Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

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Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Doug Working » Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:44 pm

I would like to add a little accompaniment to some of my Chet tunes that I have learned to pick. I know Chet sometimes had some accompaniment when he was playing parts of a tune where he was playing single string lead melody parts. I can see why. Some of those parts can sound a little thin. 

In fact, I'm playing with a group right now, and last week our blue-grass guitarist wasn't able to be with us, and it was pretty noticeable that when I played some lead parts, the " bottom dropped out", in spite of our bass player, who is pretty good. 

Anyway, when I either play Chet's tunes or when I come up with my own arrangements I have to avoid lead parts because they sound thin.

But I have heard some guys on Y'tube playing Chet's arrangements, and they have accompaniment going in the background that sound amazingly like the backing Chet used. I know sometimes he used studio musicians as in "Home Town Guitar", but other times it seems to be taped orchestration or something. Of course, I assume Chet had the money that he could get any backing he wanted made to order, but I'm a po' man. I need to find a more ecomomical way to do it since I can't go out and hire a symphony! I figure I'll never be famous, and I'm OK with that. But before I die, I'd like to go in a studio and cut a CD or two to leave to my loved ones to remember me by. And I want it to be the best I can make it.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, I always say.

So I've said all that to ask if anyone here knows how to get backing tracks for those lead  parts that need filled in. Is there a source where these things can be got, or us there some kind of digital electronic equipment that I can hook up to my amp and maybe work with a foot pedal or something? I'm totally in the dark on this, but the only stupid question is one that goes unasked. 
Doug Working
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

Re: Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Steve Sanders » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:52 pm

Hey Doug! Check out a fellar by the name of Matt Cowe "across the pond" in England. He has some real good YouTube videos of himself crankin' out some Chet tunes and does a fantastic job!! One of the best and cleanest pickers I've heard yet. And, he has backing tracks for a LOT of the tunes that he sells and they ain't expensive! So, check him out! I think you will be mighty surprised. He plays an "orange Gretsch" too! He gets a real nice tone and video is very good too! Sides all that, he's a real nice guy ta' boot!! Everybody who reads this needs to listen to Matt cause he is one of the very best!!! And that's my rulin' (Judge Roy Bean). Thanks, Steve Oh yeah, come back and let us know what'cha think!
Steve Sanders
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Re: Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Doug Working » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:32 am

Thanks for the tip! I'll check him out right now!
Doug Working
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

Re: Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Doug Working » Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:22 am

Wow! I went there and watched him pick a bunch of tunes, and he is BEYOND good!

Chet would be very proud!

I noticed he used the slap-back echo on several of the tunes. Gives a real authentic "Chet feel" to the tunes. I poster earlier about my new amp. It's got the "stomp box" knob, which is super handy. One of the effects on that knob is slap-back. I love it, but I sure am a long way from playing at Matt's level.

Can anyone tell me what amp he is using?

Although I am pretty happy with my new Vypyr amp, I'm not closed minded to getting a different one some day. I think like a lot of people, I'm crazy to get as close to Chet's tone as possible. It's certainly THE tone to emulate.

Those earlier records where Chet played his Gretch are so sweet to my ears.

These ones I listened to of Matt picking were EXTREMELY close to Chet's original recordings. There were little nuances of differences where my ear could tell it wasn't Chet, but I think the average person couldn't tell the difference. That's because my ears have been trained by listening to Chet's records hundreds of times over the past 40 years. I'd venture to say many of us on this board are at that place.

Anyway, I really enjoyed his covers! There are so many, MANY great Chet players out there, and each one it seems have mastered a handful of Chet's tunes. But I've yet to see anybody who can do all of then! That would be a massive undertaking that would take ten lifetimes for a mere guitar mortal. And Chet did it in one lifetime.

I once read on the liner notes of one of his albums that if Chet had decided to become a farmer, we'd all be taking six foot long green beans for granted! How true! No one did it (all) like Chet.

