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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by fritz jones
    there was no ibanez or aria when Virtuoso 1 was recorded. i thought the acoustic tracks were on an epiphone deluxe.
    That came years later in recordings with its owner, john Pisano.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodite135
    So this is what I know. Jim Hall has 4 guitars during his lifetime. ES 175, Les Paul, D'Aquisto and a Sadowsky. Mike Stern said Jim played a guitar till it feel apart. On the flip side was Joe Pass. Joe had endorsement deals with Aria and Ibanez. So Joe could have been playing anything. An ES 175 maybe but more than likely it was his Aria or Ibanez JP 20. Joe played what he needed to play based on who was there. But the rumor was he actually liked the Aria. On a side note Aria made a Herb Ellis as well. Not a lawsuits guitar but actual endorsed guitars.
    In the part of his career during which he recorded, Joe played primarily four guitars. First was the Fender guitar owned by Synanon. He was given a 1962 ES-175 by a guy named Mike Peak, who had a construction business and felt Joe should be playing a proper jazz guitar. Joe played the ES-175 for at least 10, maybe 15 years. he had that instrument throughout the Virtuso recordings. He then got the D'Aquisto but only played that a few years (although there are some reports that he played the D'Aquisto in the States and the Ibanez when traveling). The Ibanez JP20 came out IIRC in 1980 and he played that until 1992 when he got a custom Gibson. BTW there are reports that Jimmy D'Aquisto was really ticked that the Ibanez was based so closely (visually) on his design and would no longer speak yo Joe after that. Some of his recordings were done on one-off instruments (12 string, nylon string, and the aforementioned Epiphone owned by Pisano). I have never heard that Joe had an endorsement deal with Aria- only with Ibanez (who paid him about $25,000 a year to be seen with an Ibanez guitar) and at the end of his life with Epiphone. I have never understood Gibson not doing a deal with him for a Joe Pass model. Joe reportedly disliked the sound of the Ibanez

    Jim Hall had an L-5 or something at the start of his time with Chico Hamilton; because of tonal problems he sold or traded it for the Les Paul. He quickly got rid of that and bought the ES-175 from Howard Roberts (that guitar is on the cover of one of Roberts's albums). He played that until getting the D'Aquisto; he gave that back to Jimmy when Jimmy gave him a fully carved acoustic archtop from his last breakthrough period. You can see that in the video "A Life In Progress." Then he got the Sadowsky.
    Last edited by Cunamara; 11-18-2014 at 12:30 AM.

  4. #53

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    It's funny how the Joe Pass/Virtuoso/175 deal recirculates periodically. I think people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the concept that you can play a vintage 175 acoustically. Well, you can. Same thing with old ES150s, ES300s, ES350s, and ES125s. The ones from the 40s and 50s are light, dry, and have a reasonable acoustic sound. They are not carved body guitars by any stretch of the imagination, but they work as acoustic instruments when you roll the volume back. Plenty of players have turned the volume off and strummed rhythms behind soloists on these instruments. Herb Ellis did it all the time on his 175.

    Another one that catches people flat-footed is recording a 175 straight into the board. Pass, Ellis, and others did this all the time, too. I have done it and the sound is fine. No amp, no mic. Just make sure that the impedance matches. The sound to tape (old days) or to digital medium is plenty good. I guess you could re-amp, but there's no need to.

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone

    Another one that catches people flat-footed is recording a 175 straight into the board. Pass, Ellis, and others did this all the time, too. I have done it and the sound is fine. No amp, no mic. Just make sure that the impedance matches. The sound to tape (old days) or to digital medium is plenty good. I guess you could re-amp, but there's no need to.
    A vid was posted of Joe playing somewhere (MI?) and my first thought was oh.. he sounds horrrible. And at about 7 min mark he asks if he can plug in the the board..

    His playing was spot on but I found his tone more than a little distracting.

  6. #55

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    Yeh I'v never accepted that he plays an ES-175 on this albums. Way too resonant.

    Eiter his D'aquisto with round wounds or some sort of acoustic.

    for my 2p's worth I never liked the tone or the playing. Way too many notes and after about 2 minutes my eyes and ears just glaze over.
    Joe was like a drunk guy showing off and talking way too much, on these albums, imo.

  7. #56

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    When I started this thread, I was hoping someone on the forum had some definitive info as to JP's gear and setup for those first Virtuoso sessions, like an interview with Joe or someone who was there in the studio. Alas, that doesn't seem to be the case. So maybe we'll never know for sure. But as this thread evolved, and BTW thanks to all of you who posted such informed speculations, I began to think that the more interesting question is, what was JP's original intent when he made those recordings? Did he set out to make an acoustic jazz record, or was that just the result of a mishap in the studio involving the alleged "electric" tracks?

