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  1. #51

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    Even Ed Bickert played an L5C into a mic for big band gigs (with Benny and many of Toronto’s finest jazz musicians in this case).
    Keith

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52
    That guy Will Mathews with the Count Basie Orchestra sounds good. I think I would see what he is using these days!

  4. #53

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    Serious question: What are you guys doing that you all run into trouble with Feedback?
    A) In most instances i don't even need to use a mic to be heard.
    B) Even when i need to amplify, I have not even once run into any trouble with using a lavalier mic. I usually ask to not put the mic into the Monitor though. I honestly don't need it, and I think i even play better if i have to fight a bit to hear myself.

    Paul

    P. S.: Big Yes! to everything campusfive said!

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webby
    Serious question: What are you guys doing that you all run into trouble with Feedback?
    A) In most instances i don't even need to use a mic to be heard.
    B) Even when i need to amplify, I have not even once run into any trouble with using a lavalier mic. I usually ask to not put the mic into the Monitor though. I honestly don't need it, and I think i even play better if i have to fight a bit to hear myself.

    Paul

    P. S.: Big Yes! to everything campusfive said!
    Cheers, and to your points

    A) I think not all of us are lucky to play a proper acoustic archtop.
    B) I think most people having bad luck with mic'ing are using acoustic amps that are rather close to them, rather than just going to FOH.
    I often do have a monitor, but I have a trick to angle it specifically to avoid it getting picked up by the mic.
    Plus, if you're running into FOH, then that likely means someone is on top of setting your levels. If you're playing into your own amp, then you're in essentially in charge of both monitor and FOH volume levels.

    And I think one of the biggest challenges to the rending that acoustic style on an electric is how much extra low end content there is, which get's you that wild low-end resonance feedback. There's just so much low end from say, a full-size archtop with humbuckers and flatwounds through a DRRI, for example, and since the typical voicings are on the low end, it's just all mud and boom. But that kind of tone is exactly what so many straight-ahead jazz players would be ideal in other settings.

    One of the reasons I think I've had better luck with my 1937 ES-150/1939 EH-185 combo, when I have to play electric rhythm, is that there's more limited frequency range on both, so there's essentially a built in high pass and low pass, and more midrange focus. But I still find myself focusing on either ghosting the low with those traditional three-note chords, and focusing on the D/G strings. Or even using D/G/B voicings to keep the notes out of the mud, even with that vintage gear. Listening to Charlie Christian on that "Tea for Two" I posted, he's definitely playing chords that include the B string.

    As for Will Matthews, you'd have to ask him, but my cursory youtubing of recent CBO performances shows him most consistently playing with a 57-type mic near the treble f-hole, perhaps another additional condenser mic, but with a floor monitor off his left side. There's one video where's a Marshall combo on stage, but I don't think I see a cable coming from his guitar. In fact, I don't see a cable in any of them, but if your eyes are better, I'm happy to be disabused of the notion.

  6. #55

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    Also, a quick follow up, checking out some photographs of the Harry James band from 1945, clearly shows Allan Reuss (my hero) with two guitars: his 1938 blonde L-5, and what I believe is a blonde L-5P specially ordered with a slanted ES-300 pickup (so, like the same thing as the ES-300 Barney was playing with Shaw, but with a carved top and cutaway since it's an L-5), likely through an EH-185. He can be heard on air-checks in this period on a feature electric solo (still in his chord melody style), but is otherwise playing his rhythm purely acoustic.

    Big Band Tone -  A Serious Conversation-reuss-james-live-1945-jpeg

    Worth noting about Allan Reuss.... In a recently unearthed audio interview with Freddie Green in the 70's, Freddie only listed two influences... John Trueheart with Chick Webb, and Allan Reuss. I believe there's an assertion that in Steve Jordan's book "Rhythm Man" that Allan gave Freddie lessons when Freddie first came to New York. The ironic ending to the story, is that Benny Goodman was obviously very taken with the Basie sound/feel when they showed up in town, and at some point Benny said to Allan, "you should take lessons with Freddie", and Allan's response was "He's been taking lessons with me!". I know that is not something Al Green corroborates in his biography of his Dad, but I could believe it.

