Chet's DelVecchio

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet's DelVecchio

Postby Kmanca1 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:55 am

I have a question for Norm? Craig? Paul? Anyone who knows more than me!

Over the years I THOUGHT I had found the answer.... but I discovered, this morning, that my answer -- wasn't.
Do you know? What was special about Chet's DelVecchio?

I just read, on the web this morning, that not only were the DelVecchios considered 'cheaply made' (as a rule), but they most certainly did NOT sound like Chet's.

So..... What was different?

I found some older posts, here, where Craig talked about some custom string sets Chet had made up, but surely THAT by itself wasn't responsible for the tone coming out of that resonator.

The only thing I do know for sure --- MY resonator doesn't sound anything like it, and I sure wish it did!

~Kev~
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby PhilHunt » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:09 am

Kev,
If I'm not mistaken the cones on the Del Vecchios are thinner. Where as most resonator type guitars have a cone that is more dense. The Del Vecchio cone is almost as thin as an aluminum pie plate. Plus I think part of it is how it's chambered inside, the wood, and most importantly THE STRINGS. Of course Chet could always make that Del Vecchio sing.
Phil
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby craigdobbins » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:52 am

Kev-

Phil is correct- DV's do have a thinner cone. Also, Chet's main DV (the short scale with the V cutouts) had a slightly deeper body than some. Chet told the story that he had someone pick that DV up in Brazil for him. When Nato Lima saw it, he said "You've got my guitar!" (Apparently, it was a custom guitar made for Nato.)

All DV's are different, because they were handmade. Some are very different. ;) Chet also had that one (and the later long scale that Doyle D. gave him) reworked, with truss rod, new fretboard/frets, and intonated saddle.

Chet's first DV (the one he bought from Nato earlier) had a different sound, as well. You can hear it on early cuts like "Josephine" and "Moon of Manakoora", and side 2 of "More of That Guitar Country." It had a massive sound, and he usually kept it tuned up a half step. (Ever notice that all the tune on side 2 are in flat keys?) He started using the second DV in the late 60's-early 70's. It had a more delicate, singing sound.

The adjustment of a DV is critical to the sound. Just slightly turning or rotating the cone can give a massive difference in tone and volume- it has just be seated just so. Mine is also sensitive to temperature and humidity. It usually sounds best in cooler, slightly humid weather for some reason.

Oh well, L-O-N-G answer, but hope this helps. The main thing to remember is that no DV is going to sound exactly like Chet's, both because of the guitars, and Chet's hands.

Craig
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby thenorm » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:01 pm

Back in the mid sixties-seventies I worked for a music store and we picked up a couple of DelVechhios and, boy howdy, the distinctive tone was just like what you heard on Chet's records. No mistaking it. I remember being really impressed because most guitars don't sound that distinctive 'right out of the box'. They have a lighter, thinner resonator than those made by Dobro which tends to make DV's sound sweeter than Dobros. Not being as robust, the resonators are more delicate than the Dobros and you can't beat on them the way you might hit a Dobro. They are not a bluegrass friendly guitar.

In those days I used to literally smell new guitars when they came in and developed a sense of how green the wood was (as opposed ot seasoned dry wood) and my impression was that the DV's were made of unseasoned wood (they had a moist smell to them) and this seemed to be borne out by the fact that both units we bought developed a severe backbow on their necks after about sixty days. That was a problem since they had no adjustable truss rod.

We didn't notice any notation issues on the two we got but others say they tend to note poorly. I can't remember what the resale was on them at the time but we got them from an itinerant salesman (as opposed to a catalog dealer). "My Favorite guitars" had just come out and I think somebody brought in a load of them and sold them to capitalize on the buzz about Chet's 'new guitar'.

Chet got his first one or two units directly from Nato Lima and Nato got his by going to the factory in Brazil and picking the "best of the litter" choosing the instrument that played most accurately from what the factory had on hand. They were cheap instruments.

I'd read Chet say he was 'given' the instrument and other times that he paid around 350.00 or so for it...not exactly cheap but it wasn't like he could pick up a phone and order one. Some sources say it was an instrument Nato was using or Nato went to the factory and picked one out. End result was the same. Chet got his from Nato Lima.

In any case, Chet sent his out and had a truss rod and new, more accurate, fingerboard made for his units. Even so, Chet said it didn't chord like it might and was better used as a single note instrument.

Currently Beard Guitars makes replacement resonators for the DV's

That's how it looks to me...
ps. I just now saw Craigs' posting... we don't disagree all that much. A little variance into how Chet aquired his but 'how it came to be' stories seem to change slightly over time and depending on the source.