That's why to me, Chet still reigns as Mr. Guitar!
Doug Working
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

Re: Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Steve Sanders » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:25 am

Doug, I'm glad you checked out Matt's playing. I told ya.....he really is one of the best! He told me that he uses a recording interface and goes right into his laptop. E-mail him and he will tell you all the specifics about his set-up. He does sometimes use an amp but I can't remember which one. But he does get a VERY GOOD tone, don't ya think? Chet, according to Paul Yandell, went directly into the "board" more often than one would think. Chet had so many "different" sounds and tones it is impossible to grasp them all. But his "signature" tone probably would be his Country Gentleman 6122 thru his Standel amp. To my ears a couple'a tunes bear this out....Jam Man and The Bilbao Song. Very little if any reverb or effects, just pure ol' tone. Hard to tell what guitar or amp he used on ANY tune but I'm betting on the CG and Standel for those two. On "Mister Guitar" he got a completely different sound, really "electric" is about the only way I can describe it. And "different". And again on "Stringing Along with Chet Atkins", a really unique sound. A fellar could go crazy trying to capture it all. My advice is to focus on the tune itself and play as good as you can with what you have. If you are lucky enough to have some nice equipment then all the better and you WILL sound better. Guitars and amps and some effects DO make a difference. I've learned that by asking a million questions, a lot right here on the ChetBoard. Lots of nice folks hereabouts answered a lot of them and helped me a great deal. The one thing I think we all have in common on here is that we are all still "learning" and trying to find a great tone and learn that next tune! It's what keep us going. And a new "toy" ever now and then is just icing on the cake!!! We are mighty lucky to have Chet as a hero and show us the way.
Steve Sanders
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Spadaro Paolo » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:48 am

all holy words .............
Chet has been and will always be the best:
-sense of rhythm;
-use effects (always the right one at the right time);
-perfect sound;
-to say nothing of his arrangements (hundreds), will remain immortal;
-He could perform as a soloist or in a group
- Classical Guitar Electric Acoustic all played very well

A complete musician a real GENIUS.

I am really happy and lucky that he had discovered Mr. Atkins (I have to thank my late master Paul Cucinotta for this);
every day my thoughts go to Chet, the one and only Mr. Guitar.

Doug, I use backing tracks by Matt Cowe, very well done;
many times I make at home using Band in a Box.

Spadaro Paolo
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Re: Equipment To Provide Background Accompaniment?

Postby Doug Working » Wed Jun 04, 2014 11:19 am

Could you tell me more about "band in a box"? I had heard the name before, but never knew anything about it because I was sticking to my classical guitar, not having an amp at that time. 

I don't know what "Band In A Box" is, but it sounds pretty magical, and I think I'd like a new toy, if I can ever come up with the dough, that is!

Anyway, as I said I truly enjoyed Matt's playing, and couldn't help but notice he tends to go with Chet's "faster" tunes. Believe me, I've Googled Chet tab books till my fingers are sore, and have purchased SEVERAL of them over the years, and most of the arrangements that Matt plays, I have not seen transcribed, yet.
Does he offer tabs on the ones he's mastered?

Speaking of Chet's fast tunes, I can think of a couple that Matt hasn't got to yet. For instance, "Theme From Zorba The Greek", and "Czardes". (sp?)

Let me say this:  The  great thing about Chet is that he  left such a MASSIVE body of work, making it a CONTINUOUS (seemingly never ending) challenge to try to master all his tunes, if one so aspires! One thing is for sure. If you want to play like Chet, you will NEVER get bored due to lack of material to work on! 

It still stuns me every time I think about how he possibly accomplished it all in one lifetime. It's both miraculous and seemingly impossible. When you consider the whole of what he accomplished musically, your mind thinks "It's impossible!" The only way I can explain it is that he was ANOINTED (from above) to play guitar, probably from birth.

