"A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

"A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby DagerRande » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:00 pm

Could someone please tell me which guitar Chet used on "A Little Bit of Blues"? It has always had a mysterious quality to me that I can't seem to pin down in my mind.

thanks
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby albertgen » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:04 pm

I had heard at one time that Chet used his Country Gentleman tuned down a whole step. Al
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby craigdobbins » Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:31 pm

Paul and I discussed the possibility that Chet may have been plugged direct into the board, because the guitar has so much presence.

Craig
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby albertgen » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:05 am

Yes it does, what a sound! But Chet got the greatest sound on many tunes, it seems as though every new album had a superb but different sound! He was the "Best" when it came to recording too!
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby DagerRande » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:32 am

Thanks for all of your responses. I was already suspicious that it might have been the way things were connected, as opposed to having used a particular guitar. I could tell that it wasn't a nylon string guitar but it also didn't sound like his characteristic CG sound either. It was sort of "silky", if that's even a legitimate description.

So Craig, neither you nor Paul knew for sure? I guess I shouldn't expect that every detail of every recording would be known, other than by Chet, who also may have forgotten if he had been asked years later.

I just always loved the sound and never even came close when I played it.

thanks!
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby Norm » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:15 am

From 1959 to around 1980 Chet pretty much used his 59 for almost all of his electric guitar work. At the time it was the only instrument in the world that had that tone thanks largely to the beefed bridge pickup. That configuration of 4k at the fingerboard and 8k at the bridge gave the guitar a startling clarity.

It is said that he would occasionally borrow back the sealed top prototype CGP guitar but I think that song was recorded probably direct into the board with his 59. Just what kind of voodoo settings his board and mixing toys influenced the final take is the unanswerable question.
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby guitarchuck » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:18 am

Norm,
This is a little off the topic heading, but I was wondering if you have some details on pickup introduction dates on Chet's personal 1959 Country Gentleman?

The 2 blade Supertron neck pickup, was that on his guitar from the time it was new, or did he install it after he got the guitar?

The beefed up 8K bridge pickup, rewound for him by Shot Jackson, when was it put in the guitar? It has a open face cover like the Baldwin era guitars that Gretsch started using around 1972 or so.

Just curious when all of the tone modifications of his 59 CG took place.
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby albertgen » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:46 pm

I'm pretty sure he installed it after he got the guitar, it was in the guitar on that Play Guitar with Chet Atkins album. I don't know really but he thought it gave the guitar a fuller sound. I think the early filtertrons were 4K. I think he put in the supertron and then beefed up the bridge pickup to 8K.
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Re: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby Norm » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:48 am

His super tron meters at 4K and was one of the ideas Ray Butts came up with when he first got the anti hum trick to work. I'd bet using two strips of iron was easier than doing all the business of making screw adjust bobbins in the creation stage. Chet probably tried the first one and liked the (at the time almost miraculous) anti hum factor but also noticed that the iron bars, as he put it, "gave more note."
It looks like the super tron he used for years was made when the now familiar Gretsch casing was made possibly in 1957, certainly by 1958. It looks like it was then that Chet said "make me a pickup with two bars on it." So, by logic, 58-59 would be the guess for that. The prototypes were made to fit the DeArmond casings of the day. As far as I know no photo of a guitar using the DeArmond case having double bars exists although Ray's shop did have a double bar bobbin that may have fit. I still think Chet asked for it once Gretsch started making the pickups and were using the now familiar case.

Beefing the bridge pickup...Paul said it was done in the sixties but couldn't narrow it down from there. I've always thought Chet had it done fairly early because there was a similar impedance imbalance on his D'Angelico that worked for him.

The bridge pickup tends to be quieter volume wise than the fingerboard pickup due to the fact that more string is moving over the pickup at the fingerboard than at the bridge when the string vibrates. Beef up the bridge pickup and it has a chance to deliver a similar volume output to the fingerboard pickup. Once he had it done and heard the impact on his tone I well imagine he would keep the secret to himself. That guitar (the 59) gave him a little more edge in the business and helped brand his tone on our brains.

I'll differ with you, Chuck, in the appearance of the pickup case on the bridge pickup on the 59. The 8K bridge pickup Chet used looked like a standard filter tron and by doing so only Chet, Shot and people like Paul, who worked on his guitar, would have been able to meter the differences and they obviously kept the secret. It was not available to the public until TV Jones built it for the 6122-59.
__________________

Flash! This just in!

I apologize, Chuck.
Craig Dobbins sent me a couple of pictures of Chet’s 59 and lo and behold, he did indeed have the Baldwin style casing on the 59. I hadn’t noticed it.

This is what I wrote back to Craig…

Interesting!
I was basing my observation on the older shots. Looks like he either had a new pickup put in there or had the casing changed. Paul said it metered at 8K in any case and he double checked when working on the 6122-59.

I'll go back and amend my board commentary.

Craig also pointed out the casing was chromed, not gold but that doesn’t surprise me. Chet wasn’t much for frills like that.

________________

Gretsch was not into selling pickups. I tried to buy filter trons in the sixties and they wouldn't sell them never mind having them sell what is now known as a super tron.
...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: "A Little Bit of Blues"....Which Guitar?

Postby albertgen » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:20 pm

Right Norm, it was hard to get pickups. I got lucky in the early eighties and Shot Jackson sold me a chrome supertron and a chrome filtertron that he rewound like Chet's. I put them on my old 66 Tennessean and used it for years until I got my first Gibson CG. I still used it after I got the Gibson CG because the Gibson was too heavy, at that time in 87 they were putting in heavy solid blocks of maple all the way through, later they changed it to Chromyte whatever that is? I then sold the first wine red one which was almost black and got a beautiful orange one which is one hell of a guitar.
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