Jerry's acoustic tone

Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby Poor Peter » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:14 pm

Howdy all,
I am wondering if anyone knows anyhing about Jerry's acoustic set up. Specifically the Alvarez he used with Grisman in the early 90's. I have a Yairi I need to get wired up that sounds remarkably close to the tone Jerry has during the Warfield runs in '91. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby Poor Peter » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:02 pm

Wow...not even a bone. I don't know if there was ever a topic w/o a response before, but I didn't want to be the first. So I reply to myself.....
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:14 pm

Poor Peter wrote:Wow...not even a bone. I don't know if there was ever a topic w/o a response before, but I didn't want to be the first. So I reply to myself.....

:D
Wish I could help ya out man !
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby willmusic » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:12 pm

What little I know about Jerry's acoustic is it had a graphite neck and a piezo/internal mic with a blender. As far as amplification, I've been told it was simply plug n' play but I'm not sure.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby JonnyBoy » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:02 pm

Poor Peter wrote:Wow...not even a bone. I don't know if there was ever a topic w/o a response before, but I didn't want to be the first. So I reply to myself.....



Usually that means, "Huh good question..... ":lol:

Thought I heard he used a Takamine during the early 80's most notably the radio city gigs, he mentioned he bought it at a guitar store. Not sure which, but I play a Takamine Santa Fe and it sounds great doing the acoustic gig I do weekly with another local dead head musician. He uses a fancy smanchy Martin and has a kick ass Taylor, but still after going into the acoustic rig I can't see a huge difference in tone or sound between them. I would blatantly assume the rig has a lot to do with the good tone too no matter what you choose to play 8) . I am sure you could get it done with what you have by playing with the amp/effects until you are close enough for Government work. I tweaked my modeling amp that way, A/B a twin and playing hours of Dead through the amp along with my guitar until satisfied. I guess that's the hard way though,,,I know it would be easier to get a definitive answer.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby jdsmodulus » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:40 am

Jerrys Alvarez Yairi model was DY-99 w/vine. That was the later version with the Modulus neck. It had a custom LR Baggs system installed. Both Bob and Jerry were working with St Lous Music to build custom guitars and electronics. Bob had a rackmount version of his preamp. Jerry and Bob both used the Pendulum SPS-1 acoustic preamp. This is the best preamp out there! Jerry used a Trace Elliot TA100r Acoustic amp for the show in Berkeley. Before that, when he played the shows wtih Grisman he played an Alvarez custom I cant remember the number. He had a few of these. The GY1 came later, he didnt play this one with Grisman. Not sure about amps during 90-91 but up until then (JGAB) he was still using Fender>Mac>HT Cabs. There really isnt a lot of info from this time and I would guess because alot of this work was done outside of the Dead. Less publicity and less photos to look at and such. Just like everything with JG it changed all the time. Even show to show.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby tcsned » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:52 am

I love Jerry's acoustic playing though I can't say I'm in love with his acoustic stage tone. I remember reading something from David Grisman about trying to convince Jerry to use a mic instead of a piezo pickup because to really get a good tone the sound has to travel through the air first. I would agree with Jonny that when you use a piezo pickup that it colors the tone as much if not more than the guitar. I don't remember which system Alvarez used for those guitars but I would think that almost any "blender system" would get you close if that's the tone you're after. I would think that the neck would have more effect on the playability and durability and not so much on the tone in the PA.

I managed a store that was an Alvarez dealer and played a couple of the JG and BW models. They were nice but I don't think that they were on the level of a good American made acoustic from Martin, Taylor, Collins, Bourgoise, and the like (though for about twice the price). I'm thinking Jerry liked the stability of the graphite neck and the usability of the piezo/mic pickup at stage volume more than the guitar as something that had spectacular tone. He and his guitars traveled a lot and went through many climate changes - having the graphite neck meant having a playable guitar wherever he went - that was probably a huge selling point to him.

When I got my nice acoustic I thought about the Alvarez but settled on a Taylor 810. I used a Fishman piezo, then a blender and wasn't really happy with either. I use a Schertler BlueStik pickup which is much better than the piezo and blender systems out there IMHO. I only use the pickup when it's too loud to use a nice large diaphragm condenser mic.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby strumminsix » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:18 am

The AYs have a really nice onboard preamp. I've also got the neck single coil that I mix in and it is awesome!

