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  1. #1
    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 View Post
    ... 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 View Post
    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!
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  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    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.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  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 View Post
    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 View Post
    He made it into part of the show.
    how so?
    White belt
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  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.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  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.
    Regards,

    Gary

  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."
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  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.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  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.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  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 View Post
    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 View Post
    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.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRS View Post
    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.
    To be fair, I love getting nerdy about guitar gear AND I practice a ton. I understand what you're saying here, but you can do both. No need to flame people who like talking about gear.
    On the Turntable: Joe Morris - Colorfield, Albert Ayler - The Hilversum Session
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  28. #27

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    Going back to the subject line, any decent musician already knows that tone is in the hands. It's painfully obvious all around us, as we listen to great guitarists playing on an endless variety of rigs.

    That said, the instrument and tools definitely matter, and it is not always an efficient path from point A to point B to find one's personal toolkit. This is especially true in today's world where information that either supports or rejects one's opinions is everywhere, and not easy to ignore.

    Playability and ergonomics are hard to describe, but when an experienced player finds a guitar that he bonds with in that way, it may be the end of the road. That's probably the case with Ulf Wakenius and his choice of a guitar that some here would find unappealing. True with Metheny as well!

    Jack's gear explorations over the years are in plain view on the internet, as are mine. If we both ended up with instruments that caused us to stop searching, then it didn't happen overnight. It took lots of trial and error, and seeking something we hoped to find. And we are probably both much better and more knowledgeable players for the experience of having taken our respective journeys. I just wish it didn't cost so much, and leave me with so many guitars to eventually sell!
    Permanent favorites: 2016 Gibson L-5 WesMo, 1999 Gibson L-5CESN, 1928 Gibson L-5
    Play more, buy less

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpguitar View Post
    Going back to the subject line, any decent musician already knows that tone is in the hands. It's painfully obvious all around us, as we listen to great guitarists playing on an endless variety of rigs.

    That said, the instrument and tools definitely matter, and it is not always an efficient path from point A to point B to find one's personal toolkit. This is especially true in today's world where information that either supports or rejects one's opinions is everywhere, and not easy to ignore.

    Playability and ergonomics are hard to describe, but when an experienced player finds a guitar that he bonds with in that way, it may be the end of the road. That's probably the case with Ulf Wakenius and his choice of a guitar that some here would find unappealing. True with Metheny as well!

    Jack's gear explorations over the years are in plain view on the internet, as are mine. If we both ended up with instruments that caused us to stop searching, then it didn't happen overnight. It took lots of trial and error, and seeking something we hoped to find. And we are probably both much better and more knowledgeable players for the experience of having taken our respective journeys. I just wish it didn't cost so much, and leave me with so many guitars to eventually sell!
    RP, let's face it. This section of this forum is like a bar for alcoholics. Do any of us need more than 2 or 3 guitars? GAS is an addiction. That said, the search for the right guitar can be both fun and frustrating (and indeed costly), but it can be quite fulfilling when we get the "right" guitar. Or guitars.

    To a certain extent this thread is like an alcoholic going into my aforementioned bar proclaiming that drinking is bad for you. I have my guitar addiction under control (Down to 13 guitars from 22) but have no real reason to quit. I enjoy them and no body gets hurt.

    And since I made a decision 21 years ago to be true to one woman, I am going to compensate by having a harem of guitars. I still look at other women. And other guitars (that is why I am here).
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by rmpmcdermott View Post
    To be fair, I love getting nerdy about guitar gear AND I practice a ton. I understand what you're saying here, but you can do both. No need to flame people who like talking about gear.
    I couldn't agree more, practising and enjoying gear are not mutually exclusive.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    RP, let's face it. This section of this forum is like a bar for alcoholics. Do any of us need more than 2 or 3 guitars? GAS is an addiction. That said, the search for the right guitar can be both fun and frustrating (and indeed costly), but it can be quite fulfilling when we get the "right" guitar. Or guitars.

    To a certain extent this thread is like an alcoholic going into my aforementioned bar proclaiming that drinking is bad for you. I have my guitar addiction under control (Down to 13 guitars from 22) but have no real reason to quit. I enjoy them and no body gets hurt.

    And since I made a decision 21 years ago to be true to one woman, I am going to compensate by having a harem of guitars. I still look at other women. And other guitars (that is why I am here).
    And as an actual recovering addict, I can say that my gear addiction is the only vice I have left! So this section truly is my "bar."
    On the Turntable: Joe Morris - Colorfield, Albert Ayler - The Hilversum Session
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  32. #31

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    It proves also the the Aria Pro II is a pretty good guitar.