  7. #56
    Will Mathews with the Count Basie Orchestra uses a D angelico reissue and does a great job IMO

  8. #57

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    I’m curious about whether or not a Macafferri-style guitar would work in a big band context. They have a cutting tone and great volume and projection. Does anyone have experience with this approach? Any theories on why it would (or would not) work?

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
    I’m curious about whether or not a Macafferri-style guitar would work in a big band context. They have a cutting tone and great volume and projection. Does anyone have experience with this approach? Any theories on why it would (or would not) work?
    They totally would. If you look at phots of European dance bands of the 30s the guitarist is often playing a Selmer guitar. American archtops were hard to get hold of across the pond.

    After his US tour, Django regarded American guitars as highly inferior; it's easy to see why... his fleet fingered lead style was facilitated by the lighter Argentine strings and upper fret access, while US archtops were often still strung with a wound second and a monster action, no doubt contributing to the more chordal approach of the US players... (this also increases my respect for Eddie Lang.)

    I haven't tried it myself, but I've seen some doing this live. Sounded great.
    EDIT: Nope, tell a lie I remember now I actually HAVE done it with a 30s style small big band. It was great!

    Here's Al Bowlly, who was well known for rocking a Modele Jazz
    Big Band Tone -  A Serious Conversation-screenshot-2021-04-28-10-51-15-png

    Furthermore, although we today associate Slemer Maccaferri guitars with Django and gypsy jazz, they were very frequently played by all types of jazz/popular musicians in France, including Sacha Distel.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-28-2021 at 06:15 AM.

  10. #59

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    Not to mention Django's own recordings with a big band


    Obviously he's right next to the mic

    The feel is obv much more 1930s dance band than Second Testament Freddie Green. But I reckon you could do that too. There's no legislation saying you have to play 'la pompe' on a Maccaferri, whatever the gypsy jazz diehards might tell you. I think you might miss a little bit of that specific cut you get with an old archtop, but I think it would work.

  11. #60

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    Oh plus one for micing... It's the best way.

    HOWEVER - it really depends what type of gigs you do.

    So, in the days when I used to play European swing dance festivals, you'd often luck out and get a couple of technically savvy swing dancers doing the sound, who also play and have an obsessive interest in getting things to sound authentic as possible. They may set you up with a nice mic and all is well.

    In the UK, swing dancers are rarely musicians, and pro sound engineers seem to have little background in acoustic music and if it doesn't DI, they WON'T understand it.

    And then there's playing in pubs and bars etc with a small swing or early jazz group. The problem I find there is the frequency of conversation is pretty much exactly where the rhythm guitar wants to sit - about 400-800Hz. So even in a small space amplification is necessary, often quite a bit. In this case you need to be using a pickup of some sort.

    So, it's between you and the practicalities of where you play.

    Of course, acoustic playing is massively dependent on the room, the drummer's experience/interest in playing with acoustic guitar and the dynamic sensitivity of the horns. Usually for a pickup band its shitshow for all three. But not always.

  12. #61

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    Last time I saw a big band concert was years ago in Geneva, the Francis Coletta big band. Coletta is a Marseilles-born Swiss player who played with many greats, among them IIRC Frank Sinatra in his old days on his European tours. Coletta played most of that show with a pink thinline Telecaster. The music was very interesting, alternating between traditional and modern numbers, in fact exceptional. On the trad numbers, the Telecaster sound never seemed out of place, as best as I can remember, because I wasn't so observant of tone at the time, it was closer to a Freddie Green tone than anything else. And I remember an interview of Adam Levy where he says he used his semi-hollow Gibson (it looks like a 330 with only one pickup) to cope those tones successfully on a recording. That all sounds but like wizardry to me.

