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The Rockabilly Guitar Page

 
The Rockabilly Guitar Page
Vince Gordon's tips on Rockabilly guitar
Amps & Effects - Guitars - Pickups - Fingerboard - Strings - The guitars I use(d)...
Vince Gordon is the lead guitarist and singer of the rockabilly trio The Jime.
 

Rockabilly guitar, here we go...

Vince Gordon

By Vince Gordon

I'm often asked rockabilly guitar questions, so I have created this page that should answer most FAQ.

What I express here is my personal opinion. There are - like with most things - different ways of achieving the same goals.

Over the years I've had a bunch of vintage guitars. Primarily Gretsches. From Country Gentleman to Country Roc, a couple of 6120's and I've also played the odd White Falcon. I've also tried out a lot of amps. On this page you can see what I've kept - and why.

You can get an "authentic" rockabilly guitar sound by following the advice, but it actually leaves you a lot of room to get your own sound. "Authentic", "neo" or even "bluesy".

If you wanna check out my playing & sound you can listen to a sample of "Don't Tell me What I Want" from our CD New Set Of Rules and watch a video of "Take This Heart" from that CD.

"Don't Tell Me What I Want" listen to streaming audio - Check out my CDs here or find them on CD Baby - Interview from US Newspaper The Valley Advocate.

If you wanna have some fun playing with my rockabilly band, check out this new jam tracks CD "Jam With The Jime" .

I wrote two eBooks about playing rockabilly guitar. One for beginners called "How to play rockabilly guitar, and get good, fast!" and one for intermediate players called "Intermediate Rockabilly Guitar Lessons". They're ready for download NOW!

Go here for more rockabilly music with my rockabilly trio The Jime.

Rockabilly: The Twang Heard 'Round the World: The Illustrated History

A great new book on Rockabilly has just been released. I've contributed with my article on Burlison/Martin and some info on the European rockabilly scene and its bands. This would be a great reason to buy the book :-) HOWEVER! That’s not the sole reason why it's a great book :-(

Many writers have contributed and all the important artists have been covered. From the fifties up till today. The weird thing about the book is that's it's actually a good read for both beginners and old-timers like me. Don't know how they did that, but they did it!

This book is also full of great pics and anecdotes, but you should really check it out for yourself! Check out the reviews section to get an idea!

Here's a link to it on Amazon: Rockabilly: The Twang Heard 'Round the World: The Illustrated History

Amps & Effects | Guitars | Pickups | Fingerboard | Strings |  Adjusting  | The guitars I use(d)

 

Amps & Effects for Rockabilly Guitar
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I never heard anything better than a Fender if we're talking about the big manufacturers. Later on, in the Guitar section, I'll also talk about Standel and EchoSonic, but they're produced in such small numbers that it's fair to say they'll only have historic interest to the most of us

So...
As long as you get a tube Fender you'll probably be on the right track, because they all sound pretty good. It doesn't have to be vintage at all, but they do look pretty cool. Actually I started out playing a vintage Vox AC 30 and it wasn't bad at all. The sound was very 'tube' and that's what you're looking for, but Fender is still the better choice for Rockabilly.

 

Fender Bassman 59 reissue
Fender Bassman '59 reissue

Many Rockabilly guitarists play a '59 Fender Bassman (or similar) - vintage or reissue. It sounds perfect for rockabilly. I sold mine. Why?

The distortion (which is where you get the right sound from) changes dramatically with change of volume. That's very impractically when you play live, where you have to adjust the volume after the size and acoustics of the place where you playing.

I found a way to get around that and always have the same "Bassman-sound" no matter what volume I'm playing at...

SansAmp GT2 settings:

SansAmp GT2 settings

I often get asked how I set the
SansAmp GT2 pedal to get a
vintage sound.

Here's a page with photos of
some actual recording sheets
(for "Anyhow" among others)
where you can see how the
SansAmp was set.

I play through my 1968 Fender Showman which has a very clean sound at all volumes. I then use the SansAmp GT2 pedal that can emulate the old Bassman as an insert between the amp and the guitar. Voila! The same "Bassman sound" at all volumes.

I also do it like that when I record.

The SansAmp GT2 pedal was made to be used as a line-in effect between a guitar and a mixer (hence the name; "Sans Amp" which means "Without amp").

I never did care much for the sound of line-in recordings of guitar though and that's why I only use it as a "normal" pedal between my guitars and my amp.

The pedal can also emulate a lot of other legendary amps quite good, but so far I never used that.

Fender amp resources:
Parts: Ampwares Also check out The Fender Amp Field Guide . Especially the Fender Amp FAQ and Fender Amp Time Line sections are interesting. Dating Fender Tube Amps.

Rockabilly guitar

Echo:
When you play your Fender Amp, don't use the built in Reverb that some of them have. Sure, the reverbs sound great, but when you're playing live only use an echo (I use a digital one - the Boss DD-3. ) or else the sound will get too muddy for rockabilly when you use both an echo and the reverb. If you're into Surf music it's a whole different ballgame though.

Here's a picture of my "live" settings for the Boss DD-3. If the room is very dry I turn up the E.level to full.

The typical settings for a rockabilly slapback echo (for guitar) on any unit are between 100 and 200 ms and very few repeats.

I only use the Boss DD-3 live, not in the studio. There I use various digital delay effects (emulating tape echo for instance), as I record without echo and add it in the mix.

There are many other suitable echo units/pedals out there and some of them are better than my DD-3. The Boss met my needs though and recreates the sound I have on our records so I looked no further. Anyway, I AM in good company with the DD-3 as Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley) also is using one nowadays alongside with a chorus (to emulate the frequency impurity of a tape echo).

However, I'd like to mention some alternatives:

  • The very pricey ($1,080 - 1,200 US retail!) Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. I heard really great things about it from people who should know. (I'm not sure that what Fulltone claim about Brian Setzer only using their unit now is true. I asked them but didn't get an answer.)
  • The pricey T-Rex Replica delay pedal (digital, but sounds analogue)
  • The Echoplex (Used on Chet Atkins recordings for instance) and the "re-issue" of it, The Plex Tube Echo Chamber (aka. the "Plex"). Both units are tape and out-of-production. They also both have a reputation for superb sound and legendary unreliability!
  • The out-of-production Roland RE-301 Chorus Echo (tape echo) that, among others, Brian Setzer has been using (Not in the early days with Stray Cats).
  • The out-of-production Roland RE-201 Space Echo (mono version of the 301 and without chorus) isn't rare and turns up often on eBay where it sells for around $500. Here's a good link for the different Roland models.
  • The BOSS RE-20 Twin Pedal. The Roland RE-201 Space Echo in a pedal. It says on the Roland website: "Roland and BOSS have recreated every sonic detail and nuance of the original." Sells for $249.
  • The affordable Danelectro Reel Echo that sells for around $110-140. I heard that the green Danelectro Reel Echo is very close to the EchoSonic echo (think Scotty Moore) so this is quite a catch at that price. The Danelectro Dan Echo which sells for only $80 does not sound like the EchoSonic but is also usable if you're on a tight budget.
  • The low budget Rocktron Short Timer. Hard to beat value at around only $70.