    I have a couple Aria Pro II strats and they are good.

    You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to get a very playable guitar.

    If the neck is good and the pickups are good it will play and sound well.

    An electric guitar gets its tone from the electronics in it. The wood has virtually nothing to do with how it sounds.
    "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates
    “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” - Alan Wilson Watts

  33. #32

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    I dunno I took my Ibanez artcore on tour (with Gibson pickups) and everyone raved about how mega it sounded.

    Usually I play a Gibson in that band.

    Good guitar is a good guitar. Plus, not very valuable so it can go travelling with me :-)

  34. #33

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    Very good points you made, rpguitar.

    I just read the Jim Hall interview mentioned (with a link posted) in the recent thread discussing the same “hands or gear” topic. He tells the story of why he got the Les Paul he used with Chico Hamilton. His purpose for getting the LP was pragmatic: he had been playing in a large ensemble that was very loud. He simply wanted a guitar to match the volume in that setting, most likely to avoid feedback from cranking a hollow archtop. He eventually traded it for the 175 (which belonged to Howard Roberts) and which he used for decades. He doesn’t say why he made that switch, but does mention, several times, his admiration for Freddie Green, whose style of comping can’t really be accomplished with a solid body guitar, and Jim comped like Freddie Green quit a bit. That’s my take on it anyway which, along with 5 bucks, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

    So, here’s a recording of Jim Hall with the Chico Hamilton Quintet playing the Les Paul. Still sounds like Jim Hall to me.

    Last edited by El Fundo; 12-17-2018 at 02:31 PM.

  35. #34

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    100% agree it's in the fingers but this 'tone' does nothing for me honestly.
    It sounds like Metheny and I've never been a fan of his sound at all.
    No denying these guys can seriously play, but I'm not a fan of the rolled off treble, heavy reverb Metheny tone. I like to hear some sparkle from a guitar personally.
    But ymmv...

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by rmpmcdermott View Post
    And as an actual recovering addict, I can say that my gear addiction is the only vice I have left! So this section truly is my "bar."
    Recovering? I have yet to achieve that lofty goal, and like you I have no other vice left to pursue :-)
    Regards,

    Gary

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by GNAPPI View Post
    Recovering? I have yet to achieve that lofty goal, and like you I have no other vice left to pursue :-)
    Well, my recovery is from drugs and alcohol (Not to be a downer. I'm pretty open about that stuff and have no problem talking about it, especially since I survived!).

    I'll never recover from my gear addiction...nor do I want to!!!
    On the Turntable: Joe Morris - Colorfield, Albert Ayler - The Hilversum Session
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  38. #37

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    Hey, wintermoon:

    Tone does something for me--definitely. However, it comes in second place when compared to playing. An artist's note selection and timing affect me deeply. If the tone is arresting--think Wes, not Joe Pass--then it's all the better.

    OTOH, I'm a sucker for Joe Pass' playing. His swing, in particular, was as good as it gets. His tone, however, was generally nothing to write home about.

    I love Pat Martino's playing, too. His tone sounds, ah, muffled.

    Still, playing is tops.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    100% agree it's in the fingers but this 'tone' does nothing for me honestly.
    It sounds like Metheny and I've never been a fan of his sound at all.
    No denying these guys can seriously play, but I'm not a fan of the rolled off treble, heavy reverb Metheny tone. I like to hear some sparkle from a guitar personally.
    But ymmv...
    Metheny’s tone changed dramatically over the years. Early in his career he favored a very trebly, or sparkly, tone. By the time he recorded Letter From Home his tone had gotten much darker. I personally like both.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post

    I love Pat Martino's playing, too. His tone sounds, ah, muffled.
    100% with you here. Pat is one of my all-time favorite in any genre. But it's definitely not because of his tone...
    On the Turntable: Joe Morris - Colorfield, Albert Ayler - The Hilversum Session
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Hey, wintermoon:

    Tone does something for me--definitely. However, it comes in second place when compared to playing. An artist's note selection and timing affect me deeply. If the tone is arresting--think Wes, not Joe Pass--then it's all the better.

    OTOH, I'm a sucker for Joe Pass' playing. His swing, in particular, was as good as it gets. His tone, however, was generally nothing to write home about.

    I love Pat Martino's playing, too. His tone sounds, ah, muffled.