    I will offer my opinion, which is strongly in favor of the former. In one of my posts above, I quoted the liner notes from Virtuoso 4, in which Norman Granz praises Joe's originality for recording acoustically. I also found excerpts of an interview with Joe in Norman Mongan's The History Of The Guitar In Jazz (p. 177) where Joe talks about his preference for playing solo acoustically. For example he is quoted as saying "As someone who, on the whole, is trying to play solo guitar, I think that I have more tools to work with acoustically--more sounds, more textures, more things that I can do. I can really play the guitar." (This interview appeared in a Max Jones piece in Melody Maker, April 1975. I tried but couldn't find the original text online.)

    So based on these excerpts, and my own listening to the tracks, my belief is that Joe's intention was indeed to record his playing acoustically. I subscribe to Greentone's theory that the lost electric tracks were probably recorded direct to the board, perhaps to be used judiciously in the mixing process. In any case, I doubt Joe was hearing those tracks while he was playing; he would have needed headphones, which would have prevented him from hearing his guitar acoustically. I can't imagine that was the case. So even if the mythical electric tracks existed, they are essentially irrelevant to the essence of the recordings.

    So if I'm right, this does get back to the question, would Joe bring his 175 for this job, when he owned a d'Aquisto at the time? I can accept that as possible. As Greentone pointed out, the notion that only a carved-top archtop can be played acoustically was probably not prevalent in 1973, when these recordings were made.
    Last edited by Ren; 11-19-2014 at 09:03 AM. Reason: Grammar

  8. #57

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    Go back and listen to the "Two for the Road" album (also on Pablo, produced by Norman Granz)--made at the same period as Virtuoso I--by Joe Pass and Herb Ellis. Both guys are playing ES175 guitars on that album. However, routinely one guy will roll the volume way back--or even off--to accompany the other guy. Since Pass is in one speaker and Ellis the other, this is easily discernible. You can hear the sound of the 175 as an acoustic instrument clearly on that album.

    I am personally familiar with the sound of Ellis' 175 both acoustically and electrically because I have played it. I can identify it--especially on Cherokee on TFTR.

    For whatever reason it was recorded that way, I subscribe to the Virtuoso I/IV sessions as being Pass' 175 captured acoustically idea. I don't find it bothersome in the least.

  9. #58

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    Greentone,

    I have that album on cassette! Unfortunately the motors on my old Nakamichi BX-300 are shot so I can only play a tape for a minute or so. I'll have to get it on CD assuming it's available. Sounds like a useful basis for comparison in this discussion. Based on your expertise, how do you think that recording was set up? What were Herb and Joe listening to as they played? Thanks!

  10. #59

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    As an experiment, I have just recorded my Gibson 175, playing fingerstyle and unplugged, to see what it sounds like.

    See what you think. It does sound a bit like the Virtuoso sound to me.


  11. #60

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    Sure does.

    Nice playing too.

  12. #61

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    Thank you Mr B!

    I would really like to spend more time on solo/fingerstyle but there aren't enough hours in the day!

    I started out with classical guitar lessons for several years as a teenager, which is probably a good thing.

  13. #62

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    Echo that. Really nice playing, Graham.

    That's totally the Virtuoso sound.

  14. #63

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    Grahambop,
    Well done. Nice playing. Sure sounds like Virtuoso to me.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by SammieWammie
    I'm wondering what kind of guitar Joe Pass used on his Virtuoso albums...

    Sounds quite acoustic, I love that tone! Anybody know the type of guitar?

    It was the D'Aquisto.
    I met Jimmy
    D'Aquisto at that time and we talked about Joe's guitar.


  16. #65

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    At least from the available information I have seen, Joe didn't get the D'Aquisto until several years after Virtuoso I and IV were recorded (the latter was in the can for four or five years before it was released). He certainly recorded a number of other records with that guitar, such as Tudo Bem.

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren
    Would it have been standard practice in 1973 to record a guitar like an ES-175 by simultaneously miking it and also running it through an amp?
    I know I'm responding to an old post, and I've never recorded an acoustic archtop at all, but having recorded plenty of flattops through the 90s I know that mic+board was the easiest way for me to balance and bring out the tones I wanted. I don't imagine that'd be different for archtop: the amp could provide the roundness and the mic would provide the attack, is the way I normally did it.

    Whenever I do get around to recording an archie, I will try that first, amp in some sort of iso, mic near an F-hole. If you have the patience it really allows you to fine-tune an acoustic track for the right amount of shimmer and body. The dual approach works for flattop, I can attest to that.

