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Bozrahindrid
10-24-2009, 01:01 PM
Ok, The VU is without a doubt, My Number 1 favorite Rock and Roll band hands down. Many answer this statement saying "Why the VU? Their not that great. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Boston, their great. But the VU?"

Tru that these bands are absolutely Phenomenal. As a matter of fact, I am a fan of the three mentioned. But the VU is quite different.

The VU broke much more boundries than any other band. Going so far to explore avant garde and using their music as art more than listening. Their sound, their rhythms, everythng about them is unique. And they drew me into their music faster than you can say Oblivion. And I have been hooked ever since high school and never looked back at mainstream rock again..

I discovered through them the 70's NYC Punk scence like Patti Smith, Televison, and The Ramones, got hooked on them and soon took inspiration from that scene. Turns out The VU was arguably a precursor to Punk, Alt Rock, and Mostly Indie Rock.

So I ask you, What effects did The VU use. Their Guitars, equipment, effects, amps, etc..Lets also have a debate on The Vu and on Punk in general as it as gone on to be one force in music.

Rod
10-24-2009, 01:45 PM
Great rhythmic stuff...Lou Reed's early days...Andy Warhol and Nico.....".I'm, waitin for my man"

Bozrahindrid
10-24-2009, 01:56 PM
Most definitely!! The VU and Nico is a classic!!

Meriphew
10-24-2009, 02:05 PM
The VU is one of my favorite bands. There used to be a pretty informative thread about VU over at Gearslutz. I just went to find it (to post a link), but I couldn't track it down.

StopReferencing
10-24-2009, 02:12 PM
This thread is relevant to my interests.

Lolaviola
10-24-2009, 02:26 PM
Lou Reed played a hollowbody Gretsch, I think, and the second guitarist played a lot of Strat.

mbargav
10-24-2009, 02:44 PM
Reed played a couple of Gretsch hollow bodies (Country Gentleman, White Falcon), an ES-335, and a Epi Casino (not 100% sure on this - the Epi might've been later), and Morrison played a Strat. Depending on the song, Morrison or Cale played a P-Bass. I think VU played a lot of solid state Vox amps; during the White Light/White Heat sessions they were sponsored by Vox. I'm guessing Super Beatles.
I've read quotes from Sterling Morrison discussing VU, and when he mentions pedals, he just says "distorters" and "fuzzers". He didn't really seem very particular; probably just used whatever was available then. Most of VU sounds like SS amps cranked up to me though - I don't think pedals were a very important part of the sound.

dorfmeister
10-24-2009, 03:03 PM
This should be helpful:

http://ww21.tiki.ne.jp/~wildside/gear.htm#velvets

The Velvet Underground era

Lou Reed:



Kent No.532 Copa model

Japanese brand "Guyatone (http://www.guyatone.com/)" export model
co-using with Sterling
used on the rehearsal scene appeared in Andy Warhol's movie Up-Tight, on EPI shows


Gretsch (http://www.gretschguitars.com/) 1964 Country Gentleman

double cutaway body
later customized with Fender Stratocaster pickups (taken off from Sterling's Stratocaster) + preamp + speed controller + tremolo controller, stereo electronics


Gretsch (http://www.gretschguitars.com/) 6136 White Falcon

double cutaway body
live at La Cave, late April, 1968


Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) ES-335TD

since 3rd album


Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) ES-345TD

stereo electronics
since 3rd album


Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) ES-335-12

12-string
since 3rd album


Fender (http://www.fender.com/) Electric XII

12-string solid body
since 3rd album


Epiphone (http://www.epiphone.com/) Riviera

2x mini-humbucking pickup
with Bigsby (http://www.bigsbyguitars.com/) vibrato
Max's Kansas City era


? acoustic guitar

flat-top, non-cutaway, natural finish





Fender (http://www.fender.com/) Deluxe Amp

used on the rehearsal scene appeared in Andy Warhol's movie Up-Tight


Silvertone (http://www.silvertoneguitar.com/) 1484 Amp

2x12" speaker cabinet


Vox (http://www.voxshowroom.com/) AC100 The Super Beatle Amp

customized with mid-range booster
used on the 1st and 2nd albums


Acoustic amp

since 1969


Sunn (http://www.sunnamps.com/) amp

since 1970


Vox (http://www.voxshowroom.com/) Tone Bender Fuzz

Sterling Morrison:



Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) 1961 SG/Les Paul Standard

SG-style double cutaway body
with Sideway vibrato


Kent No.532 Copa model

Japanese brand "Guyatone (http://www.guyatone.com/)" export model
co-using with Lou


