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Big Star strat sound

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by pyt, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. pyt

    pyt Member

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    Damnit! I want my strat to sound like "September Gurls".

    I have Fralin Vintage Hots, which, actually, aren't too hot. The bridge/middle position, I feel is too dark, with not enough "quack". This is dissapointing because the bridge PU and the neck PU sound frickin' great on their own and even better with a blender pot.

    But what I really want is "September Gurls". Is that even a Strat, or have I just been fooled all these years?

    Help!
     
  2. fatback

    fatback Member

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    I don't know about on the recording, but Alex Chilton has been known to play big ol' F-holed Gibsons with P-90's and a Bigsby.

    #1 Album is still one of my faves.
     
  3. roknfnrol

    roknfnrol Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm pretty sure it's a strat.... You're gonna need a compressor for anything off of that album, very quacky stuff. Also, I detect a lot of 12 string electric on that song. I love that album.:dude
     
  4. pyt

    pyt Member

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    So I guess that's my question: what are the quacky-est, chimey-est strat pickups out there?

    Radio City is my favorite. But I love it all...even Third/Sister Lovers.
     
  5. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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  6. roygbiv

    roygbiv Member

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    Ain't no doubt it's a classic strat quack on the first two Big Star records. I don't think the guitar tone is all that exceptional--that is, I don't think you're going to get that sound from different pickups. I think it's the amp he used and the compressor (most likely a big fat tube) they used when recording that gives it that amazing chime.

    When my five-year-old boy hears those opening chords to September Gurls he always breaks into a big smile. I used to think he recognized the beautiful tone of the guitar. But, it's more likely he just recognizes a great song. In a parallel world, where there is justice, Big Star would've hit the top of the charts with that tune.

    Chilton's an underrated player. Anyone know which famous musician taught him how to play guitar?
     
  7. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    I missed out on this post the first time round, but I sort of want to bump it up because if anyone else has any information I'd love to hear it.

    It don't know if its just great songs, but I love the guitar tones on that album (and Sister Lovers). It sounds like a strat to me (and I would guess, mostly the bridge pickup) through some kind of Fender amp with a lot of compression (JangleBox anyone?). Is there anyone with more specific information.

    And to answer the last question, "Who taught AC to play the guitar?": Roger McGuinn. Now what did I win?

    Martin
     
  8. mezcalhead

    mezcalhead Member

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    There's some info in the book "Big Star" by Rob Jovanovic:

    "In the spring of 1971 the band began practising .. 'In those days Alex used a gold Les Paul' recalls Andy Hummel. 'Chris played a cherry red Gibson 335, I played a blond-neck Fender Precision bass, and Jody had a full set of light-blue pearl Ludwig drums. Alex had a Fender Super Reverb amplifier and Chris had a Twin Reverb.'"

    Apparently, when recording, they mostly used whatever was lying around the studio, especially amps. When they started touring, Ardent bought them Hi-Watt amps. Later Chilton was using a Strat on tour, while Bell was partial to Gibsons.

    I always think of them as being Chilton on a Strat, with Bell on a 335, through Fenders.
     
  9. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Great song, great album...!

    O, My Soul...! :dude
     
  10. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    Try the same BUT non-reversed wound/polarity mid pu.....you'll get a lot more chime and quack in the in-between pos without the hum-cancelling combo.

    Assuming you have the same neck and mid PU with the mid pu rw/rp to both the neck and bridge.

    Try install the neck pu in the mid pos and see how you like the mid/bridge combo sound.
     
  11. Luke V

    Luke V Member

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    What amp are you using? If you want a fat Strat tone, plug into an Orange Rocker series, instant fat.
     
  12. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    Right on! This is the kind of information that I was hoping for. Is the Big Star book good. I guess as a big fan I should check it out.
     
  13. mezcalhead

    mezcalhead Member

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    It is a good book. I learnt a lot I didn't know. It made me sad though - such a waste of talent.
     
    SnidelyWhiplash likes this.
  14. sears

    sears Member

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    When I, bass player, wanted to buy my first electric guitar I got a guitarist friend to come over before we went shopping. I said, this is what I consider "electric guitar." This is what I want my guitar to sound like, and I played him the opening to "September Gurls." I still have the black mexican Strat we bought at Chuck's that day. We tried 30 of them.
     
  15. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    That's interesting. But do you guys here many 2 or 4 position strat sounds on Big Star records? To my ears it sounds mainly like the bridge pickup with a couple of exceptions.
     
  16. Falstaff

    Falstaff Supporting Member

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    Great thread and another reason why this forum is so great.

    I hear a lot of quack positions on the Big Star records (the first two, anyway) and IMHO those are some of the most beautiful tones ever waxed. While those tones sound just *so* classic Strat, they are kind of hard to nail because they are quacky and full with a lot of bottom end at the same time. Maybe there's some doubling going on. I read someplace that Alex used a 59 Bassman on "Radio City," but I also read (on the internet, where else...you want me to read books?) that the amp was just something that happened to be in the studio.

    It's hard to figure out. It's amazing to me that on "Radio City," Chilton played some of the best, most beautiful guitar (IMHO) ever and then never really did it again. Of course he still plays well but it's still amazing to me that he could have such a distinctive, fully formed style and then really sort of put it on the back burner. YMMV, of course. :)

    If anyone is still awake, Chilton is one of the main reasons I play guitar and perhaps the only reason I bought a Strat. I worked at a Box Tops show this summer (they opened for the Animals at a free thing in Boston) and brought my Strat, fully prepared to act like a boob to get him to sign it. Thanks to the really nice guy who plays bass for the 'Tops, I managed to get backstage and he signed it for me. Pretty cool. :)
     
  17. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009

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    I thought September Gurls was a Bangles album {hits package}; great one, too.

    Yeah, Big Star rawks!
     
  18. jimdog

    jimdog Member

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    Falstaff, I didn't realize Alex was playing with the Boxtops again. I love Alex. 'Like Flies on Sherbet' was genius I thought. Of course I love the Big Star stuff just as much.
     
  19. Falstaff

    Falstaff Supporting Member

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    The Box Tops were pretty darn good, too. :)
     
  20. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    Cool. You're right about how the guitars on "Radio City" are beautiful and they exemplify a unique and fully developed style (all those cool little fills that are so well integrated into the chordal stuff). I also think the guitar playing on the third album is great. And, if I'm not mistaken, those are also mostly Chilton (although Steve Cropper plays on at least one track, "Feme Fatal").

    I'm interested to know which songs you hear the quack positions on. I'm relatively new to strats, after years of playing Gibsons and a Jazzmaster, so my ability to distinguish different strat sounds is some what limited by inexperience. But I play a strat now and I'm starting to be able to identify pickup configurations in recordings. I'd like to go back to those tracks and see if I hear the same thing that you do.
     

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