    Francis Coletta demonstrates for Pagelli guitars now and then:

  13. #62

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    That’s interesting about the Tele Thinline. I know Lou Pallo got a very convincing sound (very similar to the Charlie Christian clip up-thread) on a Les Paul backing up...Les Paul. I saw them three times and was struck by that every time.

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
    I’m curious about whether or not a Macafferri-style guitar would work in a big band context. They have a cutting tone and great volume and projection. Does anyone have experience with this approach? Any theories on why it would (or would not) work?
    I've used my Macafferri style guitar for big band gigs - it worked very well!
    It's a different sound - the higher trebles really cut through - less mid range heft than a conventional archtop.
    The bandleader liked how it sounded.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
    That’s interesting about the Tele Thinline. I know Lou Pallo got a very convincing sound (very similar to the Charlie Christian clip up-thread) on a Les Paul backing up...Les Paul. I saw them three times and was struck by that every time.
    he has a great rhythm sound from his Les Paul. I'm fairly sure he had T.W Doyle pickups/electronics fitted to his guitar - I understand they were a low impedance pickup, that would explain why it sounded so 'acoustic'. I believe T.W Doyle was Les Paul's sound guy/guitar tech for a long time.

  16. #65

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    I think you're way better off in a big band with a selmer-style than any kind of plywood top, magnetic pickup electric archtop. But then again, you're better with almost any kind of loud acoustic guitar.

    But I would say that playing typical jazz manouche style voicings, with 5 and 6 notes, is to be avoided. While such dense voicings fill out a small band, they'll work against projecting through a big band.

    I've played my National Style 1 Tricone is a 20's/30's-style 10pc band (3 brass, 3 sax), and it also works. But I would note that the awesome natural reverb that you get from a resonator can work against you in terms of cutting power and also time-feel, because now there's extra sustain.

    Still, played correctly, I'd take a Selmer or National over any typical archtop with mounted humbuckers through an amp.

  17. #66
    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    Also, a quick follow up, checking out some photographs of the Harry James band from 1945, clearly shows Allan Reuss (my hero) with two guitars: his 1938 blonde L-5, and what I believe is a blonde L-5P specially ordered with a slanted ES-300 pickup (so, like the same thing as the ES-300 Barney was playing with Shaw, but with a carved top and cutaway since it's an L-5), likely through an EH-185. He can be heard on air-checks in this period on a feature electric solo (still in his chord melody style), but is otherwise playing his rhythm purely acoustic.

    Big Band Tone -  A Serious Conversation-reuss-james-live-1945-jpeg

    Worth noting about Allan Reuss.... In a recently unearthed audio interview with Freddie Green in the 70's, Freddie only listed two influences... John Trueheart with Chick Webb, and Allan Reuss. I believe there's an assertion that in Steve Jordan's book "Rhythm Man" that Allan gave Freddie lessons when Freddie first came to New York. The ironic ending to the story, is that Benny Goodman was obviously very taken with the Basie sound/feel when they showed up in town, and at some point Benny said to Allan, "you should take lessons with Freddie", and Allan's response was "He's been taking lessons with me!". I know that is not something Al Green corroborates in his biography of his Dad, but I could believe it.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=JeceHiizK6k

    I have an ES-300 like Allen Reuss' custom L-5P! Well, sort of. The last Gibson catalog before the start of WWII features the new ES-300 as an L-5 (non-cutaway) with a solid carved top and back with Gibson's new short slanted ES-300 pickup mounted through the top in the bridge position.

    The actual production models, though, were made using an acoustic L-7 rather than an L-5. They were still acoustic guitars with solid carved spruce tops and solid carved maple backs. To mount the pickup, they simply routed through the top of the guitar. The rout cut through both of the top braces. To compensate for this, they added support blocks and, critically, added two large sound posts, one next to the treble side of the pickup and the other next to the bass side of the pickup, to keep the top from collapsing where the braces were routed through.

