mijknahs wrote:The best minds here believe that "THAT SOUND" came from a combination of the output transistors slightly clipping on the McIntosh power amp AND the JBL E120s driven into saturation (slight distortion).
Agreed. And it even goes for the era before the E120's when it was D120's and K120's.
I love the title of this thread: "Not quite clean but not quite distorted"
Man, that just about sums up the most illusive and sought after holy grail aspect we all struggle with. We know Jerry's gear and tone settings and pickups and pick and speakers, etc, but it's HOW it's all implemented and operated to achieve this clean/dirty thing we hear is the tricky part. Most of us find that it's very hard to play with a 100% clean rig as it sounds sterile and TOO ice-picky when we pick hard, little warmth and sustain and zero forgiveness. But Jerry seemed to strike the balance where he got that hi-fi sound that expressed a lot of nuance, had great sweetness and fullness and clarity and tone quality, but he got just enough clipping and distortion to tame the pick attack transients to help with smoothing things out and getting a bit more sustain in the sound and just a hint of grit, but still a mostly clean sound.
I think that it does come down to the maxing and gentle clipping of the power amplifier and also the sound that JBL speakers make when they're pushed to their maximum, and that bit of speaker saturation which also is a form of limiting and distortion. But ultimately, it takes tremendous talent to wrangle this beast. I know that anyone with this setup finds that they can really nail Jerry's tone, but they also find that it took Jerry's incredible hands to operate this kind of setup in a musical way. Most of us simply don't have that kind of pick dynamic control. It seems that everyone who tries this approach we speak of instantly gains a whole new level of reverence and respect for Jerry's guitar playing talent. One of the things he was SO amazing at was this picking dynamic control. All those years and gazillion notes played thru such a loud and clean rig really made him a master, a true master of that style.