Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #77082  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:05 am
If anyone compares the sound of their tube preamp thru a JBL to the sound of that same preamp direct to hi-fi, full-range speakers (the direct sound) with tweeters/horns, you'll instantly hear that top end that many of us thought was from acoustic (Christian - piezo saddles) pickups. The guitar and preamp signal has a LOT of energy well above 10kHz on up past 20kHz, lots of it. Guitar speakers naturally roll off that stuff so we never hear it. There's a reason that guitar amps don't have tweeters. JBL's are a bit extended because of the fidelity of the voice coil and the bright quality of the metal dustcap, but still the JBL's don't deliver all that "tweetery" energy like a full-range speaker will. I think this is a big factor of why most of us seriously disliked Jerry's post-'93 direct tone. Also the fact that there was no speaker compression and distortion and "air" and all that musical stuff a real speaker does and also what a well placed microphone can do to also help capture and color the more musical aspects of the tone. For most of us, we spent many years getting used to Jerry's JBL miked with a Sennheiser 421 just off the edge of the voice coil. That was THE sound to me. Lots of good musical complexity coming from that approach that the direct sound just plain lacked.

Also, the GT Trio is not exactly a Fender circuit. Very close, but it has a couple of stages where there are treble bleed cap's that further exacerbate the ultra-high-treble problem. They can be modded to warm them up and sound more like the goods, but stock, there's too much "crisp" in the Trio. So you put the overly bright Trio into a direct connection to the PA, and there's that sad and awful, worst-ever Jerry tone we heard in that period. It made me sad at the time. Even Cutler agreed in the summer of '94 that it was no good and that's why he said they were considering miking an off-stage JBL. At least with JGB he kept the speakers in the rig.

 #77085  by FEBBDAYBAND
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:38 am
Wow. You guys are the fastest user group I've ever seen...

I posted this a couple hours ago and on a topic from 1995! LOL

Anyway, first and foremost, I'm not looking for any kind of arguement about anything with anyone so if you have better info than I... fantastic! Not like it matters - as I've noticed on every chat room on the internet - I am always wrong - even though I share 100% truthfully what I have learned. ;)

Here's what I'll say about what I said:

Somewhere around about '94-95 I played a PRS guitar with the Mike Christian piezo installed saddles (and you are correct, 'Hogan', that there were little wires visible that disappeared into the stop bar tailpiece). I asked all kinds of questions about it and three guys in the store gave it a try through a Mesa Boogie Mark IV head and a 4x12 cabinet. I can still remember the whole thing like it was yesterday. I was assured you can install this on most guitars without showing wires (something I was concerned about). But, anyway, I was shown the little plastic box the pickup came in and with it a little piece of paper with a paragraph about the Dead (and I'm paraphrasing); 'as recently used on tour by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead'. After hearing that I was more than just a little interested.

So, it would have been easy to hide the little wires of the Christian pickup on Rosebud - there was already a Roland GK2A (something else I used to want desperately) mounted right in front of it, so it would be easy to 'make disappear' in the same way. That guitar was fully loaded with cavernous routes for preamps, pickups and buffers.

But, thinking about the timing... 1994/95... I certainly concede it's possible that Christian sold one to some representative for the band (a crew member or maybe Jerry) and believed he was using it since we all clearly heard a very 'acoustic/electric' sound on tour. But, if you're correct that the guitar techs never did install a piezo it may very well be that the 'acoustic' tone came from a blend of the Roland synth and Christian's people just assumed they were using it? I'm also wondering about the timing - it may be that the store or Chrisitan's people copied an article and inserted them into their pickup boxes as little inserts made up right before Jerry died (and probably yanked them right after)? Who knows. I only know what I saw and heard.

