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  1. #1

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    We've all heard the story about Joe Pass and Virtuoso, how they had an electric track and an mic'd track of Joe's ES175, lost the electric, and ended up with the rather unusual acoustic tone of the album. Some say it's impossible, why would Joe Pass play an ES175 acoustically, it must have been his D'Aquisto. Then other say no, ES175s of that vintage had a pretty acceptable acoustic sound.

    Some time ago one of our own, grahambop, did a recording just mic'ing his ES175. That prompted me to try my own version of the experiment.

    This clip is me playing my VOS1959 ES175. One channel is simply direct to the A/D converter. The other is a microphone (SM57) placed near the upper F-hole, running thence to the A/D box. I've kept the tracks panned hard to either side but tried to set the volumes pretty much equal.

    The acoustic side to me actually sounds a bit like the acoustic tracks on Virtuoso, (sonically that is!) so I am pretty satisfied with the ES175+ microphone story. If only I could play like Joe Pass played, however it was recorded!
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

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  3. #2

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    Excellent playing, Lawson. Sounds okay to me.

  4. #3

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    Lawson, I remember that, this is the recording I did. ES175 played fingerstyle and recorded with a mic in front of the guitar, no amp or direct signal. As you say, it gets into similar sonic territory at least.


  5. #4

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    I’m listening on marginal quality earphones so won’t comment on the tone, but your playing has been increasingly fluid over the past few months. Nice!

  6. #5

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    I agree with Rob and Kirk, that’s a nice solo version Lawson.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Lawson, I remember that, this is the recording I did. ES175 played fingerstyle and recorded with a mic in front of the guitar, no amp or direct signal. As you say, it gets into similar sonic territory at least.

    THAT's The ONE! It really inspired me to think more of what my ES175 could do acoustically. You nailed the "Joe Pass" vibe as well. I have really admired this clip for a long time.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP View Post
    I’m listening on marginal quality earphones so won’t comment on the tone, but your playing has been increasingly fluid over the past few months. Nice!
    That's very encouraging. I confess the second chorus was totally unplanned but like Napolean's invasion of Russia, it seemed like the thing to do at the moment. Kinda fun and really improvised, which I suppose is obvious.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    I agree with Rob and Kirk, that’s a nice solo version Lawson.
    Thanks for that. You guys have meant the world to me in my musical growth and progress.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    THAT's The ONE! It really inspired me to think more of what my ES175 could do acoustically. You nailed the "Joe Pass" vibe as well. I have really admired this clip for a long time.
    Thanks Lawson. As I recall this came about because of a thread where everyone was pontificating over whether it was or wasn’t an acoustic 175 on Virtuoso, so I thought why doesn’t someone try it to see what it sounds like? So I did!

    Interesting that you chose Here’s that Rainy Day, oddly enough I think that was the only ‘electric’ track on Virtuoso.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    That's very encouraging. I confess the second chorus was totally unplanned but like Napolean's invasion of Russia, it seemed like the thing to do at the moment. Kinda fun and really improvised, which I suppose is obvious.
    I think your results were much better than Napoleon’s.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Thanks Lawson. As I recall this came about because of a thread where everyone was pontificating over whether it was or wasn’t an acoustic 175 on Virtuoso, so I thought why doesn’t someone try it to see what it sounds like? So I did!

    Interesting that you chose Here’s that Rainy Day, oddly enough I think that was the only ‘electric’ track on Virtuoso.
    So I was reading that thread, via a link from some other thread, listened to your track and thought "Well, that settles that!"

    Then I stumbled into a Facebook argument on this topic on the "Friends of the Archtop Guitar" group in which a guy in a very strident manner declared that Virtuoso HAD to be Joe's D'Aquisto, that no other guitar could possibly produce the complex tone of the Virtuoso acoustic tracks. I countered that the D'Aquisto in question in fact was a laminated body possibly built in a factory, maybe Hagström or Unity, and had a routed pickup and wasn't a full depth archtop. I then said on a forum someone had duplicated the recording process with an ES175 and it worked. He then trashed any interest in forums and said anyone who'd really played a masterpiece like a D'Aquisto would instantly know you can't get an ES175 to sound like that.

    Remembering your effort, I decided to try it for myself.