Vox (http://www.voxshowroom.com/) The Phantom VI
Gretsch (http://www.gretschguitars.com/) 1963 Tennessean
Fender (http://www.fender.com/) Stratocaster

maple neck


Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) ES-335TD
Fender (http://www.fender.com/) Electric XII

12-string solid body
since 3rd album





Silvertone (http://www.silvertoneguitar.com/) 1484 Amp

2x12" speaker cabinet


Vox (http://www.voxshowroom.com/) amp

used on the 1st and 2nd albums


Acoustic amp

since 1969


Sunn (http://www.sunnamps.com/) amp

since 1970



John Cale:



Fender (http://www.fender.com/) Precision Bass

ash body, 3-color sunburst finish
maple neck, rosewood fingerboard
tortoise pickguard


Vox (http://www.voxshowroom.com/) The Phantom IV Bass



Vox (http://www.voxshowroom.com/) Westminster Bass Amp

Doug Yule:



Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) EB-0 Bass

SG-style solid body


Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) EB-2 Bass

ES-335-style semi-hollow body


Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) ES-335TD (guitar)
Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) SG (guitar, post-Lou VU era)
Gibson (http://www.gibson.com/) Les Paul (guitar, post-Lou VU era)



Acoustic amp

since 1969


Sunn (http://www.sunnamps.com/) amp

since 1970



Sources/Links:


An anonymous contributor offered the following information:
"The amp that Sterling Morrison used during the Velvet era was a Silvertone 1484. I don't even think that Silvertone made an amp named 2143. I've got a Silvertone 1484 myself, so I'm pretty sure."
Japanese Guitar Magazine Jan 1994 issue
Jonathan Richman interview appeared in VU book up-tight: The Velvet Underground Story
Lou Reed video: Lou Reed - A Rock And Roll Heart (1998)
The Velvet Underground video: Curious... The Velvet Underground In Europe (1994)
The Velvet Underground Web Page (http://members.aol.com/olandem/vu.html)
A Tribute To Sterling Morrison (http://olivier.landemaine.free.fr/sterling/sterling.html)
Doug Yule interview (Part 1) (http://furious.com/perfect/yule.html)
Antique Vintage Guitars collector info (http://www.provide.net/%7Ecfh/) (details for vintage guitars)

bwc3000
10-24-2009, 03:08 PM
I started playing guitar and writing songs in part because of Lou Reed and the Velvets. One of my first bands used to play tons of Lou/VU covers, everything from "Sister Ray" to the New York record. One of the first things I did when I got a guitar as a kid was drill a hole in the side, stick a mic in it, and plug it into my stereo so I could get feedback like on "Heroin" and "I Heard Her Call My Name." It was the VU stuff that got me interested in the later punk stuff like Television, Rocket from the Tombs, the Voidoids, and, eventually, Husker Du, The Feelies, and The Replacements.

By the way, a great book on the progression from the VU to the late '70s American punk scene is Clinton Heylin's From the Velvets to the Voidoids. Of course, Lester Bangs' Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung has several really funny essays on Lou in it as well.

I seem to recall reading years ago that some of the lead boost and feedback on the live recordings and first two VU records are coming from those little Vox treble boosters which plugged directly into the guitar:

http://www.voxshowroom.com/us/misc/treboost.html

I also seem to recall an interview with Sterling Morrison where he explained (and may have been joking!) that the reason the third VU album is so clean sounding was the result of the band's gear (including their fuzz boxes) being stolen. Can't remember where I read all that, though it might have been in Victor Bockris's book on the Velvets.

For what it's worth, I used to get great VU-style sounds with a Strat and an old block logo MXR Distortion + for a boost.

bwc3000
10-24-2009, 03:15 PM
Almost forgot...you should also check out the American Masters documentary on Lou Reed from the 1990s. Great VU footage, not to mention all kinds of cool information on the early years of the band, including their artistic links to greats like poet Delmore Schwartz and minimalist composer La Monte Young.

It also includes a segment on the VU reunion from the early '90s just before Sterling passed away. In those clips, I think Sterling is playing a Jazzmaster.

seiko
10-24-2009, 03:26 PM
Most of the relevant details have been covered. The first album is the sound of the cranked Deluxe and Dano. They used lotsa of Vox for WLWH (they had an endorsement deal). Big ol acoustic amps after that.

