How does Mark Knopfler get 'his' tone?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by wrxplayer, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    Yes, I know its very much in the fingers, but his tone is so distinct that I am sure amp & pedal use has a real impact on the final product.
     
  2. Sirloin

    Sirloin Supporting Member

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    What song?
     
  3. louis

    louis Member

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    I think the best tone I've heard from him is Brother's in arms!



    Very soulful !



    Louis
     
  4. chrisrocksusa

    chrisrocksusa Member

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    My Favorite guitarist <3
     
  5. kevin hart

    kevin hart Supporting Member

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    I'm a huge Knopfler fan and have looked in to his gear and I've seen him live at least a dozen times since the mid '90's. Honestly, I think the whole "touch" thing is more valid with some players than others... and I'd say it is quite valid with MK.

    Since the mid '90's for live gigs he has used Soldano, Komet, Tone King and Reinhardt amps... and that's just for live stuff. In the studio you can add to that list, Marshall, various Fenders, Divided by 13, LazyJ and others I'm sure.

    The same goes for guitars. In his early years he was a Strat guy and then it was Pensa/Suhr custom stuff with EMG's. Over time he added vintage Strats and Telecatsers, his 58' or 59' Les Paul. Then came the Signature Fender Strat which he really does use live and in the studio.

    Yes, his tone has changed a bit over the years, but his touch and feel are such that he really does sound pretty much the same.

    His long time keyboardist, Guy Fletcher has a great website with diaries from
    all of the tours and recording sessions of the past 10 years or so. Google it, lots of info and pics.
     
  6. wyatt

    wyatt Member

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    Nope.

    I can't think of a greater example of a player who has always maintained a signature sound while workin his way through a series of extremely different amps. Brownface Fenders, MusicMans, Soldano SLO, Komet, Crate VC, Mesa, etc. He always manages that sound that is deceptively clean sounding while actually have a far amount of gain.

    There are some stand-ons, like thicker Brothers in Arm tones (originally JTM45, but he would late use SLO, Komet, and others to get a near identical tone in following years).

    It is predominantly how you play it.

    I can offer two important advice on equipment. 1.) Like most famous guitarists of his era, he rarely ever uses reverb; instead its a short delay for wet sounds, Sultans of Swing uses lots of very short repeats to get it to sound wet and slightly detuned (phase-y). 2.) He's constantly working a volume pedal to control volume and dynamics; playing fingerstyle is often balanced with some compression (Knopfler seems to favor med- to high-gain amps for a natural compression), but with compression dampening dynamics, the volume pedal can put them back in.
     
  7. bonchie123

    bonchie123 Member

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    Doesn't he play most everything he does fingerstyle?

    That's gonna really complicate going after his tone if you are a guy who plays with a pick. For once the "tone is in the fingers" cliche probably holds a lot of truth.
     
  8. Sirloin

    Sirloin Supporting Member

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    Tone/sound is definitely in he fingers and MK is a great example. But come on guys, Money for Nothing sounds NOTHING like The Waterline for example. Gear has to play a part.
     
  9. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Member

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    Well that sound is obviously a wah + distortion, but in general, Knopfler's tone is a fingerpicked strat into a clean amp.
     
  10. wyatt

    wyatt Member

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    Well, there are always stand-out examples like Money For Nothing (there is always an argument over getting that tone, but it's very easy to cop with a cocked wah pedal). But then, he's able to pull off Money for Nothing, Sultans of Swing, the second-half of Romeo and Juliet, What It Is, Telegraph Road, Brothers at Arms, Going Home, etc., and do them all far more than convincingly, with the same amp live, regardless of whether that amp is an SLO, Komet, Reinhardt, etc...or what amp he used in the studio.

    There is nothing you can buy that will make you sound like Knopfler, he can pull that off whether into a Fender or JCM800 (which is what his first Reinhardts were based on). If you want to soumd like him, keep your current gear and study his phrasing, there is no shortcut.
     
  11. weshunter

    weshunter Supporting Member

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    yeah, when people ask about knopfler tone, they generally aren't asking about money for nothing.

    i get closest to it with a compressor and some power amp dirt but using finger touch to make it sound clean. the closest i've ever gotten to it has been with EMG's on a strat but I feel like I can get close with my tele or my SG.

    it's really a touch thing, IMO. and you need some volume to make it work.
     
