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  1. #1

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    Does anybody know what setup did joe pass use on his album Virtuoso?

    i mean, i just heard the first song, night&day, but i heard it maybe one hundred time in a row: I was unable to go to the second; it was stunning to me.
    ok, he is a virtuoso, everybody knows, but the sound of the guitar, it is fantastic: the guitar looks a gibson es175 but it plays so acoustic and warm together.
    maybe the action...
    maybe the string gauge...
    may be the distance between string and the pickup...
    ...of course his touch...
    but i have to get that sound on my 175.
    could anyone help me?

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  3. #2

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    pretty sure they tried to mic the guitar and send it thru the mixing console, but somthing went wrong so they just used the acoustic tone. Probably a condensor mic.
    Last edited by mr. beaumont; 05-17-2010 at 10:00 AM.

  4. #3

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    You can set up exactly the same, use the same guitar, strings etc, but unless you have the skill of the engineer who recorded it you're not going to get close.

  5. #4

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    I think he used both an ES 175 and his D'Aquisto. I would think Night and Day is the D'A. They sound like flat wound strings.

    If Joe used his ES 175 rather than the D'A then the engineer deserves a lot more credit than he got . It sounds awsome.

  6. #5

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    you guys all really like the tone on that record, eh?

    just not my bag, that's all.

  7. #6

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    hi all,
    thank you for your reply.

    i'm still not convinced that a mic in front of any arch top cuold give that sound;

    about d'aquisto/175, I don't know, I never heard a DA; I only know in the front cover he wears a 175. so I am inclined to think he used that one;

    I agree about the sound engineer skill, but I still believe that, with the right setup, I can get close to that sound

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    you guys all really like the tone on that record, eh?

    just not my bag, that's all.

    For a miked laminate with routed pup's ? Yes. For a solid top acoustic archtop , not so much.

  9. #8

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    I remember reading that Joe played a Fender Jazzmaster for awhile. I don't know if it was when he did these albums.

    Could it be he didn't use the "175" on this abllum.

    Just a thought.

  10. #9

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    This blending of acoustic and electric signal has been something I've very into lately. I recently purchased a condensor mic and have been experimenting-- Nothing I want to post yet ( a few good takes marred by a barking dog, for instance, but hey, that's home recording!) but I feel like I'm getting closer to the "sound I hear in my head."

    Anybody else experiment with this? what kind of mic positions have you had luck with?

  11. #10

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    Interesting.
    I've always absolutely hated Joe's tone on this album - with the exception of a couple of tunes where he plugs in - so I had to get it out and take a second listen to this tune in particular.

    This tune isn't half bad at all actually - though it is quite a bit noisy once he gets going about a minute in.

    I'm going to guess that this is two condensers.

    The playing's great but tonewise though...not even close to Martin Taylor, Jimmy Bruno or Mimi Fox or...pretty much anything recorded in recent years.

    I'm doing the same experimenting as you Mr Beaumont and also getting close. I'm using a stereo condenser on the body and then the pickup to a DI box mixed in with the two signals from the stereo mic. The DI box is mixed to fill in some of the low-end and give a bit of sustain to the lower notes. Haven't done anything super serious yet, but I think that's more or less the formula Taylor and Bruno are using.

  12. #11

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    Yes but wasn't it recorded in 1974 or so? 30 plus years ago? By todays standards the recording quality leaves a lot to be desired.

    But when you think about it, at least to me, he's getting a pretty good acoustic tone out of a routed , laminate guitar. I don't think it's as good as Jimmy Bruno's sound on his Benedetto carved top box but then again we're not talking the about the same thing.( Carved vs laminate vs recording techniques of the 70's vs the 90's.)

    I "grew up" on the Virtuoso album. It was the album that changed my musical direction and convinced me to spend more time on chords and chord soloing. I was 17 or so when I first heard it. Maybe I have a special affinity for it.

  13. #12

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    but if you listen to Here's That Rainy Day on the same album it compares much more favorably to stuff being done today. THAT tone is never going to go out of style.

  14. #13

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    Here's that rainy day is definitely an electric tone--either all electric or blended heavy on the electric signal. Probably one of Joe's better recorded tones, actually!