 

Other effects :

Distortion :
The BOSS FBM-1. A Fender '59 Bassman in a guitar pedal. This is an alternative to my SansAmp solution. I haven't tried this one myself, but the online sound samples on BOSS' website sound pretty convincing to me. I still prefer the SansAmp though, and I think it's more HI-FI than the BOSS (It SHOULD be actually, because it's a studio effect, which is a notch or two above a guitar pedal in sound quality). Still, live I don't see why there should be any difference, if you set your amp right.

Recording:
Nowadays most recording take place in the digital domain (Remember that the microphone itself, will always be analogue). I see no problem in that, even if you're trying to get a vintage'ish sound. Quite on the contrary actually: If it hadn't been for cheap hi-res sound cards, I could never have afforded to experiment and record as much as I have. Many purists go on about the necessity of recording on tape, but that's nonsense. Recording on tape has very, very little to do with achieving a vintage sound, and does nothing that you couldn't achieve by running the recording through an equalizer or other effects. Other analogue equipment, like tube preamps, does make sense, but as the digital effects get better, there's not all that much to gain by spending tons of $ on analogue equipment. The long and the short of it is, that analogue equipment is cool, but often costs too much and is unreliable. Therefore digital emulation is often the way to go. The big exception here is - of course - microphones. They are analogue by nature and can't really be replaced that easily. I've heard some digital mic modellers, but they were not convincing. Even when they get the mic modellers right (and no doubt they will), there will still be issues: 1. It’s not likely they're gonna model all the old ribbon microphones that are interesting in the rockabilly genre and 2. The issues of microphone placement, the room, volumes etc. are very important for getting the right sound, so just being able to model the characteristics of a microphone won't get you far enough.

Vintage microphones - A good place to get those hard-to-find vintage ribbon microphones is Vintage-Microphones.de in Germany.


The dubb box - a FREE VST plugin (Windows only).

The dubb box - a FREE VST plugin (Windows only). Virtual tape delay: "Loosely modeled on the Roland Space Echo" they say. It sounds pretty good to my ears, and I've been using it a lot for lead guitar on my current recordings. Keep the settings modest or it'll take you on a trip into space :-). It's freeware, but you have to search for it yourself as it "moves around" a lot. Try searching for "arcDev.Dubb.Box.v2.RC1.rar"

BBE Sonic Maximiser Plugin - This plugin - ideal for mastering - is not freeware BUT it's worth what it costs. I used it first when I mastered the "New Set Of Rules" CD and I was surprised by how good it really was. It takes recordings that sound flat (Most recordings do before mastering) and adds punch and clarity. I know that many plugins claim they can do that, but this one works. That's the difference. Use it for mastering or individual tracks. For Direct X and VST, Windows and Mac. Retails for as little as $99 now - That's less than I paid :-(

 

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Rockabilly Guitars
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Basically, when we're talking Rockabilly Guitar you've got 3 brands to choose from; Gretsch , Gibson and Fender. I'm mainly playing an Epiphone* so what do I know? No, but the truth is a little more complicated.

What makes out a guitar is first and foremost the pickup's and the fingerboard . When you check almost all the guitars (except Fenders who have their own pickups) on this page you'll see that they have either DeArmond/Dynasonic, FilterTron or P-90 pickups.

Seeing that 90 % of the rockabilly sound comes from having one of these pickups and a Bigsby vibrato on your guitar it doesn't really matter all that much what the guitar itself is.

For instance, many cheap vintage guitars out there who just happen to have DeArmonds on them might have just the sound you're looking for. Also, DeArmond made some cheap guitars of their own that sound pretty good.

*Epiphone is a daughter company of Gibson. Epiphone guitars are close in quality to Gibsons but at a much lower price.

Alternatives:
If you don't like paying for the name, the legend or the looks of the high profiled guitars here are some good and cheap alternatives. Only some of these guitars are in production at the moment, but all guitars are relatively new and easy to find on eBay for instance...

Epiphone Les Paul 1956 GoldTop
Comes with a pair of Alnico V (the magnets) P-90 pickups. This will get you very close to the classic Carl Perkins sound for only $499.

Epiphone Emperor Swingster
New from Epiphone and a popularwith the rockabilly crowd. Epiphone quality and a licensed Bigsby. Around $700.

Epiphone Zephyr Blues Deluxe (Out of production)
A quality guitar based on the 1949 Gibson ES-5. Three Alnico V P-90 pick-ups. Out-of-production (Only just). Sells on eBay for around $600-700.

Epiphone Wildkat
Epiphone
Wildkat
Epiphone Zephyr Blues Deluxe
Epi. Zephyr
Blues Deluxe

Epiphone Wildkat
Again, Alnico V P-90 pickups and a Bigsby vibrato. A real bargain at only $299.

Epiphone ES-295
Also with a pair of Alnico V P-90 pickups and a Bigsby vibrato. Sells for $749. Based on the Gibson ES-295 introduced in 1952

Carlo Robelli ES-500* (Out of production)
A good (I'm told) copy of the original 1949 Gibson ES-5 (Not the ES-5 Switchmaster introduced in 1955). Comes with three black P-90 dog-ear style pickups and a Bigsby style vibrato. Real value at $599!

Peavey Rockingham
Made to look like the Gretsch 6120 (It doesn't really). Designed in co-operation with UK guitarist/singer and Eddie Cochran expert Darrel Higham. Comes with or without a real Bigsby B-6. The pick ups are their own design (FilterTron'ish) but usable none the less. The basic guitar is of good quality (Much higher than the Ibanez Artcore series which I wouldn't recommend) and outstanding at value at £299 and £399 for the Tremolo (Bigsby B6) version. I talked to Darrel Higham about the Rockingham and one of the things he said was: "My advice to anyone thinking of buying one is to think of the guitar as a blank canvas, and to add their own pick-ups, etc. As it is so inexpensive, you can customise the guitar to your hearts content and finish it off to your own personal specifications." I don't think this guitar is available in the USA.

Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Signature Electromatic Hollow Body
Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong
"Signature" Electromatic® Hollow Body
is one of the new Gretsch Electromatics

Here are three more alternatives (all out of production) - NOT CHEAP though... Guild X160 Rockabilly
Has a pair of great sounding DeArmond 2000 pickups and a Bigsby. (In their marketing it sometimes says they're DeArmond 2ks but that's wrong according to Bill Turner who designed both).

Guild X500T - X550P Dave Gonzales Signature
Developed in collaboration with Dave Gonzalez of The Paladins.
Comes with two Black Seymour Duncan ® P90s and a gold Guild Bigsby ® tremolo. Very expensive!

Guild forum: LetsTalkGuild.com

If you're in doubt about buying a "cheap" guitar or any guitar as a matter of fact, I suggest you check out Guitar Users Reviews at Harmony Central. You can find reviews on just about any guitar, amp, pickup or effect there, new or vintage.

*Carlo Robelli guitars are built in Korea for the Sam Ash Music Corporation, NY, USA. According to many reviews the quality equals that of American made guitars.

 

Gretsch:

As far as playing rockabilly on them I'm not impressed with the first reissues. Their shape and construction has little to do with the vintage ones they are supposed to be replicas of, the overall quality is poor but most importantly the sound is nothing to brag about, although not useless.

The problem is mainly that the FilterTron pickups on those are too 'muddy'/'one-dimensional' sounding while at the same time having 'ice picky' highs. Up through the 90s Gretsch used ceramic magnets in the FilterTron's rather than the Alnico magnets they used in the vintage ones.

Luckily that's in the past now as all stock FilterTron-equipped models after 5/03 have Alnico magnets, which is just one of the many improvements after Fender took over Gretsch manufactoring in January 2003.

It's still not the pickup I'd pick for rockabilly though.

I would either get DynaSonic (DeArmond) or TV Jones FilterTrons (Classic) pickups (Most people agree that they sound better than ANY of the reissue FilterTrons from Gretsch). You can get both stock on new Gretsches today.

It's important to remember that Gretsch used DeArmound pickups (which are single-coil as opposed to the FilterTrons which are Humbuckers) in the mid-fifties and that's where the legendary Gretsch Rockabilly sound originated from.

The guys who utilized that sound were such greats as Cliff Gallup (of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps) who played a black 1955 Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet, Eddie Cochran, who played a 1955 Gretsch 6120 Hollow Body (he did however, change the neck/rhythm pickup to a P-90 from an old Gibson guitar because he found it too bright, and wanted to have the option of a mellow sound at "the flick of a switch") and Duane Eddy who played a 1957 Gretsch 6120 Hollow Body.

The only rockabilly who really made the original FilterTron sound famous was/is Brian Setzer, but hey! What a sound! Jim Heat of Reverend Horton Heat is also known for playing FilterTrons and has his own Gretsch 6120 Signature guitar.

So the original FilterTrons or the new "Fender-Gretsch" FilterTrons (not the Hi-Lo Trons which most people, including me, think sounds too thin) or the TV Jones FilterTrons are also great pickups for rockabilly, but the standard 90s Gretsch FilterTrons are a little tame. They ARE usable nonetheless.

 

 

Rockabilly guitar

Buying a Gretsch today:
Gretsch 6120 Duane Eddy
Gretsch 6120 Duane Eddy 1998
Gretsch 6120WCST Custom Shop
Gretsch 6120WCST Custom Shop 2005
Gretsch 6120DSW Nashville Western
Gretsch 6120DSW Nashville Western 2005
Gretsch G6120DSW Chet Atkins Hollow Body
Gretsch G6120DSW
Chet Atkins Hollow Body 2008

If I were to buy a Gretsch today I would pick something like the Duane Eddy signature model* (Produced from about '97-'98) with DeArmonds (DynaSonic), the new Duane Eddy model or something as close as possible to the 1955 6120 Chet Atkins "G-brand".

Here's a list with the top-of-the-line (read:TOP$) choice first:

  • The original vintage 1955 G-brand of course. It can cost you anything from $6,500-15,000. It's not necessarily a better choice than the next one.
  • The Gretsch 6120 WCST Nashville Western, hand crafted in Fender's Custom Shop in Corona, California, USA. Features all the "right" appointments like the golden fixed bigsby. Interestingly enough it has Seymour Duncan DynaSonics and not Fender/Gretsch's own like you see them on the G6120DSW. That says something about the Seymour Duncan DynaSonic I guess. It'll probably "only" cost you between $4,000-5,500 even though it has a sugg. retail price at $9,000!
  • The G6120W-55 Western Custom Limited Edition is kinda like a model in-between the WCST and the DSW. It has nitrocellulose lacquer and VINTAGE DynaSonics among other things which the DSW doesn't have. Fuller's Vintage Guitar have them at $6.400 but I've seen them go for at around $2,400. Good value/money at that price. I've been told that only 12-15 have been made, but I of course have no way of verifying that.
  • The G6120DSW Chet Atkins Hollow Body from Gretsch's "regular" professional collection. Until recently this guitar was called G6120DSW Nashville Western (You can easily find it for around $1,400-1,800) but Gretsch struck a deal with the estate of Chet Atkins, so now there's a product range called Chet Atkins once again.
  • Find an inexpensive vintage fifties model (yes, such a thing does exists!) like the '55-'57 Streamliner or the '58- Anniversary (They both have the exact body as the 6120) and put an extra pickup on it and a Bigsby whammy bar if necessary (you can get both from new). That could be done for less than USD 1.500,- (Check out e-bay) and it would be a better sounding guitar than many much more expensive ones.

Of course there are many more Gretsch's out there - vintage and post-fender - with DeArmonds that'll do just fine and a lot of the FilterTron equipped ones are great too if you want that Setzer and Chet Atkins sound.

Now that Fender have taken over manufacturing I wouldn't worry about buying any of the new high end Gretsches.*

Last but not least I'd like to mention that the reissue Eddie Cochran models Gretsch 6120W-1957 Eddie Cochran and Eddie Cochran SIGNATURE Hollow Body or one of the latest Brian Setzer models would be interesting to many rockabillies. There's also a ridiculously expensive ($12.000 - $17.500 I've seen them advertised for) custom shop recreation, a so-called "relic" guitar, the G6120EC Eddie Cochran Tribute (Eddie Cochran did certainly not buy the guitar from new as the article/promotion says. He got it used from Gary Lambert who had it on loan while waiting for his new green Country Club) but you'd need a very good and possibly strange reason to buy that when there are perfectly good "cheap" alternatives.

Remember, if we're talking new Gretsches for rockabilly, go for ones with DeArmonds or TV Jones pickups. (There are different versions of the DeArmond out there but they all sound pretty good - for more on the DeArmonds go to the pickup section).