One detail that doesn't often seem to be mentioned. The whole band tuned down a whole step for virtually all of their recordings. It makes a big difference.

Jack
10-24-2009, 03:36 PM
The instrument credited as 'ostrich guitar' on the first album is a cheap guitar played through an amp whose speaker had holes punched in it with an icepick. "Do the Ostrich" was some early song that Reed did when he was a salaried songwriter and some recording was made of it with the above equipment, and then it was used again on the nastier stuff on the first album, I guess.

I also read in an interview with them that liked to record with cheap guitars because they would feed back more, but no specifics.


I don't see the Velvets as 'breaking through more boundaries' than the Beatles, Steely Dan, Grateful Dead, Nirvana, Hendrix. I mean they are unique and influenced the hell out of punk, but in terms of boundaries: other bands were making noisy feedback music at that time. Lou Reed has a unique songwriting voice, and they had some kinky/Warhol/sex overtones-but that's, like, two boundaries IMO.
That being said, I was a fan as a kid when some of the vinyl was out of print in the US and I actually found the 2nd and 3rd albums in Europe on a family trip there, so that stuff has special place in my heart.

mbargav
10-24-2009, 03:41 PM
This to me says everything that needs to be said about the Velvets: http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/6400-the-200-greatest-songs-of-the-1960s/

It's Pitchfork's best songs of the '60s list (you can listen to most of the songs through the embedded player). It's a lot of fun to take a few hours and just listen to all the songs. All of a sudden you get to Sister Ray, and it just hits you like a sack of bricks. Ahead of their time doesn't begin to describe the Velvets.

The only other song that hits me as hard on that list is I Wanna Be Your Dog (Stooges being one of the few bands I put above The Velvets).

I have to say though that they are better described as part of post war experimental music and minimalist classical composition than proto-punk. To me, playing 3 chords because you don't know or care about the existence of a 4th is punk. But intentionally writing 2 chord drones is something entirely different.

ROKY
10-24-2009, 03:45 PM
Great thread !!!

I'm sticking with Lou ..

Zelja
10-24-2009, 04:40 PM
Great thread !!!

I'm sticking with Lou ..

Cause you're made out of glue?

I love the VU! The sobering thing is that they made this, at times, very non-traditional music, with pretty traditional instruments (including cello). It's all in the attitude & creative spark.

Yr Blues
10-24-2009, 05:19 PM
:D I approve o' this thread

6789
10-24-2009, 09:04 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i48BP1PUoFI

thedroid
10-24-2009, 09:11 PM
The VU played songs that were vaguely pop but would never be heard on the radio. They played drones that were vaguely Eastern but were as far as you could get from sitar-loving hippies. They sometimes played blues scales but seemed to have never even heard the blues. They had no interest in tradition and were unabashedly arty. They were anti-professional and anti-craft.

These are all reasons they were great, by the way.

They played an "art music" to replace the cheesy bongo-folk crap that was considered Bohemian before they came along. They invented "alternative."

That said, I wouldn't want to cop too many of the tones from their records. And my main amp is a 1484.

My favorite sounding VU album is Live 1969.

Lolaviola
10-24-2009, 10:39 PM
It's more of an attitude. Their music reminds me of amphetamines.

ROKY
10-24-2009, 10:44 PM
The VU played songs that were vaguely pop but would never be heard on the radio. They played drones that were vaguely Eastern but were as far as you could get from sitar-loving hippies. They sometimes played blues scales but seemed to have never even heard the blues. They had no interest in tradition and were unabashedly arty. They were anti-professional and anti-craft.

These are all reasons they were great, by the way.

They played an "art music" to replace the cheesy bongo-folk crap that was considered Bohemian before they came along. They invented "alternative."

That said, I wouldn't want to cop too many of the tones from their records. And my main amp is a 1484.

My favorite sounding VU album is Live 1969.

Great double album !

Zelja
10-24-2009, 11:15 PM
The VU played songs that were vaguely pop but would never be heard on the radio. They played drones that were vaguely Eastern but were as far as you could get from sitar-loving hippies. They sometimes played blues scales but seemed to have never even heard the blues. They had no interest in tradition and were unabashedly arty. They were anti-professional and anti-craft.

These are all reasons they were great, by the way.

They played an "art music" to replace the cheesy bongo-folk crap that was considered Bohemian before they came along. They invented "alternative."

That said, I wouldn't want to cop too many of the tones from their records. And my main amp is a 1484.

My favorite sounding VU album is Live 1969.

