Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #97898  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Fri May 06, 2011 12:56 pm
So I've been thinking again lately about how Jerry's loudness and proximity to the speakers really is a significant factor. As clean as his tone was, you can hear all thru the '70s and 80s at times where his totally clean tone would be on the edge of feedback, just enough to make the notes last longer and kind of bloom a bit after picking instead of just a linear decay. Seems to me that this is yet another factor as to how he got away with such a clean and un-compressed tone and had such fullness and fatness to his notes. Sure he could clip his pick attacks by driving the rig hard, but most of his sound was super clean. Seems that when we try to get a Jerry tone at low volumes, it just doesn't quite happen like it does when we're cranked and close to the cabinet and the speakers are being stressed and blasting that high SPL back into the guitar generating a subtle bit of feedback.

I've looked at a lot of '70s and '80s photos from all angles and it seems like Jer would often (when not at the mic singing) be just about 2' or so in front of his cabinet, feeling all that stuff in the gut and subjecting the guitar and strings to that high SPL causing an interaction and feedback loop.

 #97900  by jdsmodulus
 Fri May 06, 2011 1:52 pm
+1 I have said this for years! Bedroom and low vol tone is nothing compared to my JBLs cranked! It comes into play mostly with the venues most of us play. You just cant subject the folks to that kind of abuse! :lol:
 #97903  by bcresci
 Fri May 06, 2011 2:29 pm
I recently picked up a 1/4 inch piece of plexiglass that I was going to put on some feet and stick in front of the cab. Thought maybe I could boost the volume a bit but also sheild the crowd a bit. Anyone else doing this?
 #97906  by hogan
 Fri May 06, 2011 3:19 pm
"louder is better, at least on this planet, David" ~Garcia.
 #97907  by strumminsix
 Fri May 06, 2011 3:29 pm
I don't think it's as much volume as it is pushing ALL the individual pieces of equipment to their point of clipping. If I was going for it I'd grab lower wattage speakers, smaller poweramp, and be maxing out an SMS.
 #97908  by JonnyBoy
 Fri May 06, 2011 3:44 pm
That makes sense brad, I wonder if slight compression could compensate for the sustain at lower volumes? Not Chicken Pickin' sustain, but something to keep the notes a little longer and fuller along with a good drive pedal making the signal a little more sensitive? I have tried to work with a compressor in a few aspects and it helps on some things. The trick is to get it to work without degrading the natural tone and dynamics which is hard.... Is it possible to add a circuit that adds sustain to an OD pedal, without stealing away dynamics?
 #97916  by JamminJommy
 Fri May 06, 2011 6:29 pm
Do we have any sense of a dB level that Jerry's cab put out? I seem to recall seeing a clip or two where you can see the cones rocking a tiny bit (namely with the octave or envelope filter engaged) but I could be mistaken. He did seem to frequently stand pretty close to his amp, though.

I have to wonder though if any of the clipping helped the sustain as opposed to/in addition to volume. Overdriven sounds have more overtones present, so it is possible to feedback at almost any volume. But the Man's rig was a big rig with oodles of power. I wouldn't be surprised at all if volume was the first factor. You don't seem to hear as much feedback with the WoS as you do with his 3-4 x 12 rig.


 #98025  by Capt Rosebuddy
 Tue May 10, 2011 1:37 pm
Yea I totally agree Brad. I had this brought home to me last week when I was finally able to crank up my Twin. The JBL's where jumping back and forth and there really was some Fat Man mojo going on. I had the vol at 3.5 to 4 and it was really something. My ears where ringing but it did really bring out that Garcia Bark that I've been looking for. The tone was all over the neck too, at quiet volumes the 1st position stuff sounds passable but you need to play LOUD to get the high reg. stuff sparkling. I'm a firm believer that Garcia's stage sound was exactly the same as what's on the boards or what was heard out in the aud. through the PA; sure Healy worked some eq magic or whatever but the rig sounded good in person and it was LOUD!

Great Topic Brad thanks again.

sorry I didn't record anything but I'm working on a project now that I hope to have done and posted soon.
 #98032  by tcsned
 Tue May 10, 2011 5:12 pm
Agreed, great topic Brad. I totally agree - there's something about cranking it up that you can't get at bedroom or small club volumes. My bandmates would get pissed if I played on stage with that kind of volume - but man, that's where that tone is.
 #98041  by JamminJommy
 Wed May 11, 2011 1:07 am
With the right sized venue...

Lets keep in mind that the post WOS stuff was never on any stage smaller than say, the Great American Music Hall. When we're in a 200 person capacity club, having that wattage on hand can still be a bit much. Part of loudness is space. I bet that Mac powered 3x12 at the Coliseum on that giant stage didn't feel as loud as it would in our living room. Lets face it; most of us wont get the chance to actually utilize that amount of power.

That said, is there some (good) way to fake that kind of high volume sustain without lots of overdrive? Compressors are nice, but that can squash things quite a bit.


 #98057  by SarnoMusicSolutions
 Wed May 11, 2011 8:52 am
One approach is to totally scale things down. Maybe just a single 1-12" in a properly voiced/tuned cabinet to try and match the mid/bass resonance of Jerry's 3-12". Then maybe a K120 instead of an E120 so you can saturate the "motor" more easily at lower volumes. And then maybe a Mc50 or bridged Mc250 so that you're operating with 70 to 140 watts or so. [or a Mesa 50/50 or Carvin TS100] This way the speaker can stress, the amp can lightly clip when you dig in, and all at a more do-able volume, still loud, but not insane. And for god's sake, stand very near and directly in front of that speaker and blow it at your mid-back so you can feel it, the guitar can react, and mostly, you protect the audience (and soundman) from the laser beam of death that emits from the center of that speaker. Do this and the soundman may actually put you in the mix.

 #98058  by Tennessee Jedi
 Wed May 11, 2011 9:00 am
" If it aint worth playing loud- it aint worth playing "
-Mickey Hart
or something like that ... cant find the pic right now