Gretsch Electromatic Collection
Gretsch G5120 Electromatic Hollow Body
Gretsch G5120
Electromatic® Hollow Body
Gretsch G5122DC Electromatic Hollow Body
Gretsch G5122DC
Electromatic® Hollow Body
Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Signature Electromatic Hollow Body
Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong
"Signature" Electromatic® Hollow Body

Judging by the amount of mails I get about the Gretsch Electromatic Collection, these are popular guitars. They are not of high quality, but a little adjusting will always go a long way. The G5125, 5126, 5127, 5128 and 5129 (Out of production) have that original rockabilly tone because of the DeArmond 2000 pickups.

The 5120 (5120 in orange) has "Gretsch dual-coil pickups" which are neither this nor that. Many people buy 5120's and put TV Jones FilterTrons or just "regular" FilterTrons on. I don't think I would do that, seeing how little a used 6120 can cost you on eBay, but I see why they're doing it.

If you prefer double cutaway, then have a look at the G5122 Double Cutaway Electromatic in walnut or black finish. They come with the before mentioned "Gretsch chrome-covered Dual-Coil humbuckers" (NOT FilterTrons).

The reasonably priced G5191BK Tim Armstrong "Signature" Electromatic actually comes with real FilterTrons, and is in many ways an interesting option if you can afford about $400 more than a normal 5120. It's all it's own and not just a cheap version of a 6120 which is very cool. A friend of mine tried it hands on and said the build quality was fine. I wouldn't mind one myself actually. I would put on a Bigsby though. I have this obsession you know: No guitar of mine shall go Bigsby-less. That would add an extra $100, but of course you don't have to do it (If you have it in you)...:-)

A little word of "warning": The G5125's etc. are cool sounding guitars because of the DeArmonds, and if you've got one and like it but want to upgrade to get even more of that sound, think twice before you buy a 6120 with FilterTrons. A guy wrote me that he had done just that and gotten himself a Black Falcon w/FilterTrons and a dissapointment. FilterTrons are NOT DeArmonds, then don't sound anything like them. If you like the DeArmond sound on your G5125, only a 6120 with DeArmonds like the DSV or DSW will give you more of what you have already. A 6120 with FilterTrons is a totally different animal.

*If you're going to buy any of the pre-Fender reissue Gretsches expect to do some upgrading on them to get them up to todays standards. For instance there are often problems with the electronics.  

Gretsch guitar resources:
This years Gretsch collection at GretschGuitars.com
A small Gretsch FAQ: Gretsch Definitions
Gretsch parts (+ guitars). Vintage and new at Blackrider Vintage Guitars.
New Gretsch parts (+ guitars). The cheapest I've come across yet at Warpdrivemusic or even better their ebay store.
Vintage guitar parts at Phil's Guitars Selected Vintage Parts
Vintage Gretsch guitar info at Vintage Guitars Info
Gretsch parts and Bigsby whammy bars at Parts is Parts (Also parts for Fender, Gibson etc.) Parts is Parts
Bigsby Vibratos at BIGSBY GUITARS & VIBRATOS
Bigsby Vibratos:

  • Model B-3 is designed for thin electric guitars
  • Model B-5 is designed for flat top solid-body guitars
  • Model B-6 is designed for large acoustic and arch top guitars (For 6120's etc.)
  • Model B-7 is designed for thin electric guitars with more downward pressure
  • Model B-11 is for thin electric guitars with an arch
  • Model B-12 has a pressure bar and is designed for large acoustic and arch top guitars

 

1956 Gretsch Duo Jet
1956 Duo Jet similar
to the one that
Cliff Gallup played.

Legendary Gretsch rockabilly sounds:
----- Everything Cliff Gallup recorded with Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps from May-June 1956
(rec. at Quonset hut studio, Nashville)

Cliff Gallup played a 1955 (Maybe '56) Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet (Black) with two DeArmond DynaSonic pickups through a Standel amplifier owned by Grady Martin. Also important for Cliff Gallup's sound was that he used heavy flatwound strings, a huge, triangular plectrum with his thumb and first finger, metal fingerpicks on his middle and ring fingers and kept the fixed Bigsby arm on the Gretsch (Many players replaced it with a swivel one). Also, the echo was added on the recording (to the WHOLE recording actually and not just the guitar) and not as a built-in effect on the amp.

Here are a few tabs for some of Cliff Gallup's famous solos

The Standel company of today are producing re-issues of their legendary amps. Reportedly, the basic 25L15 sounds good for rockabilly. Although the new Standels seem to have THE sound, they're not exact replicas of the originals.

Gretsch are making a replica similar to Gallup's Dou Jet today, called the Gretsch G6128T-DSV Duo Jet.

----- Half of the first Stray Cats album from 1981 (rec. Oct. 1980 at the Eden and Jam Studios, London)
Brian Setzer played his now famous 1959 6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body through a Vox Royal Guardsman . Which half of the 12 songs we're talking about I don't know but I think it's safe to say that "Double Talking Baby" is among them, and that's why I choose to mention this particular set-up. The other half of the album was recorded using an American Fender Twin Reverb that had to go through a transformer seeing it was recorded in the UK. The Fender was way more distorted and it's safe to say the "Crawl Up And Die" and "Storm The Embassy" (Called "Boys Are Having Babies" :-) in his pre-Stray Cats days.) were recorded on the Twin.

Another fine but important point was that Dave Edmunds produced the album, and he used line-in recording a lot at the time. I remember plugging in my '55 Gretsch 6120 (with DeArmonds) direct to a 4-track tape cassette recorder (this was the eighties!), and going "Hey, this sounds just like 'Rock This Town'??" which was on one of the other tracks. I always thought that "Rock This Town" was recorded line-in after that, or at least a box was used to split the signal between the mixer and the amp.

 

Gretsch 6120 Duane Eddy and 59 Fender Bassmann reissue
Click to enlarge

One lucky guy... Based on the advice on this page C. Bottley of the U.K. got himself geared-up with a Gretsch 6120 Duane Eddy and a beautiful glossy Fender Bassmann '59 reissue. He also got himself a Boss DD-3. No need to say that he had to make other sacrifices to raise that kinda money. The last report still said he was a very happy guy though!

 

 

 

Gibson:

Carl Perkins played a 1952/53 Les Paul Goldtop on 'Honey Don't' and other of his early recordings. Scotty Moore always played Gibson's and so did Chuck Berry and anyone else who could afford them.

Many of the early Gibsons featured the now legendary P-90 pickup (comes in many different variations), which is the pickup with the most tone that I've ever heard. It also has a very naturally way of distorting and it can make your chords sound like a whole orchestra if you want it to.

