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Roy Nichols/ Merle Haggard question for Kurt Treena & ot

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Big_D, May 21, 2005.

  1. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    I posed this question to you both because of your knowledge of the Bakersfield sound but input from anyone is always welcome.

    I became a fan of Merle Hagard in the late 70's after hearing a song he wrote for Lynyrd Skynyrd called "Honky Tonk Nightime Man". In it Steve Gains plays some amazing solos that sound just like Roy Nichols. I love Roys playing and Steves also which leads me to this, I would love to add this type of sound to several compositions I'm working on but have hit a brick wall. Here's why.

    I realize most of the "sound" comes from the hands. After listening to Roy and reading about his technique I have learned that he would bend a note then pick it then release. Not easy to do but I'm learning along with some other tricks he employed.

    My real problem (believe it or not) is amp and guitar settings. I'm playing a Strat through a Super Reverb and have also tried a Tele. Try as I may I can't get a sound that even closley resembles Country let alone Roy.

    If someone could give me some pointers on pickup position and some starting points for Bass, Mid and Treble amp settings it would be greatly appreciated because I'm Lost.

    TIA for any help you can give me.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Roy played a Les Paul much of the time ...

    An old Tele throrough an old Fender Bassman would help also.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    While I do not doubt the authenticity of Roy Nichols playing a Les Paul....all guitarists of this level have/had many guitars to choose from....The fact remains that he as well as three others,namely Roy Buchannan,James Burton, and Don Rich will be forever linked to their main axe, the Fender Telecaster.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I have seen Roy on 3 different ocassions with Merle, one time I even got on the players bus and shook hands with all of "The Strangers" .... all 3 times I saw them, he played a red sunburst Les Paul.

    Merle plays the Tele and a lot of those "tele-licks" that are attributed to Roy are actually Merle ... he's has always been a great lead player.

    The guy that plays lead for Merle now, Red Volkert, plays Tele most the time. I have met him as well ... in fact he used to play the same club circut as I did in San Jose ... That guy can play ... but he's very LOUD!
  5. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Hey Kurt, thats cooool! Did Roy's red 'Paul have a single coil bridge pickup (or maybe split coil switch) to go with its ebony and mahogany?

    One thing I know is, I can get a great country sound out of my ebony/mahogany 24 3/4" scale axe, because I have a Joe Barden two/tone bridge pup that sounds very single coil-ish when split....and the other thing is, I play it as if I were playin my Tele.

    Big_D, I think you should think: fingers>single coil pup> Fender 6L6 amp or similar> treble 7, mid 4, bass 6, bright switch on. Accent in between the one two three four beat to go with the country bass line, ya know? boom-boom, boom-boom ect. Keep that in your head, and no matter what it will come out Country. Ghost notes and fast pick'in too if you want.

    Edit: also try up strumming as much as possible between downbeats . Keep it in mind with the lead picking too...
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    No it was a Les Paul Standard I think .... it may have been a Deluxe with the smaller pickups, but I don't think so ... I would have remembered that, as I used to have a Deluxe.

    Another thing I recall ... in later years a lot of the band used Peavey amps on the road ... I'm not sure what they recorded with.

    I want to thank Treena's Uncle, Jack Trent, for turning me on to Merle and introducing us to him. Jack played piano for Merle, Buck, Ferlin Huskey, Tommy Collins, just to name a few.

    Jack is getting on in years now and has been sick a couple of times in the past few months. I just want to say here that we love him very much and are thankful for all he has taught us.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I met Jack in Bakersfield many years back.It was at Merles house. I used to play with another Bakersfield phenom, Michael John Claughton which is how I was able to meet these folks. Yes I have seen Roy play a Les Paul,and it was,in fact a Cherry Sunburst Standard..but as I said before and most of the history's that abound always talk of his use of the Telecaster.Whether it was Merle or Roy playing those licks is not in my field of knowledge. I did several shows with Roy Clark(who does NOT play a Tele) and Buck Trent was on all those bills.He had a bunch of the 'Bakersfield Sound' guys with him each time. So I am familiar with that form of country to some extent.
  8. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, thanks for all the history. I'm a late bloomer when it comes to country (been playing rock and blues most of my life). It was Steve Gains (an Okie) who turned me on to all the country pickers just from hearing his licks. I had to find out who his influences were and that led me to most of the guys you named. I would have loved to have met both Roy N. and Roy B. Very Cool.

    Tommy, Thanks for the advice, that did the trick. Not enough treble and too much mid was my problem. I EQed the super reverb like you said kicked in the bright switch and it sounds great on tape. My maple neck strat sounds more convincing for this also as my other strat is rosewood and tuned down a half step (for SRV stuff) so it was a little too dark.

    I can dial up a great blues or rock tone in no time but country had always eluded me. Not anymore. Thanks so much Tommy, you da man.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Is that the same "Michael John" of "Michael John and Kimbelee"?

    They are old friends of mine as well .... and were partially responsible for helping our band get out of Oregon and land a house band spot at the famous "Saddle Rack" (The largest nightclub West of the Missippi) venue in San Jose CA .... and the Buck Trent that you mentioned ... also Treena's uncle ... and Jack's brother. Jacks son and Treena's cousin, Johnny Trent, still visits my house ocasionally and sit in on the drums for us.

    I am hoping to get a chance to record Jack on the piano soon before it's too late.
  10. Treena Foster

    Treena Foster Active Member



    Try the links I suggested, they have everything you are looking for!

    I was born in Bakersfield, grew up there, Family knows Merle and Buck. My uncle played piano for them both.