  18. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyV
    The playing on Virtuoso is so jaw-droopingly good I never gave the tone a second thought. When I mentally compare it to the sound of the 70s McLaughlin-Di Meola-De Lucia trio with those quaking, awful-sounding Ovations, Joe's tone on Virtuoso seems quite acceptable.
    They really cornered the market on piezo quack with that one. Love the playing, but the sound gets grating before "Mediterranean Sundance" is over.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven
    Yeh I'v never accepted that he plays an ES-175 on this albums. Way too resonant.

    Eiter his D'aquisto with round wounds or some sort of acoustic.

    for my 2p's worth I never liked the tone or the playing. Way too many notes and after about 2 minutes my eyes and ears just glaze over.
    Joe was like a drunk guy showing off and talking way too much, on these albums, imo.

    old thread but I'm w/ several of you guys, except this guy, that last comment is pretty ignorant.
    I bet it's the 175 w/ either a little amplification or straight into the board, likely the latter.
    you obviously can't tell from a record cover, but in this case I believe that shot is from the sessions, I think #3 has a D'Aquisto on the cover

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    Just to play devil advocate when Joe did acoustic recordings he brought is acoustic guitars. <off advocate now>

    I agree with what your saying and a bit hard to understand why they just didn't get another engineer and book another date. Also things happen in the studio and seen gear malfunctions that didn't get noticed till much later. For example Steely Dan's I think it was the Gaucho album. They were always using cutting edge gear and DBX was the hot noise reduction at the time. The mixed the entire album on same two channels of DBX and mixed Steely Dan in the analog days was a nightmare process. They go to master the album and it sounds like crap. Ends up the two channels of DBX were screwed up and the DBX wouldn't decode it right. Ends up the two they mixed on the encoding was bad. They got a hold of DBX who brought in hundreds of channel of DBX to see if any would decode first ones and no luck. The had the budget so they remixed the entire album.
    They had dbx issues on Katy Lied, but didn't have the budget to fix it then. They've publicly disavowed the album's sound quality.

    Sounds a little dark to me, but for most of the material on that album that wasn't bad, by my taste.

  21. #70

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    My favorite Steely Dan album (Katy)

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    old thread but I'm w/ several of you guys, except this guy, that last comment is pretty ignorant.
    I bet it's the 175 w/ either a little amplification or straight into the board, likely the latter.
    you obviously can't tell from a record cover, but in this case I believe that shot is from the sessions, I think #3 has a D'Aquisto on the cover
    I think graham's clip pretty much demonstrated an ES175 played acoustically and mic'd will sound like Virtuoso's tracks. I also have a clip somewhere using both a mic on the guitar and a direct line and while I don't play like graham, the tone was very much in the Virtuoso ball park. So I have no doubt that it's an ES175 mic'd acoustically. Whether the electric happened at all or not,I don't know. I do know "here's that rainy day" on Virtuoso is clearly an electric track and sounds really nice.

    I"ve never felt the tone on Virtuoso was bad. Joe was breaking the mould on a lot of things, might as well also rattle the tone cage a little.

  23. #72

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    Here is my experiment with the Virtuoso tone thing.


  24. #73

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    I'm surprised that no one thought to get in touch with the engineer on the Virtuoso #1 session. His name is Dennis Sands and that was his first recording! Some quick research unearthed the serendipity behind the making of the album. Dennis was working as a mixer at MGM and his involvement with the Pass project only came about because the designated engineer arrived at the studio drunk. As it was evening and there was no one else in the building, Norman Granz asked Dennis to take over and the young man soon became principal sound engineer for Pablo. He later moved on from recording jazz to the more demanding (and no doubt more lucrative) world of film and is now one of the world's leading soundtrack engineers and mixers with movies such as Back To The Future, American Beauty, Forrest Gump, Spiderman and The Avengers to his credit.

    I was as curious as everyone else on this thread to get the inside story and wrote to Dennis, receiving this reply today:

    Hey Paul. The Joe Pass Virtuoso 1 album was the very first project of any kind I ever did as engineer. As I recall I recorded a direct feed plus a mic on his guitar and amp. Joe was quite specific about his sound and was pleased with what I did. The mix was live with no remix. Btw the story of the designated mixer showing up drunk was true. That’s how I ended up doing the session. This led to many others for Norman Granz and Pablo Records. Ella, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Milt Jackson, Basie, Joe Turner, many others. Incredibly lucky. BestD

    So not yet the complete story but I sent a follow up message asking for further details (guitar/s used, how the track Here Comes That Rainy Day ended up with a markedly different sound etc.). Not expecting too much to be resolved as the recording took place almost 50 years ago but let's see what eventuates...

    Last edited by PMB; 09-22-2020 at 06:27 AM.

  25. #74

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    Nice one PMB, I knew Dennis Sands was the engineer (says so on the CD) but didn’t know if he was even still around. I see he is on FB so obviously still going!

