Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #85222  by brutusbuck45
 Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:44 am
I was flying into Charlotte this morning and listening to a show that I had on my iPod for a while but have not listened to it in some time. It was a Laguna Seca show from 1987 (May 10, 1987). Its pretty much your typical 1987 - 88 era setlist:

Set 1

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo ->
Feel Like A Stranger
West L.A. Fadeaway
New Minglewood Blues
Row Jimmy
Box Of Rain ->
Desolation Row ->
Don't Ease Me In

Set 2

Hell In A Bucket ->
Scarlet Begonias ->
Fire On The Mountain ->
Man Smart (Woman Smarter) ->
Drums ->
Space ->
China Doll
Playing In The Band ->
Throwing Stones ->
Turn On Your Lovelight

Not Fade Away
Black Muddy River

But what really struck me when listening to it (and I had been to nearly 50 shows from that era and listened to countless hours on tape), was Jerry's Tiger tone particularly during solo's in Row Jim and Desolation Row. Its that heavy delay, reverby, and what I consider "clean" overdrive. Of course, everyone interested in obtaining that Holy Grail, Jerry-thing, has there own method or definition of how to get there. Some have started going down the "digital" path to model the tone. Others are mostly stil into the analog effects, Twins, JBLs, and monster SS amps. So we know all this.

I recently picked up a Fender G-DEC amp that has many convincing models and effects. Most importanly for my purpose, is the Blackface model which really nails the 73-74 tone. But in listening to this show today, I really am interested in seeing how close I can get to that '87 era tone with it. I cannot simulate a clipped McInosth power amp, this I know. But if there is a recipe to this era, analog or digital, I would love to see/hear some folks compare and contrast what gets you "there." Is there a "goto" chain that you engage or particular patch you created (Vic?).

Thanks. -Peace.

 #85224  by JonnyBoy
 Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:41 am
you are going to drive yourself crazy, I think I get closest to this era with the particular pickups he used. The speakers are helpful too. I have pushed that same envelope to the edge and wound up with two mac's and a small pile of JBL's with the twin preamp. Once It was all in the the mix, tones started coming together. My OD is a mix of a GE7 5 band Eq and a super OD. Sometimes a LPB1 into the preamp to grit it up some and the Mac pushed up a bit, but that can be loud. its just easier to use pedals at this point. I make sure the tone knob is right, not all the way on but rolling off the treble enough to get a thicker horn like sound.
Try pushing the gain a little higher on the blackface setting that has some grit and turn down the tone knob of the guitar until the horn sound begins to show. push the vol knob of the guitar almost wide open depending on how much grit you are getting, if you adjust the vol you may have to adjust the tone again too since the vol will roll off high freq too. I know your new axe has a single in the middle, which may or may not help you get that split dual sound/super II tone which was the secrete in the end for me. I would think you could get close enough though. The right pickups just make it more effortless.
 #85232  by rugger
 Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:55 am
My quick anecdotal story about this weekend.

Drove up from Los Angeles with a group of friends in a small pickup truck, a bunch of us were in the back (I guess it was legal then to do that). Narrowly and miraculously escaped a high speed rear end collision as traffic came to a halt on the two lane hwy on the way into the racegrounds. Cars went flying by both sides of us.

Sat up high on the hill taking in this show while two dudes blazing their faces off laughed and rolled up and down the hill for some period of time.

Saturday night they shot the Touch of Grey video with the puppets. To get a few hundred people back to the stage for the audience shots, they kept implying the band might come out and play afterwards--total BS! I felt used and dirty! lol

Overall, a very fun weekend.

John in San Diego
Last edited by rugger on Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 #85244  by playingdead
 Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:34 pm
I don't know much about the G-DEC, but I do know the three essential components for that tone (aside from your playing technique) are a Super II pickup split in the middle position, a Blackface preamp scenario with good spring reverb, and JBL-E120 speakers.

