Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #101488  by Rushmoreacd
 Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:10 pm
I am new to this site. It's a little beyond my abilities, but it will be great to learn in time. I'm a little bit in awe.

I am specifically interested in getting a clean 80's Garcia tone. I am sure most of you have achieved this with your equipment. The easiest example of what I mean is the strum of his guitar right before they sing, "I will get by" in Touch. It's clean, but there is something in it that gives it this new string buzz, almost like it’s an effect. So, from the beginning, speaking to a beginner technophile, but intermediate guitar player, how can I get that sound out of a guitar and set up. What are the essentials to begin, get, build a set up, settings, etc?

Thanks in advance. This site is great!
 #101492  by Grant
 Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:50 pm
I'm sure some far more knowledgeable folk will chime in, but the basics of the sound are Super 2 in middle position w/ coil split, high action, along with the garcia pick (dunlop adamas) and picking technique will give you the string-y sound.

from there, onboard preamp, brass nut, Cocobolo wood, and many other factors will get you closer and closer to 'the sound'. just a matter of how much you're will to shell out!

There's plenty of search-able information on this site regarding all of these things.

Welcome to the forum! :cool:
 #101521  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:18 am
My favorite top contributing factors for an '80s Jerry sound are:

JBL's !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (either D120F, K120, or E120)
Fender style tube preamp with reverb, preferably with Jerry mods
Adamas/Dunlop graphite 2mm pick
Dimarzio Super II split to single coil in the middle position
9V Buffer (see Waldo)
Clean and loud power amp that sounds ok when you clip it
Correct picking technique

If I had to pick the number one piece of equipment that's most vital to and required for the 80's Jerry sound, I think it would have to be the JBL speakers.

 #101522  by Rushmoreacd
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:21 am
Thanks so much for the tips. Does anyone else have any essential information to share for this beginner?

Also, do I need an on-board pre-amp to achieve this clean sound, which I describe in my first post (I’ve read up on Garcia's UGB)? Correct me if I am wrong, but this device helps to preserve the sound of tones when using effects? If I am trying to achieve this clean sound, as I describe above, would the on-board pre-amp be necessary? Otherwise, what else achieves this, deceptively simple tone?

Thanks again.
 #101537  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:30 am
Yeah, the Waldo buffer is another pretty key item to have. Even if you don't wire it all up for the OBEL loop, the buffer in the guitar provides a pretty important benefit of clear, present, and detailed pickup response and also a consistent tone at any guitar volume knob setting.

 #101543  by tigerstrat
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:39 am
The Wald onboard buffer is truly great, but wouldn't we say that a few other factors have somewhat more to do with achieving the 80's clean tone, namely the JBL (or JBL-like) speaker, the pickup selection (single coil or coil-tapped), the Fender (or Fender-like) preamp, and the reverb (amplifier or outboard)?

edit: (d'oh! didn't see Brad's post #3 in the thread... consider this a "+1")
 #101549  by Pete B.
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:33 pm
Welcome to the group.
It would help if you could tell us what gear you currently have.
Rushmoreacd wrote:... The easiest example of what I mean is the strum of his guitar right before they sing, "I will get by" in Touch. It's clean, but there is something in it that gives it this new string buzz, almost like it’s an effect...
imho, "Brand New Strings" are probably the single most important part, and most overlooked part, of Jerry's "Basic" tone. I think it's safe to say that every time he played Touch live, it was with brand new strings.
ime, The first 4 hours of string life is about all you get with regard to that "New String" sound/tone/"effect".

Keeping it to the "basics"...
Given that you are "playing like Jerry", you can tonally emulate most all the Jerry clean stuff with a new set of strings, a short guitar cord, and a Fender Twin Reverb type amp.
Guys in tribute bands have done this successfully for years and years.

Nowadays, Thanks to guys like Waldo and Brad :hail: , Buffers and Jerry Pre-amps are now becoming basic Jerry Gear.
I may be wrong, but to my field of vision, most Jerry guys in Tribute Bands have only gone to on-board buffers and on-board-effects-loops in the last 5-10 years.

Playing along with GD vids is probably the best way to start to "play" like Jerry G... by emulating his right and left hand technique.
Last edited by Pete B. on Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 #101550  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:44 pm
Right On Pete!!

Absolutely - fresh strings. They only sound that way for a few hours and it most definitely is part of the Jerry thing. You can't really get it quite like that the next day or two days later. That shimmer and sparkle off the wound strings in particular has a short lifespan.

 #101554  by JustinJohn
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:11 pm
Right on the money in here!!

There's literally a thousand things that all add up to Jerrys clean tone, and all the keys are given in this thread: JBLs, tuned speaker cab, fender tube amp (pref w mods), clean power amp, onboard buffer, picks, (new)strings, pickups, etc...

IMHO, still the most key factor is jerrys technique - things like picking the string in an area near the front edge of the bridge pickup while slightly palm-muting the decay of the attack... Things like that are key as well. But as far as the raw tone, yep - the folks here got u covered!

Welcome to the forum!! =)
Last edited by JustinJohn on Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 #101555  by tapestry
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:11 pm
Secret sauce:

New Strings (DR TITE FIT or HIGH BEAM) - (50% of the tone right here!!!)
THICK pick
Dimarzio Super II, Middle position, coil tapped
Waldo Buffer
Fender Twin Reverb (modded to waldo specs)
JBL E-120 Speakers
Mcintosh power amp (250, 2100, 2300, 50)
Dynamic picking technique

thats it.
 #101558  by tigerstrat
 Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:18 pm
Not really very "basic", after all, is it? Guy comes in and thinks he's asking a simple question, but it's actually one of the most complex issues that this forum attempts to tackle. :lol:
 #101577  by jahozer
 Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:06 am
wrong place to combine basic and jerry tone! :lol:
New strings and fender amp FTW!

I never thought about new strings in terms of Jerrys treble sparkle. makes total sense, though. I am sooo bad at changing my strings. I play GHS boomers which are very bright. I will have to try the DR tite fits. Ive been looking to try something else.