    As for the rest of the album, I don't think it had anything to do with technology being available, maybe just the available technology not working (or human error)-- to me, it sounds like an unamplified archtop, and not a high end acoustic archtop, more like a guitar that's usually played plugged in being played unplugged.

  15. #14

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    ok
    you all are great and almost every reply has been very helpful to me.

    and,
    these morning I've tryed to record my 175 unplugged with a simple zoom h2 digital recorder (I suppose it has two condensed mics) and it sounds really very close to joe's N&D tone (thank you mr. beaumont).
    See the attached file.
    (ok, that's not joe pass and not even one of his most distant cousins....)

    but, I see too hard to be able to use that sound in a club.

    some of you wrote about a condensed mic and a D.I. box whose signal could be mixed with the pick-up signal: would you mind give further details?
    ...or links to visit...

    ok, today are available a lot of solutions for a better tones, more modern tones, but I still like that one: it sounds vintage to me.

    the electric tone on that album (Here's That Rainy Day), to me is the classical tone anyone can achieve with any ss amp and a 175.

    Actually I'm playing in a duo situation with a singer and I'm trying to play in that way and with that tone. I also tried to use a selmer-style guitar (a dupont nomade oval-hole) but it is too much acoustic...

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by gianluca

    some of you wrote about a condensed mic and a D.I. box whose signal could be mixed with the pick-up signal: would you mind give further details?
    Listen to My Romance (solo guitar) on my page. The technique sounds a little like this.

    SoundClick artist: Peter Kossits - page with MP3 music downloads

    You have to be able to mix the sound from your pickup with the sound from your microphones. Since you're using a Zoom, you have to figure out a way to get your pickup into the Zoom. I know that the Zoom accepts external microphones, so one way is to get a DI Box...something like this...

    BEHRINGER: DI100

    Guitar goes in, microphone cord comes out and into your Zoom.

    Now you have to figure out how much of each sound you want. On archtops, the DI box is very useful to get more body out of the bass notes which tend to die very quickly when playing acoustically.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dookychase
    I remember reading that Joe played a Fender Jazzmaster for awhile. I don't know if it was when he did these albums.

    Could it be he didn't use the "175" on this abllum.

    Just a thought.
    I believe he used a Jazzmaster during his days at Synanon, at least ten years before Virtuoso was recorded. I think he was using a 175 not long after leaving there.
    Brad

  18. #17

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    Hi, I have a question about using the guitars for his Virtuoso series.

    The pictures of the LP albums show that Gibson ES175D was used on albums, Virtuoso, Virtuoso #2, and D'Aquisto for Virtuoso #3, Virtuoso #4.

    Do these pictures provide the exact gear information for these albums?
    Last edited by jzcafe; 03-07-2014 at 04:08 AM.

  19. #18

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    The story I have heard is that the Virtuoso recordings were all made at one session in 1973 and released over time by Pablo Records. Joe had the ES-175 at that time, which he had received as a gift from a fan named Mike Peak who had heard Joe playing the solidbody guitar that belonged to Synanon. Joe did not own a guitar of his own at this point in his life. The D'Aquisto came later. Reportedly his amp malfunctioned and he just played on and the tape rolled. You'd think a studio would have amps available, though, so I don't know how much credence to give this story.

    Some of Joe's acoustic studio performances were played on a 1942 Epiphone Deluxe owned by John Pisano (it originally belonged to Pisano's father), according to an interview with Pisano that is on YouTube somewhere. I don't think any of those are on the Virtuoso recordings but are on some of the group recordings with Pisano.

    it doesn't seem to my ears that Joe was that finicky about tone, but I certainly could be wrong on that. In the latter part of his career he didn't travel with an amp and used a DI into the FOH system. On the various videos, I think his tone is best when he has an amp. The custom Gibson he had at the end of his career gave him the best sound he ever had, IMHO.

  20. #19

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    A friend of mine gave me that record in 1980 or so. I pretty much wore it out. I would say that that record has been my main inspiration for playing guitar, especially fingerstyle. I know I'll never play like him, but his style is so direct and approachable, it makes you want to pick up a guitar and play. Whereas with other greats like Al Dimeola and Pat Metheny, I think, whew, I might as well give up now.

