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  1. #1

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    Some of you may or may not know that I run the Modern Jazz Guitar forum on facebook. The group is amazing because of the contributions by name players such as Pasquale Grasso, Paul Bollenback, Peter Mazza, Peter Farrell, Vic Juris, Ulf Wakenius, Gilad Hekselman, Peter Bernstein, Rodney Jones, Randy Johnston etc. As far as I know, it's the only group where the actual pros are contributors (mainly because I'm very strict about ads, arguments, name-calling, etc).

    Each week I feature a different guitarist with their cooperation. With the features, the artists chime in on their equipment on the various clips that they are featured in. Ulf Wakenius is the artist of the week for 12/16/2018 and this is the clip he submitted for the first day feature. It's a duo with Pat Metheny!

    I was shocked to find out that he used an Aria Pro II Les Paul with D'Addario Chrome .012, and a Lab Series amplifier! It's not even the more expensive of the two Les Pauls they made. It's the cheapie one! He mentions in one of his replies that the guy was asking $160 but he offered $100 and got it, lol!

    But beyond anything else, I think it shows that the gear isn't as important as how you use it.


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  3. #2

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    ... or in the amp. Actually I don't think the tone is very good. Playing is great though.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamScott
    ... or in the amp. Actually I don't think the tone is very good. Playing is great though.
    lol. The tone is great and is right smack in the middle of the Hall/Metheny lineage!

  5. #4

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    Agreed. Except for the "great" part.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    lol. The tone is great and is right smack in the middle of the Hall/Metheny lineage!
    I agree, the tone is pretty much perfect. Anyone's opinion is valid, but that is about as classic as it gets.

    Jack, i applied to your group make sure you let me through the gates!

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758
    I agree, the tone is pretty much perfect. Anyone's opinion is valid, but that is about as classic as it gets.

    Jack, i applied to your group make sure you let me through the gates!
    you should be in. But yeah, opinions like the guy saying the tone wasn't very good is one of the reasons pros happily contribute to my group. I don't let people throw stones at others playing, tone, etc.

  8. #7

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    I use a Greco LP. I like it better than the LPC I had.

  9. #8

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    Good tone and great playing. It is just really nice and meets many avenues of styles actually. THe only real thing I can say is I still think Pat Metheny needs to get a hair cut really bad, he is no longer 20 years old.

  10. #9

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    Great clip, Jack.

    Nice round tone. I like it. It's the ideas in your head and communicating them not the gear.

    I've always said the reason guys get all nerdy about guitar equipment is because it is easier to pull out your credit card and buy cool gear than it is to practice and play guitar.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by DRS
    Great clip, Jack.

    Nice round tone. I like it. It's the ideas in your head and communicating them not the gear.

    I've always said the reason guys get all nerdy about guitar equipment is because it is easier to pull out your credit card and buy cool gear than it is to practice and play guitar.
    Yep. I agree 100%. In fact, I once asked a buddy of mine who is one of the busiest jazz guitarists in NYC if he ever frequented the various guitar forums and he said no because folks were obsessed with gear even down to obsessing over what pick and strings he used which he found to be rather useless. I won't mention his name but he is a contributor on the modern jazz guitar forum.

    Gear talk is fun but IMO, has little to do with anything other self-inspiration. When you get a tone that inspires you to play for hours, that is the right gear for you. Because the actual tone you hear on the gig or even the recording is often times not discernable to the degree that it's often discussed on gear forums but if it inspires you, that's the most important thing.

    Personally, my favorite guitar is my Gibson 1963 Barney Kessel but I've done gigs with my solidbody Ibanez S5521 (the dreaded 24 fret syndrome) and have gotten great tone too.

  12. #11

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    Birelli plays a Yamaha Pacifica. Although the electronics were a bit dodgy when I saw him - sounded like it need some switch cleaner. He made it into part of the show.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    He made it into part of the show.
    how so?

  14. #13

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    Interesting to note, Ulf owns some really lovely expensive instruments too...but he always returns to that LP copy...great player.

    SO yes, tone is in the hands...and also, sometimes an inexpensive instrument can just be the RIGHT one too.

  15. #14

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    Wow! Goes to show that gear ain't really that important, it's what you make of the things you got that count.

    Also applied to join your group on Facebook! Seems like you got a great community going!

  16. #15

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    If I were still married I would be compelled to debate the issue being... that tone is in the guitar, what other reason is there for having two (or more) :-) But since I no longer have to justify what I do the fact is you are right.