It is bright so you have to compared it to the Taylors and they are similar in tone and playability.

They key difference, to me, is that the onboard piezo, single coil input, controls, EQ and tuner in the AY blows everything out of the water at that price point.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby tcsned » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:15 am

strumminsix wrote:The AYs have a really nice onboard preamp. I've also got the neck single coil that I mix in and it is awesome!

It is bright so you have to compared it to the Taylors and they are similar in tone and playability.

They key difference, to me, is that the onboard piezo, single coil input, controls, EQ and tuner in the AY blows everything out of the water at that price point.

Agreed, they are really nice guitars and half the price of a high end Taylor or Martin. Are you using a magnetic pickup too? What kind? There was one that was really popular back in the 90s that sounded great but I can't think of the brand.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby strumminsix » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:27 am

tcsned wrote:
strumminsix wrote:The AYs have a really nice onboard preamp. I've also got the neck single coil that I mix in and it is awesome!

It is bright so you have to compared it to the Taylors and they are similar in tone and playability.

They key difference, to me, is that the onboard piezo, single coil input, controls, EQ and tuner in the AY blows everything out of the water at that price point.

Agreed, they are really nice guitars and half the price of a high end Taylor or Martin. Are you using a magnetic pickup too? What kind? There was one that was really popular back in the 90s that sounded great but I can't think of the brand.


I'm using the Alvarez single coil and blend it in a smidge with the piezo for clarity. Or for rooms prone to feedback and then add more single and less piezo.
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby jdsmodulus » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:00 am

Hey Strum yours is a system 500 or 600? I installed the Fishman Matrix and used the LR Baggs Para DI on my DY98 that was all I needed! I sold it. I was thinking of getting a new WY1 though!
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby strumminsix » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:24 am

600T MKII onboard preamp + eq + tuner
Alvarez ASP-50 MKII soundhole single coil

Preamp (scroll down):
http://www.stevesmusiccenter.com/AlvarezAC60SC.html

Pickup:
http://www.webemusic.com/products/Alvar ... -9137.html
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby jdsmodulus » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:55 pm

thanks for the links!
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby Maybeck09 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:38 pm

Agreed, they are really nice guitars and half the price of a high end Taylor or Martin. Are you using a magnetic pickup too? What kind? There was one that was really popular back in the 90s that sounded great but I can't think of the brand.

perhaps you were speaking of the Sunrise pickups (sound hole mounted).
http://www.sunrisepickups.com/

I had one in a Martin for a while. Liked it but didn't like it in the sound hole. Still need a good pre-amp (I use a baggs DI box)
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Re: Jerry's acoustic tone

Postby tcsned » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:54 am

Maybeck09 wrote:
Agreed, they are really nice guitars and half the price of a high end Taylor or Martin. Are you using a magnetic pickup too? What kind? There was one that was really popular back in the 90s that sounded great but I can't think of the brand.

perhaps you were speaking of the Sunrise pickups (sound hole mounted).
http://www.sunrisepickups.com/

I had one in a Martin for a while. Liked it but didn't like it in the sound hole. Still need a good pre-amp (I use a baggs DI box)

Yep, that's it! A lot of bluegrass guys were using those back then. I never used a soundhole magnetic pickup but those things sounded better than almost any piezo I've heard.

I've been doing acoustic gigs for almost 30 years now and a lot has changed since those days. I remember when I first started playing in my bluegrass band in the late 80s that everyone was using a pickup of some sort and we while we got a good sound, it was never great. We have gone to using 2 large diaphragm mics (1 for vocals, harp, and fiddle - one for banjo, guitars, and mandolin) and it made such a big difference. Not only did the instruments sound better but we played together better and listened more. There was no more, "turn me up in the monitors!" Heck, sometimes we don't even use monitors. The Del'Arte guitar is great for this since it is so loud on its own. I think that pickups are a convenience and none of them make a guitar sound better than it does acoustically - only a mic can do an instrument true justice. I'll use the Shertler pickups for monitors when we are playing to a larger crowd or using drums but I never put them in the mains. Unless we are at the mercy of a sound guy who doesn't understand acoustic music (which are most of them IMHO).
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