Getting M. Ronson's "Queen Bitch" sound with my gear?

mcknigs

Silver Supporting Member
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8,093
I'm in the position of needing to emulate Mick Ronson's cocked wah and Tone Blender sound from some of the early Bowie records.

I have a Cry Baby, but the last person who borrowed it said he couldn't get it to work. Even if I can make it work, it's bigger than I'd like to carry. I have a cheapo Danelectro graphic EQ which seems to get me part way there but doesn't seem to have the same phasey scronkiness as Ronson's setup. I also have an Ibanez AW7 auto wah which will supposedly do a cocked wah sound when set properly. I don't have time to buy a bunch of stuff and experiment. I'll be able to play with the AW7 a little bit this weekend.

As far as fuzz is concerned, I have a 90's reissue Vox Tone Blender in a black box. It seems to get close to the boutique MK1 Tone Blender clones I've heard online but it's kind of lacking. I also have an MI Audio G.I Fuzz which I haven't had a chance to play with recently but will over the weekend. Both of these use germanium transistors, which is what Ronson's Mk1 used, yes? Any suggestions on how to use one or the other to it's best abilities here? I also have a Fulltone '70s and an old Big Muff, but I'm guessing those aren't going to get me what I need.

In the meantime I'm trying to learn what I can online. Has anyone had any experience with succesfully getting a fixed Cry Baby sound out of a graphic EQ or auto wah pedal? Gettng the right fuzz sound out of the stuff I own?

TIA,
-Scott
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
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30,302
I like regular wah pedals, so have never found a need to mimic one. But here's what I'd do if I had to:

Turn the EQ on with everything at the middle 0 boost 0 cut. Turn the top band off, then take the next-highest band and turn it up one or two marks but not all the way up. If that doesn't sound squawky, turn the second band off and bump the third band up a mark or two.

Repeat until it sounds a little squawky. Working your way down from the highest band, turn them all the way down one by one If you find the band that needs the boost but it still sounds too full-range, then turn off the lowest 100Hz band and set the 200Hz about halfway between -15 and 0
 

mcknigs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,093
I like regular wah pedals, so have never found a need to mimic one. But here's what I'd do if I had to:

Turn the EQ on with everything at the middle 0 boost 0 cut. Turn the top band off, then take the next-highest band and turn it up one or two marks but not all the way up. If that doesn't sound squawky, turn the second band off and bump the third band up a mark or two.

Repeat until it sounds a little squawky. Working your way down from the highest band, turn them all the way down one by one If you find the band that needs the boost but it still sounds too full-range, then turn off the lowest 100Hz band and set the 200Hz about halfway between -15 and 0

Interesting. OK, I'll try that. So you think this method will result in more squawk than what I did, which was to turn everything down, then turn two mid sliders most of the way up and add a little bit of the frequencies on either sife of those two?
 

mcknigs

Silver Supporting Member
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8,093
I tried the AW7 last night through a bass cab. The fixed-wah sound wasn't bad but even at it's brightest setting it was still pretty dark, and I don't think it's due to the bass cab. I'll try it again today through a SFDR. Another problem is that the setting requires turning the sensitivity all the way down in an attempt to defeat the automatic wah effect, but it was still doing it. I'll break out my Cry Baby today to see whether it is, in fact, not functioning, as reported.
 

JWLee

Member
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347
I don't hear any tonebender in Queen Bitch.
I think he had played his 200w Marshall.
 

seiko

Member
Messages
3,970
I don't hear any tonebender in Queen Bitch.
I think he had played his 200w Marshall.
He used those live for the Spiders tour. He's shown playing QB live in the Old Grey Whistle Test live with a Les Paul, a tone bender and a smallish SF Fender. I would bet that Vox, Marshall and more off- beat Brit amps were in the studio.

OP, what guitars are you using? Anyway I would start with by messing with the tone and volume on the guitar and amp to see if you could get close to a honk tone into the tone bender, then add the wah or EQ if needed.
 

mcknigs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,093
He used those live for the Spiders tour. He's shown playing QB live in the Old Grey Whistle Test live with a Les Paul, a tone bender and a smallish SF Fender. I would bet that Vox, Marshall and more off- beat Brit amps were in the studio.

OP, what guitars are you using? Anyway I would start with by messing with the tone and volume on the guitar and amp to see if you could get close to a honk tone into the tone bender, then add the wah or EQ if needed.
I was thinking of using a Univox LP Special (2 P-90s) but I may use an early '70s LP.
 

Jet Age Eric

Member
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7,671
Scott, if this isn't a long-term thing you could use my Deep Trip Kryptone; I've got it set so it's instant Ronno when I role my tone control back (I can never find the sweet spot on my wah). The EHX Cock Fight is an excellent quick fix, and cheap! Should be easy to find. -E
 

cubistguitar

Member
Messages
5,863
I have never gotten the fixed or cocked wah sound from a pedal that was a good as setting a wah at a certain spot. Of course there are actual wah pedals made like stomps so you can set the inductor by knob for a perfect cocked wah, I know Kelley used to have the Nova wah and I think that is what the Cock Fight does too. Of course it is kinda fun to find a position of your tone knob that is quite close to what you want. It is made easier by a mid heavy dirt box that will add the nasal character usually supplied by the inductor in a wah. Ronson was limited to what was available in those days, but a RAT, your neck pickup and your tone knob should come close. For the best fun get a lower value cap for your tone knob and its woman tone all day.

As far as Queen Bitch goes, I hear the lovely crunch, which is probably the ToneBender, but it aint full up and the gtr tone is down. That amp has some depth too, it was probably the Major, look for something that has a firm bottom and plenty midrange. A vox style bender is very diff from the MK1, the Mk1 feel is kinda chewy and liquid with a funny decay. Vox TB is like a can of bees, not chewy or liquid.
 

mcknigs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,093
I got a chance to play around with some stuff through my SFDR yesterday. I found that my Cry Baby worked off a battery but not off external power. I had thought that I would get the best QB from the wah mostly full up, but with a fuzz after it, it was actually better with the wah about 60% up. Having determined that, I went back to the AW7 and found that it worked pretty well. Then I compared the '90s RI Vox Tone Bender to my MI Audio G.I. Fuzz. The G.I. is not only more flexible, but just plain sounds better. Using cubistguitar's terminology, the G.I. is chewier and the Vox is a can of dusty, desiccated bees. I think the AW7/G.I. combo is what I'll go with.

Scott, if this isn't a long-term thing you could use my Deep Trip Kryptone; I've got it set so it's instant Ronno when I role my tone control back (I can never find the sweet spot on my wah). The EHX Cock Fight is an excellent quick fix, and cheap! Should be easy to find. -E
Thanks. It's a one-time thing -- a Bowie tribute at JVs on Thursday 3/31. I think I'll stick with what I have, though I'm curious now about the two pedals you mentioned and will go look for some clips on YT.

Thanks for all the feedback folks.
 
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Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,302
You could always rehouse the circuit from the CryBaby into a small Hammond box or something. Just replace the pinion gear with a normal knob - or not.
 

mcknigs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,093
You could always rehouse the circuit from the CryBaby into a small Hammond box or something. Just replace the pinion gear with a normal knob - or not.
There's an idea. Actually, I wonder whether BYOC or someone like that makes a kit for such a pedal...
 




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