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Tommy Shaw - Help me dissect this guitar sound

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by DonnyThompson, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Not really a fan of the song overall, but I like the guitar tones that Tommy Shaw got on this track, specifically at @ 4:21 into the vid.

    To me, it sounds something like a JCM 800, in a fairly reflective room with mics both direct and ambient.

  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Marshalls. Search here fwiw shows: http://www.uberproaudio.com/who-plays-what/567-styx-tommy-shaw-guitar-rig-gear-and-equipment

    Cool guy. Seems real natural and humble. Not much on your OP but still fun to watch. Probably a Gibson and a for all we know... some small amp.
    imho, Sound seems pretty 70's generic to me but who knows. Chunky bottom end and a good axe.



  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    With a wall of speakers like that, I'm guessing the sound is reaching the croud. I wander if they put a delay on them to avoid phase issue with the FOH.. ;)
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I actually have one of those Mesa cabs they have mega low end.

    The op sounds like a les Paul / 800. Possibly a fender amp?
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Great links and vids, Chris. Thanks for posting those.

    My suspicion is that for the song I posted, he used a Les Paul, a Marshall ( sure sounds like a JCM 800 to me) in a room where they took advantage of the ambiance instead of trying to cut back on the reflections.

    Thanks guys... I'm working on a track right now where I was thinking about getting that type of guitar sound. I don't have my JCM anymore, these days my amp is a Fender HR DeVille ( 4x10) which can certainly do it's fair share of screaming distortion too, but I also don't have a Les Paul anymore, either, and I don't think my Tele is gonna cut it when it comes to that crunch - although I do have an Oscar Schmidt Delta King 335 knock-off, with Seymour Duncan humbuckers, that might do the trick...

    I need a Les Paul. I always thought that Paul's were a right bitch to play live because of their weight, but tonally, IMO, they are unmatched if you want "that" sound. I just wish they weren't the price of a second mortgage. ;)
    kmetal likes this.
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    You can't fake the 10lbs of timber on those things. The 500t ceramic pickups, which I belive were one of the first humbuckers designed, scream!! They come,stock les Paul classic, which has a slim neck. Killer guitars.
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I've got an Epiphone LesPaul Custom on which I replaced the pickups with original Gibson pickups. It's a bit less heavy but the sound is pretty close for a third of the price. :)
    You could have all the same rig and still not sound the same Donny. Those guys often had modified amps and guitars which became accidental success...
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I played a 76 LP Custom for 20 years and my back is permanently effected. Heavy pigs indeed, but nothing like a Lea Paul Custom :)

    Well, i have a PRS now and prefer it. My point is
    Humbuckers are a big part of the sound too so if you dont have access to a LP, ...
    There are a lot of options.
    I very much dislike Fender amps for the big 70,s sound.
    Those would be the last amp i would choose for this sound. They are too glassy inho.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Just for the heck of it,

    When I am playing leads, I love Humbuckers, when I am palming low end chunks and power chords, I much prefer single coil and/or a blend that keeps the bridge side warmer, neck side brighter/ not boomy. My Custom was modified in 77. A lot of guys were using a phase reversal switch (Dire Straights sound) to sweep the freq using the volume controls between the coils to get the right tone between the two pickups. Thus, warm highs, thinner lows (nasally). That way we could also add more bass on the amp side too. When you added distortion, it sounded like this.

    Les Pauls can aggressively go into the bass freq range which can produce terrible mixes. Back in the day, kick drums didn't have the same sub/ up-front sound like today. If I was going for that 70's sound, I personally would be leaving the flabby kick behind and going for a more modern kick and bass that has balls to it. Which, I wouldn't be looking for a big boomy Les Paul bottom end then. The Les Paul sound I love is more to do with the big overdriven sound and warm top end leads.

    Also some personal tips of mine, I starting using a Morley volume/ wah in 78. To this day, I've never played a gig without one. I rarely use the "wah" as we know it, I however, use the Morley (specifically Morley opto light cell :love:) filter to control the freqs for leads and power chords (tooby warm highs and tight lows). It replaced the phase switch I mentioned above.

    My next guitar effect purchase will be a stomp box like the Pod or Rolands, bigger stomp box (don't remember the names). Those sound better to me than the good old days .