Next, with the speaker thing - to be honest I don't remember who told me about it, but I had many conversations with amp techs at GrooveTubes and Mesa Boogie - with practically everyone who works the phones at either company over the years. But, I seem to recall a phone conversation with Glenn Goldstein at Hard Truckers about Jerry's cabs. I just looked through some emails - sorry nothing on the speaker behind the line, but I did find a neat bit of info about some old Gauss speakers I bought and asked questions about (before I tried the JBL's). I'll reprint that in a minute - hopefully with the photos he sent me - don't know if they'll transfer or not?

Anyway, sorry, back to topic... I think it's likely there was always a direct to board line from Garcia's rig throughout the band's history - this was common practice in studios all the way back to the birth of the direct line out (the 50's I believe)? So, in one way or another (and especially in the 80's and 90's) a lot of options would have been useful for a band (and the engineers). I know most bands with large scale stage setups were (and still are) submixing everything with their own mixers (Jerry had that Rane line mixer) and sending either a mix or ALL the sends to the stage/house mix.

The more I think about it the more difficult it would seem to know what was going on at the time unless you were there. I wasn't so I will gladly concede anything's possible.

Strumminsix: Thanks for the welcome and point taken. I didn't want to offend. I figured these were facts due to the sources (and who knows - they might still be - I think only the boys on stage will know).

Playingdead: If that's true it must have been the Roland synth ...or the magic Roses! ;)

Tigerstrat: You could blend all of these to any mix you wanted as noted by many of Jerry's fades in and out of synth tones. There's actually a knob right on the original GK-2A pickup that let you control how much synth to add to your guitar signal. I tested this out back in the early 90's in an early franchise Guitar Center. I was so impressed with Guitar Center at the time that I bought stock in the company. They looked to me like the WalMart of music stores and they were going to do just what WalMart did to their competition. I knew nothing about investing, but figured it was the one thing I knew something about. I made three times my money and got out. The stock went from $8.00 /share to $65.00 over the next couple years. Anyway, Roland was great about getting their products out to the general public - they were (and still are) a behemoth of a company! The thing is, you could always turn off the Roland, or the Christian pickup, right on the body of the guitar and it wouldn't effect the tone of the guitar's pickups running straight to the amp.

So, I dunno. It seemed like iron clad info to pass along. Maybe yes, maybe no. No hard feelings to anyone and good luck to all with YOUR sound - that's all that's going to matter in your world anyway. In the end, you can't BE Jerry because Jerry's Jerry! ;)

I love the site though - plan to read lots more when i have the time - always liked the Grateful community on tour and off. Peace!
 #77088  by FEBBDAYBAND
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:52 am
Brad: Sound's quite reasonable to me for the tone people don't like. I do have at least one recording where I would have to say it's not just a "sound" problem but an actual acoustic simulation of some kind - which could have been anything from an acoustic simulator pedal (Boss?) to a simulator at the board or the Roland again. So many possibilities! I also talked to the guys in FOH at Alpine Valley and asked a question just like this - can't remember the answer for some reason that night all blends together for me!!! LOL

Here's the email Glenn sent me: I want to add just how helpful this guy was by email and phone. I had a lot of questions abou my own gear and Jerry's and he took the time to answer things in detail - pulling out my quotes and answering them line by line. Now, I don't know how often you guys deal with industry types, but in my book that was like the Medal Of Honor for a service tech! No doubt. Thanks again Glenn - if I could have afforded a HardTruckers cabinet I surely would have one by now. I eventually found some multiply birch and made my own, but Glenn's a great guy for that...

hey bud...

alright here we go...bobby used gauss 2840 speakers (sorry about the dyxlexia on the earlier posts i got my 8s and 4s mixed up) im sure of this because i have a pair sitting in my studio still in the original box that has the shipping label to the grateful dead from leo's music in oakland where they got most of their gear. i got these from parish.

you will get a good tone out of using yours it just wont be all that close to garcia's. which is ok, just dont expect to get that crystal clean tone jerry had. bobby likes his shit dirty and breaking up. different sound but still nice.

