Roy Nichols

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Pale Rider, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    What did Roy Nichols play?
    late 50's -early 60's teles?
    string guage, style, etc
    amps?

    fill me in and thanks!
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Steve_2020

    Steve_2020 Supporting Member

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    I saw Roy twice with Hag/Strangers in the late 1970s. Teles obviously, dunno what years. 50s or 60s I'd guess. I bought a Tele in the 1970s and it kinda sucked, but I'm sure they squeezed out some ok ones in that decade :).

    Pretty sure Roy was a Twin Reverb guy. Not sure if he had to have blackface or not.

    imoho, the 'years of the gear' weren't as important to players in those days, I don't think. Vintage was a word associated more with wines than amps and guitars in the 1960s/70s :). A good tele was a good tele, a good fender twin was a good fender twin.

    As it turned out, the older stuff usually sounded good/better and guys like Roy sought out and hung onto good sounding gear. But I think if he needed a new amp, he probably wouldn't have had any problem playing through a silverface Twin- if it sounded good to him.

    I was big Roy Buchanan fan when I made it a point to see Roy Nichols with Merle. Roy B had mentioned many times that Roy N was an influence on him when he was coming up, learning.

    I'd also been heavily briefed on Roy Nichol's greatness by my first real bandleader, a true 'Oakie by way of Bakersfield' who'd seen Roy Nichols play for years down there in the 1950s/60s. And then there were all those big Hag hit records, though James Burton apparently played some of the signature leads on the early hits...

    When I saw Roy, he played wonderfully- totally magical Bakersfield tele lead guitar. He had some unique bent licks . Steel guitar like, but stuff you don't hear done on steels. Given the bends of his 60s work (perhaps earlier) I'd guess he was an early adopter of using a banjo string to lighten up his guages. Just guessing on that.

    Great, sparkling clean tele tone. Hybrid picking, chicken pickin- all the stuff that would later be essentials for country lead guitar...Roy Nichols had it all going on, way early on. Who came up with what and when- Roy, James Burton, Don Rich etc..is an endless debate for another thread.

    Roy's playing was reserved, tasteful in that (older) country way- you wouldn't ever catch him 'grandstanding' all night the way Roy Buchanan did - i truly Loved Buchanan's grandstanding :dude..

    When Roy Nichols played it was something special. Even if he didn't spend the evening bowling you over with hot rod tele licks, he played enough of them to let you know he could have if he wanted to...or more importantly, If The Song Needed Them ..or if Merle wanted them. It was Merle's show, though Merle - like his idol Bob Wills- had several great players in his band and he let them stretch out in concert.

    It's was many years ago when I saw Roy Nichols play but I came away from both shows knowing I'd seen an all-time great tele player, one of the founders of the Bakersfield Sound. I recall also being pleasantly surprised at the many "dual guitar" harmonies he pulled off with steel player Norm Hamlet, sometimes 3 parts when someone (Merle?) added a fiddle on top.

    Roy's great playing is sorta of another time, but modern tele-style country guitar (country, not country rock) is built directly on what Roy and some other great players brought to that particular musical table, beginning more than 50 years ago..

    imo, ymmv
     
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  3. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    He started on an old Blackguard, I think a 1953.

    When he had more money he got a 60s Telecaster.

    Very late in his career he switched to a Les Paul.

    There's tremendous detail available out there through a basic search; I'm thinking Mr. Gene Moles is one of the few surviving fellows from that time. Do a search on him also; see what he has to say. Merle did some type of public chat thing in central California not too long ago, but I feel he's more interested in some of the non-technical, non detail oriented types of questions.
     
  4. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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  5. Steve73

    Steve73 Member

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    Yeah, a monster player. Definitely known for his succinct Bakersfield style stuff but he could bring it when he wanted to. Check out the solo in 'Honkytonk Night-time Man'. Killer western swing solo!!
     
  6. buellwisner

    buellwisner Member

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    That appears to be the LP Custom that Roy played on the Anaheim film/album in the early '80s (the album with "Rainbow Stew").

    Both he and the Hag cook on that record.
     
  7. Steve_2020

    Steve_2020 Supporting Member

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    +1. The twin guitar stuff Roy did with Norm Hamlet (steel) was more swingy than twangy and (iirc) Roy stepped out occasionally in his own jazzy western swing style in concert - and on some recordings.

    Hag was a huge Bob Wills fan and had patterned his larg-ish peak era version of "The Strangers" somewhat on the Texas Playboys. They'd recorded a pretty popular tribute to Bob Wills album in the early 70s and the best versions of the Strangers (60s through the 80s) had no problem covering and cooking on Wills/swing style tunes live, Roy easily jumping into Jimmy Wyble type solos.

    The last time I saw Merle was at a mid 1990s show in a smaller place in Reno. He seemed to have aged a lot in 15-20 years. Roy had taken ill and was gone. It was an ok performance by a country legend. You can never take away those songs, Merle was singing well and the band was adequate. But Roy Nichols was much misssed that night as were some of the other guys. I was very glad I'd caught them in the late 70s when everything was as on fire as it would ever be with Merle, Roy and the rest of the Strangers.

    I did see a tv concert thing sometime in the 1990s that had Merle playing a big room in Vegas with a version of the Strangers that had Red Volkert on lead guitar. That was also a good one. Red and Roy are way different players, but both as stone country as it gets. Red didn't try much to 'do Roy," but was still great. I remember thinking about trying to catch Merle if Red was on tour with him but that notion slipped through the cracks...

    The Roy-led version of the Strangers put out an instrumental album or two back in the day. I had one on vinyl which I believe was called "Merle Haggard Presents The Strangers." Worth checking out if you can find it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  8. jimmyj

    jimmyj Member

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    In a GP article about Merle and Roy he said his old Tele was a '53 and he used Twin Reverbs.
     
  9. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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    Heard MH and tS in Tampa, early '70's at Curtis Hixon Hall. My friend Bob and I were the only longhairs in the crowd of 10,000 - at the height of the "We don't smoke marijuana in" period. Yep, white belts and shoes everywhere! Now commonplace the beer garden set up in the lobby seemed strange for a concert!

    The folks were cool however and that was a killer show.
     
  10. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks a lot, all-
    would these Twins be of the low powered tweedy variety or just a regular old Twin?

    I guess I'm thinking "Mama Tried" album era, which is Roy all over="Lil Old Wine Drinker Me" is a constant source of joy...
     
  11. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    Just regular ol' Twins. Silverface, blackface, whateverface.

    When yer that good, it don't really matter what yer playin' through.

    Btw, do you know the right way to play the Mama Tried intro? It's so cool. I see dudes playing it as a D cowboy chord shape and it's just not the same.
     
  12. Pale Rider

    Pale Rider Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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  13. BJW

    BJW Member

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    Love Roy!As mentioned, Honky Tonk Night Time Man KILLS.
     
  14. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Member

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    Scott Grove has an instruct. DVD of Merle tunes with that on there.
     
  15. roknfnrol

    roknfnrol Silver Supporting Member

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    Anyone have any instrumental Strangers albums ripped from vinyl?
     
  16. walkthewalk

    walkthewalk Silver Supporting Member

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    No, but I have them all on compact disc. They have been released on the Bear Family label.
     
  17. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    ... And the answer is .... ? :cool:
     
  18. Sparkman52

    Sparkman52 Member

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    The great Casper Rawls, who knew Roy (and also Buck Owens & Don Rich) told me Roy used a light top/heavy bottom set of strings.
     
  19. DRS

    DRS Member

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    The question was asked in 2010.
     
  20. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Lol ... But I bet the answer is still the same. :cool:;)
     

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