    Still, playing is tops.
    GT,
    I was saying I don't like the tone in the clip.
    Almost no treble and too much reverb for me.
    As for Martino, his early records, like El Hombre, I love that tone. In later yrs his sound darkened when he started using his Koontz, and got 'muffled' when started playing the Gibson Martino model and now the Benedetto.

  42. #41

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    Yeah, just because I like a darker tone doesn’t mean I like any tone simply because it’s dark. And I agree about Martino. His tone actually keeps me from listening much to him, although I do recognize his place of importance in the pantheon of great, legendary jazz guitar players. I love his rhythmic drive and endless flow of melodic lines. But tone is the first thing I listen for in any player of any instrument.

  43. #42

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    Listening to El Hombre now. You are so right, Wintermoon. That is a wonderful sound he was getting back then.

  44. #43

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    And there's a middle ground, "Live at Yoshis". Not as bright as "El Hombre", but not blanket dark either.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984 View Post
    And there's a middle ground, "Live at Yoshis". Not as bright as "El Hombre", but not blanket dark either.
    Yep. I was learning some of his lines on Oleo from that album a few weeks ago and noticed that too. On El Hombre, it’s not too bright or too dark, but kind of perfect.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Hey, wintermoon:

    Tone does something for me--definitely. However, it comes in second place when compared to playing. An artist's note selection and timing affect me deeply. If the tone is arresting--think Wes, not Joe Pass--then it's all the better.

    OTOH, I'm a sucker for Joe Pass' playing. His swing, in particular, was as good as it gets. His tone, however, was generally nothing to write home about.

    I love Pat Martino's playing, too. His tone sounds, ah, muffled.

    Still, playing is tops.
    Early Martino tone though - bloody love it...

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984 View Post
    And there's a middle ground, "Live at Yoshis". Not as bright as "El Hombre", but not blanket dark either.
    That's such an incredible record. Probably my favorite guitar tone of his. Did he use the Gibson sig model on that recording?

    I've seen him at Blues Alley with the Benedetto and it seems to not be as dark in person as on recordings. I mean, it's still pretty dark, but it's a bit more clear. The Live at Blues Alley recording sounds much different then when I was in the room hearing him.

    Edit: It must have been the Gibson on that Blues Alley record since he switched to Benedetto in 2011.
    Last edited by rmpmcdermott; 12-17-2018 at 06:00 PM.
    On the Turntable: Joe Morris - Colorfield, Albert Ayler - The Hilversum Session
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamScott View Post
    Agreed. Except for the "great" part.
    I don't like that tone much either but hey, I'm more into the Grant Green type of tone.

    Just goes to show that terms like 'great' or 'classic' are useless when it comes to discussions like this.

  49. #48

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    Oh, I don't remember how many times I already watched the clips from this concert.
    There's another one with Metheny on archtop (Bright size life):

  50. #49

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    In Jack Zucker's group of august professionals, Pasquale Grasso plays a Trenier, Paul Bollenback plays a Borys, Peter Mazza plays a Gibson Super V, Vic Juris plays a Borys, Peter Bernstein plays a Zeidler, Gilad Hekselman plays a Victor Baker, Mike Moreno plays a Marchione, Mark Whitfield plays a Marchione so, yeah, tone may well be in the fingers but these fellows are not immune to the charms of nice boutique guitars, too, just like the rest of us.

    Pasquale put his prize, a Benedetto Pat Martino, that he won in the Wes Montgomery Competition up for sale as soon as he got it so even Pasquale recognises tone is not always in the fingers but in the guitar, too, just like the rest of us lesser mortals. The Benedetto Pat Martino was not his tone.

    Ulf Wakenius may well tear it up with that Aria but he won't enjoy it very much if that is what he is restricted to play for the rest of his life. Isn't Ulf playing a Westville guitar now?

    I am not saying that the Aria is not a good guitar but a nicer guitar is a nicer guitar and nobody is immune to the charms of a nicer anything.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 12-17-2018 at 04:38 PM.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  51. #50

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    Thanks for the info Jack. The point about "proof tone is in the hands", I can't argue against. And, I don't think you're saying gear plays no part. I doubt anyone serious about this endeavor over a lifetime would. I like the clip of Jim Hall with Chico Hamilton. That's a good data point. Tone is multidimensional. I think there is some mind control too. I can't listen to Jim Hall or some others and not think mind-body connection, sometimes even hear other worldly sounds, like heavenly, even miraculous. At least, I've felt like that when observing some of the masters.