Barney Kessel Tone - What amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by timquinn, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. timquinn

    timquinn Member

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    What amp(s) did Barney Kessel typically use. I heard it was Fender Twins, but unsure. What would be the best amp to get to get as close to his great jazz tone? I play a hollow body jazz box, and I want my tone to sound like Barney.
     
  2. DRS

    DRS Member

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    Any BF style Fender amp. Start with a Deluxe Reverb.
     
  3. hardys

    hardys Member

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    I flew out to Denver on business about 25 years or so ago and stayed at the Brown Palace Hotel downtown. Very high end place (the company paid for it). I got there, checked in and went directly to the cocktail loung for a drink. Much to my shock, Kessel was playing there with a drummer & bassist. I couldn't believe he was actually playing a lounge gig and I was lucky enough to stumble onto it. If memory serves me, he was using a small Polytone. It was a week night and there were only 4 or 5 people in the place. What a shame that there was this legendary guitarist playing to an empty room. Go figure? He was freaking smokin' by the way!
     
  4. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    I seem to remember him endorsing Polytone amps back in the 70s when he used to be in Guitar Player magazine quite a bit. As previously mentioned Blackface Fender amps will do that sound, Music Man amps, and just about any squeaky clean amp. I have a 1939 Chuck (Gibson ES150 known as the Charlie Christian guitar) and it gets that sound through any low volume and clean amp. Another sound that I like even more is my acoustic 1951 Epi Triumph with a DeArmond monkey on a stick pickup thru a clean amp. I also have a 1953 Epi Electar Regent with one New York Epi pickup at the neck. It gets that sound too, big time.
    I wish someone could make a small thin guitar with that sound. Maybe they do? I've never really evaluated a Ibanez George Benson or a Bambino type guitar.
    BTW: I have a Johnny A which hints at that tone but doesn't get it.
     
  5. E-Rock74

    E-Rock74 Member

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    I looked into this several years back after I, too, fell in love with Kessel's tone! :bow

    For his '50s recordings ("Poll Winners" etc.), I recall reading from several sources that he used an early Gibson GA-50T, which was a 25w combo with one 12" and one 8" speaker:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    At the risk of angering TGP gods, you might try one of the Roland Cube. I use the Cube 60 - you have a good, clean Jazz Chorus channel and you have a modeling channel with very good BF and tweed settings, and very good EQ adjustability.... I happily play my Benedetto through this....
     
  7. ylo

    ylo Member

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    Evans amps!
     
  8. YOGA64

    YOGA64 Member

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    For at least the last 20 years of his carrer Bareney Kessel used a Walter Woods solid state head, plugged in the speakers of whatever amp was provided as a backline.
    Jast as Tal Farlow and many other jazz players did.
     
  9. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    You are talking about a guy that personally knew Charlie Christian. Which part of his decades long career do you like best?
     
  10. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Really, it's not the amp that gave BK his tone, it was his guitar. You just can't get that sound on anything but a full sized archtop. This weekend I dug out my 1959 Gibson ES125TCD. That is a thin, completely hollow, 24-3/4" scale guitar with two P90s. Like my Johnny A, it hints at the sound but doesn't get it. A few years ago Veillette made a guitar called the Jazz 20. It might get that sound but they are so rare that I'll probably never see one in person.
     
  11. hardys

    hardys Member

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    I agree. I used to have a Gibson Johnny Smith (big ass, hollow archtop) and nothing else I've ever owned came close to that sound. Played unplugged, it sounded similar to an acoustic guitar. Pretty amazing! Why oh why did I ever sell it????
     
  12. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Johnny Smith is a great guitar. I saw Johnny do a guitar clinic here in KC, maybe the early 80s. He said he hated playing thru amps. He had the amp way off to the side and then it went into the store's PA overhead. Wow! He was fantastic!
     
  13. StanG

    StanG Member

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    I'be always thought that the Charlie Christian pickup into 6v6's was a big part of his sound
     
  14. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Not that I'm an expert but I have a 1939 Chuck and it does have that sound. But in the same ballpark is pretty much any archtop with a single coil pickup all the way up at the neck, like Epis with a New York pickup. As far as that goes, I also have a 1976 L5CES and it also gets in that zone.
    Good archtop, neck pickup at the end of the fingerboard and most any clean amp, and you're close.
     
  15. paulbearer

    paulbearer Supporting Member

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    And don't forget, the Gibson Barney Kessels had out of phase pickups.. you'll notice a honky tone switched in the middle...
     
  16. gillman royce

    gillman royce Member

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    Yeah, this is THE one ! As for the Polytone, the late-great Joe Pass told me that he used it because it fit under the seat on the plane. This, of course, was the era just after when airlines couldn't terminate stewardesses for fading looks and weight gain and before strip searches. There's a Mile High Club joke in there somewhere but ....
     
  17. drewdraw

    drewdraw Supporting Member

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    I have a GA50 for sale in the emporium.... indeed a great jazz amp!
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=1227969&highlight=hall


     

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