Jazz Guitar
Learn how to play jazz guitar with our eBook bundle
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 36 of 36
  1. #1

    Stories from my studies with Pat Martino - Cotton Stuffing

    Another #MJGArtistOfTheWeek Pat Martino Story...
    After the first lesson when I tried coming to the lesson with an L5s, I came to my 2nd lesson with my L5. Pat was happy that I brought some sound but told me I should stuff the guitar with cotton to get a more percussive sound out of it and reduce the feedback. He recommended going to an upholstory store and buying about 10 yards of upholstory stuffing. He told me to buy some black velvet to put under the F Holes so it looked "normal" from the audience.
    After the lesson, I stopped on the way home at a local upholstory in maryland and picked up 10 yards of cotton. It was somewhat amusing because the woman at the store kept asking me what I was using for and after several times of attempting to change the subject I finally told her I was using it to stuff a guitar with...I got about a 10 second blank stare from her but I bought the cotton and was excited to get started.
    Using a drum stick and a pulled-apart wire coat hanger, I got about half of the cotton in there and used a couple black socks under the f holes as a disguise. I really liked the sound. Along with my .016 - .058 roundwound strings, it really nailed the pat martino tone! [sidebar] I was playing a polytone with a JBL in it at the time. Even though the JBL was 2x the original speaker's impedance, it was so much more efficient that I didn't lose any volume. I used the guitar at a gig that week and was very happy that not only was there no feedback, but the tone sounded amazingly like Pat's!
    The next week at my lesson, the first thing he did was looked at my guitar and smiled and asked how I liked it. He then took his finger and pressed against the sock in the F hole and then frowned. "You need much more cotton in there man!", he said. "You should have so much cotton in there that when you press against it, it should feel as solid as a rock!"
    I went back home and using the drumstick, I pushed as much cotton as I could into the base of the guitar and was able to get the entire roll of cotton into the guitar. The next week, Pat was happy. Believe it or not, that L5 weighed about 12lbs with all the cotton in it.
    The first time I did this I pulled a wire loose from one of the pots. I had to pull the stuffing out, fix the wiring and start all over again!
    I have stuffed a lot of different guitars over the years including L5s, Johnny Smiths, GB10s and even my Pat Metheny PM120. I haven't done it for years though. My '63 Barney Kessel can get really loud before feeding back!
    ...BUT THE SOUND...
    Whenever I tell this story, I always get forumites asking why I don't just use a semihollow or solid body if I'm doing that. I don't know the physics but if you ever decide to stuff your archtop guitar, you will discover - like I did - that it still sounds like an archtop guitar. It still has that beautiful, velvety lilt to it. It just sounds more percussive and fatter.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    130
    Important question for you-Does Pat recommend stuffing guitars with organic cotton or synthetic cotton? No, really: inquiring minds need to know!!! lol!!!

    Doug

  3. #3
    Interesting. I'd like to hear a before and after.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by corpse View Post
    Interesting. I'd like to hear a before and after.
    if i decide to keep the LGB300 i'll do that.

  5. #5
    Cool Pat story, thanks! Did Pat work on reversing alternate picking with you? Did he have you practice scales, lines and arps starting on an upstroke instead of a down stroke?
    I've been doing that recently, and I find I hit a wall when I start with upstrokes at about 240bpm, where I can usually play stuff at 320 bpm when I start on a down stroke.
    Was there any forearm in his picking, or was it all wrist?
    TIA

  6. #6
    Yes, he did discuss that with me but that's a technique he borrowed from Dennis Sandole (who I also studied with prior to Pat)

    Pat had me play everything from every finger and every string and of course, all downstroke, all upstroke, all alternate starting on downstroke, all alternate starting on upstroke.

    And it was all wrist though when I studied with Sandole, he forced me to play from the elbow. Maybe it's why they had a falling out.

    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    Cool Pat story, thanks! Did Pat work on reversing alternate picking with you? Did he have you practice scales, lines and arps starting on an upstroke instead of a down stroke?
    I've been doing that recently, and I find I hit a wall when I start with upstrokes at about 240bpm, where I can usually play stuff at 320 bpm when I start on a down stroke.
    Was there any forearm in his picking, or was it all wrist?
    TIA

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    Yes, he did discuss that with me but that's a technique he borrowed from Dennis Sandole (who I also studied with prior to Pat)

    Pat had me play everything from every finger and every string and of course, all downstroke, all upstroke, all alternate starting on downstroke, all alternate starting on upstroke.

