An archtop thru a lo-fi amp, recorded with room mics (back then, they played live), and then etched onto acetate or recorded onto tape..... not to mention the re-mastering some 50 years later of 50-year-old tape... alot of tone-changing variables there.
Bottom line is, always, if YOU are happy with YOUR tone.
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Thread: How to get Oscar Moore tone
03-12-2014, 06:33 AM #31
09-12-2014, 05:45 PM #32
I am updating a thread, here. I think that Oscar Moore deserves regular mention. He was a great player. When I listen to Moore, it seems to me that he was probably a guy who was under the spell of the incredible, clear channel music coming out of Chicago between the wars. A very young George Barnes was all over the radio at that time, influencing all sorts of players via records and radio spots. Barnes appeared on blues records, jazz records, and radio shows all day long.
To me, Moore has the Barnes sound and feel--not to deny his own, original voice. Like everyone at the time, Moore was using first the Gibson ES-150, then he used an L5 with the pickup from a 150 set in the top. His amp choice was probably a Gibson EH-150, judging from the tone. And what a tone it is.
If you want to play like Moore, you need to use plenty of slurs, like Moore, Barnes, and Les Paul (who was also deeply influenced by Barnes). If you can get a Lollar CC or one of the other CC-type pickups for your solid-top archtop, so much the better.
Finally, a small, all-tube (25-watts or less) amp with a 10" or 12" speaker--Jensen-style--cathode-biased output tubes, and (this is sort of important) only a "tone" knob, rather than a modern tone stack, is the weapon of choice for amplification. This type of circuit is usually capable of getting a little "wool" to stand up on your notes--not too much distortion, but not too clean, either. "Dirt" is too indicative of distortion in the signal IMO; you just want to sound a little wooly, like the amp is really loose and broken in.
My closest effort at achieving an Oscar Moore tone was playing a 30s Gibson ES-150 into a Fender Deluxe amp--tweed.
09-12-2014, 05:57 PM #33
09-12-2014, 07:23 PM #34
Thanks. Great article. Cool Nocaster!
09-12-2014, 07:35 PM #35
off the top of my head I can think of at least 5 more guitars not mentioned that he used @ one point or another
an early 30s D'Angelico snakehead, 20s dot neck L-5, ES-300 w/slanted the large pickup, P-90 ES-5, Epiphone Emperor.
long been one of my absolute favorites. I believe he won 4 or 5 Metronome polls in a row @ one point.
had a hard time after leaving Nat, sadly died a bricklayer I believe.
I have the Complete Nat Cole trio sessions on Mosaic, 17 c.d.'s [!] .....what a great player
09-13-2014, 05:43 AM #36Banned
- Join Date
- Jul 2013
Missing the Mosaic box set is a regular source of anguish to me.
Mp3's just aint the same.
01-19-2015, 11:06 AM #37
Sometimes just the speaker will get you close. I found, by accident, putting in an old Jensen C12PS from the early 60s into my 2013 15w Ampeg GVT changed her into a much older sounding amp. Such a drastic change but very much in that good older post war kinda way. I'm keeping her in there. It gets me close enough for my tastes.
01-19-2015, 05:51 PM #38
Fascinating stuff re. the Fender guitar. Never seen that photo before.
Oscar Moore is one of my favourite guitarists. The phrasing, lines, tone... absolutely perfect. His comping is also incredible. I always thought the Nat King Cole Trio sounded like it was a much bigger group. I think them being such a musically tight group is partly why.
I found I could get a pretty good Oscar Moore-esque sound out of my Vox AC15 (which like a dope, I sold) -- I used to back of the tops to zero, and roll the bass back a bit. It was a clear, slightly honky sound and would break up ever so slightly when pushed. I was using at the time my Godin 5th Avenue that is fitted with a floating VV CC pickup. My Gretsch Synchromatic 400 gets even closer to the Oscar Moore sound I feel.
01-19-2015, 09:14 PM #39
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- Aug 2012
- New York City
I will second the recommendation for the Jensen PS series of speakers.
I have a 10 inch version. In my Princeton Reverb, the neck pickup of my guitars had a lo-fi quality.
Lo mids were prominent and the spkr. has a vocal quality I really liked.
I removed it in favor of something more aggressive and suited to Blues gigs. The Jensen stays at home
waiting for something special! And these can be found for less $$$$ since the demand , I believe, is lower.