I agree concerning the multiplicity of tones he elicited from that guitar over the years. I remember as a young man, the highlight of my year every year was to look forward to the next Chet album to be released, (and I would haunt the record isles of the department stores in nervous anticipation)  because just when I thought I had nailed his sound (in my brain), he changed it! He kept continually evolving and never let the grass grow under his feet. I was amazed at how in every record he played with  a "new sound", and the main thing that he kept in common; the one thread that held it all together was that no matter how much he changed or evolved, he STILL sounded good. No, not good, GREAT. Even fabulous. Unmatched through all the years. A guitar picker nonpareil. As Eddy Arnold said, he stood head and shoulders above all the rest. If you had a room full of guitar players, you had a room full of guitar players. AND THEN YOU HAD CHET.

I had a lot of young friends whom I tried to sway over to my conviction that Chet was "THE" greatest, but they didn't want to listen. They wanted to worship heavy metal guitarists and such, so finally I just gave up on 'em, left 'em in the dirt,  and happily retreated  into my "Chet World", where I could sit  and listen to Chet records in my room without being bothered by the critics.

Then I would look up reviews of Chet's records and get steaming mad when some critic would say derogatory things about Chet's playing! I thought "Snobs!" "Idiots!" "How DARE they find fault with the greatest guitar picker who ever lived!!" 

But for the most part, I was a loner and a happy camper listening to my Chet tunes in my room, putting my guitar on my lap and trying to imitate the sound. Some habits die hard. I still do that to this day. 
Only thing now is, I'm playing in a group, (we call ourselves the "Almond Branch Players", and we play at nursing homes and hospitals and such, and so I get to bring some happiness into the lives of others and minister to them. 

I also play at church and with a small ensemble. So I'm doing my part to spread that good "Chet sound" around.
Well, actually, it's the Doug sound trying to sound like Chet sound, lol, but I do my best. I do my best with what I got for the Lord.
I do EVERYTHING I can to improve my guitar playing. 

Fellas, I work hard at it. I not only try to learn Chet's arrangements, but in order to develop my chops, I learn the most difficult classical pieces I can get my hands on. I've learned several pieces by Bach, started on Mozart (killer!) and am working on several pieces that Liona Boyd played. I believe in pushing the envelope of what my hands can do. Pushing my fingers beyond their limits. I deliberately choose to learn the most difficult Chet or Jerry pieces I can handle. (the middle arpeggio section of "La Madugada" KILLS me as far as stretches go! Feels like it's tearing the muscle in the palm of my hand. 

But if I don't PUSH myself beyond my imagined limits, I'll never be a better player.

That's why I requested the scales Chet played in "Cattle Call". I KNEW they would be way beyond me. 

Ever heard of Ben Bolt? He is a fantastic classical player. Put out several tab books that have challenging classical arrangements. The one I'm working on now, besides the Mozart book, is "Carcassi" studies for guitar. (64 studies in all.) 

All this, PLUS my Chet arrangements on top of the tunes that I am arranging for myself AND the Almond Branch tunes we are working on make for some very sore hands for a guy who is pushing 60. But sore hands are a good sign. They are a sign that the muscles in my hand are growing or about to get stronger. My hope is to someday be able to play those "impossible" tunes that are now so alluringly out of my reach or skill level.

I don't have large hands or long fingers. (I read that Jethro Burns had four inch fingers, and I have never seen an official measurement of Chet's finger length.) 

Anyway, as I was saying, because of my physical limitations, I have to work twice as hard as the next guy in order to achieve the same level of proficiency. 

But I don't mind the work. And I don't mind the sore hands. One thing I did notice, however, is that the fingers on my left hand are appreciably thinner than the fingers on my right hand. I suppose I can look at  that as a testament to the hard work I've put into "trying to sound like Chet", over the years.

Not there, yet, fellas! But before I die, I'll get 'er done!

Now that I have effectively talked your ear off, we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.
Doug Working
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

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