Bill Frisell sound from the mid 1990's

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by beautyfish, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. beautyfish

    beautyfish Member

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    Guys -

    I'm pretty knowledgeable about studio effects but not so much about guitar effects. I'm in love with the sound of Bill Frisell's guitar from the Lyle Mays "Street of Dreams" era. He gets the sound live as well, as you can see on this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-VRy-ESvFQ so it's not some concoction of studio rack gear. It's such a beautiful liquid sound. I'm hearing some digital delay, and something that is playing with the attack. It doesn't sound like a volume pedal so much as some kind of envelope follower, maybe? Also, I think I'm hearing very slow pitch modulation. Anyway, what do YOU pedal experts think is going on there? Anyone see Bill play during this era and have insight?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Jim
     
  2. Paulo Grua

    Paulo Grua Member

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    I think it's all in that mustache . Must be the secret.


    Now, seriously, I think the attack stuff is just the volume pedal, but with a compressor right after it. The modulation is his signature bending-the-neck thing.
     
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  3. MHermans

    MHermans Member

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    I'm a huge Frisell fan. His old sound was basically

    guitar> compressor> Volume pedal> delay> amp

    It sounds like he might be going into a jazz chorus amp here?

    I hope I'm right. And this is what you're talking about....
     
  4. samhambone

    samhambone Gold Supporting Member

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    for mid-90s stuff like "this land" i'd say gtr, maybe some compression (though not as extreme as his '80s sound), a tube screamer for dirt, some subtle tremolo (used sparingly), delay and reverb...oh, and it helps to be a musical genius.
     
  5. HBob

    HBob Member

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    I saw him around '91 or '92 and he was playing a Klein guitar, a Mesa Boogie 1x12 MK series amp combo and a Boogie satelite. He had an DOD FX-17 and I think a TC Electronics Chorus+. I think he also had a Rat. There was also a Lexicon rack unit.
     
  6. beautyfish

    beautyfish Member

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    I've used that TC unit. Not too many people use the middle position, which is a pitch modulator. If he had one of those and was using it that way, that could explain a lot regarding the nice slow pitch wobble.
     
  7. HBob

    HBob Member

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    I really like that setting, too. Nice and subtle.
     
  8. Melodic Dreamer

    Melodic Dreamer Member

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    I love his tone from that era, well any era truthfully. lol
    I think Bill has became my favorite player.
     
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  9. crawz

    crawz Member

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    That 'Street Dreams' disc would very likely have been done using a Lexicon 224XL. It's got that sound to it. The studio version of 'August' has a wonderful atmosphere about it. He's swelling in what he plays using a vol pedal most all the time. I think this was a big part of how he achieved that level of on a cloud smoothness.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlLoJ9czrR4
    When he used the Klein guitar on Kenny Wheeler's fine CD 'Angel Song' I know that there was a line taken off the piezo pickup to the board as well as miking up his two Deluxes. Maybe a delay was put on the piezo as well... and this was mixed in at the board? For a long while he's favored using a Lexicon LXP-1 or ALEX verbs. I've never once known of him using a pedal verb, but rather single rack space or half rack ones. Delay-wise he used the EHX 16 second delay for a time and still uses the DL4 I'm pretty sure. The DL-4 can be heard here in this fine clip of him doing Shenandoah.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svzv-YkUzdk
    It's damned lofty territory to tame delays into being this smooth and smeared and not generating repeats. The looping might suggest that repeats are arriving from the delays... but I'm quite sure not. He's always been highly artful in achieving a wonderful delay sound... no matter what he used. He shakes the neck on his instruments a lot and so some of this modulation you hear is literally manual.
     
  10. Mr. Limbic

    Mr. Limbic Member

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    others are right, its really guitar>compressor>volume>rat>Rack reverb/delay (different lexicons among others)>stereo amps (mesas, twins, polytones, deluxes, princetons, but really anything with a nice rich clean in stereo)- he has also said he quit using the comp with the volume pedal because "they cancelled each other out" because he was using the compressor for more of the "evening" out of the strings rather than the squish. I am sure his guitars had a good bit to do with that sound as well, as that Klein had a tele, p90 or single, and a humbucker all in it, so he had quite the pallet to work with. He is now using a pedal verb for the first time I have ever seen...search yputube and its him playing around with some effects and the TC Electronic Hall of Fame is on his board. He is constantly experimenting, sohis sound evolves, but for that era I think some delay, a rat distortion, and some sort of stereo delay/reverb will get you there, but all of that will get you nowhere unless you have his chops!
     
  11. LouRossi

    LouRossi Member

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    the tc unit was the compressor most likely... as mr. limbic mentions he stopped using a few years later but bill is bill. it's always a treat to see him
     
  12. standingzero

    standingzero Member

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    Wow, this is the first I've ever heard of him... truly impressive!
     
  13. FuzzGazer

    FuzzGazer Member

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    You are a lucky man, your journey will be rewarding!
     
  14. beautyfish

    beautyfish Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies. The consensus that I'm getting is that there is no real answer to this except that Bill Frisell is a genius, which is what I kind of suspected in the first place. I was hoping it was more simple than that, but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a matter of "just go out and buy this brand of multi-effects and hit the "Bill Frisell '90's Preset."

    Anyway, I'll continue to monitor this thread in case anyone comes up with any additional insights. My interest is in that SPECIFIC sound, the one referenced in the clip. In the meanwhile, I'm going to buy some pedals, get out my Tele and '68 Princeton, and see if I can get anywhere close.

    Wish me luck!!!
     
  15. johntoste

    johntoste Member

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    The few times I've seen him live, he always had a DL 4.
     
  16. Melodic Dreamer

    Melodic Dreamer Member

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    To second Mr. Limbic, you can hear him state why he gave the compressor/volume pedal up.

    Go to 3:00

     
  17. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow ... all I can say (as someone who discovered him sort of late (IMO), in the late 90s) is ... you have a LOT of great catching up to do!

    He has become one of my never-miss acts/artists when he comes around, I'm interested in everything he does even if some resonates more than others. A true original and an inspiration in expanding musical horizons.

    Cheers,
    Jon
     
  18. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    there's a couple of vids of BF demoing his gear at various times, it's stayed pretty consistent in the type of things he's used, the actual models of things have changed (as gear gets old, needs replacing).
    it's usually guitar (duh):
    -volume pedal (which he no longer uses, but may have been using in the 90s still, he also eliminated the compressor i think)
    -distortion (in 90s he was still using a RAT!!)
    -delay (short repeats)
    -looping device (eh 16 ddl to digitech pds8000 to line 6 dl4 & he also uses an ehx freeze)
    -reverb (used to use old lexicon 1/2 rack thing, lately it's been tc electronics hall of fame)
    -out to cleanish amps (usually some fender when he's touring)

    then as others have said, it's how he uses this stuff, the magic is in him, so to speak.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  19. jazzguitar

    jazzguitar Member

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    Thanks for posting that vid!
     
  20. cubistguitar

    cubistguitar Member

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    That clips is from the 80s of course and he was still playing the SG!! I really like the 80s through the mid 90s, that clip was amazing. He really plays that compressor strong in these days, the mod is his hands and the neck bending etc, his touch is incredible. Glad he gave up the compression, but occasionally it added a neat flavor without distracting from anything. The rich warm delays and tuning each note as he goes is the secret, wish i could do it.
     
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