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That Byrds Sound


wankdeplank
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Don't hear that sound on record much anymore and it was a great one IMO. I know about the McGuinn and his twelve string Rickenbacker, but don't know what amps and other guitars were used. Really like the lead tone on this one:

 

[video=youtube;3FUGzwUTN80]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FUGzwUTN80

 

And that jangle on everything:

 

[video=youtube;NyOzGPbn2tg]

 

Any ideas? Vox amps would be the likely culprit but it sounds different to me.

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You don't hear anything about Roger using amps, because he didn't use an amp on those early recordings.

 

He plugged straight into the mixing board and used several tube compressors in series and crunched the hell out of the signal to get that clean jangle out of the 12 string.

 

He used Epiphone amps with 2X10's before his first recordings, then he used Fender Dual Showman's, Rolland and Vox amps at different times. I think he still ran a direct signal through the Mixer too.

 

He couldn't get the same studio sound from stage amps till some of the first rack compressors were made for stage work. He later had compressors built into his signature model Rick which gave him that jangle from most amps.

Edited by WRGKMC
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I been recording direct since the late 60's. It was much more primitive back then because you didn't have instrument level preamps and the modern modeling you have today. Not much need for going direct live but you'd be surprised just how many recordings actually were and are recorded direct. The gear has gotten so good now you cannot tell the difference on many of them now.

 

The 60's was a time for experimentation for music and recording. They often threw things against the wall to see if they'd stick. Multitracking really opened it up too.

 

Roger was using those Epiphone amps early on. He probably brought them to the studio and they sounded like crap. The 12 string really needed a Full frequency response to get that electric acoustic sound and plugging straight in was the only way to getting it. He did use the Rolland's for a long time live. They've been a favorite of acoustic players for a long time. He still used a direct link to the sound system however. The Top Boost Vox he used awhile likely gave him allot of sparkle too.

 

I can vouch for recording a Rick direct too. The toaster pickups are slightly dark but a good balance for an all maple body. I played in a band with a guy a couple of years ago and he owned a 12 string rick. Its tone plugged straight into a guitar amp wasn't anything to write home about. I have owned a Rickenbacker 480 since the late 80's so I'm very familiar with their capabilities. I do pretty good through a Marshall and Fender. The Music man with its SS front end does pretty good too. I do like the Vox tones with that one because I can tune in the upper mids better.

 

Compression is the key however. I use a Marshall compressor on my board and its got a tine control that lets me tweaks the highs up. I can get some serious Tom Petty tones going with a drive pedal too. If you want the classic jangle you simply need a good clean compressor that has the right coloration. Whenever you plug in direct and dial up a clean tone, with an electric guitar pickup, the dynamics are short and extreme like a banjo. Compression limits those dynamics to increase sustain and it reduces how hard you have dig in with a pick to get the maximum volume from the strings. The increased pick sensitivity makes it feel like you're playing through a Tube amp. The ones he used were Tube compressors so they were likely optical.

 

I remember the first time I plugged into an LA-5 compressor and recorded - It was like wow man, who turned on the lights. I instantly knew how many of those classic recordings got their sounds. They don't sound as good through an amp however. Its likely an impedance issue, but recording you can really hear the details.

 

A good studio compressor isn't anything like cheezy stomp boxes when you play through them. Its so transparent you don't know even its working and even the slightest nuances when you play can be heard clearly. When you bypass the thing you really notice the banjo dynamics of a dry guitar pickup.

 

Guitar amps have a big boost in mids and the speakers tend to add some compression. Drive, especially tube drive compresses peaks even more as it converts sine waves into square waves. You don't have the highs and lows like you have plugging in direct either so you don't notice the big dynamic peaks when you play through an amp.

Edited by WRGKMC
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That was very informative, thank you. I don't own a Rick and most likely never will due to the fact that a) they're quite pricey, b) I don't care for the necks, and c) Lord knows I have more good guitars than I'll ever do justice to as it is. I do have a hot-rodded Harmony Silhouette from the 60's with a bigsby and toaster clones that does the Ricky thing quite well. Guess I'll have to get me a compression pedal and see if I can get that Byrds tone. Hell, I'd even settle for Tom Petty for that matter.

