Velvet Underground Gear and Equipment. (1965-1970)

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Bozrahindrid, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Bozrahindrid

    Bozrahindrid Member

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    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.
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Gold Supporting Member

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    Great rhythmic stuff...Lou Reed's early days...Andy Warhol and Nico.....".I'm, waitin for my man"
     
  3. Bozrahindrid

    Bozrahindrid Member

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    Most definitely!! The VU and Nico is a classic!!
     
  4. Meriphew

    Meriphew Member

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    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.
     
  5. StopReferencing

    StopReferencing Supporting Member

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    This thread is relevant to my interests.
     
  6. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Member

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    Lou Reed played a hollowbody Gretsch, I think, and the second guitarist played a lot of Strat.
     
  7. mbargav

    mbargav Member

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    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.
     
  8. dorfmeister

    dorfmeister Member

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    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" export model
      • co-using with Sterling
      • used on the rehearsal scene appeared in Andy Warhol's movie Up-Tight, on EPI shows
    • Gretsch 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 6136 White Falcon
      • double cutaway body
      • live at La Cave, late April, 1968
    • Gibson ES-335TD
      • since 3rd album
    • Gibson ES-345TD
      • stereo electronics
      • since 3rd album
    • Gibson ES-335-12
      • 12-string
      • since 3rd album
    • Fender Electric XII
      • 12-string solid body
      • since 3rd album
    • Epiphone Riviera
      • 2x mini-humbucking pickup
      • with Bigsby vibrato
      • Max's Kansas City era
    • ? acoustic guitar
      • flat-top, non-cutaway, natural finish

    • Fender Deluxe Amp
      • used on the rehearsal scene appeared in Andy Warhol's movie Up-Tight
    • Silvertone 1484 Amp
      • 2x12" speaker cabinet
    • Vox AC100 The Super Beatle Amp
      • customized with mid-range booster
      • used on the 1st and 2nd albums
    • Acoustic amp
      • since 1969
    • Sunn amp
      • since 1970
    • Vox Tone Bender Fuzz
    Sterling Morrison:


    • Gibson 1961 SG/Les Paul Standard
      • SG-style double cutaway body
      • with Sideway vibrato
    • Kent No.532 Copa model
      • Japanese brand "Guyatone" export model
      • co-using with Lou
    • Vox The Phantom VI
    • Gretsch 1963 Tennessean
    • Fender Stratocaster
      • maple neck
    • Gibson ES-335TD
    • Fender Electric XII
      • 12-string solid body
      • since 3rd album

    • Silvertone 1484 Amp
      • 2x12" speaker cabinet
    • Vox amp
      • used on the 1st and 2nd albums
    • Acoustic amp
      • since 1969
    • Sunn amp
      • since 1970
    John Cale:


    • Fender Precision Bass
      • ash body, 3-color sunburst finish
      • maple neck, rosewood fingerboard
      • tortoise pickguard
    • Vox The Phantom IV Bass

    • Vox Westminster Bass Amp
    Doug Yule:


    • Gibson EB-0 Bass
      • SG-style solid body
    • Gibson EB-2 Bass
      • ES-335-style semi-hollow body
    • Gibson ES-335TD (guitar)
    • Gibson SG (guitar, post-Lou VU era)
    • Gibson Les Paul (guitar, post-Lou VU era)

    • Acoustic amp
      • since 1969
    • Sunn 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
    • A Tribute To Sterling Morrison
    • Doug Yule interview (Part 1)
    • Antique Vintage Guitars collector info (details for vintage guitars)
     
  9. bwc3000

    bwc3000 Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  10. bwc3000

    bwc3000 Member

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    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.
     
  11. seiko

    seiko Member

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    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.
     
  12. Jack

    Jack Member

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    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.
     
  13. mbargav

    mbargav Member

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    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.
     
  14. ROKY

    ROKY Member

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    Great thread !!!

    I'm sticking with Lou ..
     
  15. Zelja

    Zelja Member

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    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.
     
  16. Yr Blues

    Yr Blues Member

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    :D I approve o' this thread
     
  17. 6789

    6789 Member

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  18. thedroid

    thedroid Member

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    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.
     
  19. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Member

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    It's more of an attitude. Their music reminds me of amphetamines.
     
  20. ROKY

    ROKY Member

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    Great double album !
     

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