    I can invite Roy to chat here with us. I have his email and I'm sure he can set the record straight on what guitar he used the most!

    I'll see what I can arrange, at least a post from him or an email will settle this debate.

    :wink: Treena
  11. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Oh, I love this stuff. 8)

    Great post Treena.

    Gypsy jazz, Reinhardt, improvisation, right brain-left hand

    ...its all good.

    That would be wonderful Treena. My guess is that Roy played both a Tele and a 'Paul, and played the 'Paul as if it were a Tele.
  12. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Me too Big_D, I'm relatively new to Country myself. I'm an admitted pop-culture lover, three minute songs, rock based, blah blah, there, I've said it. :oops:

    Past three years I've been swimmin around in freestyle improv, lovin bluegrass, country, jazz, transposing piano, harpsichord...just about anything. And I avoid the overly cliche blues trap ...if someone starts in, I go far away. Chordal tones and tasty fills whenever possible.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Small world aint it. Yes, that would be Michael John and Kimberlee. I was a "Fancy Color' for about a year in late 79 early 80...around the time that Michael Kelsay had his store in Springfield(home of the Simpsons)...I got the gig through meeting M.J. at the store. We worked in Nevada a lot.Visited Merles house once(while I was there).Kimberlee joined the band right after I did ...She came from Hawaii..and we had a drummer out of Burns Oregon, Ted Tiller...It was a country show band, but on slow nights, Michael John would get out all the Merle and off we'd go.I loved it. But then I'm an Okie.

    BTW...It would be wonderful for Roy to visit but rather hard as I believe he died in 2001.But if you can get him then please do!
  14. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    :) Well, the way he's been hangin around this thread...I hear bells, don't you?
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    :D :!: CAN I GET A WITNESS?? :!: :!:

    Those arent bells T, thems those pull-downs and hammerons he made so famous!!!On that blasted Tele!!! lolol
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Since we're heading this way anyhoo, theres been three extremely influential schools of Country picking that werent Nashville oriented.

    1. The Bakersfield Sound.....primarily started by folks who moved there during the dustbowl...making them Okies!

    2.The Austin Sound.....Southernbound Okies fer sure. :roll:

    3. The Tulsa Shuffle.....This would include Western Swing stuff and includes the GREATEST GUITAR PLAYER EVER......Eldon Shamblin......Oh! My! Gawd! Its Okies again!

    No wonder theres so many on top the country charts .
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    OK I found exactly what you asked about Big D. This is from an interview with Roy Nichols .... the question was,

    " How did you get such a thick yet still clear tone?"


    One thing that can be said for the Country Music charts is it is the last stronghold for real musicians.

    This is not to say that midi, sampeling, pitch correction and time correction hasn't taken its toll in Music City, but still for the most part, there are more real musicians, playing more real music in the Country market, than anywhere else currently, excepting Blues.

    I think that's why we are seeing all the old rockers migrating to the Country side, just like those Okies in the 30's .... it's Americas Music.
  18. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    I hear you, funny thing both are the roots of Rock. If it wasn't for Jimmy Rodgers and Robert Johnson rock may have never evolved. With the early rock and roll guys it was easy to tell which side of the fence they came from, Buddy Holly/Country, Chuck Berry/Blues and Elvis a good mixture of both I guess growing up white and poor in the south he was exposed to both. Even into the late 70's you could still figure out a bands roots by their music, Eagles/Country, Zepplin/Blues and Skynyrd/Both (there's that white and poor in the south theory again).

    I think one of the main reasons that technology hasn't affected Country and Blues artists as much is that they tend to stay true to their art. Tain't broke don't fix it. Thank God these guys (and gals) haven't caved. Besides Jazz and Classical they are the last bastions of real music and I love every note of it.

    Hey Dave since your an Okie I was wondering if you ever saw Gaines in one of his pre Skynyrd bands (Crawdad or The Ravens)? I'm a huge fan of his (as if you couldn't tell) , he was such an amazing player, one of my fav's along with SRV and Billie Gibbons.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Little Stevie Gaines from Miami Oklahoma! Yep saw the Ravens a couple of times. Everybody in my band hated them! Except me..I kept thinkin, "That giter player is shore nuff a good'n"....Holy Christmas they were loud! I think Cassie was at a couple of those shows too....but thats sooooo longggg agoooooo(echoechoecho........)

    If you want a bit more insight into Stevies style then get you some Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys stuff.Listen to THAT guitar player.Even in advanced years he could play great!...The Tractors ...he was on both records before he passed.

    I remember all the Rockers going down to Cains Ballroom on Sunday afternoons to hear the Western Swing played by all the old greats. And those cats were just so out there as far as tone,style ,taste,structure,ALL of it.Eldon sat in his chair with that old Strat and that old Fender Bassman(tweed) and would just blow stuff that gave ya shivers and made ya want to either quit the instrument or start raising the bar on your own playing. Check it out...Its really quite amazing stuff.
    And lets not forget Don Rich's contribution to country-fied pickin and a grinnin...Buck wasnt the same after Don was killed.

    Find an old Jerry Reed record. That guy could go with the best of em..and was definately influenced by the Bakersfield pickin.
    Then you get those English cats who dug that stuff.Albert Lee.Played like his hair was on fire...spoke like a perfect English gent.

    And dont even get me started on the Reverend Gibbons.I've been a couple of feet from the Marshall whilst he'd be tweeking Pearly into some sort of blues riff.That stuff will make ya wanta be a blind man just to enjoy it more.
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Cool thread all, this is why I love RO.

    Treena, that would be awesome if possible! If so, I'll publish his ETA so we have a exciting turnout.


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