Kinda like the "you're pretty good but you're no Chet Atkins" anecote. There have been so many retellings of "what really happened" but they include slight variances of Chet telling the story the precise version is argumentative.
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby craigdobbins » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:32 pm

Great post, Norm.

You can see a really good color photo of Chet's first DV (with more holes, cloth covers, and no V cutouts) on the cover of the George Benson/Earl Klugh album. (Sorry, I forget the title.) Chet gave that DV to Earl at some point, which eventually led to Paul McGill's resonator models.) Of course, there's also the photo on "My Favorite Guitars", but you can't see as much detail. As I said before, "Josephine" is a great example of the sound of this guitar. There's also a good clear b/w photo of this guitar on page 135 of "Chet Atkins in 3D, Vol. 1."

There's a video of Chet and Earl doing "Goodtime Charlie's Got the Blues" from the late 70's/early 80's on that tribute from the Opry house. Chet is using the second DV (with the V cutouts). He probably recorded more with this one than any other.

There's another vid of Chet and Earl doing "Goodtime Charlie" from the "Read My Licks" special from the mid-90's. Here, he's using the long scale DV (with the metal covers) that Doyle gave him. He always used a plain G on this guitar, and a wound G on the others. It's interersting to compare the sound of the different DVs.

Craig

P.S. The Benson-Klugh album is called "Collaboration." As you can see in the photo on the album, Chet didn't have a truss rod installed in this one, but he did in the others.
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby bill park » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:59 pm

Image
I had forgotten about the one he gave to Earl.
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby craigdobbins » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:24 pm

That's it! Thanks, Bill.

Craig
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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby conecaster » Sun May 04, 2014 2:34 am

craigdobbins wrote:Kev-

Phil is correct- DV's do have a thinner cone. Also, Chet's main DV (the short scale with the V cutouts) had a slightly deeper body than some. Chet told the story that he had someone pick that DV up in Brazil for him. When Nato Lima saw it, he said "You've got my guitar!" (Apparently, it was a custom guitar made for Nato.)

All DV's are different, because they were handmade. Some are very different. ;) Chet also had that one (and the later long scale that Doyle D. gave him) reworked, with truss rod, new fretboard/frets, and intonated saddle.

Chet's first DV (the one he bought from Nato earlier) had a different sound, as well. You can hear it on early cuts like "Josephine" and "Moon of Manakoora", and side 2 of "More of That Guitar Country." It had a massive sound, and he usually kept it tuned up a half step. (Ever notice that all the tune on side 2 are in flat keys?) He started using the second DV in the late 60's-early 70's. It had a more delicate, singing sound.

The adjustment of a DV is critical to the sound. Just slightly turning or rotating the cone can give a massive difference in tone and volume- it has just be seated just so. Mine is also sensitive to temperature and humidity. It usually sounds best in cooler, slightly humid weather for some reason.

Oh well, L-O-N-G answer, but hope this helps. The main thing to remember is that no DV is going to sound exactly like Chet's, both because of the guitars, and Chet's hands.

Craig


Craig, you know my history with both Chet and Nato. The story you heard is not accurate.

Chet bought a DV from Nato directly for $300. He heard the sound, contacted Edgar Diaz, who was Nato's RCA handler, and Diaz set up the transaction. I've heard both Chet and Nato tell the same story more than once. Nato was going to give the guitar to Chet, Diaz told him he had to charge him for it. Diaz thought $300 was a fair price. Chet said he was a bit shocked by the $300, that was not small change back then and more than you'd pay for a new Martin, But he went on to say, " Hell, I would have paid $3000".

Years ago Chet had his DVs straightened out by Jerry Jones. Scales had to be reworked, The fret slots where filled and scales calculated to fit between the Nut and saddle points. I worked on several of those guitars and you could see the filled slot.
The thickness of the aluminum before spinning a DV cone is .008 of an inch. National or Dobro cones are .009 to .010.

I took the DV Chet got from Nato apart once, the scale is 57 cm and the cone diameter is smaller than the standard DVs. I do not recall it being extra deep. its a smaller pattern. The cone we have all heard in that guitar is not a DV cone, Chet's Brother Jimmy found a guy in Pa who made cones for it.

I asked to see the small DV guitar and Chet gave in and brought it to my shop, that guitar never left his studio, he prized it that much. The guitars he used on stage where larger guitars. The DV posted here that has Aluminum hole covers are not desirable guitars. They sound very different and are not made like the DVs Chet used.

The strings felt so loose on that little guitar, it was setup so low, I'll never understand how he could play guitars setup like that.

here is a recording of Nato on my resonator guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKKlZ7A ... r_embedded

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Re: Chet's DelVecchio

Postby craigdobbins » Mon May 05, 2014 12:57 am

Just saw this. Thanks for the info, Paul!

Craig
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