If the G-DEC can use custom IR (impulse response) files, I can give you the E-120s. (Presumably, being a Fender product, it can do a convincing Blackface and you can probably dial up some good overdrive to go along with it.) But while I can get a convincing 87 tone with my AxeFX rig and Tiger guitar, it goes out the window without the Super II. I've tried the very same preset with my Suhr Strat and the middle pickup (a Suhr Vintage 60s single coil) just doesn't get "that" particular sound to it. Neither does my PRS with a split Dragon pickup, or my John Buscarino frankencaster with an EMG single in the middle. Adding EQ doesn't get it either. It's intrinsic to that Super II pickup, much the way getting an SRV tone can't really be done with a PAF, or Keith Richards without a Tele, etc. etc. etc.

It's also difficult to knock a specific tone with a modeling amp unless you happen to have the analog equipment set up and running to A-B with, which I did when I made my AxeFX preset. In fact, it was close enough where I sold off most of that gear.

All I can really say is, the working Tiger tone in the context of a band mix has more mids than you probably would think it does, and more reverb (which washes out later in the mix). The tendency when you are listening to the guitar on its own is to think treble is good, but when you try to fit that crispy sound into a band mix, it winds up being way too thin. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Garcia probably thought his direct Bolt tone sounded cool over his ear monitors every night, but it was thin and spidery in the recordings later.
 #85307  by brutusbuck45
 Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:32 am
Wow! Great insight into what it takes for that era's tone. Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to apply impulse files with the Fuse software. I am going to keep playing with the adjustable components- but you bring up the great point of A/B'ing with the real deal. If anything it is still another quest and the journey is half of the fun.

Thanks again, y'all!
 #85374  by keirweir
 Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:59 am
87 tone is one of my favorit tones and the tone I go after with my current Jerry rig. I may or may not be there but I am digging what I am getting. This is pre TPC1 buffer and OBEL (was waiting on cables) so it sounds even better now. No instruments were mic'd.

I LOVE 87!

This is a vid from a gig I played with Dead Ahead in NH. This is a good tonal review. There are solo's with and without distortion. The visual quality is eh, but the audio is ok.

nice jam at 5:20 ... re=related
 #88966  by seamones
 Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:00 pm
What is Jerry adjusting in this photo? I took a look in the usual places and couldn't find mention.....
Cab Box.jpg
Cab Box.jpg (23.9 KiB) Viewed 1343 times
 #88968  by caspersvapors
 Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:26 pm
Im also a big fan of 87 tone, particularly like the tones in the final jam of this Althea ... re=related

it seems like Jerry started using delay a lot more than he ever had previously and hes got real nice overdrive thing going on there. his tone is real lush when sometimes it can be a bit too thin in those later years.
 #88970  by playingdead
 Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:17 pm
seamones wrote:What is Jerry adjusting in this photo? I took a look in the usual places and couldn't find mention.....
Best guess is it's a remote volume control for either his MIDI monitor (if he was using it at the time, can't tell if that's Rosebud or Tiger -- looks like Tiger from the flaw on the headstock, and if the copyright on the photo is correct), or possibly the monitor that used to sit to his left by Brent's B3, which I believe was stage fill for the keyboards (or at least for the piano, with that wall of eight Leslies over there it's unlikely he ever needed any assistance hearing the B3).
 #88971  by waldo041
 Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:26 pm
seamones wrote:What is Jerry adjusting in this photo? I took a look in the usual places and couldn't find mention.....
per Steve Parish it is a Bass Extension Volume. Jerry had a bass extension monitor that sat in front of Brents B3.

 #89557  by JonnyBoy
 Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:48 am
To throw a monkey wrench into the GDEC mix for you to play with, and it took up a lot of my time to sound right, I used the fixed wha in the chain on the Fuse program to adjust pitch,Q and frequency, which helps adjust some parameters the EQ just doesn't play with. It works well with trying to get the horn sounding distortion too, even without having to play with your tone knob too much on the guitar which is helpful jamming or live.

Vic makes a good point, my strat sounds a bit different than the humbuckers in my lesbud or Rosepaul.