    I have read a bunch of stuff on these recordings, and I still wonder if he is playing one or several guitars during these sessions. I find the story about the recording "screwup" pretty unbelievable. It's hard for me to believe he would not have access to many fine guitars during these recordings, as well as professional standards of recording. The producer for Virtuoso was Norman Granz, and the engineer was Dennis Sands, who has quite a pedigree and is still active.

    http://www.discogs.com/artist/377527-Dennis-Sands

    And while the recording technology of 40 years ago was in some ways "primitive" compared to today, the final results was anything but. Listen to Kind of Blue, any of Norman Granz productions or Rudy van Gelder's engineerings from the 60's and 70's (especially John Coltrane). They are impeccable and in my opinion unequalled for ambiance and sound architecture.

    There are only 2 explanations for the sound on Virtuoso--one was that that was exactly the sound that Joe wanted. The other is that that is the sound the engineer came up with based on the instrument and setup they had for each session, and Joe was content to live with it because he wasn't that particular about his sound.

  21. #20

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    In interviews Joe has said that he left the selection of performances, song order, etc., up to others. He found it too hard to listen to the playback because he'd hear the things he could have played.

  22. #21

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    I think he used the Epi on the acoustic tracks.
    The tone is so warm, it sounds like an acoustic archtop IMO.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by fritz jones
    I think he used the Epi on the acoustic tracks.
    The tone is so warm, it sounds like an acoustic archtop IMO.
    his would have been recorded long before Joe's association with Epiphone.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    his would have been recorded long before Joe's association with Epiphone.
    I think he was referring to the '42 Epi of John Pisano's, but I doubt that as Pisano wasn't on the recording. I haven't listened to that CD in a few years and my recollection is that the non-amplified-sounding songs don't sound anything remotely like "warm." I'll have to dig it up and listen again.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    his would have been recorded long before Joe's association with Epiphone.
    I think the poster meant the 1942 Epiphone Deluxe. I think that Joe and probably a lot of old jazzers--think of Charlie Parker playing loaned saxes, even plastic ones on occasion--were not gearheads like we are. Nevertheless, like a good carpenter, I think they would use the best tool available for a job. If Joe had access to a good acoustic guitar like the Epiphone I don't know why he would use a laminated guitar, even if the 175 sounds pretty nice unamplified.

    We really need a good biography on Joe with an appendix on his gear. There must be some notes about the Virtuoso recordings around in some file cabinet somewhere.

  26. #25

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    I think I read somewhere that he used an Epi deluxe on Virtuoso.

    How could an ES 175 sound like that mic'd, without the pickups rattling?

  27. #26

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    I have a vague recollection that someone re-amped some of the tracks and put them through an amp simulator at some point but I could be completely wrong. It would be interesting if it was possible!

  28. #27

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    I think I probably did imagine it, wishful thinking!

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foulds Jazz Guitars
    I have a vague recollection that someone re-amped some of the tracks and put them through an amp simulator at some point but I could be completely wrong. It would be interesting if it was possible!
    Not a bad Idea though! Pretty easy to do...

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by fritz jones
    I think I read somewhere that he used an Epi deluxe on Virtuoso.

    How could an ES 175 sound like that mic'd, without the pickups rattling?

    Not all pickups rattle. To my ears the only song on Virtuoso that has good tone is "Here's That Rainy Day." The rest are thin and scratchy to me. Great playing, awful tone. Depends on what you like to hear, I guess, and everyone's taste is different. Joe's tone on For Django and some of the ca. 1992 videos with his custom Gibson sound great to my ears.

    Here's a post from another thread about this topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    The story I've heard goes that the producer wanted only one take on a song to get that 'fresh' improvised approach. And if you didn't like the take you'd just choose a different song to add to the album. All the songs were done in one take.


    The second part of the story is the engineer screwed up. On all but one song, he didn't record the channel with the amp mic, he only recorded the channel with the mic on the guitar. So the tone on all but one of those songs was not the tone Joe Pass was after. The only song recorded correctly blending both mics was 'Here's that Rainy Day'.


    Compare the sound of 'Here's that Rainy Day' to the rest of the tracks, the difference is dramatic

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by fritz jones
    How could an ES 175 sound like that mic'd, without the pickups rattling?

    Check out the LP cover - looks like he tied a strap round the whole guitar and the pickup!