    And it was all wrist though when I studied with Sandole, he forced me to play from the elbow. Maybe it's why they had a falling out.
    Do you find a limitation in speed when you play things you normally play starting on the down stroke, when you try to do them starting on the upstroke?
    Jimmy Bruno and Larry Coryell had extreme difficulty playing a two octave G major scale at a fast tempo in 2nd position using alternate picking, so they used economic picking to play it.
    I think the problem is that the second octave starts on an up stroke, so that may be what gave them the problem with it.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    Do you find a limitation in speed when you play things you normally play starting on the down stroke, when you try to do them starting on the upstroke?
    Jimmy Bruno and Larry Coryell had extreme difficulty playing a two octave G major scale at a fast tempo in 2nd position using alternate picking, so they used economic picking to play it.
    I think the problem is that the second octave starts on an up stroke, so that may be what gave them the problem with it.
    Yes I have a problem but in 2004, I had spinal surgery and permanent nerve damage to my right bicep and forum so I have limited use of the muscles required to pick from the wrist. Over time, I have recovered all of my original speed but my accuracy is a subset of what it once was. Back when I was studying with martino and practicing the upstrokes all the time, I was much better. But gravity is at play here too.

  9. #9
    Some years back I bought a Godin Multiac Nylon SA. It's a thin body, but it was about as loud as many full bodied nylon guitars.
    This guitar has 6 piezo pickups in the bridge saddles, as far as I know.

    It could feed back at a volume you could talk over, if the amp was facing the guitar.

    I was trying to play high energy samba based jazz at the time, in a pretty loud group.

    The feedback was awful.

    Just before resorting to smashing the guitar, I went to an upholstery shop and bought foam. I stuffed the guitar pretty full of foam. The change in weight was quite noticeable.

    Played acoustically, the guitar sounded about as muffled as you'd expect.

    But, played amplified, it sounded fine. Apparently,the vibrating top doesn't make as much difference as you'd think in a situation where the pickups are in the bridge saddles. Maybe somebody will know more about this and post.

    I have also heard the Frameworks and Yamaha body-less nylon guitars, both of which sound fine to me (Frameworks is better than the original Yamaha Silent nylon, I haven't heard the new one).

    Cotton might be a better idea than foam. Foam is friable to the point where I'm afraid to look inside it.

  10. #10
    Read the article I linked to. I stuffed about 5lbs (12 yards) of cotton into that L5 at Pat Martino's direction. It's not all about feedback rejection. It actually creates a very specific tone and resonance

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    Yes I have a problem but in 2004, I had spinal surgery and permanent nerve damage to my right bicep and forum so I have limited use of the muscles required to pick from the wrist. Over time, I have recovered all of my original speed but my accuracy is a subset of what it once was. Back when I was studying with martino and practicing the upstrokes all the time, I was much better. But gravity is at play here too.
    Sorry to hear about the nerve damage. Have you gone back to Sandole's forearm picking? I've heard that Jimmy Bruno (I don't know if he studied with Sandole) and Tony DeCaprio (he did study with Sandole) pick like that and use economic picking and slurring, and they can play anything.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    Sorry to hear about the nerve damage. Have you gone back to Sandole's forearm picking? I've heard that Jimmy Bruno (I don't know if he studied with Sandole) and Tony DeCaprio (he did study with Sandole) pick like that and use economic picking and slurring, and they can play anything.
    i pick from a combination of elbow and wrist but don't like the sound and feel from that. So yes, I can play super fast from the elbow but not with the articulation i like.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Twin Cities
    Posts
    3,088
    Was Martino's guitar stuffed at the time of recording "El Hombre?"
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    688
    12 lbs (5.44 kilos) though.. that's some heavy guitar to manage, although you'd tend to play an L5 sitting down I guess. Martino must have been an inspiration to study with!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    Was Martino's guitar stuffed at the time of recording "El Hombre?"
    yes, his guitars were stuff all the way through this period:



    After that, he switched to solid or semihollow but everything else was stuffed except the 12 string semihollow stuff on a couple of the albums

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    12 lbs (5.44 kilos) though.. that's some heavy guitar to manage, although you'd tend to play an L5 sitting down I guess. Martino must have been an inspiration to study with!
    yes, i was playing sitting down in those days. Ironic that I didn't start standing and playing until my late 40s, lol.