    The sound posts deaden the acoustic tone. Critically, though, they dampen feedback when plugged in. It is very likely that Allen Reuss' L-5P (P= Premier, Gibson's early name for cutaway archtops) was constructed in the same way.

    This would give him a guitar that is essentially a Fender Esquire with lots of woody acoustic overtones due to the microphonic qualities of the electronics and a worry free electric to play for a short electric solo due to the feedback resistance.

    This model, and a similarly constructed ES-125 and ES-150 with a speedbump pickup in the bridge position, were only made for a month or two at most. Then the tops and backs were switched to plywood before production ceased due to the war. Plywood offered its own pro's and con's when dealing with feedback.

    The above video gives an idea of the tone of the original solid-carved version of the ES-300

  18. #67

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    I haven't spent any time with those guitars so thanks for confirming my guess that you couldn't really just roll the volume knob down on one of those guitars and play purely acoustic rhythm. An "extra woody Fender Esquire" sounds about right to me on the score of his electric tone. As there's some deadness in the decay that makes me think he's using flatwounds on his L-5P/E: (May 1, 1946, by the way)

    Also, note you can't really hear any rhythm guitar (and trust me, I've listen to almost* every recording Allan Reuss has been on pre-1947, and you can always hear his acoustic rhythm playing)



    *There's some Les Brown stuff that I can't find easily, and some other odds and ends, but I've listened so much of him.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    I think you're way better off in a big band with a selmer-style than any kind of plywood top, magnetic pickup electric archtop. But then again, you're better with almost any kind of loud acoustic guitar.

    But I would say that playing typical jazz manouche style voicings, with 5 and 6 notes, is to be avoided. While such dense voicings fill out a small band, they'll work against projecting through a big band.

    I've played my National Style 1 Tricone is a 20's/30's-style 10pc band (3 brass, 3 sax), and it also works. But I would note that the awesome natural reverb that you get from a resonator can work against you in terms of cutting power and also time-feel, because now there's extra sustain.

    Still, played correctly, I'd take a Selmer or National over any typical archtop with mounted humbuckers through an amp.
    I think it’s completely dependent on the big band and the repertoire. I know I can get a good sound for a modern big band blow from my ES175 and solos are often on the cards. (Lots of one note voicings and low volume does well; also my guitar has a fast decay and bright acoustic tone compared to modern Gibsons.)

    Give me a band leader who’s serious about having a more pre war sound and the patience to do it authentically, and I’ll be delighted to opt for an acoustic guitar.

    +1 about the gypsy chords. Too much info for a large ensemble. I rarely play those chords anyway...

  20. #69

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    And this tune from Jan 31, 1946 really sounds... plinky


  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Give me a band leader who’s serious about having a more pre war sound and the patience to do it authentically, and I’ll be delighted to opt for an acoustic guitar.

    +1 about the gypsy chords. Too much info for a large ensemble. I rarely play those chords anyway...
    I've met a lot of Manouche-style players that use a lot of 3 and 4 note chords too. It's close but not quite the same as American swing guitar.

    "Give me a band leader who’s serious about having a more pre war sound and the patience to do it authentically"

    I've played in big bands, including a short stint on bass with Lee Castle fronting the ghost band of Jimmy Dorsey.

    I agree that many modern big band directors, particularly in school situations, do not play 30's style. they are much more influenced by the late 50's Basie band or even later big bands.

    First thing - you need a sax section that can ALL double on clarinet. Not flutes - clarinets.

    Next, that section has to have a concept of playing in the same phrasing, vibrato, etc. as the 1st alto. Today everyone is a soloist, not a section man.

    The other sections need to play much the same way!

    Finally, the swing rhythm section is different than a more "modern" somewhat bop influenced big band. The piano is somewhat the odd man out, as the guitar, bass and drums really blend; it was explained to me that a good swing rhythm section had the guitar blend with the drums so that it made the hi-hat sound like it played chords!