High end models like the Super 400CES', L5CES' and Byrdlands from '55 to around '57 featured the "AlNiCo V" (Alnico five) P-90 pickup that Seth Lower and Walt Fuller designed in 1952 to find a new sound for Gibson. (The Les Paul Custom from '54 to mid-'57 had one Alnico V in the neck position and a regular P-90 in the bridge position).

Scotty Moore went from "regular" P-90's (on his ES-295) to "Alnico V" P-90's (on his L5 CESN and Super 400 CESN) in his days recording at Sun Studio with Elvis.

I've seen the "Alnico V" sound described as being "noticeably clearer and with greater separation between the treble and bass strings than a typical P90." To me, the "Alnico V" sound will always be that of "Mystery Train" by Elvis/Scotty Moore/Bill Black.

You can still get different vintage P-90 pickup's today from many manufactures. I use one with Alnico magnets from Seymour Duncan on my customized Ephiphone.

Gibson are also making the so-called "Alnico V" pick ups again today in connection with their Historic Collection and they are calling them the "480 Alnico V single coil". I've seen it featured on the 1954 Les Paul Custom (reissue) in the rhythm position together with a "regular" P-90 in the treble position.

Seymour Duncan's Custom shop is also offering the great sounding so-called Staple Pickup at $225 that is a re-issue "Alnico V". Check out my guitar with the Scotty Moore sound.

Gibson guitar resources:
Vintage Les Paul's: Vintage Les Paul Guitar Registry
Bigsby Vibratos at: BIGSBY GUITARS & VIBRATOS

 

Legendary Gibson rockabilly sounds:
----- "Mystery Train" by Elvis Presley (rec. July 1955 at Sun Studio, Memphis)
Scotty Moore played a 1954 Gibson L5 CESN with two "Alnico V" P-90 pickups (sounding more like a Dearmond DynaSonic than a "regular" P-90) strung with Gretsch medium-gauge flatwounds through a custom-built EchoSonic amplifier by Ray Butts (8th amp ever built). The amp had a built-in tapeecho (hence the name EchoSonic) which was special in the way that it allowed Scotty Moore to perform live with the slapback echo from the recordings that was his and Elvis' trademark sound at the time.
EchoSonic amps have a fixed delay time which has proved to be perfect for rockabilly.
Read more about Scotty Moore's EchoSonic.

On the other Elvis recordings at Sun - before "Mystery Train" - like on "That's All Right Mama" / "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" Scotty Moore played a 1953 Gibson ES 295 (ES stands for electro-Spanish) with P-90's strung with medium-gauge roundwounds through a 1952 Fender Deluxe amp.

Other people who played and owned one of the circa 68 EchoSonics ever built were Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins (as you can see below), Roy Orbison and Luther Perkins (You can hear him using it on "Straight A's In Love" with Johnny Cash). Ray Butts traded the last one along with the rights to build them to F.C. Hall of Rickenbacker. His company sold small quantities of this amp around 1961, under the name Eko-Sound.

EchoSonic resource
Guitarist Tim Masters of Midnight Bowlers League and owner of an original EchoSonic, offers to build you an EchoSonic replica. This is done on a case by case basis like Ray Butts did. He also offers expert repair of EchoSonics and Rickenbacker E-k-O Sound amps.
If you're interested, you can drop him a line.

 

----- "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets (rec. 12th April 1954 at the Pythian Temple, New York City). 
Session musician Danny Cedrone played a 1946 Gibson ES-300 with one P-90 pickup through a Gibson BR-1 Amp. The magnificent reverb on the recording, comes from the former ballroom itself, where the recording took place.

Read the whole article on the Rock Around the Clock session here and download the guitar tab for the solo.

 

----- "Maybellene" by Chuck Berry (rec. 1955 at Chess Records, Chicago)
Chuck Berry played a 1955 Gibson ES 350T (blonde) with two P-90 Pickups through a small Fender Amp. The guitar that Chuck Berry is more commonly associated with is the thinner, double cutaway ES 335 introduced in 1958 and the 355 (The 355 is essentially a fancy version of the 335). These guitars are similar to B.B.King's "Lucille".

 

1955 Gibson Les Paul GoldTop w/Bigsby.
1955 Gibson
Les Paul
GoldTop
w/Bigsby.

----- "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Honey Don't" by Carl Perkins (rec. Dec. 1955 at Sun Studio, Memphis)
Carl Perkins played a ‘52/’53 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top with two P-90 Pickups and a "trapeze" tailpiece through a small Fender Amp when he recorded “Honey Don’t” with "The Perkins Brothers Band" (Carl + his two brothers on upright bass and rhythm guitar + W.S.Holland on drums).

The general understanding is that “Honey Don’t” and “Blue Suede Shoes” were recorded at the same session. In fact he recorded "Honey Don't" first, several weeks prior to the "Blue Suede Shoes" session.

The guitar that Carl played on "Blue Suede Shoes" is also a Les Paul Gold Top but a ’55 with a Bigsby. After “Blue Suede Shoes” became a hit, Carl painted the guitar blue and later his youngest son Greg Perkins painted it black. It’s currently in Stan Perkin’s vault in Jackson, TN.

Read the whole article on Carl Perkins' gear here.

 

 

 

Rockabilly guitar

Fender:

Not really my kinda guitar (not hollow bodies, ya know) but I've heard some great stuff played on them by Paul Burlison , Danny Gatton , Jimmy & Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carl Perkins, Mickey Gee (Did some great underrated stuff for Shakin' Stevens who had a dynamite band, even though I always missed the slap bass...) and Albert Lee to name a few. Maybe someday I'll stumble across one that fits my hands and I'll be all over it.

The great thing about Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters is that they have single-coil pickup's that'll cut through any backing band. - and that's what rockabilly guitar is all about - isn't it? =:-)

The Fender Stratocaster hasn't changed much from the original design to this day, as you can see from this picture of Strat serial number 0100 (Probably the first Stratocaster inted for retail sale).

Fender guitar resources:
Fender forum at: Fender Discussion Page

 

Legendary Fender rockabilly sounds:
----- "I Walk The Line" by Johnny Cash (rec. April 2, 1956 at Sun Studio, Memphis)
Luther Perkins played a 1955 Fender Esquire through a Fender Champ amp.

 

----- "Tear It up" and "Oh Baby Babe" by the Rock 'n' Roll Trio (rec. May 7, 1956 at the Pythian Temple, New York)
Paul Burlison played a whiteguard Fender Esquire through a tweed Fender Deluxe amp sitting on a stool next to him.