Good post. I got into the VU via 2nd hand vinyl copy of that album. Brilliant stuff!

jgyn
10-24-2009, 11:41 PM
The 4 points of my pyramid base's Hendrix, Coltrane, The Stooges, and The Velvet Underground.

mbargav
10-25-2009, 11:56 AM
The 4 points of my pyramid base's Hendrix, Coltrane, The Stooges, and The Velvet Underground.

Swap out Coltrane with Ornette Coleman, and we think exactly alike!

CharAznable
10-25-2009, 12:05 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i48BP1PUoFI

That is insane!

Craise
10-25-2009, 01:02 PM
Lou's come a long way since VU!!!!

:barf
http://petecornish.org/Lou-Reed%27s-Rig.jpg

6789
10-25-2009, 01:09 PM
Is that a soft-serve ice cream dispenser on the bottom left?

mbargav
10-25-2009, 05:23 PM
I have no clue how any of the Cornish stuff works, but I read in a recent interview with Reed that the basic point is to give him a setup where he can play around with feedback at a lower volume, and without being too close to the amp.

seiko
10-25-2009, 05:44 PM
Its a salient point that he actually sounds way less cool with that stuff than the primative gear, to me the live band with robert quine was the last good live band and new york was the last good album. Ashame

CthonicEwes
10-25-2009, 07:26 PM
Yes, I agree. As soon as Reed turned into a gear nerd he became totally uninteresting. Sad. I wonder if this applies to us, as well...

jgyn
10-26-2009, 12:47 AM
Swap out Coltrane with Ornette Coleman, and we think exactly alike!

Woot!

themadcaplaughs
10-26-2009, 02:12 AM
Lou Reed, a poor man's Carole King.

Yr Blues
10-26-2009, 02:51 AM
Lou's come a long way since VU!!!!

:barf
http://petecornish.org/Lou-Reed%27s-Rig.jpg

:barf

jellyroll
10-26-2009, 03:33 AM
Yes, I agree. As soon as Reed turned into a gear nerd he became totally uninteresting. Sad. I wonder if this applies to us, as well...
not sure that's true, as he was arguably a "gear nerd" all along. I think built in tremolo in your guitar in the 60's counts as nerdy/gear tendencies.

mbargav
10-26-2009, 06:11 AM
Lou's definitely always been a huge gear nerd. Probably one of the few people who tends to play whatever's on the "cutting edge" of guitar design. Apparently this is what he's playing now: http://www.noahguitars.com/
In response to one of the earlier posts, I don't think it's the emphasis on gear that has negatively impacted his music, but his lack of emphasis on finding better bandmates. IMO, Reed is only at 100% when he has somebody like Cale or Quine sharing the stage with him ... Cornish just can't fix that.

CthonicEwes
10-26-2009, 10:58 AM
Hmm, I had no idea he was such a gear nerd all along. So much much for that theory!

I kind of assumed he wasn't a gear nerd early on given how primitive the VU sound was.

thedroid
10-26-2009, 11:56 AM
Lou Reed's a great songwriter, and his vocal delivery is unique, but there are millions of better guitar players. The sound of his records is so inconsistent that I've always thought he was at the mercy of the producers, not knowing anything about how to get a good sound himself. Or maybe he just has bad taste.

pboudreau
10-26-2009, 06:02 PM
Ok, The VU is without a doubt, My Number 1 favorite Rock and Roll band hands down. Many answer this statement saying "Why the VU? Their not that great. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Boston, their great. But the VU?"

Tru that these bands are absolutely Phenomenal. As a matter of fact, I am a fan of the three mentioned. But the VU is quite different.

The VU broke much more boundries than any other band. Going so far to explore avant garde and using their music as art more than listening. Their sound, their rhythms, everythng about them is unique. And they drew me into their music faster than you can say Oblivion. And I have been hooked ever since high school and never looked back at mainstream rock again..

I discovered through them the 70's NYC Punk scence like Patti Smith, Televison, and The Ramones, got hooked on them and soon took inspiration from that scene. Turns out The VU was arguably a precursor to Punk, Alt Rock, and Mostly Indie Rock.

So I ask you, What effects did The VU use. Their Guitars, equipment, effects, amps, etc..Lets also have a debate on The Vu and on Punk in general as it as gone on to be one force in music.