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    As there's some deadness in the decay that makes me think he's using flatwounds on his L-5P/E: (May 1, 1946, by the way)
    Reuss was wonderful!

    I'm not sure he would have used flatwounds at that early date, as flats were just becoming available about that time, really being a 50's thing. Maybe he was a very early user.

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Reuss was wonderful!

    I'm not sure he would have used flatwounds at that early date, as flats were just becoming available about that time, really being a 50's thing. Maybe he was a very early user.
    So more recent research has shown than flats were available in the early 40's, but I still think they took a while, say the late 40's or later to become sort of the default for jazz players, as they are often thought of now.

    I'm now of the mind that the 40's electric playing of Reuss (and those two examples are 1946, so not that early anymore) are definitely flats.

    Ditto Barney Kessel on 1944's "Jammin' the Blues".

    That both Kessel and Reuss seem to be playing "bridge pickup" ES-300 pickup equipped guitars seems like a reason they might have jumped at flatwounds to mellow out the twang.

  24. #73

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    Interesting. Retrofret has one of those ES 300s for sale right now. The Esquire comparison seems fitting: the tone sounds very Western Swing.

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    So more recent research has shown than flats were available in the early 40's, but I still think they took a while, say the late 40's or later to become sort of the default for jazz players, as they are often thought of now.

    I'm now of the mind that the 40's electric playing of Reuss (and those two examples are 1946, so not that early anymore) are definitely flats.

    Ditto Barney Kessel on 1944's "Jammin' the Blues".

    That both Kessel and Reuss seem to be playing "bridge pickup" ES-300 pickup equipped guitars seems like a reason they might have jumped at flatwounds to mellow out the twang.
    I'd heard that there were flatwounds around then but not in common use - but these guys were at the top of the game and were both aware of new gear and could afford it. You might be right.

    "sort of the default for jazz players, as they are often thought of now."

    I just have never liked flatwound strings. I guess I'm in the minority.

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I've met a lot of Manouche-style players that use a lot of 3 and 4 note chords too. It's close but not quite the same as American swing guitar.
    I really hate being labelled as a Gypsy jazz player, because as far as I can see, I haven't been to Samois, I don't play with the round end (lol), and I don't really listen much to Manouche jazz beyond Django and that quite infrequently... In practice it doesn't matter how much I protest haha.

    but, yeah, that's me when I play swing. I like voice leading. My favourite rhythm players are all US. I like the flat four.

    I also really like the bop era rhythm players like Tal Farlow, Billy Bean, early Jim Hall, and that's a whole different thing.

    "Give me a band leader who’s serious about having a more pre war sound and the patience to do it authentically"

    I've played in big bands, including a short stint on bass with Lee Castle fronting the ghost band of Jimmy Dorsey.

    I agree that many modern big band directors, particularly in school situations, do not play 30's style. they are much more influenced by the late 50's Basie band or even later big bands.

    First thing - you need a sax section that can ALL double on clarinet. Not flutes - clarinets.

    Next, that section has to have a concept of playing in the same phrasing, vibrato, etc. as the 1st alto. Today everyone is a soloist, not a section man.

    The other sections need to play much the same way!

    Finally, the swing rhythm section is different than a more "modern" somewhat bop influenced big band. The piano is somewhat the odd man out, as the guitar, bass and drums really blend; it was explained to me that a good swing rhythm section had the guitar blend with the drums so that it made the hi-hat sound like it played chords!
    Bingo. that's the good stuff right there. There's a famous Freddie Green quote to that effect.

    But I'm not going to bring a knife to a gun fight, and I'm not going to put myself through the torment of 'trying to do it right' when no-one else is interested. I just want to try and play music with the band I'm in...

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    ...and I'm not going to put myself through the torment of 'trying to do it right' when no-one else is interested. I just want to try and play music with the band I'm in...
    To avoid frustration, I'd do the same thing, and just try to enjoy playing in your band.