    Joe Pass Virtuoso Guitar Setup-joe-pass-virtuoso-lp-record-541244-jpg

  32. #31

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    maybe that's how they controlled the pickup rattle.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by billkath
    You can set up exactly the same, use the same guitar, strings etc, but unless you have the skill of the engineer who recorded it you're not going to get close.
    Or the same Hands.... Joe’s ?

    Recording quality was Great in 1973, amazing microphones, preamps, and great Ampex tape machines.

    I interviewed Joe in 1991, and changed his guitar strings, D’Adarrio 13 flats iirc, i’ve still got ‘em somewhere, along with his half smoked cigar... DNA anyone?

    But it never occurred to me to ask him about the particulars of that recording. I just assumed it was his 175 unplugged and miked, and/or direct through a good direct box, with his flatwound D’Adarrios. But the acoustic tone of the guitar is so rich and full, it almost defies a 175.

    The tape recorder & Mastering of the LP could have also affected to tone, a great organic EQ like a Pultec, with Fairchild compressor, and a reverb plate or chamber.

    I’ll try to listen to it in the studio one day and give a better opinon.

    There are a variety of tones on the record, some acoustic, some electric, and some mixed.

    Cheers, JT

  34. #33

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    We had a big discussion about this a few years ago, and as an experiment I recorded my 175 acoustically, playing fingerstyle, to see what it sounded like:

    Last edited by grahambop; 02-27-2020 at 09:03 AM.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    We had a big discussion about this a few years ago, and as an experiment I recorded my 175 acoustically, playing fingerstyle, to see what it sounded like:

    Great playing—the spirit of Joe lives on!

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Great playing—the spirit of Joe lives on!
    I cannot compare myself to Joe, but thank you for the compliment!

    If nothing else, I think the sound I got was reasonably similar, supports the idea that his 175 was unplugged and miked on most of those tracks.
    Last edited by grahambop; 02-27-2020 at 12:29 PM.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    I cannot compare myself to Joe, but thank you for the compliment!

    If nothing else, I think the sound I got was reasonably similar, supports the idea that his 175 was unplugged and miked on most of those tracks.
    Your recording reminds us of why the Virtuoso album is so great--its transparency. The unadorned production lets the artistry of the musician through more than any more processed effort.

    I know it was produced by Norman Granz. I'm not sure who engineered it. Of course there's always the debate about whether the lack of amplification was deliberate or not. One would like to think it was.

  38. #37

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    My CD copy says the engineer was Dennis Sands.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    My CD copy says the engineer was Dennis Sands.
    That's interesting. I believe this is the same Dennis Sands who is LEGENDARY in the film industry as a sound and music engineer. He's done so many soundtracks, it's not even funny. (Avengers, Dumbo, Roger Rabbit, Erin Brockovich, Men in Black, etc., etc.)

    The Allmusic site shows that Virtuoso was apparently his first major artist engineering job. Talk about hitting a home run...worked for Joe, as well.

    Dennis Sands | Credits | AllMusic

  40. #39

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    Hitting a homerun? In terms of the quality of the guitar sound, which is what the engineer's job would have been to do, this is one of the most roundly criticized recording sessions in the history of jazz guitar.

    While there are certainly some people who like the sound of this album, they seem to be in the minority. I find it practically unlistenable despite the brilliance of the playing.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    We had a big discussion about this a few years ago, and as an experiment I recorded my 175 acoustically, playing fingerstyle, to see what it sounded like:

    Very nice Grahambop..............true to the source and for just what you did pretty convincing argument that sometimes it does not take a big budget to get the sound.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Hitting a homerun? In terms of the quality of the guitar sound, which is what the engineer's job would have been to do, this is one of the most roundly criticized recording sessions in the history of jazz guitar.

    While there are certainly some people who like the sound of this album, they seem to be in the minority. I find it practically unlistenable despite the brilliance of the playing.
    I must admit I am not all that keen on the sound. The acoustic sound of the 175 even in Joe’s hands gets a bit thin and scratchy-sounding after a while. There is one electric track on Virtuoso (Here’s That Rainy Day) which sounds great, I sometimes wish the whole album had been recorded like that:


  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Very nice Grahambop..............true to the source and for just what you did pretty convincing argument that sometimes it does not take a big budget to get the sound.
    Thanks! I just used a budget recorder (Korg) with built-in mic and placed it a few inches from the guitar.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Hitting a homerun? In terms of the quality of the guitar sound, which is what the engineer's job would have been to do, this is one of the most roundly criticized recording sessions in the history of jazz guitar.