Did you know that Grady Martin (and not Paul Burlison) played lead guitar on the most famous recordings by Johnny Burnette & The Rock'n'Roll Trio? Do you want to know how the distortion on "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "Honey Hush" was probably created? Then read my article on Johnny Burnette & The Rock'n'Roll Trio


Buddy Holly played a big part in making the Fender Stratocaster popular as he was one of the first rock 'n' rollers to use it on TV. He apparently left his Stratocasters set up the way they came from the factory, and didn't use the tremolo arm, leaving all five springs on the tremolo plate.

In case you were wondering: It IS Buddy Holly himself who is playing the famous lead guitar on "That'll Be The Day". He used a capo to play the licks in the key of A.

Live and on record he used different Fender amps. Pro Amp, Bassmann and was given a Twin by Fender.

Here you can read more about Buddy Holly's gear. If you looking for information on Buddy Holly's recordings and lyrics, Buddy Holly - The complete works is the ultimate website.

Buddy Hollys last Fender Stratocaster   Buddy Holly live on stage

 

Buddy Holly with The Crickets
Buddy Holly's last Fender Stratocaster.
1958 Sunburst, serial # 028228.
On display at The Buddy Holly Gallery,
Lubbock, TX.
  Buddy Holly live on stage.
From the collection of the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame
and Museum
  Buddy Holly with The Crickets
Photo courtesy of Terry R. Shaw.
The Buddy Holly Story by Terry R. Shaw
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Pickups for Rockabilly Guitar
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"Gretsch" pickups:

...or more accurately: "pickups commonly associated with Gretsch guitars".

 

Dearmond Dynasonic
Picture of the "real DeArmond"
- An original Gretsch DynaSonic
on a 1955 Gretsch 6120 G-brand

All the DeArmonds described
here look pretty much like this.

"DeArmond 200" (A.K.A. Gretsch DynaSonic) (single coil)
The original DynaSonics used on the electric vintage Gretsches from 1949 to 1957 were made by Rowe Industries in Toledo, Ohio and designed by Harry DeArmond. They are often referred to as Rowe-DeArmond 200s and I've also seen them called Dynasonic Model 2000.

The Gretsch DynaSonics of today are exact copies of the vintage ones, and are built in Japan to Gretsh's specs. (Gretsch and Duane Eddy says they were made from the same moulds as his original 1957 6120 Chet Atkins model).

They originally came with a black cover on Gretsch guitars (and others), and in white on Guild, Premier, and Levin guitars. An example of a guitar equipped with white cover DeArmond 200s would be a sixties Guild Duane Eddy.

The Gretsch DynaSonics of today only come with black covers.

Though many people favour the FilterTrons I must say that in my opinion the DynaSonics are THE original Gretsch Rockabilly sound.

Where to buy a DynaSonic pick-up:
1. From Gretsch through one of their dealers. They're $160 a piece sugg. retail in their US price list (Download in PDF).
2. From Seymour Duncan's Custom shop where they offer the so-called Duncan Dyno-Sonic at $225.
3. From eBay.

DynaSonic pickup adjustment tip:
When looking for more output some players adjust the poles too close to the strings, resulting in string pull, and out of tune guitars. There's a better way to do it as a luthier showed me when I had him adjust my '55 Gretsch G-Brand:
Raise the entire pickup! It's as simple as that and sounds amazing.
Put some padding underneath the pickup or cut out a new and thicker pickup ring in wood or plastic. There's no alteration of the guitar or any drilling involved so you can use this solution on expensive vintage guitars also.

- this is actually a general tip for pickups and not just for DynaSonics!

"DeArmond 2000" (single coil)
Made to sound like the DynaSonic but in a more compact packaging. Most importantly the polepieces are much shorter (something you can't see without looking at the pickup from underneath).

2000s sound a lot like the DynaSonic, but the DynaSonic still has better bass, smoother highs and better balance string-to-string. The 2000s also have that rockabilly twang though.

They have one advantage over the DynaSonics in that they're made in reverse-wound/reverse-polarity pairs for hum cancellation so that when you put the pick-up switch in middle position they act like a humbucker.

If you have a guitar with 2000s that hum in the middle position you might wanna experiment with the wiring as it seems some guitars have been wired wrong from the factory.

The 2000s are made in the USA by Fender and come with both black and white covers - black for Gretsch and white for Guild (as usual).

Many 2000s have been passed of for being DynaSonics. Gretsch Streamliners and Synchromatics had them, even though they were called "DynaSonics" until Fender took over. Likewise the Guild X160 Rockabilly has been marketed as having 2ks while they in fact never had anything but 2000s.
This must been a marketing mistake as I guess most people would prefer the 2000s. Anyway, it's easy to see how all this confusing gets started when the names for these pickups have been picked so poorly. I'm mean how is anyone suppose to know that 2ks, 2000s and 200s are entirely different pickups?

"DeArmond 2k" (single coil)
Made to sound like a P-90, in that it is a very fat single coil, but not quite as heavy as a P-90 and with a piercing upper-frequency sound sometimes described as an ice-pick-to-the-forehead sound. So in a way this DeArmond actually gives you more of a Gibson sound than a Gretsch sound, but it's still a good rockabilly pickup and some people like to use it in the bridge position while having a DynaSonic or a 2000 in the neck position - especially on solid bodies.

Comes both with black or white cover and with a square chrome plated metal cover or one with an elongated "V" cut-out on each of the two short ends.
It was made for the DeArmond line of guitars (now out of production) and was - to my knowledge - never offered on any Gretsch guitars. You can buy it as a spare part or find it on the now very cheap DeArmond guitars. This pickup was made in the USA by Fender.

 

DeArmond trivia:

Eddie Van Halen didn't invent the tapping technique, Harry DeArmond did. He did it to promote the sensitivity of his pickups, sometimes playing two guitars simultaneously!

He also invented the world's first effect unit for electric guitar - A tremolo called Model 800 Trem Trol. It was used by Bo Diddley and many others.

For those of you looking for a vintage DeArmond pickup (more than 100 different were made) you might like to know that they were factory-fitted in instruments by Airline, D'Angelico, Eko, Epiphone, Fender, Gretsch, Guild, Harmony, Hofner, Kustom, Levin, Ovation, Premier, Martin, Messenger, Microfrets, Silvertone and Standel.

 

1956 Gretsch Duo Jet
A Gretsch FilterTron

 

"FilterTron" (humbucker)
Filtertrons are Gretsch's own humbuckers, designed by Ray Butts for Chet Atkins who told him the DeArmonds had too much bass for his style of playing.
Gretsch started using them in late '57 and at the same time discontinued using the DynaSonic on all models.

