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Sgt. Pepper guitar tones - Have you ever wondered about what amps were used on Sgt. Pepper?


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Some of the more interesting guitar tones on Beatles records can be found on Sgt. Pepper - which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its release in the USA today. Those sounds were created with a few different amps, but some of the least well known were the Vox UL series - interesting solid state preamp / tube power amp hybrids that are today nearly as scarce as hen's teeth.

 

Here's an article about them that some of you may find interesting.

 

https://reverb.com/news/the-true-story-of-vox-ul730-beatles-sgt-peppers-amp

 

I chased the Revolver / Pepper / White Album era guitar tones for ages, and short of having a UL series amp and a (later model) Vox Conqueror / Defiant solid state amp, there's very few ways to even get close, although I've found a couple of pedals that really do help - but even they're not seen very often...

 

So - do any of you have any tricks or secrets for getting Beatle-esque guitar tones? If so, please tell us about them! :snax:

 

 

 

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Really interesting article Phil...And an eye-opener...I guess I never investigated what amps they were using, being more interested in the guitars. I think I assumed they were using both Fenders and Voxes...But AC30's...Interesting article thanks for posting!

:staticphil:

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I knew they were using Vox amps, or at least I assumed they were from the TV appearances and early films but I never thought about particular models to be honest. I am a little surprised that the Beatles would use a new technology in the studio without at least testing them at rehearsals first? Or did they?

Edited by Alndln3
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I knew they were using Vox amps' date=' or at least I assumed they were from the TV appearances and early films but I never thought about particular models to be honest. I am a little surprised that the Beatles would use a new technology in the studio without at least testing them at rehearsals first? Or did they?[/quote']

 

A lot of the time, they used whatever Vox sent to them. I'm sure they rehearsed with the gear first before bringing it on the road, but once they quit touring, that probably didn't happen much. In the studio (especially at EMI Abbey Road) they had a staff of very competent technicians and repair facilities available - if something blew up, they had alternates (and probably backups) available, and people who could fix most minor issues very quickly. And Vox was more than willing to bend over backwards to assist the Beatles with whatever they needed since they were great for their bottom line.

 

But contrary to popular belief, they always had a variety of amps available - at least by the time they quit touring. In addition to the UL4 and UL7 series amps they got at around the time of Revolver, by the time Pepper was being waxed they also had the solid state Conquerors (or maybe Defiants), as well as a blonde Bassman that was a big and longtime favorite, and their older AC30s, which were still used occasionally. By the time of the White Album, Let it Be and Abbey Road, you can toss in some silverface Fenders - Twins and a Deluxe. And of course there were things like Paul's Selmer and other amps that they owned and used on occasion too. It certainly wasn't uncommon to see more than three amps set up at a Beatles recording session; we see that in photos from those sessions - which makes it kind of hard to know exactly what was used on each and every song.

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So - do any of you have any tricks or secrets for getting Beatle-esque guitar tones? If so, please tell us about them! :snax:

 

There is a super easy one that is often overlooked. Flatwound strings. You can put flats on practically any guitar and instantly get a more Beatlely sound. It's not just the treble response, it's the sustain (or lack thereof), the balance of the strings and lack of harmonics.

 

I would go so far to say that you can sound more like the Beatles with a tele strung with flats than you could with a period-correct Rickenbacker set up with modern strings. The difference is that profound.

 

Here's an example of flats on a Rickenbacker:

 

 

 

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Inconclusive. Some say they switched in the late sixties. Sgt Pepper sounds like flatwounds to me.

 

That's what I've always heard. I think you're right about Pepper and flats - although I'm not as convinced that they were still using them by Abbey Road - George's guitar on Something has a lot more sustain and really sounds like roundwounds to me. YMMV

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George was also using a Les Paul which, along with some compression, may have contributed to the sustain.

 

What a great (in so many ways) recording of a great and memorable guitar solo.

 

I wonder how much George was influenced by Robbie Robertson. His playing and tone seems to have 'matured' quite a bit after hanging out with Bob Dylan and The Band shortly before the 'Get Back' sessions began.

Edited by onelife
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