Chet's tone

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet's tone

Postby guitarchuck » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:31 pm

I've been listening to Chet's "Chet Atkins Plays Back Home Hymns" album. To me the tone is absolutely perfect on that album! Beautiful. I'm guessing that Chet was using his 1959 Gretsch Country Gentleman and his 1954 Standel 25L15 amp. Since I'm a gospel guitar player, I may be a bit biased, but this is one of my favorite Chet Atkins albums.
Here's a nice review that I found:
http://ultimatetwang.com/blog/?p=4861
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby Ray Cummins » Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:39 pm

Great sound. Most of the time Chet recorded direct. One thing you have to have in recording is a good pre amp. Most good studios have this. You'll get a much better sound than micing an amp. Of course Chet knew this. Plus, other sounds or noise around you, won't be heard because the mic is off....
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby guitarchuck » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:35 pm

Ray,
I've read different information on Chet recording. I have read that he recorded direct sometimes, but most of the time he used his Standel. Here's some quotes from Paul Yandell:

"Chet's Standel was made in 1954 and was made for Jimmy Day a steel player. Chet traded him a Fender Pro for it. It is stock… still the same original. JBL 15 inch speaker in it. He has used this amp on 98% of his records both for his electric and electric nylon string guitars. Chet's Standel has a great sound. It sounded better than the ones I had."


"Chet's favorite amp was his 1954 Standel. Whenever I recorded at his house I used it too. In the early 50's he used a Fender tweed Deluxe."

Here's some quotes from Chet in a June 1996 Vintage Guitar Magazine interview:

Asking about recording his album "Almost Alone":

"As usual, I played through the old Standel amp and if the noise was too much, I'd just turn up the volume on the amp"

VG: You mentioned earlier that you used an amp to record. Do you run an acoustic that way?

Chet: "No, just the CE. It's a Standell that I've used since about 1954 or '55. It's a Williamson circuit, which is a great circuit. It uses 807 transmitter tubes and it's got a Lansing speaker in it that's no longer manufactured. Also, origninally the speaker had a metal diaphragm in the cone, about two or three inches across, which produced the highs. Well I had to have it reconed because the cone was dragging years ago. So the guy put in a cone and a paper diaphragm, so it doesn't give off all those highs. You get an awful lot of fundamental with it. It's just a h... of an amp. It's really fragile, the components are on an aluminum chassis and it's got great big power transformer and output transformer on it and they sink down into that aluminium."
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby Ray Cummins » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:00 pm

Chuck, I was just going by what Chet told me and what Paul and I discussed at Cracker Barrel a few years ago.
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby Norm » Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:20 pm

I remember years ago posting a question as to whether Leona and Merle could hear Chet as he recorded in his basement and the answer I got (from a source who would definitely know) was that you could sometimes hear him through the air vents but the house was biult well enough that no undue percautions of quiet needed to be observed. This suggests he used the Standel sometimes.

I think the truth is he would do whatever he thought would sound best for the application of the moment. Chet was always flexible and above all, curious and not likely to do any one thing the same way every time. Ask him on a given day how he recorded, via amp or via direct and he would likely tell you what he last did.
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby BillB » Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:54 pm

On page 88 of MAMG, it says in reference to the Standel, "All of Chet's albums from the mid 1950s to the present were recorded using this amplifier." And if you think about it, he hardly took that amp on the road. It says in another picture on that same page, "While he preferred his Standel model 25L15 for recording, it was so heavy that he usually left it at home. The only time he took it on the road was when he played at the White House for John F. Kennedy." That pretty much says it.

Bill B.
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby craigdobbins » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:40 pm

This is an interesting thread. I think it's also one of those situations where there's no "right" answer, because as Norm said, Chet liked to experiment.

Just to muddy the water some more, in Radio-Electronics (November 1966 issue), Chet says, "On recordings, a lot of times I don't use an amp at all. I wire into the control-board direct...if you want a lot of presence on the recording, that's a good way to get it."

In the same interview, same paragraph, he mentions the Standel: "On recordings, I use an old amp I've had for years. It's a Williamson circuit, and I like the sound of it."

Craig
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby guitarchuck » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:58 pm

:D
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby BillB » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:03 pm

You're right Craig. It is an interesting thread. It seems like I may have heard him talk about plugging the Studio Classic direct and adding a little bit of effects.

Bill B.
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Re: Chet's tone

Postby Richard Hudson » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:36 pm

Maybe Chet just liked to keep everybody guessing.
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