    While there are certainly some people who like the sound of this album, they seem to be in the minority. I find it practically unlistenable despite the brilliance of the playing.
    Well I wasn’t commenting specifically about the quality of the recording, though I’m not as annoyed by it as most people, but about the fact that it IS a legendary album that catapulted Joe from the back of the pack to the front of jazz instrumentalists. And apparently gave Dennis Sands’ career a boost as well.

    I’m sure you all have your own stories about encountering it. I had someone staying in my room for a few weeks when I was in college around 1982, and he left behind a box with about a dozen records. One of them was Virtuoso. I recorded most of the records on cassette, and proceeded to listen to Virtuoso nonstop. For me it was a revelation that so much sound could come out of one person on guitar.

    About that time I acquired an ES-175 and started taking lessons primarily in fingerstyle/chord melody. I learned a lot, and not surprisingly realized that I was never going to come close to Joe’s facility on guitar. In fact I got so frustrated I almost stopped playing, and eventually sold that guitar. But I never gave it up completely, and went back to jazz guitar in the 90’s.

    Joe’s music has been a touchstone and inspiration. IMO, because of the unadorned production the music is accessible in a way that more typical jazz records (at least the ones that feature jaw-dropping technique) aren’t. JMO of course.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    We had a big discussion about this a few years ago, and as an experiment I recorded my 175 acoustically, playing fingerstyle, to see what it sounded like:

    Hi, G,
    Nice playing. Maple, as a tonewood, has a bright, clear sound. When it is in a laminate construction as your E175, it maintains its clarity but looses sustain when played acoustically. This is especially noticeable in your audio when playing the first two strings in the upper register. Clear and bright but lacking significant sustain. This IS NOT a criticism but an observation that for my ears could be easily rectified by amplifying the guitar and tweaking tone controls(not your experiment). In my Classical playing, I play exclusively cedar top guitars since I like a more rounded sound when playing trebles however, many Classical guitarists prefer Spruce which is much closer to the clear, bright sound produced by Maple. When I play my '66 Gibson ES125 TC ,which has a Maple top, I do my warm up exercises acoustically to set the natural tone base in my head and then amplify and tweak accordingly when playing pieces since my ears prefer a more rounded rather than a crisp, edgy sound. The advantage of an EG over a CG is that tone is set by the player; in CG, tone is set by the instrument. Thanks for the post. Good playing . . . Marinero
    Last edited by Marinero; 03-01-2020 at 08:39 PM. Reason: error

  46. #45

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    Thanks, yes it’s not my favourite sound from a 175!

  47. #46

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    Jake's approach here is channeling the spirit of Joe's playing on this classic record.


  48. #47

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    "When I play my '66 Gibson ES125 TC ,which has a Spruce top"

    ? They don't have spruce tops, they're laminated maple.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyV
    Jake's approach here is channeling the spirit of Joe's playing on this classic record.

    You known Jake never post in the gear section, he is not particularly someone who always come to mind.............but let me tell you. Jake sits down and just plays a whole boat load of guitar. jazz guitar, and music in general and does it well. I wish I could be so disciplined but it would help to have his talent and ear.

    GO JAKE GO

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    "When I play my '66 Gibson ES125 TC ,which has a Spruce top"

    ? They don't have spruce tops, they're laminated maple.
    Thanks, W,
    I should have caught that error. I think I had Spruce on the brain! I've made the correction on my post. Good playing . . . Marinero
    Last edited by Marinero; 03-01-2020 at 08:57 PM. Reason: addition

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    I cannot compare myself to Joe, but thank you for the compliment!

    If nothing else, I think the sound I got was reasonably similar, supports the idea that his 175 was unplugged and miked on most of those tracks.
    I thought the playing was excellent! Also the tone was spot on. I have been listening to Virtuoso quite a bit lately and I would say you nailed his tone, and pretty much put to rest the fact that he really did play his 175 unplugged and miked. Well done!