Where to buy a FilterTron pick-up:
1. From Gretsch through one of their dealers. They're $80 a piece for standard and $150 for HotRod sugg. retail in their US price list (Download in PDF).
2. From Seymour Duncan's Custom shop where they offer the so-called Gretsch® Filtertron-Original specs at $225.
3. From TV Jones where they offer the so-called TV Classic at $120 and other variations.
3. From eBay.

"HiLoTron" (single coil)
The Hilotron is essentially "half a filtertron". It's a very bright and low output single coil.

Where to buy a HiLoTron pick-up:
1. From Gretsch through one of their dealers. They're $70 a piece sugg. retail in their US price list (Download in PDF).
2. From Seymour Duncan's Custom shop where they offer the so-called Gretsch® Hi-Lo-Trons-Original specs at $225.
3. From TV Jones where they offer the so-called TV-HT1 at $105.
3. From eBay.

Much more on the 'Trons coming later...

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Rockabilly guitar

Rockabilly Guitar Fingerboard
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Whatever suits you. There are no special requirements for a Rockabilly Guitar fingerboard. Mind you, if you want to do fingerpicking, jumbo frets and a narrow neck will always be a bad choice. That's a set up for bending, not for picking barre chords.

 

Choosing a Rockabilly Guitar:

A guitar may sound great, but if it's hard to play for you, you're not doing yourself a favour. Find out why it sounds good and look for that in another guitar that's easy to play. They're supposed to be! Technique shouldn't stand in the way of music.

Remember that you can go a long way with having a prof. guitar tech. adjusting a 'bad' guitar.

Always have a new guitar adjusted to fit YOUR hands and way of playing.

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Strings for Rockabilly Guitar
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Basically there are no 'right' or 'wrong' strings for Rockabilly. It's a matter of taste. As a rule you can say that heavy strings give you a 'fat', dark sound and light strings give you a 'thin', bright sound. Pretty simple, ay?

Also, roundwounds are brighter and flatwounds are darker (more jazzy).

If you're looking for the Scotty Moore sound you'll want heavier strings than you normally use in rock. Go for .012 flatwounds or more. Scotty Moore used flatwounds on "Mystery Train" and roundwounds on "That's All Right Mama". Today - because he doesn't have the same strength in his hands - he plays D'Addario .010-.046 half-wounds where they grind down a .018 wound third to .017 for him. He told me this when I was lucky enough to meet him together with DJ Fontana in March '98. I'm mentioning this because there's a funny story that goes with it:

-----

After I finished asking Mr. Moore several gear questions I asked him what kinda music he listened to nowadays. He said he listened to Jazz as he always had and he mentioned quite a few names, that I regrettably can't remember.

Because he said Jazz, I asked him what he thought about the Brian Setzer Orchestra who were pretty big at the time and he lit up and said he was a fan. Then I turned to DJ Fontana who stood there waiting for Mr. Moore to follow him to the limo and had overheard our conversation and I asked him; "..so what are you into these days?". "Television!" he said.

-----

In the fifties you actually couldn't get any lighter strings (.010 for instance), like we know them today. They just didn't make them. So if you're going for an authentic sound, you'll be on the safe size using heavy (by today's standards) strings (.012+).

Technically speaking .012/.013 strings are called 'medium' but I consider that to be misleading. In practice, when it comes to rock, I've found that it makes more sense to categorize .010/.011 as 'medium' and sizes below as 'light' and sizes above as 'heavy'.

I only know of two guys back then using string sizes that can be compared to the lighter ones used today. Eddie Cochran used a second string instead of a wound third and James Burton (Played with Ricky Nelson among others) used banjo strings for the thin strings and then moved the "thin" guitar strings down and threw the heavy ones away (I guess!).

I settled for a middle-of-the-road set of strings: Ernie Ball .010-.046 (Regular Slinky). I would have preferred to play a .011 set because they just feel better in my hands, but there is so much bass in them (On MY guitars) that it meddles with the territory of the double bass. The .010's also allow me to get a 'twangy' sound when I need it. Something that's hard to get with heavy strings.

Originally, I tried out all the major brands to find 'my' strings. I would advice you to do the same. It doesn't cost extra if you try out one brand/size at a time and no one but yourself can tell what strings are the best for you.

- New strings should be stretched (bended) a little so the tuning is more stable.

- If you hate changing strings (like me!), a stringwinder makes the job a bit easier.

 

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Rockabilly Guitar Adjusting
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How to cut feedback in hollow body guitars

There can be many different sources for feedback with amplified hollow body instruments (Rockabilly upright bass players often have very similar problems as guitarists do btw.) Playing too loud is the most obvious one, but even at moderate volume one can have serious feedback problems.

A pickup change, an equalizer to suppress the feeding frequencies, cutting the bass, not using distortion pedals and a number of other solutions are available. However these solutions are general for all amplified music styles, which means you can easily find information on them elsewhere so I won't go into that here.

The typical rockabilly related feedback problem comes from the actual body of hollow body guitars.

As opposed to a solid body guitar which is made out of one* heavy piece of wood, the light top* of a hollow body guitar is often free to vibrate much more, especially with open f-holes where there is a long edge of wood not attached to anything. When the top moves at the same Hz as the sound waves hitting it (coming from the amp/monitor) you get feedback, because the pickups of course (they are attached to the top!) also start vibrating at that same Hz, that then again goes back into the amp, thereby creating a loop of that frequency being amplified over and over.

*can of course be laminated

Q: What's the solution?

A: Keep the top from moving so freely.

Q: How?

A: Basically anything that will slow down the top will work. Adding weight and/or structure and stiffness is the way to go.

Here are three solutions that are common and are known to work:

Have you checked out?
'How to play rockabilly guitar' - eBook

A real rockabilly band to play along to:
Rockabilly Jam Tracks - CD

1. Tape up the f-holes (if any!) (The tape may ruin the finish)
Some people glue a piece of wood on the inside of the top to cover up the f-holes and add stiffness to that area. As this is a permanent solution not easy to undo, it is not recommended.

2. Stuff the guitar with padding
You can use any kinda padding like foam rubber or fabric. According to the wife of Duane Eddy, who posts on the Gretschpages, he uses polyester fiberfill that you can get at any craft/sewing store.

I advise you to stuff your guitar so that it can be undone. I used building polyurethane foam out of a spray can on my Epiphone. It works, but the drawbacks are that it can hardly be undone and I have problems accessing the wires and electrics. I wanted a permanent solution however, because I set up the guitar to be my main instrument for concerts. Today I would have tried installing a soundpost first or using Fiberfill.

