Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #132814  by waldo041
 Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:25 pm
I would love to see a Black Dimarzio SDS-1 from 77 or 78, or a White one, but I have never seen one. All I have seen have been Crème. That said, if Blucher says they would have made them then I am sure we can find them in an advertisement, a guitar of that year or at least a few on ebay. Since they were in existence we should see Jerry using Black SDS-1's prior to 1990 in Tiger, no?

Also, why are we quick to jump on the FS-1's? Could he have used the VS-1's?

 #132830  by James-T
 Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:43 pm
Hey Mike,

That 12/30/77 photo was in black and white I recall. Those pick-ups could have been creme. :?:

I've been in touch with someone who has the 78 catalogue - it doesn't specify any color options (or limitations) in it - I guess like Steve told us any color was available - creme might have been the best seller. The cover shows "Super" somethings in white, the Super II's are shown in black, the Dual Sound's in cream and the SDS-1's in cream. I think the ad men set it up to show different options and appeal to a wide variety of tastes. The guitar on the cover is a contemporary model in white. Perhaps they made that suggestion for Jerry's Wolf. :D

I'm pretty convinced myself that on the 30th Jerry had SDS-1's installed. If he wanted to experiment it makes sense to do it over a run, where the room is the same, so when he listened to the tapes things would be consistent - so it's logical he would play one set of pups one night and then swap them out the next night.

Did you listen to the sound cloud link I posted? I thought the 12/29 show had a hint of Travis Bean in it, and a bit like the Englishtown tone. I liked the 30th and 2/3/78 the best - those two were real similar.

I had read that Wolf 1 had strat pups in it - go figure 70's strat pickups in a $600,000 guitar! :?

I also read that Jerry would always be buying various wrecks of guitars and have folks fixing them up (hey I think I've been to that movie before!) so guys rewinding pick-ups at Alembic - who knows what they were up to? - they could be restoring things Jerry found on the road. same goes for Bill Lawrence. I imagine Jerry came in contact with all sorts of folks during his travels.

And Wolf 1.0 - it was really only in play for 18 months. I can see it having only a few pick-up swaps if any, as it appears the real experimenting came with Wolf 2.0.





On a parting note, the singer and second guitar player in my non-dead band plays a LP National and it’s a beater but I’ve been telling him for about 6 months now just how amazing his pickups sound. Up until a few days ago I could have never guessed what they were, but looking at them last night low and behold they are a set of early or mid 70’s Super Distortion’s! creme color, allen key poles, they whole 9 yards. He's had the thing since at least the 70's - someone gave it to him, it came out of a fire sale - hosue fire that is.

You learn something new every day! And Mike you’ve certainly expanded my knowledge on the subject matter by pushing the research! Thanks! :hail:


 #132834  by Jon S.
 Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:46 pm
As long as this river of a thread has meandered already down so many tributaries, FWIW, here are pics of my own '77 Super Distortion that I bought new at the time as a replacement PUP. Alas, today, it sits unused.


 #132835  by James-T
 Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:55 pm
That is exactly what Nelson, my band mate's Super Distortion looks like! :shock:
As long as this river of a thread has meandered already down so many tributaries
Jon you are sounding like Robert Hunter - priceless! :smile:


 #132837  by waldo041
 Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:23 pm



 #132842  by cmc64
 Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:18 pm
I just wrote one heck of a long post and when I clicked "Submit" I was logged out and taken back to the home page. Clicked on the back button but it was gone. I am way too tired to give it another go (it was a good one too - nuts!!! :lol: ) so in summation great work on the montage James - quick and easy comps are just great stuff and I am in total agreement about Garcia pushing his rig to the limit to get that beautiful, crisp, sparkly yet overdriven tone. I prefer 12/30 to 12/29 and find 12/30 to be most similar to 2/3/78. As the photographic evidence shows, 12/29 had the black pup's, 12/30 the white pup's which I agree are most likely SDS-1's but 2/3/78 has black pup's. So what was going in February? We do know that Garcia was swapping out pup's nightly during the 1977 New Year's Run - with the Irwin "plug and play" pickup design it would have been a snap and with that in mind it seems unlikely Healy was fooling around with the Twins during the run. Anything is possible but I feel it is unlikely.

Fast-forward to February 1978 with black pickups and the Master Volume Twin - and then again to the April -> May tour with white pup's and who knows if anything other mods were done to the Twins. Hmm....

We need some good shots of the March 1978 JGB tour. I am curious what he had going on at that point.

To anyone who has a Deadbase laying about: Check out Michael Nash's review of 12/29/1977. He makes some very interesting comments that are quite relevant to this discussion. I wrote it all out in the last post but I am too far gone at this point to try and recreate all of that. Been going full-tilt since 6:30AM and I am spent. I'll try to rehash it tomorrow.

I hadn't seen the videos of 12/30 and 12/31 - thanks for those Mike - great stuff. Gonna knock off tonight with some April 1978. After checking out the Jack Straw from 4/12/1978 I think I may revisit that vey one. It has been a while.

This post is a mess and things are not quite how I want them. I am cashing out as I am losing the ability to spell. 'night guys. :smile:
 #132852  by Smolder
 Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:16 am
God bless you guys for your efforts here, but I have no idea how you can make confident assessments of tone from these artifacts... from the pickup selector (that you can't see) to the potential pedal selection, the hall and it's effects, the mix, the recorder (maybe these are board mixes), to the bandwidth of youtube videos (and my computer to audio system connection)... I just don't have much confidence in what I'm perceiving as I listen.