    But yes, it was an inspiration studying with him. Not so much what he showed me because he was very protective about his intellectual property but during the 1+ years I studied with him, I was inspired to copy almost everything he did.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,588
    Thanks for the info! I always thought it was a bit daft to spend money on a lovely L5 and fill it with foam, but maybe one day I will give this a try.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Thanks for the info! I always thought it was a bit daft to spend money on a lovely L5 and fill it with foam, but maybe one day I will give this a try.
    Don't use foam. That's one of the main points, lol

  19. #19
    I totally want to buy a used Epiphone Broadway and stuff it full of upholstery.
    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

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,588

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I totally want to buy a used Epiphone Broadway and stuff it full of upholstery.
    a recent one you mean? I think the originals used mini-humbuckers.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    a recent one you mean? I think the originals used mini-humbuckers.
    Yeah, a recent one, I'm thinking budget...I think I could find a used one for around $500...might be a fun experiment...
    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

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Yeah, a recent one, I'm thinking budget...I think I could find a used one for around $500...might be a fun experiment...
    don't forget the heavy strings! The GHS sets are flats which he uses now with his semihollow but back in the day he was using .016 - .058

    I think you could probably take a .012-.056 set and replace the top two strings with .016 and .018 and get close

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    don't forget the heavy strings! The GHS sets are flats which he uses now with his semihollow but back in the day he was using .016 - .058

    I think you could probably take a .012-.056 set and replace the top two strings with .016 and .018 and get close
    That would probably be my route. I find the law of diminishing returns kicks in on heavier basses...after a certain thickness, they sound less different and just become harder to play.

    But thicker trebles is a gamechanger. I actually just ordered some plain .014's and .17's for my 575 (right now, I use a .013 and a .016, and the rest is a regular set of .012's)
    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

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    That would probably be my route. I find the law of diminishing returns kicks in on heavier basses...after a certain thickness, they sound less different and just become harder to play.

    But thicker trebles is a gamechanger. I actually just ordered some plain .014's and .17's for my 575 (right now, I use a .013 and a .016, and the rest is a regular set of .012's)
    There's another factor at play too. The heavier bass strings will tend to feedback a lot more. With my thomastik .050 - .012 strings, i almost never have feedback problems (unless i'm playing through a bass heavy speaker like WHS ET65 or ET90)

  26. #26
    Yeah, it's crazy how some folks have so many problems with feedback...

    I played an old country gig with my 575, through a Princeton--DIMED (bandleader liked all stage volume and very little in the monitors, old school cat)

    Just stood in the right place and never had a single issue.
    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

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    But yes, it was an inspiration studying with him. Not so much what he showed me because he was very protective about his intellectual property but during the 1+ years I studied with him, I was inspired to copy almost everything he did.
    Do you mean he was reluctant to show you stuff he was working on for his own playing at the time? Like ideas that he hadn't used in gigs/recordings yet? Or do you mean even more generally, his approach to line building, harmony etc. He's had a lot of educational material out there so I assume the former. May be he kept some gems only to himself? But then most things can be reverse engineered once recorded. I'm curios.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Do you mean he was reluctant to show you stuff he was working on for his own playing at the time? Like ideas that he hadn't used in gigs/recordings yet? Or do you mean even more generally, his approach to line building, harmony etc. He's had a lot of educational material out there so I assume the former. May be he kept some gems only to himself? But then most things can be reverse engineered once recorded. I'm curios.
    Not sure what you mean by ideas he hadn't used but i'm talking about riffs I had copied off his records and asked for explanation. Many times, (like my story about octave displacement), he wouldn't tell me what he was thinking. Other times, he would show me really cool stuff out of the blue. I think - like many old time jazzers - he considered his work intellectual property and was reluctant to give it away. Howard Roberts told a story of going to clubs to hear Barney Kessel and Barney would turn sideways away from Howard because he thought howard was stealing his riffs. Another time, barney put a cloth napkin over his left hand to hide fingerings from HR...