01-20-2015, 01:50 AM #40
well i too have a brown "original" excelsior bought new very cheap ...and i just add a reverb pedal but i get instant "old" /"vintage" guitar tone no problem so i will add a vote to it being the 'cheap" answer to a very "dated sound " especially with with an old full hollow 330 type guitar and flats .... and to my ears sounds more like an old gibson GA tube amp than a fender amp ...... and solo or with my trio i play relatively softly so never even driven it to breaking up yet and still gigged intimate gigs ..also never missed the tone control ....just set it on dark setting and use the tone and volume pot on guitar .............so indeed a very cheap new "dated sounding amp" and that 15 makes it really fat so you needn't drive it that hard to fill a room .....
i can imagine the upgraded speaker must really give it ooomph ....
btw i was a real "gear snob" and i avoided this amp for ages since it never had tone controls nor reverb and was Chinese built ... never even plugged into it in my local store .... but eventually did after i saw a youtube video with Tim Lerch playing one ...loved the "instant vintage jazz tone that i like " and then when i was given a price of $300 on special ...it was simply an impulse buy and not regretted it
02-13-2015, 07:31 PM #41
Something that hasn't been mentioned here regarding the Oscar Moore/ et all sound,. It is my belief that back in the day the players would almost never have the volume knob on their guitars all the way up, they would often run them quite low in the half way up range. This changed the quality of the sound quite a bit allowing them to get a cleaner slightly brighter tone than would result if they had played on full. It also helped reduce the hum inherent in a CC pickup. I had the unique opportunity to try an old ES150 with a CC into a EH 185 amp and was able to verify this. i have a video of this encounter but its on my phone and i have to procces it. if i get it figured out and up on YT ill drop a note here.
all the best
02-14-2015, 09:51 PM #42
(not doubting you- just interested; obviously you know your stuff- your reputation proceeds you! I'm just honestly more curious about this, as I have NEVER read anything of it...)
02-16-2015, 04:00 PM #43
I've been curious about the CC sound and P90 sound since i was very young and always asked older players about it when ever i could. I have spoken to lots of older guys who got their start in the 30s including Jimmy Wyble and almost all of them mentioned "keeping the pickup down" as part of the formula. One of my early mentors, was a guy named Ben Barrow, a pretty good player who traveled with big bands during the heyday then settled down in my home town, he was about 70 when i knew him in 1975 -80 or so.. He had an ES 150 and a matching EH 150 and he turned the amp up almost all the way and barely cracked the volume on the guitar. when i asked him why he said otherwise the "Bar" will push the amp too much!"
im sure there are as many other ways as there are guys, clearly sometimes there is distortion on recordings . but when I have had a chance to play an ES 150 thru a EH 185 i tried turning it down and it really made it sound similar to some of the classic recordings that i have heard.
all the best
02-16-2015, 06:20 PM #44
people like these two don't suffer fools easily and know what they're talking about. Nice to hear that the "all the volume from the amp, low guitar volume" theory has been further vindicated,Navdeep Singh.
02-16-2015, 06:53 PM #45
Thanks Tim, this is a very valuable point of info for those of us chasing that tone.... and your reports are the first I've heard of turning the guitar volume down in my (measly!) 10 years chasing that tone.... [been playing for 30, but only in the last 10 started the whole jump blues/swing thing on guitar]
I hope another one of our members, Jonathan Stout, checks back in on this "new" info... I've been following him for awhile, read all his online stuff, but haven't seen him mention this approach for this tone either....
02-16-2015, 07:16 PM #46
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- Nov 2008
If you've ever played a Fender Tweed Deluxe, you know that to get the cleanest tone you crank the amp and then barely touch the volume on the guitar. You'll get a remarkably squeaky clean tone this way, but it does contribute a fair amount of noise floor hiss.
You will NOT get the same result with a BF Fender or most (or any) modern amp designs.
02-16-2015, 07:37 PM #47
02-16-2015, 07:40 PM #48
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- Nov 2008
02-16-2015, 07:48 PM #49
If you've ever played a Polytone, you know that to get the cleanest tone you crank the amp and then barely touch the volume on the guitar. You'll get a remarkably squeaky clean tone this way, but it does contribute a fair amount of noise floor hiss."
Actually, in point of fact, you can achieve this with many modern and old amps. There is not only one singular amp that achieves this. No need to single out a fender tweet deluxe or even a Polytone. The important thing is to keep the guitar volume low and the amp volume high.Navdeep Singh.
02-16-2015, 07:50 PM #50
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- Nov 2008
Well good luck with that.
02-16-2015, 07:54 PM #51
For example, regardless of what you do with the guitar's volume control, you're never going to get a DRRI to sound like a tweed deluxe, or EH-150, etc.
02-16-2015, 08:14 PM #52
That is all. He said only one amp can get you this quality (the aforementioned "squeaky clean tone". ) I was just reminding him of the obvious, that lots of amps can do this, more or less generally. It's quite strange to claim that only one amp from 60 something years ago can do this.
anywhay. Carry on. I was just posting in response to (and agreeing with) the amp v guitar volume discussion as a contributing and significant factor in the process of obtaining a "squeaky clean tone"Navdeep Singh.
02-16-2015, 08:55 PM #53
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- Nov 2010
- Rochester, NY
It'd be very cool to hear what these really sounded like in person back then. When you listen to the overall sound of the recordings, the piano sounds very limited in its frequency response. I have to imagine in the room, it sounded like pianos still sound. I would suspect that the sound of the guitar was also similarly modified by recording limitations and would guess that there was quite a bit more going on with the transients in the room than is captured on the recordings. I think we are chasing a recorded sound - not the actual sound of the gear. Something to consider...
