the terms "tone," "sound" and "total experience" interchangeably.

Nobody will capture Jerry's "sound" or convey his "total experience" better than Jerry, regardless of what equipment is being used by Jerry or his imitator (see Melkweg).

That is a completely different thing than saying a given guitar will have a negligible impact on one's "tone." Jerry's "sound" may be a constant, but the tone he (or any of us) would get from a Strat v. an ES-335 v. and etc., etc., etc. will vary substantially (see Melkweg).
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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby williamsaut » Thu May 22, 2014 4:26 pm

Well, Let's talk about what we thing are the ingredients for Jerry tone. Everybody here know what they are equipment wise and will agree that if you can't pick like Jerry, know the signature licks and solo at the same degrees on the neck at the right times, you might have a hard time 'sounding' like Jerry. And it all contributes to his tone in different ways to get the total effect. To break down his tone in percentages though is a different matter. IMO it starts with the guitar and amp/speakers commonly referred to as a musicians 'front end'. This is by far the most important aspect of get any particular tone you might be after regardless of whose it might be or just your own signature sound and key to getting repeatable results. How you apply technique and guitar effects is the other half of the equation and that's where it get's blown wide open and very objective.
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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby waldo041 » Thu May 22, 2014 9:09 pm

If we step aside from Jerry's audible technique and equipment and look at it from a visual aspect. Jerry Garcia, visually, is the only Jerry Garcia there will ever be. In his lifetime he went from no beard to having a beard, and he went from a slender to a stocky build, etc. Visually this could be looked at as his technique and approach to guitar playing, it changed through the years but it is a constant. It is Jerry Garcia and like his playing his appearance is unmistakably him. Now, his rig, guitar and effects can be looked at as the clothes he wore. No matter what he wore, he was always Jerry, but he could look different wearing a high dollar suit, or just some jeans and black or red pocket tee. The visual could change with what he wore, and also the clothes could limit his movement depending on the fit, but it was always Jerry Garcia. Now take this attempt at a visual analogy and apply it to his technique and tone. To get it just right, first an attempt to recreate his technique or actual physical appearance is a must. That said you will never duplicate it, because there was only one, but there are some that can get it to look visually or audibly close. Now the other part includes the clothes he wore, you can try garments that look similar, or fit similar to what he wore or you can wear exactly what he wore. Same is true for his gear, you can try things that are similar, but using the same things he wore will get you a lot closer when used with his technique or parts of it. Without the technique, trying to get the tones he got is just like wearing the same clothes without having any attribute of his physical appearance. But with all that said, Jerry wore clothes, and some times, different kinds. When he did wear different types visually things were different. Same is true for his rig, they are 2 different things. If you want to put a percentage on just which contributed more then look to the weight difference between Jerry the man and the clothes he wore. I think that would be comparable, Jerry will by far outweigh the clothes he wore. Sounds kind of stupid but I hope it makes sense.

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"Tone is in the instruments. Technique in the hands. Do what you will." ~ quote from some guy at the TGP forum
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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby tatittle » Thu May 22, 2014 9:34 pm

But with all that said, Jerry wore clothes,

and thank God for that! :shock:

Is modifying your gear akin to plastic surgery? I hope mine turns out better than Dolly Parton or John Kerry :lol:

2 legends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY-getILyo4
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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby James-T » Thu May 22, 2014 9:59 pm

Mike, I really like your weight analogy. If I 'm understanding you right it sounds like you are saying about the same thing as the calendar analogy which starts this thread. I'm also with you on Vic's Fractal tone. Really close but not the tone. It sounded like a studio tone, from a studio LP, perhaps a bit compressed. I like it, don't get me wrong on that, but I 'm back to analog these days.

Does anyone know what amp Jerry used at the opps shows in Amsterdam? His tone to my ears was a country mile away from the rest of the tour....and even his playing was a bit different. Like on the playing jam, like he was constrained by his rig so he adjusted his style. I'm guessing his amp was the key contributor to his tone that night more so than his stock Ibanez, but I could be wrong.

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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby Searing75 » Fri May 23, 2014 5:26 am

Great job Waldo! I love your description. The best part, and the one that I feel is most true, is the ability to move differently in different clothes ( equipment). As a player, I am affected greatly by the immediate tone that is coming out of the speaker. In other words, the tone is the carrot dangling out in front of the horse that is pulling the cart. The horses brain is my imagination, the horses body, my fingers, the cart, everything else.

So even though my fingers are the first physical item creating my tone, it's that carrot that is inspiring me at all times.

