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Let's talk David Bowie guitar sounds.


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I tend to hate bands after i see them in stadium shows, so I deliberately avoided seeing Bowie. He's my idol.


 

With all respect, due to his recent hiatus, maybe it was a stupid thing. :)

I saw him during the Earthling tour and it was one of the best concert I've ever seen.

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This DVD of Bowies last tour is great. He's got Earl Slick a the rest of his band playing the hell out of his old catalog, plus some amazing performances of tunes from Heathen and Reality which were excellent records to end his career on. Jerry Leonard on guitar has a huge effects setup and does some really weird stuff.


If you are a Bowie fan and haven't seen this yet you are in for a treat.



Bowie20Reality.jpg






Gerry Leonard is one of my favorite guitarist. He has done alot of work with Bowie, Duncan Sheik and many others.

His solo stuff is under the moniker "Spooky Ghost" which i have both albums, really great guitarist who knows exactly how to use efx rather nicely.

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I always used to say I was a huge Bowie fan, but really I am a huge Bowie/Ronson together fan. The 5 lp's they made together were out of this world. The first album was folky art rock, and the first ones after Ronson left (Diamond Dogs > Lodger) have great moments, but they are a whole different ballgame. Not saying they are better or worse really, just totally different. Then around 1980 he went way poppier and different again.
I challenge anyone to listen to Hunky Dory, Ziggy, and Alladin Sane and not be amazed.
Everything I have seen indicates Ronson's Les Paul > wah > 200 watt Marshall was used on them all.

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It's all about Lodger & Scary Monsters for me. That little funk riff Alomar pays under the verses of Fashion is the sleaziest ever. The lead breaks of Teenage Wildlife are amazing, and don't get me started on the last solo of Red Sails.

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Yeah, 'Move On' is 'All The Young Dudes' backwards.

 

On 'Boys Keep Swinging', Eno got everyone to switch instruments, with Carlos Alomar on drums, Dennis Davis on bass, George Murray on keys on Tony Visconti on guitar, to capture a garage band feel.

 

Nice! You must be a Bowie fan to know those details. :)

 

Your comment reminded me of another one of the coolest tricks (regarding song writing) used on Lodger… Remember the first song on the album, "Fantastic Voyage"? Well, when it came time to write "Boys Keep Swinging" they simply lifted the exact chord progression from Fantastic Voyage without even changing a thing (tonally speaking). In general, it's hard to notice until pointed out because Voyage quite slow and kind of pensive sounding whilst Boys is a definitely a song that makes you want to get up and dance. Lots of energy while Voyage didn't really have any (at least of the sort that Boys has).

 

For me, one of the most interesting Bowie albums when it comes to guitar (playing AND tone) is Diamond Dogs. Firstly, 90% of the guitar parts were recorded by David himself. I've scoured the net for details, etc and there's little to be found (common theme when it comes to anything Diamond Dogs related!). I do have a picture of Bowie recording a guitar passage during the recording of that album and he's using a white/cream colored Les Paul Custom (kind of similar to what Randy Rhoads was known to use from time to time). One other detail that is in fact the key to how he achieved some of those screeching tones on Dogs was that he relied heavily on the Eventide Instant Flanger. I have one so trust me when I tell you, you shouldn't simply think "flanger" when it comes to that unit because it's capable of some things that I've never seen (or heard) on any other flangers (rackmount or pedal). The Eventide also has an input for an expression pedal and I often wonder if those unpredictable screeching sounds I mentioned earlier were achieved with the help of one of those… This may sound bone headed, but what were your options in 1974 if you wanted an Expression pedal? Eventide made the unit back then with a jack clearly designed to accommodate one so that leads me to believe they must have been around. Maybe Morley?

 

BTW, I saw Bowie, front row at the Roseland Ballroom in 1997. Reeves Gabrels was ripping things up with god knows what and a Parker Fly guitar. I was so close I could practically touch his pedal board! Someone mentioned Reeves favors (or favored) a Sustainer. That definitely makes sense because some of the sounds he was coaxing out of his guitar would go on for as long as he wanted them to, easily. Very unique player who IMO, isn't incredibly different from Adrian Belew. I could see why Bowie would go through a long phase of working with each. Adrian is an amazing live player, from the stuff he did with Zappa (in a pencil skirt no less!) to the tours he played with Bowie in the late '70s.