02-17-2015, 02:13 AM #54
i absolutely agree....and have posted it myself before....
if you really wanna chase true vintage tone ......
best way to truly hear it is to get original (unmodded) vintage 40's guitars and amps and plug em in AND HEAR WHAT THEY OFFER
also to play in the same style/technique as players back then.... we forget modern players tend to like old tone but most play with modern technique....
if we think back ...back in 40's solo electric guitar was in it's infancy , as was the gear and technique and approach and players were discovering ways to play the new gear daily at their gigs........with no real pioneers to draw experience from...brand new technology for it's day .......
also the strings of the day were playing a role too ... today string technology has advanced hugely
...ever think sure how an old 50's P90 would sound with modern wound strings versus same P90 with old 40's manufactured strings ??? i have no clue but it could be interesting
often the tone of old recordings may be in the flaws of the technology of the time.... be it amp technology/guitar construction/pickup design/pickup magnets/strings/even playing techniques and as mentioned above the limited frequencies of recordings from the 40's /50's
Last edited by Keira Witherkay; 02-17-2015 at 02:19 AM.
02-17-2015, 06:53 AM #55destinytot Guest
No PA - guitar and vocals sent through a Polytone (with amp's volume set high and guitar's kept low):
02-17-2015, 08:48 AM #56
02-17-2015, 10:30 AM #57
- Join Date
- Mar 2014
Gibson GA's with the octal preamp tubes, from the early 50's, sound great and are pretty cheap, particularly if beat up. I had a GA-30 with the 12" and 8" speaker that sounded fabulous. A great, full clean tone, and and when cranked was wonderful.
Amp up, pickup low should be the default setting to start with in any situation.
02-17-2015, 11:09 AM #58
02-17-2015, 12:34 PM #59
Playing my ES-150/EH-185 combination, it does sound much sweeter with the volume knob low. I know the magnet in my pickup is already super low output (because when I plug in my Eastman 810CE with it's stock floater, its orders of magnitude louder), and I have the pickup pretty low to the top, but it still sounds best when the volume knob is below half-way. I can't describe it as "brighter", but clearer and warmer to be sure. I tend to notice it sounding "twangier" at full guitar volume, and definitely more saturated and gain-y. To me, that would be "brighter", but I can say its not the entire high end thats boosted, because its still very warm by comparison to other amps and amp/guitar combinations, but it's definitely got more twang and snarl.
Some players (like say SRV) sound like themselves very overtly on almost any instrument. I'm quite the opposite, and tend to bend my playing to my perception of the sound of the guitar. When I play a Selmer-style, I tend to play far more Django-y ideas, lots of ornamentation, diminished licks, gypsy-isms. My National makes me play far more Eddie Lang-Lonnie Johnson type things (and I've never really studied either one at length, but it just comes out that way). My Eastman 805 non-cut, if I play single notes, tend to start veering toward Al Casey-type things. When the ES150/EH185 combination is in play, and the volume knob is lower, I can really channel Charlie. But, and this was the whole point of the last paragraph, when the guitar volume knob is all the way up, the twangier/snarlier tone tends to make feel like it sounds more like a Western Swing player, and I think more twangier, sooped-up phrases. That's a cool sound, but unless I'm actually playing with a Western band, it's a bit out of place for my own bands. So, I definitely find the best tone for that combination is with the volume knob low.
By the way, I feel the same effects with keeping the volume knob low on that that guitar when using my other EH amps, my 1946 BR-6, and my Oahu/Valco, and even on the Vintage 47 Ric-style I borrowed over New Years.
02-17-2015, 04:59 PM #60
OK, I'm sold... first Tim, then Jonathan. I will have to try this "guitar vol knob lower" thing.... my usual playing style, which is more of a blues/rock thing, I'm only turning down the volume to clean up a tube amp... I'm not using the approach as part of the "tone formula", if you will. Same deal with my Grestch/playing rockabilly...... so I will now crank the amp, and turn the guitar down, to search for those Charlie tones....
I, like Jonathan, sort of "change styles" a bit, depending on the guitar/tone I'm getting/music I'm playing over. With my tele, I'm all blues/rock/retro.... maybe a little rockabilly/western swing flavor. With my Grestch, I'm rockabilly/western swing and on the neck pickup old school jump blues (T-Bone Walker, et al)... volumes full up on the guitars. But when I pick up the Epi Broadway, I'm definitely looking for more Charlie/Junior Barnard, and if I'm feeling especially "mellow", I'll attempt to channel Johnny Smith- which really is a tone unto itself, not really similar to the other 2 guys.... (not to mention I can't play AT ALL like Smith lol)
And, I just remembered something... the earliest amps (made for lap steels) didn't even have a volume control. That's what the volume knob on the guitar was for.... so that would seem to tie in to the idea of "cranking the amp, controlling volume from the guitar" in those earlier days of amplification, even if the amps did have volume controls..... interestingly, in my experience, modern amps don't sound good when cranked. I guess with the guitar volume down they could- I know for certain that is what Jim Campilongo does- and I LOVE his tones-... but, almost without exception, a modern amp cranked, with the guitar volume wide open, sounds like doo-doo. In my experiences.
Last edited by ruger9; 02-17-2015 at 05:03 PM.