So glad to see this thread! I had a musicians magazine from the 80's where Lou talked about his Gretsch Country Gentleman he used in those days. In the 70's, some hanger-around had been pestering Lou about giving him the guitar (which was pretty much trashed at that point) He finally gave in and gave it to him. I would love to know where that guitar is now. I would suspect it was traded for smack.

daphil_1
10-26-2009, 07:31 PM
gear = heroin - equipment = syringe

Tycho
09-01-2012, 09:45 PM
Great thread. I was listening to the third album and to Live 1969 in the car today and wondering what gear they used. Came home and Googled "Velvet Underground gear". And as usual, TGP came through.

groovington
09-02-2012, 02:20 PM
Great thread! VU is a too often overlooked band.

justnick
09-02-2012, 04:22 PM
Love this thread.

The guitar sounds of "What Goes On" on '69 live have haunted me since early childhood.

Yeah, Lou's always been a weird, semi-informed gearhead. Which I actually think in his case has worked out better than it would have if he were fully informed. He generally seems to get good guitar sounds happening (whether his own or someone else's) on most of his records.

Yes he's made some awful things over the years--the recent Metallica collab/collapse. perhaps the worst. But I worship him (and Cale, and Moe, and the rest of them) just the same.

I think my favorite solo album is Street Hassle which has some great guitar sounds on it.

jazzphan89
09-02-2012, 05:59 PM
Phish covered the Nico album for their 1998 Halloween show, it rips! I can send you the show if you're interested. They also do a killer version of Rock and Roll as well as Cool it Down

vanguard
09-02-2012, 08:42 PM
i love the opening of Train-spotting with that monologue about trying to convince yourself Lou's solo stuff is pretty great, and then you hear a VU record and realize it's crap.

IMO, VU is the perfect example of a great songwriter (Lou) who's only great with the right band. I swear his body was occupied by a mediocre alien songwriter after Loaded.

justnick
09-02-2012, 09:06 PM
i love the opening of Train-spotting with that monologue about trying to convince yourself Lou's solo stuff is pretty great, and then you hear a VU record and realize it's crap.

IMO, VU is the perfect example of a great songwriter (Lou) who's only great with the right band. I swear his body was occupied by a mediocre alien songwriter after Loaded.

Curious if you've checked out Coney Island Baby and Street Hassle. I also happen to love Berlin but I'm aware that album is an acquired taste.

n

Tycho
09-02-2012, 10:41 PM
I love Berlin too. And I like a lot of Sally Can't Dance, mainly because that's the album by which I discovered Lou when I was 17.

I'm curious to know if people think he plays "What Goes On" with a pick. The only way I've ever been able to come close to that sound is by strumming with the backs of my fingernails.

Edit: I just remembered that I really first became aware of Lou when I heard Mitch Ryder's great cover of "Rock 'n' Roll" when I was about 15. I made all my bands in high school do that tune. But I didn't hear the VU original till a couple of years later.

daphil_1
09-02-2012, 10:59 PM
Hmmm - long way...the wrong way?

Lou's come a long way since VU!!!!

:barf
http://petecornish.org/Lou-Reed%27s-Rig.jpg

A-Bone
09-02-2012, 11:22 PM
This to me says everything that needs to be said about the Velvets: http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/6400-the-200-greatest-songs-of-the-1960s/

It's Pitchfork's best songs of the '60s list (you can listen to most of the songs through the embedded player). It's a lot of fun to take a few hours and just listen to all the songs. All of a sudden you get to Sister Ray, and it just hits you like a sack of bricks. Ahead of their time doesn't begin to describe the Velvets.

The only other song that hits me as hard on that list is I Wanna Be Your Dog (Stooges being one of the few bands I put above The Velvets).

I have to say though that they are better described as part of post war experimental music and minimalist classical composition than proto-punk. To me, playing 3 chords because you don't know or care about the existence of a 4th is punk. But intentionally writing 2 chord drones is something entirely different.

Great post, and true, I think.

charge
09-03-2012, 07:29 AM
Gonna throw this one out there: Doug Yule fuzz bass on Sweet Jane = Sunn Buzz.

WgUs7yWnDJ8

@ 3:15

Tiny Montgomery
10-27-2013, 05:08 PM
Necro'd for Lou. R.I.P.:(

L0ki
10-27-2013, 05:15 PM
:cry:

chrismellotron
10-27-2013, 05:38 PM
I think it's cool Lou used a Vox Tone Bender FUZZ!!

chrismellotron
10-27-2013, 05:45 PM
Lou's come a long way since VU!!!!

:barf
http://petecornish.org/Lou-Reed%27s-Rig.jpgFor some reason, I find it ironic Lou used all this stuff.