That anyone can make heads or tails of comparisons these many years and technical hurdles later... is awesome and admirable.
 #132854  by waldo041
 Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:42 am
I only use the soundboards for comparison if needed. Video is good when you can see the actual pickup selector, toggles or glimpses of the actual pickups used. The latter is what these videos were posted for. In general, you usually can tell when he is using an effect in the video as well as hear it. His effects are distinct and usually evident when he is using them versus his clean tone. Later when he starts to use an effects loop switch you can see his motion in flipping it on and off and hear the difference from one side or the other. However, these videos or video analysis are only for visual identification, you have to go back to the boards to hear the audio results in a comparison.

 #132856  by TI4-1009
 Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:54 am
James-T wrote: go figure 70's strat pickups in a $600,000 guitar! :?
Inflation. Jer only paid $1500. :-)
 #132857  by James-T
 Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:10 am
Well saud! Inflation is a killer. Oh to ho back to $11 Grateful Dead tickets!

Waldo, I detect a hint of MRX OD or boost in Jerry's solos through Eyes on the 12 30 show. Is that just my imagination?


 #132890  by James-T
 Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:23 pm

Here is a cool video which explains the difference between the vintage style pick-up (like in Wolf 1.0) and a ceramic pick-up with adjustable pole pieces (like a Dimarzio SDS-1). You can see why a SDS-1 with the ceramic magnet would need to be taller - and give a fuller sound - from a technical standpoint.

He also does a good job of illustrating the fullness of the ceramic magnet versus the chime of the vintage pick-up.

This is probably old news to most but was informative to me - I'm just not very tech savvy!

What is interesting is he calls the ceramic pick-up darker but I know from talking with Dimarzio that the SDS-1 is their warmest high output pickup.

These are all things Garcia was obviously thinking about when he went back to the Wolf after the Travis Bean.

Garcia from that Oct. 77 interview:
It's one of those things, that I'm not sure...I'm not sure what the trip is with them. I don't even really... I don't have really- I don't really like magnetic pick-ups all that much; I wish there was some other way to do it; they're kind of clumsy. And the thing is that the hotter you make the pick-up, the more irregular the harmonics get to be, because it bends the string down here. You know, if you have really strong magnets, it's like wauuhh...the string, the string, instead of being like that it's like that. So the harmonics here are always incredibly inharmonic. So you always wonder 'Why the fuck's my guitar sound like it's not in tune here'. You run into those kind of weird exchanges."
The Fender FS-1 - did Jerry give it a try? - perhaps, its less powerful than the SDS-1 according to the Dimarzio tech support guys and he seems to have been experimenting with different pick-ups almost on a nightly basis.

Waldo - were the TB pick-ups vintage style or ceramic?


 #140088  by Marlow
 Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:59 am
This epic thread has been sleeping for a while, but I thought I would throw in an email from Dimarzio that I got today. I asked them to recommend the closest single-coil to a split Super II:

"I don’t think an SDS-1 sounds anything like a Super Distortion in single-coil mode, and unfortunately, we do not make a single-coil pickup that has a similar sound. A True Velvet (DP175) is closer than an SDS-1, but still not very similar. You might do better with an HS-2 (DP116), wired in single-coil mode (red hot, black & bare ground, green & white not connected)."
 #141152  by James-T
 Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:42 pm
Really this post is for the guy looking for that 78/79 tone. All I can say is good luck. Here is Warren playing the Wolf and sounding nothing like Jerry nor getting his tone. But it is great playing and a great listen and great close up's of Bob's China Cat licks.

If you follow the thread you will see I made a case for the SDS-1 as the single coil pup in the Wolf in early 78, but through researching historic concert photo's it looks like those single coils were swapped out often with the goal of experimentation. But there is photographic evidence of SDS-1's being in the Wolf at certain points in time. But some would argue with that as well - just like folks argue about climate change and folks argued about the world being flat.

I would argue, and many would disagree with me, that the actual type of single coil pup in that guitar was not the defining component of Jerry's tone at that time, and in fact if you look back at that post there are sound clips from that era where Jerry got a very similar tone (and too most, probably the same tone) playing an Ibanez.

Like I said in the other thread. I have yet to hear anyone really nail that tone with a video or sound clip. Close for sure however. For me it was the Silver Face Vibrolux (with a slight boost) first, the JBL brand of speaker second (I switch better a 1x12 E120 and a 2x12 D120F) and the guitar (neck scale, pick-ups, fret board type, construction, PU arrangement and so on...) third in what got me to a tone I was happy with. I switch guitars all the time at gigs but still sound like me through my rig. :smile:



 #143472  by James-T
 Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:57 pm
Well, here is my attempt for what it's worth to get a tone close to the Wolf 2.0. I thought SDS-1's would be the answer. I've got a strat with a set of them in it but it still sounds too thin - strat like I suppose. To get this tone I used my new guitar, it's heavy and has an ebony board with a flame maple neck which I think helps the tone. I also tried a different amp model with my Fractal Ultra. A Mesa Mark II. Makes a big difference. But with amp modelling its all about EQ, and just because it's a model of a Mesa Mark II, doesn't mean I'm playing one. I just have a particular tone dialled in with my pre amp (the Fractal). It's being run through a 2x12 JBL D120 cab and mic'd.

I think if I could play better the tone would be closer. It's definitely not a 77 tone. I think it's impossible to clone that tone unless you own a Travis B.

I'm open to suggestions on how to EQ it better. It's a blend of the two pickups. The bridge is split. The tone pot is half open. The patch actually has quite a bit of (amp) drive on it but its subtle. I think an earth drive might help it. I don't own one of those gizmos yet. :smile:



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