    I proceeded rather hastily to plug my ES175 1959VOS into the Line6 RelayG10 wireless, which has an XLR output. That went to the digital box. Then I plugged an SM57 into a microphone preamp because the signal from the guitar "raw" was so faint. The preamp gave the mic line a little boost. That went into the digital box, and then it went out via USB to my iPhone Lightning port. At that moment I realized I had not given any thought to what to play. So I played HTRD just to test the set up, since presumably they recorded it the same way, DI+Microphone, but did not lose the DI track. This one maybe is what Joe was striving for? I did it totally to test the set up, including the improvisation at the end. Perhaps I should try to play more without thinking much about audiences. I felt totally comfortable, warts and all, and for me it was a pretty successful track.

    When I listened to it, I really liked it and thought the acoustic track really did get into the neighborhood of the sound on Virtuoso. I also wanted to test the concept people say Joe was using, mixing the direct line and the mic'd line. I think the results were rather pleasing, and I imagine I could EQ it and tweak the mix and come up with something nicer.

    Anyhow, I decided I didn't have time to keep pressing on that Facebook group. The True Prophet had spoken, and I dared not defy him lest he smite me hip and thigh!
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  13. #12

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    I’ve just remembered another acoustic 175 track I did, this was 2 guitars overdubbed, both played with a pick. Basically it’s me wishing I had a manouche guitar and trying to do a poor man’s Django with the 175!


  14. #13

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    I'm enjoying all the contributions to this thread. Great stuff, lads.

  15. #14

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    Hi guys,
    I'm a long time member of the forum but have never posted before . This topic comes up from time to time and I thought I could shed some light on the subject . In the early 70's I ordered a guitar from Jimmy D'Aquisto with what he called the Joe Pass finish . I was moving to L.A. and he suggested I contact Joe to see the New Yorker Excel he had made for him and check out the color . I set up a lesson with Joe at his home in Northridge and he pulled the Excel out of a closet and let me play it . Whether or not he used this instrument on Virtuoso I couldn't say , but he had it at the time the record was made . In a conversation with D'Aquisto after the album came out he told me it was the Excel that Joe used . There are at least two pictures of Joe with this Instrument . One is on the cover of the book Joe Pass guitar solos and the other is the cover of the album Two for the Road with Herb Ellis .
    Attached Images Attached Images Virtuoso Experiment-joe-pass-daquisto-jpg 

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    I'm enjoying all the contributions to this thread. Great stuff, lads.
    Thanks Rob. Your perceptions carry a lot of weight with me.

    Maybe we need a "Here's what my ES175 sounds like recorded with a microphone" thread!
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  17. #16

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    Here's one more effort, using a different microphone, the Bluebird Blue, and no mic pre-amp. Again, I just banged out a tune, in this case, "Misty," with a few clams. Again, pure mic'd acoustic on one track, straight, unmodified Direct in the other channel.

    Which will conclude my experiments in this domain. I'm now fully satisfied that the acoustic sound on Virtuoso is a mic'd vintage ES175, not that I really doubted that before.

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

  18. #17

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    delightful accomplished playing.

  19. #18

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    Nice playing, guys!

    Lawson, your very informative videos are always much appreciated. Thank you!

    Grahambop, once again you have demonstrated the versatility of the venerable ES-175. Thank you!
    Best regards, k

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    Nice playing, guys!

    Lawson, your very informative videos are always much appreciated. Thank you!

    Grahambop, once again you have demonstrated the versatility of the venerable ES-175. Thank you!
    You guys are amazing. You are all talented, fine players who know your music, and yet you are so kind about my efforts. Thanks so much. Of course, you are just encouraging me....
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  21. #20

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    Just remembered one final thing I can contribute, this was done for the practical standards thread. The solo is electric but the comping is acoustic 175. Has to be said the acoustic sound of my 175 is not very loud, so for all these recordings I had to mic it quite close - a few inches away from the lower f-hole as I recall.


  22. #21

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    Very nice playing, Graham, as ever!

  23. #22

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  24. #23

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    Lovely sounds Lawson and great playing. I've been a lover of mixed Direct and acoustic sounds since listening to Anthony Wilson on a Diana Krall tour a few years back. It clearly adds another dimension to the sound dynamic.
    My own 1961 ES175D has a fine acoustic sound that is particularly full and pleasing if I pick above the last frets on the fretboard, but sadly I'm not yet equipped for home recording, otherwise I'd happily post an example. Once I've learned a little more about "how to" I'll try to remember to come back to this thread.
    Thanks again Lawson for sharing