 

Oh yeah, hello everyone! This is my first post here. I was so happy to find a thread about the guitar tone on Bowie records and I wanted to add my .02. I've been playing for almost 30 years, love many types of music but I have idolized Bowie since I saw "The Rise and Fall" concert on TV when I was 9. Fortunately, my dad knew exactly who the strange looking alien man was and I proceeded to procure his discography, disc by disc.

I hope to contribute in the future.

 

Take care you guys!

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So, I love the guitar sounds on David Bowie albums but for some reason I can't recall anyone ever talking about them here. Yet I really have no idea what gear was used on the classics.<BR /><BR />So, does anyone know what was used on, say, The Man Who Sold The World album, or Ziggy Stardust, or Low, for example to get those sounds?

 

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THIS is the kinda stuff that made this place great once! And yeah, Diamond Dogs is my secret favorite (tho my REAL faves'll always be Ziggy and Hunky)...he did most of the guitars on it (I've read), tho like you said, there's hardly ANY info I've ever been able to find on it!)...I know it was some other guy, Alan Parker, who did some of the other stuff (and I think I read he actually did the riff on "Rebel Rebel")...my favorite guitar sound on that whole album, tho, is the DIRTY little noise at the beginning of "Rock n Roll with Me"...

 

 

...I was so happy to find a thread about the guitar tone on Bowie records and I wanted to add my .02....

 

 

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I've always liked Mick's sound on those records. He's the player who first turned me on to the idea of a cocked and locked wah as a tone control. You'd be surprised by how often that trick gets used now - by tons of guitarists - especially in the studio.

 

I finally bought a MkI type Bender a while back, which is another crucial component of the Spiders From Mars era Ronson tone. There's finally some options and a few builders cloning it, but that fuzz has been hard to get for years.

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I've always liked Mick's sound on those records. He's the player who first turned me on to the idea of a cocked and locked wah as a tone control. You'd be surprised by how often that trick gets used now - by tons of guitarists - especially in the studio.

 

I finally bought a MkI type Bender a while back, which is another crucial component of the Spiders From Mars era Ronson tone. There's finally some options and a few builders cloning it, but that fuzz has been hard to get for years.

Several years ago Zakk Wylde, when doing interviews talking about his pedalboard, showed how he stacked a number of picks together and put them on his wah to get his cocked wah lead tone on some tunes. I thought it was cool how he would teach that stuff during interviews. I didn't realize how far that went back until after watching this video.

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Several years ago Zakk Wylde, when doing interviews talking about his pedalboard, showed how he stacked a number of picks together and put them on his wah to get his cocked wah lead tone on some tunes. I thought it was cool how he would teach that stuff during interviews. I didn't realize how far that went back until after watching this video.

 

Stacking up X number of picks as a spacer is a clever idea. I wish I had thought of that!

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The Gerry Leonard work on the song "Sunday" stands out for me in particular as being both innovative and beautifully melodic.

SRV on "China Girl" is absolutely breathtaking, soulful, and delicious, no matter how overplayed you might feel that recording is.

Adrian Belew's solo on "Boys Keep Swinging" is one of the most mangled sonic experiences ever recorded, in the best way possible.

My favorite Fripp tracks are probably "Fashion" and "Heroes", and "Beauty and the Beast" . Timeless classics that redefined what a guitar is supposed to do.

My fav Ronson track is arguably his most definitive... "Moonage Daydream." The fade out chaos is the stuff of legend.

 

But Carlos Alomar is one of the most underappreciated support guitarists of all time. Bowie's oeuvre would not be the same without him.

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So, does anyone know what was used on, say, The Man Who Sold The World album, or Ziggy Stardust, or Low, for example to get those sounds?

 

The DOD FX20-B can nail the phaser sound on "Always Crashing In The Same Car" off the Low album.

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