Stuffing a guitar will "damage" the tone of your instrument more than installing a soundpost. In real life this might not be a problem at all, because a hollow body guitar really isn't an acoustic instrument anymore once it has pickups on but rather an electric one. I know a lot of rockabilly slap bass players will agree with me, that the acoustic abilities of their instruments often only get in the way of creating a good amplified sound.

3. Install a "soundpost"
A soundpost is a small stick of hardwood that is used to connect the top and back of an instrument and is placed just around the lower part of the bridge (inside the guitar!). Many hollow body guitars come with a soundpost installed from the factory.

It's an invention coming from the field of classical instruments, like violins and upright basses where they use it to control the tone of the instrument and give it structural strength. On an amplified instrument however, it can also be used to cut feedback because it stiffens the top (among other things).

Where you place that soundpost will have an effect on the sustain and tone of the instrument and can enhance them. You can experiment with that. It is not recommended to glue the soundpost in place, as you might later want to remove it or move it. The soundpost can be installed through the "lower" f-hole for instance.

On these pages from a violin luthier you'll find the concept of a soundpost and how to install one beautifully explained with diagrams and photos. Here's another good site on installing a soundpost.

It's probably a good idea to have a luthier install the soundpost for you.

4. Combine the solutions
If necessary you can combine solution 1, 2 and 3 in any order you like.

Remember: Whatever you do, it's at your own risk.

 

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The guitars I use(d)...
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For my recordings:

A customized 1997 Epiphone Emperor Regent with one Seymour Duncan vintage P-90 (SP90-1, Alnico 5 bar magnets) and one vintage FilterTron pickup (1964) and a vintage Bigsby whammy bar (As featured on the cover of 'Mean Side Of Town'). My main instrument and used on most of my recordings including "Anyhow".
(Click here to listen to "Anyhow" in streaming audio and here to download it as an mp3 - CD info here).

Originally I bought it because I was looking for something reliable, replaceable and cheap (Compared to my vintage Gretsches) to use on stage.

I picked this model because it had a great fingerboard, was even bigger than my '55 6120 G-brand (1½ inches wider!) and reminded me of Scotty Moore's L-5 (I later found out that the 17" wide body actually was modelled after the Gibson L-5 cutaway).

Apart from that it was on sale. At least that's what I was told. I later found out I pretty much paid the standard retail price ~:-(

1997 Epiphone Emperor Regent  

Before:
All original. Jazz guitar with one pickup.

The quality is just as high as on any of my Gretsches.

Specs. :OBL Floating Mini-Humbucker pickup, gold hardware, 25.5" scale, 1.68" nut width, set neck joint, 3-piece maple neck, rosewood/block & triangle fingerboard, binding on the body (5-ply), neck (3-ply), and headstock (3-ply), laminated maple body and select spruce top, 'Frequensator' tailpiece (compensates for string length).

Vince Gordons Epiphone Emperor Regent  

After:

The Filter-Tron (bridge position) was paintcoated black to match the P-90 (neck position). The guitar has typical parallel bracing which made it very easy to mount the pickups.

I had to stuff the guitar with foam to cut the feedback! - That's a tricky solution and one that's not easy to undo. Today, I would try putting in a soundpost first.

The costs:
I've been asked many times what this guitar cost me, so here we go:
The Epiphone itself I got for $750 (new, incl. hard case)
A Seymour Duncan vintage P90 at about $170 (bought in a store)
I already had the vintage FilterTron. (A new TV Jones Classic will cost you $120)
A vintage gold Bigsby with matching all metal gold-plated bridge at $250 (I don't use it even though it's the "official" Bigsby bridge, 'cos it gives a metallic sound in THIS set-up).
Add to that some standard knobs, an adjustable roller bridge and wiring + of course my time and the time ($) of the guitar tech. who helped me.
All in all this guitar cost me approx. $1,300

 

A 1955 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body G-brand with 2 DeArmond DynaSonic pickup's. Used on "Gotto Be", "A Little More Time", "Don't Tell Me What I Want"and "From Day To Day" among others.

1955 Gretsch 6120 G-brand

I bought it from Gruhn Guitars in Nashville in 1987 without even having seen a photo of it. They mistakenly described it as '56 on the phone (a seldom mistake from that company - they'd just gotten the guitar and it hadn't been advertised yet) so I was happily surprised to find it was a '55, when I went to the airport to pick it up.

I got it one week before we recorded our first album, and the picture on the left is taken during those recordings.

I sold it a couple of years ago. After the Epi turned out so well and I used it on my records and in concerts it became my trademark sound and the '55 - sad to say - was just sitting in the corner and I hardly ever picked it up.

The value it represented made me decide to sell it. Like the most of us I'm not a wealthy man and I can't afford to have that much money tied up in something I don't use. Yes, it was a tough decision :-(

I still have a lot of material I recorded on the '55 that haven't been released yet btw.

To sum it up, the '55 G-Brand is the best straight Rockabilly guitar ever made in my opinion. It’s the essence of the vintage rockabilly sound. Period.

I just happened to find my own rockabilly sound on my customized Epiphone and choose to go with that.

 

A 1954 Gibson ES 175D with 2 P-90 pickup's. Used on mid-eighties The Jime recordings (Unreleased).

1954 Gibson ES 175D  

I traded in two Gretsches to get it. The sound wasn't crunchy enough for my taste though and the fingerboard didn't suit me so I was never happy with it and later sold it.

It's still a great guitar for the Scotty Moore kinda sound though seeing that an ES 295 like he used on "That's All Right Mama" is essentially a fancy ES-175D.

Besides these electrics I have about 5 no-name acoustics that are very hard to play, but record very well.

Newsletter:

If you read this far there's a good chance you will want to sign up for my newsletter. It covers both The Rockabilly Guitar Page and my trio The Jime.

Expect to receive max. 6 mails pr. year. Subjects are: New rockabilly guitar info, the tutorial book I wrote called "How to play rockabilly guitar, and get good, fast!" and new CDs.

E-mail address:


 

Vince Gordon

E-mail

Check out my CDs here.

 

Credits:
Thanks to everyone who have mailed me bits and pieces of detailed information that has helped make this page as accurate as possible. I always welcome info on vintage and new gear and recording sessions. If you have found any incorrect information on this site or have something to add, please email me.

Special thanks to: Peter Dijkema of The Netherlands for providing through information on many different subjects. Lorenz Stark of Germany for providing info on the EchoSonic amplifier. Scotty Moore, Dave Kyle, Deke Dickerson, Paul Yandell, Bob & Kittra Moore, Darrel Higham.

 

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