if you use your amp as you want say the two gauss speakers in a 4ohm cabinet that would work well. but if you push up the volume and really push the speakers they will break up and you will get a dirty sound. if you wire three of the speakers together now you have a 2.67 ohm load and i dont know that your amp wants to see that load. you have a solid state amp so its kind of ok but your results might vary, it is possible to hurt the amp. it might work it depends how hard you run it. solid state amps are much harder to hurt than tube amps. but you can blow something on either end.

jerry used four different hard truckers cabinets. he used single 12s, the double 12 in the wall of sound and the late 80s and 90s, a 4x12 after the WOS and a 3x12 in the late 70s thru 80s. ive got some pics for you. i cant seem to find my 3 x 12 pics on this computer so ill have to forward them on at another time.

im not trying to get you off the gauss speakers they are an ok speaker and you will get a good tone out of them, i just dont want you to think you will get a jerry tone out of them.
as i was saying to get a really good jerry tone you need a clean powerful solid state amp (which you say you have) and a pair of e120s (and the ht cab to go with it of course)


4 x 12

2 x 12

two single 12s in my studio

jerry with 4 single 12s stacked up

jerry and his famous 2x12

weirs 2x12 from the WOS and in the 70s he used two of these next to each other
the speakers are not bobbys.
 #77093  by jackevorkian
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:25 am
FEBBDAYBAND wrote:Brad: Sound's quite reasonable to me for the tone people don't like. I do have at least one recording where I would have to say it's not just a "sound" problem but an actual acoustic simulation of some kind - which could have been anything from an acoustic simulator pedal (Boss?) to a simulator at the board or the Roland again.

Any idea what show that was? This is driving me nuts that I can't find it. As I recall there was a tune like Jack-A-Roe that was clearly an acoustic simulator of some sort, and a Bobby slide tune that was also unquestionably an acoustic slide guitar sound. I've only heard it twice on Sirius, but I am certain that it was more than just the acoustic qualities of his rig during that era.
 #77095  by FEBBDAYBAND
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:02 pm
Jack: You want me to use my braaaaain? LOL

I'm going to have to search through some set lists... without doing so I'm going to say I thiiiiiink it was on a prepackaged CD that seemed to be floating around in the stores called Spring Break '94? I hated buying those things at the time, but I was a poor college student eating Raman noodles and Mac & Cheese - nobody I knew traded at the time. The songs I'm thinking of included El Paso, Big River and Maggie's Farm I think. This have been at The Omni?

Brutus: Wow. That was a hot topic! I just read the lengthy thread with the arguement between Glenn and Waldo. Yikes. No comment. I stick to the statement that Glenn was as helpful as anyone has ever been in my whole musical odyssey! :)

Peace in the grease please!
 #77096  by playingdead
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:13 pm
Certainly, anything's possible ... years ago (96 or so), I played out and had my Twin reverb and my primary guitar go down at the same gig (star crossed night). I played a backup Mexican Strat into my Crate acoustic (full-range) amp, and I'll be damned if it didn't sound exactly like Garcia's Bolt tone from 93-95. I mean, just like it.

Regarding the use of direct feeds in the studio as well as the miked JBLs, if you listen to the studio outtakes from the Built To Last sessions -- "Built To Last" is a good example -- Garcia's Tiger is incredibly bright on those recordings. I always figured that was a mix of miked speaker and direct sound.

Listen here:
 #77099  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:52 pm
Also consider that the practice sessions were probably at lower volumes. JBL's sound distinctly brighter and glassier at low volumes. As they get pushed louder and louder, the crispy top end off the metal cap becomes less up-front and the warm fullness of the speaker takes over. So perhaps that example could have been a quiet JBL if it wasn't direct as you suggested.