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,588
    I've heard this about the older generation of jazzers too..... Info was a precious resource, a concept figured out or a fragment of knowledge from a master player ....

    It's a world completely alien to today's internet generation, where you get as much information as you could possibly want, probably more than you actually need...

  30. #30
    and the younger generation is proving them right because young players today are 10x better than they were when I was coming up!

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Twin Cities
    Posts
    3,088
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    yes, his guitars were stuff all the way through this period:



    After that, he switched to solid or semihollow but everything else was stuffed except the 12 string semihollow stuff on a couple of the albums
    Just listened to El Hombre tonight. Very distinctive tone.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  32. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,588
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    Just listened to El Hombre tonight. Very distinctive tone.
    Love those early Martino records...

  33. #33
    I got the Young Guns organ trio recording (which came from Pat's own tape archive I believe), and the guitar sound on there really captures the sheer 'weight' of tone on each note. He must have been well-stuffed that night.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Twin Cities
    Posts
    3,088
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Love those early Martino records...
    I like his recent stuff, too, although sometimes his tone is just too dark to even clearly hear. I'm thinking of his CD "Remembering" in particular. At times he was just indistinguishable from the background. His more recent CD "Formidable" suffers from this a bit less; I believe he's playing the Benedetto on this one instead of the Gibson artist guitar. I also liked "The Maker" quite a bit.

    But those early records have a rhythmic drive to his soloing that's really quite remarkable. He was more aggressive and less reflective in those days, it seems. In the documentary by Paul Broks he talked about having a very competitive feeling in his playing in the early days- wanting to be the "best" jazz guitarist- that has been gone since his brain surgery.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,588
    Yeah it's all about the fiery yet laid back swing for me....

    Later stuff is cool, just vibe more off the early days... I used not to be able to hear the recent stuff at all, but now I like it.

  36. #36
    Interesting to read Joey Defrancesco's take on early Pat, he mentions "Bar Wars" here, too, quoted from:
    For Joey DeFrancesco’s 44th Birthday, a Blindfold Test From 2007 and a Jazziz Article | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the Arts
    10. Trudy Pitts, “Just Friends” (from Pat Martino, EL HOMBRE, Prestige, 1967) (Pitts, organ, Martino, electric guitar; Mitch Fine, drums)


    [IMMEDIATELY] Trudy Pitts, Pat Martino, “Just Friends.” I love Trudy. I grew up… Trudy was like a musical mother, man. I know Trudy and Bill Carney, her husband, Mister C, since I was 8 years old. In fact, we just did a concert together… I didn’t have to hear too much of the playing. I just knew what it was right away. [You probably know every note on the solo.]

    Oh, yeah. Pat plays his ass off on here. His choice of drummer on here… I asked him years later. I said, “That drummer on there wasn’t really up to par, Pat.” He said, “Yeah, but the guy was a sweetheart, and I really liked him, and he was my friend, and he was excited to do the date.” But Trudy sounds great on here, so does Pat. I could do without the bongos. But this is 5 stars easy. I haven’t heard it in years, but this is one of those things you just know. This solo Pat takes here influenced generations of guitar players. For me, this is Pat’s best playing. The feeling he played with, and he was bluesy, and he swung hard, and he listened more. I love this period of Pat. And Trudy is playing so great here. Trudy is underrated. She never got the due she should have. That’s Orrin Evans’ godmother. I’d love to have heard this with a great drummer, though. Pat basically played like Wes Montgomery, but with a pick, and a little more percussive and aggressive attack. But this is definitely out of Wes—totally. Grant Green. He’s probably 19 or 20 there. Swinging like crazy. They did a record, Bar Wars, a Willis Jackson record. That’s some shit there. That’s Charlie Earland and Idris. Charlie Earland was very limited, man, but he could swing like crazy. And you know what? Sometimes that’s what you’d rather hear.


Join our Facebook Page

Get in Touch


Jazz Guitar eBooks
How To Get a Jazz Guitar Tone?
Privacy Policy

 

 

Follow us on:

Jazz Guitar Online on FacebookJazz Guitar Online on TwitterJazz Guitar Online on YoutubeJazz Guitar Online RSS Feed