  12. Simon

    Simon Supporting Member

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    My memory is not the greatest, but I recall reading that the first album (sultans and all those cool songs) were recorded without an amp, direct Strat to the board.

    And no doubt one of the coolest examples of the Stat ever! If your a younger guitarist and have never heard the first record, its to die for!
     
  13. SReynolds

    SReynolds Supporting Member

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    Sultans of swing was done on a 64 Brownface Vibrolux. He first album on a Twin Reverb. Brothers in arms on a JTM45. Shangri-la he used a Komet 60 on several cuts, and some fenders and a tone king. First thing in order is throw your pick away, and don't pick it back up. It has its benifits I haven't lost one pick in quite some time.
     
  14. Earplayer

    Earplayer Member

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    like mentioned before it is all in his hands/fingers...

    ps
    imho the best tone he ever had was on sailing to philadelphia and shangri-la. especially on shangri-la where he used his les pauls a lot. the les paul with the old tweed is just to die for... :drool
     
  15. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    Actually, the original recording had no wah in it. It was about the amp location in the recording room and where they put the mics. I read that when they hit the road to tour in support of BIA, they couldn't reproduce the sound for Money for Nothing, so they went the way of a cocked wah.

    I think the song BIA is the signature sound most identify with when it comes to MK. Yeah, he's played a ton of stuff through the years... but when I want to emulate MK, I hunt down the haunting tone of BIA and I have gotten close a few times.

    FWIW... someone above asks if he finger picks "most of the time"? Well he finger picks ALL of the time. Amazing.

    Check out this BIA version... using HOT ROD amps no less! 3:14... short solo is amazing LP tone.



    Oh yeah... he's using the lowly EB volume pedal that TGP'ers call out for "tone suck". I hear zero tone suck!
     
  16. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Support Group Gold Supporting Member

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    Being a Strat player, primarily, I never was drawn to MK's position 2 Strat sounds. Les Pauls haven't held much appeal to me, either. But several years back, I had the opportunity to check Mark's show out, after performing my Fire Marshal inspections of the venue...

    Holy cow!! :omg He did things with an LP that I've never heard from anyone before or since. There was this deep, sinus-ey thock to the notes he pulled from that guitar (through a Reinhardt stack) that just floored me. I'll never forget the intense beauty of that moment. Almost makes me want to pick up an LP myself.

    I absolutely love MK's tasteful touch!!

    - Thom
     
  17. big mike

    big mike Marshall Voiced Moderator Staff Member

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    Mark's touch is phenominal.

    He also has phase options on the LP that can assist in some of those tones.

    But it's really his touch. amazing player.
     
  18. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Support Group Gold Supporting Member

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    Hmm... we'll have to talk.

    Yes - touch is essential. And behind the touch: taste.

    - T
     
  19. teemuk

    teemuk Member

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    Somewhere in youtube there's a clip where Andrés Segovia demonstrates a handful of entirely different kinds of tones you can generate with the guitar only.... an acoustic "classic" guitar that is. Naturally. No pickup changes, phase switches, etc. just picking the guitar differently.

    One song sounding different doesn't neccessarily mean it had different gear in it. The musician may have just played it with a different style alltogether. Needless to say, "Money For Nothing" as a song is also of entirely different style than "Down to the Waterline" so it's no wonder if Knopfler used a different style in playing it.
     
  20. Pat Healy

    Pat Healy Silver Supporting Member

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    I always hate the "tone is in the fingers," "you won't sound like him anyway" responses to these threads, but unfortunately with MK those responses are true, perhaps more than with any other player. We decided to learn "Telegraph Road" in my band some time ago, so I did a good bit of study into Mark's gear and playing style in the hopes of nailing the part, particularly the outro solo. He's been a top 3 favorite player of mine for years anyway. Unfortunately my efforts were in vain....I'm a better than average player, and the notes to "Telegraph Road" are easy, but capturing that feel and tone would be the work of years. I can play it, but I never go, "Wow, I nailed that!" after. Always something missing.

    Gear-wise, the closest I was able to get was my Tom Anderson superstrat into the Trainwreck sim on my Axe-FX, moderate gain with a little bit of Tube Screamer type drive in front of it. Fingerstyle is a must, don't bother trying to use a pick for most MK stuff. Good luck...
     

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