 #77100  by jdsmodulus
 Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:03 pm
I use the Garcia 90s rack. Lately, I have played a Squier Strat, no buffer into HT cab w 2 Jbls. I dont get the same tone as Jerry. It is close though. I like the 93-95 tone. I know im in the minority here but I like it. It is hard to replicate it actually there seem almost like something was wrong with it. I remeber Kimock talking about playing through the TRIO rack and not having any luck with it. I dont know if that is true or I am remembering it wrong. It is hard to believe that anyone but Jerry played through that rack. I plan on running the Trio into a Mackie SR series board and doing some recording soon so maybe that will produce those tones? Oh and I use the Crown 402 amp.
 #77192  by playingdead
 Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:01 pm
Came across some pictures from Orlando 4-4-94 today ... I was at this show, check out Jerry rocking the basketball hightops and teal sweatpants. LOL


But, as the photo shows, he played Rosebud that night ... and as the board recording reveals, it's that thin, piezo-ish tone just like the Bolt.

 #77193  by jdsmodulus
 Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:26 pm
I was there too. Great pic! I think its funny how the "Black Widow" used to dress up Jerry. I remember being blinded by that wedding ring at times! :lol: Still I like those later shows and I thought he sounded great! Comes a Time? well almost.
 #77199  by FEBBDAYBAND
 Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:07 pm
JDS: I would venture to say you'll never get very close to his sound without the DiMarzios. I've owned somewhere in the ballpark of 25 guitars in my life. The Super II's in Jerry's guitars have a very unique sonic signature. The day I played the DiMarzios was an eye opener. Even on a rig that sounded NOTHING like Jerry's I could still hear those flavors coming through and on my own Jerry setup it was just like I was playing through his rack!

I read once that Jerry settled on the DiMarzios because he was after a single coil (esque) clear, bell-like response without the hum and feedback issues that usually came with it. If you own the rest of the rig and you want to hear Jerry's sound, I highly recommend you ditch the Squier strat and find yourself a guitar with some Super II's. They come up from time to time used on Ebay - either in a guitar or as separates.

I have a love/hate with two of Jerry's signature sounds - I thought the thin acoustic tone sounded GREAT on those jug band like tunes... fast paced country romps where he could take the lead and really drive the band. But, also I thought it could sound pretty aweful with some of the slower tunes.

The other sound everyone seems to fight over was the Boss Turbo OD sound. I used to HATE that sound when he'd kick it on. Just destroy that beautiful clean!?!??! But, once in a while, for some reason, it would seem to fit perfectly and give his notes incredible expression and character - like a dirty old blues 'voice'. Jerry was interested in creating 'voices' much more than just tone. The best players seem to make an instrument 'sing' like they're telling a story. I think Jerry used all these tools (pedals/pickups/prcessors/etc) to tell tales!

 #77217  by tigerstrat
 Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:40 pm
playingdead wrote:But, as the photo shows, he played Rosebud that night ... and as the board recording reveals, it's that thin, piezo-ish tone just like the Bolt.

Along that same track, in this 11/11/93 recording of JGB, Bolt has the classic warm and sparkly Dimarzio sound we loved from Tiger, Wolf, and (90-93 era) Rosebud. The conclusion I am drawn towards is that the problem was not with the guitars themselves, and something was being run differently for GD performances than JGB ones.
 #77218  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:26 pm
Tigerstrat, thanks for the contrast there. The first link to Brown Eyed Women clearly demonstrates that god-awful, worst-Jerry-tone-ever sound that I so deeply despised. I don't think it's piezos, as many have concluded, but it's simply the sound of the Dimarzio Super II single coil going thru the Trio and direct to the PA and NOT thru a Mac powered JBL speaker being miked. That tone literally made me sad and depressed at the time. I was such a fan of Jerry's amazing and evolved tone, and that there was pure shit tone, awful. I won't even listen to those shows because of the sad and ill feeling I get in my gut when I hear that sound. Tragic. He had spent decades refining his glorious and heavenly tone and suddenly "that" happened. From beautiful to horrendous. I hear thru the grapevine that at that time Jerry just didn't give a shit, and it was simply convenient. He did, however, care about JGB, and we see that he kept the Mac/JBL setup for that band.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 8