    BTW, I put the Morley via the effect loop so I can drive the amp full on regardless of the freq i am modulating. Sounds awesome on most amps except Fenders. I don't know what it is about Fenders but I never liked them for Rock. Blues'y SRV, Country, ya but for big rock sound, too glassy. Any one else feel that way? Is it the EQ that are so terrible?
    (Just adding... Pultecs MEQ5 are. to die for).

    I'm Thinking Marshall, Hiwatt, Boogie, Peavey would all suffice for me. Hell, I might even use a Pignose,Boss Distortion box of some kind and a Ribbon/57 combo.
    kmetal likes this.
  11. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    It sounds like a Tele to me. Lots of twang compared to a Les Paul.

    <--- Take a look at my avatar. That Les Paul Custom is an Epiphone and it weighs as much as a sofa. It sounds bigger than all outdoors. My Tele sounds much more like the OP's track he posted.

    @audiokid: You ain't kiddin' Fender amps are to glassy for rock. Country music sparkles. Rock don't sparkle. Rock scowls and growls.
    pcrecord likes this.
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Hmmm.. I dunno John... I've been a Tele player for a long time myself ( notice my avatar) and I don't think I could get that sound out of it, Marshall amp or not. I still think it was a guitar with humbuckers... but yeah, I could be wrong.

    LOL.. Paging Tommy Shaw....
    JohnTodd likes this.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Excerpts from a July 1981 interview in Guitar Player Magazine:

    GP: What types of guitars do you like using?
    Tommy: I've always stuck with Gibsons. I've had Guilds and Fenders, too, but I always wind up going back to Gibsons.

    GP: Do you prefer a straight guitar sound, or one layered with effects?
    Tommy: The only things I have are a Cry Baby wah-wah and a copy of JY's preamp, the Yoshinarator. I use the latter only for leads, and I run my guitar through a Mesa/Boogie amp and a Hiwatt cabinet.

    GP: Do you like miking amps or going direct in the studio?
    Tommy: The only time I've ever done a direct electric guitar was on "Castle Walls" [The Grand Illusion]. The kind of jazzy guitar on the end of the song I played direct with my Les Paul.

    GP: Occasionally, false harmonics crop up in your tunes...
    Tommy: Well, that's partially intentional and partially accidental. The worst thing that I do--and while I know it's responsible for the way my playing sounds, it's still a technical mistake--is I wind up resting my hand in a kind of cup shape on the bridge. A lot of times I do that to get the harmonic effect off the joint of my thumb. While picking, you get the guitar to sing a little bit with the flesh, creating harmonics. I always call it the "Billy Gibbons effect."

    Source: http://www.racerrecords.com/Styx/GPIntTS.html


    pcrecord and JohnTodd like this.
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I use one of these....most of the time....If I can't get what I want with one of em then I hire it out.....

    Attached Files:

  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    a Les Paul can sound thin and twangy ... look to Roy Nichols (Merle Haggards guitar player). he did play Fenders too but for a long time and on a lot of the hits Merle had, it was a Les Paul. as far as Fender amps, well ask the Beatles or CSN among a ton of others .... Fenders Rock.

    audiokid likes this.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    There's two guitars when that comes back in. I can definitely get that sound with my Paul through a Marshall or a VHT. There could be a Fender in there somewhere....mostly a big natural sound double tracked or two players and a nice big tracking room. Paragon in Chicago. Trident A range. Large sonics
  17. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    It sounds too glassy to be a Paul. Gotta be a Tele.

    Page used a Tele a lot. People think he was an LP player, but he used both as needed. Gilmour used an LP on ABITW part 2.

    Ya'll wanna fight about it? RAWR!

    j/k! Gotta love the internet.

    Could be running two amps at once, one heavy and distorted, another lighter and a bit cleaner for definition. Gives a very wide spectrum not often heard back then. We do it all the time now with our 400 track recordings, but back then, IDK if they could spare the tracks.
  18. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    So, has the mystery been solved?
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I thought you had it all figured out.
    JohnTodd likes this.
  20. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I do, but, well, ahem, gotta let others play.

    j/k! I'm really curious to the final on this. I've never heard an LP sound like this. I would be very interested in a sound like that from an LP.

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