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A Janglebox is the live compressor That McGuinn uses. The Byrd's use Fender and Vox amps live. Also McGuinn used a Treble Vox Boost live in the early days.

 

Indeed, I've been thinking about getting one of those for some time. I have a Ricky 360/12 and it doesn't come close to the Byrds' sound on its own, and my earlier "reads" on this matter pointed me towards getting compression mixed in that favors a trebley ring. So I've been thinking about getting one of the versions of a JangleBox since I understand they tend to favor that trebley compression sound that folks equate with The Byrds.

 

 

http://www.janglebox.com/products.html

 

[video=youtube;Pu86wDRebRM]

My Boss CS-3 doesn't get me that

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The JangleBox demos that I've heard all sound really good - including on six string guitars. I have a modified DynaComp that does something similar tonally, and compression is definitely a big part of the sound of the guitar on Byrds records - Beatles records too. As I mentioned in the comment above, the Vox Treble Boost is very easy to build if you know how to solder - you can even buy a kit with everything you need to make one fairly inexpensively. I have one and it really does add that brightness that is so apparent on Byrds and Beatles guitar parts.

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I used to have a Vox Treble booster built into my old Vox Apollo Guitar.

 

apollo_controls.jpg

 

 

I'd choose one of these over that $50 kit any day of the week.

You can get the treble boost and get the compression you need to nail the Byrds or the Beatles tones, Plus you can tweak it to sound good in an amp or recording direct in stereo.

fetch?filedataid=117800

 

 

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^^^ The Vox Stomplab.

 

It does all those other jobs plus endless others. You can work from a super clean preset and just tweak things till you nail the range then add some compression till its janglin. I was doing an older Beatles tune, should have known better the other day using my Rickenbacker and had the sound nailed. There's some super clean settings you can use for the Byrds tones too. You just keep it dry so it stays up front

 

In comparison, If I were to use a treble booster into comps and a mixer, I'd have to spend a whole lot of time tweaking the hell out of it to get close.

 

Back when the Byrds recorded it was all recorded they ran the treble booster into chained tube compressors then onto tape which added a certain amount of coloration and saturation that removed that razor edge

with that that kind of direct recording. They were essentially tweaking the way the tape saturates using the treble boost and compression to emulate an amp. The booster would make the upper frequencies saturate and leave the bass frequencies sounding cleaner. Compression would substitute for tube compression.

 

Running a treble boost into transistor compressors into a mixer or interface isn't going to get you there. No tube or tape saturation and it will wind up sounding way too harsh.

 

Digital is super sterile cause there is no saturation, so you'd have to fake it using preamp and tape saturation plugins and vary how much treble boost is needed to get saturation in the upper mids only.

 

An excellent plugin for that by the way is Voxengo's tape bus. Its got an excellent treble/bass boost, drive, saturation and variable saturation curve, Plus different tape types you can select. I use it all the time for getting my clean chords to have that kind of presence.

 

Using the Vox pedal is so much easier though. I have multiple choices for getting anything I need. from individual pedals, multieffect and rack units. I'm not a huge fan of multi effects boxes either. In many cases you find their individual effects being lower grade compared to individual pedals. Vox does it right though. It really sounds and feels like you're putting effects through an amp.

 

String touch is real important when you're running cleaner tones and trying to get that tape or tube saturating happening. Lifeless jangle isn't all that hard to get with many pedals, having that dynamic Karrang when you strum an open chord is a whole different thing.

 

Plus like I said, You can dial those tones up for recording direct, then switch from direct (amp emulate mode) to amp mode (Non Amp emulated) and you don't have to jack with the sound changes impedance change produces as well as going from a Full Frequency path to a guitar amps limited frequency response.

 

Nothing super new about this but Vox does it better then many. My Digitec for example just throws a blanket over the sound to kill highs and get rid of harshness. You have to do additional tweaking to get either/or to sound good.

Edited by WRGKMC
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