So......get a carrot, and leave the pickle alone! :P

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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby tatittle » Fri May 23, 2014 11:52 am

Yes the carrot is tone and jamming, the stick comes out in the songwriting process :)
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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby James-T » Fri May 23, 2014 7:18 pm

These aren't my words at the bottom, but some guy on the PRS forum. I tend to agree with his point however, that the amplification matters more than the guitar, and hey that's how this post started (and in a very poetic manner!):

Then somewhere around September, the amplifier picks up. That pretty much carries you down to the last two weeks of the year. Well, on one of those two weeks nobody does anything, so you’ve got five days left. And in those five days, everything else anybody wants to argue about, be it pickups, paint, wood, cables, capacitors, anything—that all falls into those five days. It’s an insignificant part of the total experience.”


From the PRS Forum:

"What complicates things is that one can dial in a very wide variety of tones on any decent guitar. Add an amp, and you can morph those tones into other tones. Throw in a few pedals, and you're further away from the sound of the guitar.

Throw on a different cab and speaker, now mic it with a 421 instead of a 57, and it's going to be even more different.

My point is that there are endless tones one guitar is capable of. Who on Earth can always identify how that tone was originally generated?

But the question isn't whether you can identify a particular guitar later. The question is whether you can dial in a tone you like in the first place.

For the most part, that requires using a guitar whose sound you like to start with.

You mention that you often go direct from the guitar with no amp or effects (and presumably no modeler), which, to my way of thinking is and has always been the single most generic and mediocre-sounding way to record guitar of all time (and yes I know it was big in R&B and disco, cool, fine, I don't care). Amps create an important piece of the guitar tone puzzle, (more than half IMHO) and their exaggeration of tones and frequencies coming from the guitar help define and establish the guitar's tone. I don't know why, but it's true. Even modelers do this.

My theory is that it's because guitar amps aren't linear devices, they are highly colored, their frequency response is crazy-uneven, and guitar speakers are even worse, in a good way.

I had a very linear bass amp, a Mesa 400+ with full-range speakers and a tweeter. A higher fidelity rig works great for bass, but try plugging your guitar into a rig like this -- it sounds absolutely horrible! Much like going direct!

Electric guitars need to interact with a guitar amp for some reason. Something good happens." Allen Scheman

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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby williamsaut » Sat May 24, 2014 2:03 pm

My point is that there are endless tones one guitar is capable of..... My theory is that it's because guitar amps aren't linear devices, they are highly colored, their frequency response is crazy-uneven, and guitar speakers are even worse, in a good way.


I really can't agree with this guy, IMO you can't get 'endless' tones from a single guitar. If the guitar is lacking in bass or treble, it's just not there and all the amps, speakers and fx in the world will not create sound where there's none. Like when the high end is gone in an analog recording. There's no way to get it back. Also, speakers ARE pretty linear devices. The response curve a an E120 or Liberty speaker is basically flat from 150hz to 3.5khz which is all a guitar is going to put out anyway. A speakers main job is to reproduce the signal of the amp WITHOUT coloring it. Amps too are designed to be pretty linear. A guitar amp has some treble roll off compared to a Hifi amp but you would be dialing it our anyway if it had a hifi sound or the distortion would sound horrible.

What isn't linear is your ear. Human hearing is far from linear and 'actual', 'flat' tone is really quite tinny to our ears and worse yet, human hearing response also changes as the loudness of the sound it's hearing goes up. Like when the band starts playing louder and you wonder where all your highs went.
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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby waldo041 » Sun May 25, 2014 5:11 pm

williamsaut wrote: Also, speakers ARE pretty linear devices. The response curve a an E120 or Liberty speaker is basically flat from 150hz to 3.5khz which is all a guitar is going to put out anyway. A speakers main job is to reproduce the signal of the amp WITHOUT coloring it. Amps too are designed to be pretty linear. A guitar amp has some treble roll off compared to a Hifi amp but you would be dialing it our anyway if it had a hifi sound or the distortion would sound horrible.


The Jbl's 120's K,E, and D's go as low as 50hz, probably a typo, but they are the exception. Most other speakers all are non linear and have some dip in their frequency response most in the mid range. I also understand your remarks about amps being linear but to the writers credit he is not talking about the singular, power amps, he is talking about guitar combo amps. These include the preamps that are colorful and are non linear in their response and when used with a power amp create a non linear guitar amp. Couple this with a mid scooped speaker and the rig is going to be non linear. This is true for the majority of guitar rigs. Jerry's rig is very much not the norm, but it to is non linear in the preamp.

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Re: The ingredients for Jerry tone

Postby williamsaut » Sun May 25, 2014 6:49 pm

The chart I've seen shows the E120's bass response taking a dive under about 120hz. I just clicked on about a dozen popular guitar speakers over at US speaker and they do have a treble bump in the 3k-4k range but other than that pretty flat within about 5-10db not that that's 'flat'. A couple had a notch right at the 2K spot. I have seen the mid scooped response curves of the three major design tube preamps out there, Marshall being the hottest and least mid scooped so maybe not as flat as I thought.

I have been told that I have the uncanny ability to sound pretty much the same on whatever is put in my hands after a turn the knobs a little :) Half the battle is knowing what sound you want and recognizing it when you get it.
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