    Interesting if he did record all those sources, on the record it certainly sounds as if only the acoustic sound was used (except for that one track of course). Keep us posted!

    Would be interesting to know if he did Virtuoso 4 as well, that was mainly acoustic and only recorded a few months later.

  26. #75

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    Well this has got me googling the whole thing again, and I came across this interesting statement by the chap who runs that Japanese ‘Joe Pass memorial’ website: Salon

    It bears out what I thought, the album cover shows a 175 with a strap or something across the pickup, I assumed this would be to stop the notorious rattling noises of the 175.

    Quote from the website:

    to #119, hi, Jim Rowan. I think Joe played his ES175 on his first Virtuoso album.
    The reason I think so is, I had a time to ask Joe what is the band on the guitar on "Virtuoso #1" album. He answered the tape(band) is for stopping the sound came from pick-guard.

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    I'm surprised that no one thought to get in touch with the engineer on the Virtuoso #1 session. His name is Dennis Sands and that was his first recording! Some quick research unearthed the serendipity behind the making of the album. Dennis was working as a mixer at MGM and his involvement with the Pass project only came about because the designated engineer arrived at the studio drunk. As it was evening and there was no one else in the building, Norman Granz asked Dennis to take over and the young man soon became principal sound engineer for Pablo. He later moved on from recording jazz to the more demanding (and no doubt more lucrative) world of film and is now one of the world's leading soundtrack engineers and mixers with movies such as Back To The Future, American Beauty, Forrest Gump, Spiderman and The Avengers to his credit.

    I was as curious as everyone else on this thread to get the inside story and wrote to Dennis, receiving this reply today:

    Hey Paul. The Joe Pass Virtuoso 1 album was the very first project of any kind I ever did as engineer. As I recall I recorded a direct feed plus a mic on his guitar and amp. Joe was quite specific about his sound and was pleased with what I did. The mix was live with no remix. Btw the story of the designated mixer showing up drunk was true. That’s how I ended up doing the session. This led to many others for Norman Granz and Pablo Records. Ella, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Milt Jackson, Basie, Joe Turner, many others. Incredibly lucky. BestD

    So not yet the complete story but I sent a follow up message asking for further details (guitar/s used, how the track Here Comes That Rainy Day ended up with a markedly different sound etc.). Not expecting too much to be resolved as the recording took place almost 50 years ago but let's see what eventuates...

    So the commonly told version of the story that the engineer messed up the recording and only recorded the mic by accident is not true then. Only the recording of "Here is that rainy day" had both mic and amp input according to the story.

    When I listen to these two recordings from the same album, I have to say I still believe the story. There is no way the recording of "Round Midnight" has anything but just the mic feed. I prefer the second recording by a mile BTW.




    vs



  28. #77

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    I also don't like the sound of the fast runs in the mic only recordings. They sound thin and don't come out clearly and evenly. The album was named Virtuoso so I get that it was also meant to showcase his technical mastery. But as least in the mic recordings speedy parts don't work for me.

  29. #78

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    Great album, but, yeah, shame about the plinky tone. One Joe Pass album that I just love the tone of is the posthumous Unforgettable where, I believe, he plays a nylon string acoustic.

  30. #79

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    I guess I'm the only kid on my block who likes Joe's tone on Virtuoso #1. The first time I heard it, all I could think was "HOLY COW! He's playing that acoustically on an ES175!" I think it took real balls to do that. It makes me think Joe is sitting in my kitchen and he just picks up an ES175--not most peoples choice for a kitchen table or front porch guitar--and just starts playing this amazing stuff on it. I love that album.

  31. #80

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    I also love the mic’d tone on Virtuoso. Hank Garland did something similar on at least one track on Jazz Winds From A New Direction. At the moment, the title of the piece escapes me, reason enough to pull out my copy and start listening.

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkwaters
    One Joe Pass album that I just love the tone of is the posthumous Unforgettable where, I believe, he plays a nylon string acoustic.
    Great album which I've been listening to a lot for the past few months. Apparently he's playing a Borys B-520 nylon on that one (it's not an archtop).

    As for Virtuoso #1, I also love the tone on that album. Years ago when I heard it was played unplugged on an ES175 I was shocked, but now that I have a lively laminate guitar (2.5" depth Trenier Jazz Electric) I'm far less surprised especially given the ES175 is quite a deep guitar.

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by L50EF15
    Hank Garland did something similar on at least one track on Jazz Winds From A New Direction. At the moment, the title of the piece escapes me, reason enough to pull out my copy and start listening.
    Probably this one (Always):


  34. #83

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    Thank God he wasn't playing his jaguar.

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Probably this one (Always):

    Yup, that’s the one. Tragic that his career was cut short by that car accident.