  17. #16

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    I will admit to being surprised by how great Ulf’s tone is on the “cheapie” guitar he’s using in the video.

    I think some may say it’s not a good tone because THEY DON’T LIKE a dark tone. That is pure subjectivism. For example, I like Jim Hall’s tone more than pretty much any other jazz guitar legend, so that is my subjective preference for the sound I like to get. I also love Grant Green—especially on the recordings that he used the ES 330 on. Is that tone similar to Jim Hall’s tone? Of course not. Is Green’s 330 tone something I just “put up with with” in order to hear his inimitable style and phrasing? No, it’s a major part of what makes him Grant Green. Does that tone work for me? No. I even bought a ‘65 330 a few years ago, so much did I love Grant Green. Did it work for me? No, since I have played with a much darker tone for decades now and that is part of what makes me, well....me! I’m glad there are many different foods to choose from at a smorgasbord. How boring it would be if the smorgasbord only served one dish.

  18. #17

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    Oh, I should also mention that I tried, unsuccessfully, to get my 330 to sound like GG’s. Couldn’t do it, since I don’t have Grant Green’s brain and hands. When I did play the 330, I always dialed in the tone that fits me better, since it was capable of that sound as well. I eventually sold it—not because I didn’t like how it sounded, but because the neck was way to skinny for me.

  19. #18

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    That doesn't prove "tone is in the hands". It proves some players can get great sounds with cheap gear - but it would be impossible for some players to achieve their sounds without more gear. I don't think just any player could sit with that setup and make it work... Just to prove that point, Metheny has probably done that gig with all his rack of gear that fills a truck.

    But I agree, we tend to give too much importance to gear. And Ulf's tone is really good there.

  20. #19

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    I am assuming that when we say "tone is in the hands" that we're using that as code for "tone comes from the player's talent."

  21. #20

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    Proof that the Asians made pretty damn good guitars at low budgets and cheap materials, an Asian manufacturing miracle...I would like to see Ulf play a guitar with a badly set neck, badly dressed frets, badly intonated fretboard, high action, etc.. everything that could gone wrong with a badly made guitar, I would like to see Ulf play that and still sound great.

    Even great players like Ulf need great guitars that are set up right to sound great. All he has shown is that great guitars have nothing to do with price.

  22. #21

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    Well, I would have to agree with Jack that tone is pretty much in the hands. The handful of great guitarists I have known could pick up a ukelele and sound like themselves, I swear it.

    Concerning Ulf, I would concur that the Aria Les Paul and a Lab Series amp is a first-rate rig. Notice that Ulf strings the Aria with .12 Chromes. Those are substantial, jazzy strings. On top of this, the Aria is a well made guitar. Matsumoku, if I am not mistaken.

    The Lab Series amps are top shelf. I have a L5 Lab Series. It sounds as good as anything I have owned. You can get a great jazz sound from it--at any sound pressure level from practice volume to venue filling. Rated at 100-watts, I have never seen a Lab Series that wasn't seriously under-rated. They pretty much all spec out at 150-watts of clean power. They are capable of driving multiple speakers to quite loud levels--as loud as a Twin Reverb, for example.

  23. #22

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    No doubt that tone is in the fingers. It is ironic to see a thread proclaiming this conclusion coming from a guy who is arguably the biggest gear hound in the history of jazz guitar.

    While I would mostly say that you "get what you pay for" rings true, it is not always so. I have owned many Gibson Les Pauls over the years. My current (and likely last) Les Paul is a 2017 Les Paul Studio T. I like the tone and playability better than all of the more expensive Les Pauls that I have owned which include a Custom Shop Black beauty (2002), a vintage Les Paul Custom (1975), a vintage Les Paul Deluxe (1978), a vintage Les Paul Standard (1978) and a Les Paul Artisan (1982).

    That said, my 1993 Dupont MD-20 blows away any Gitane or Altamira that I have ever played.

    Ulf could make a cigar box with rubber bands sound pretty good. Though I am sure I would prefer him on the Aria.

  24. #23

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    sounds like ass next to my vintage epiphone les paul special ii

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758
    how so?
    He played it up and made it into a joke. True improviser.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by feet
    sounds like ass next to my vintage epiphone les paul special ii
    Stuck on the Costa Rica-made Lifton-reissue case of my Gibson Les Paul 1959 Historic Reissue is a sticker: My Other Guitar is a Tokai.

    I get lots of requests but I carry on playing anyway.