Tell me how Bob Weir gets this crazy, glassy tone?

iaresee

Member
Messages
3,775
His tone on the Dead & Co and Phil and Bobby tours this year have been this strange glassy, ice-pick-high thing that...works. Anyone know how he runs his amps to get so much high end like this? It's easy to hear here:


Also, what is the effect on here? Is that just a Mu-Tron? Feels like the attack is much longer than any Mu-Tron I've played with.

 

jkendrick

Member
Messages
9,898
I don’t have an answer to your question, but this makes me realize just how out of the loop I am. I had no idea the Phil, Bobby, Trey thing took place. Is it a whole tour or a one off?
 

johnnyb128

Member
Messages
1,334
I don’t have an answer to your question, but this makes me realize just how out of the loop I am. I had no idea the Phil, Bobby, Trey thing took place. Is it a whole tour or a one off?
Was the Bobby & Phil Duo Tour: six shows total, NYC/Boston/Chicago, that ended up having guests such as Trey that one night. Was actually very good and different with sparse arrangements of the songs. Unfortunately, I didn't go but I do have the soundboards from each night.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,525
His tone on the Dead & Co and Phil and Bobby tours this year have been this strange glassy, ice-pick-high thing that...works. Anyone know how he runs his amps to get so much high end like this? It's easy to hear here:


Also, what is the effect on here? Is that just a Mu-Tron? Feels like the attack is much longer than any Mu-Tron I've played with.

The amp’s part of it, but it’s hardly the lion’s share.
Most of that sound is just the way he plays, how he holds the pick, the angle of it to the strings on the attack, and the fact that a lot of those attacks are more “percussive articulation” than Harmony.
Y’know what I mean?

A bunch of the Weir thing is more “pitched click” than power chord at a rock rhythm guitar level if you were comparing him to almost anybody else.

He’s always playing time, and he plays great time.
He plays great chords too, he’s just not playing them all the time.

So there’s a constant high frequency harmonic component to his sound, the thick pick biting the string sideways, carrying the time, with predominantly “inside 4” style non-triadic grips interspersed with higher double stops and single note accents.
There’s not a whole lot of low end fundamental present in the actual playing and constant high harmonic info, so his whole thing tilts “bright” at his hands.

And in his concept, which is to look for unoccupied territory to occupy both in terms of register and timbre.

At guitar level, that approach does work extra nice on that Strat.
Single coils, 12 flats with a stupid big plain G, .024 maybe, low action.

Low power stereo amps, 4x8’s. Brown Fender derived, so not a lot of “big iron girth” and speakers with low end response falling off well above the low E string.
So there’s nothing in the above equation favoring bass, he’s not playing it, and the amp can’t deliver it.

Any timbral abnormalities beyond that are the result of processing which he uses plenty of, and not much of it qualifies as “warm/analog”.
Almost everything’s clipping almost all the time.

He doesn’t like straight guitar sounds, he finds them uninteresting.

The envelope filter is probably a Pigtronix. Possibly the Eventide.
He’s got a bunch of filter options, but most of the best of it is the Purple Pigtronix thing imho.

Having been partially responsible along the way for the development of his current production, I’ve been able to ring that Strat out thru that rig without effects, and the whole rig sounds completely different with me behind the wheel. Kinda unrecognizable unfortunately.

Right? Most of it has to be how he plays and how he manages his processing, rather than “amp” or amp settings. If there’s a single significant sonic signature to the amp/speaker contribution to his whole sound it’d have to be “bright clipping”.
 

rollyfoster

Supporting Member
Messages
15,397
The amp’s part of it, but it’s hardly the lion’s share.
Most of that sound is just the way he plays, how he holds the pick, the angle of it to the strings on the attack, and the fact that a lot of those attacks are more “percussive articulation” than Harmony.
Y’know what I mean?

A bunch of the Weir thing is more “pitched click” than power chord at a rock rhythm guitar level if you were comparing him to almost anybody else.

He’s always playing time, and he plays great time.
He plays great chords too, he’s just not playing them all the time.

So there’s a constant high frequency harmonic component to his sound, the thick pick biting the string sideways, carrying the time, with predominantly “inside 4” style non-triadic grips interspersed with higher double stops and single note accents.
There’s not a whole lot of low end fundamental present in the actual playing and constant high harmonic info, so his whole thing tilts “bright” at his hands.

And in his concept, which is to look for unoccupied territory to occupy both in terms of register and timbre.

At guitar level, that approach does work extra nice on that Strat.
Single coils, 12 flats with a stupid big plain G, .024 maybe, low action.

Low power stereo amps, 4x8’s. Brown Fender derived, so not a lot of “big iron girth” and speakers with low end response falling off well above the low E string.
So there’s nothing in the above equation favoring bass, he’s not playing it, and the amp can’t deliver it.

Any timbral abnormalities beyond that are the result of processing which he uses plenty of, and not much of it qualifies as “warm/analog”.
Almost everything’s clipping almost all the time.

He doesn’t like straight guitar sounds, he finds them uninteresting.

The envelope filter is probably a Pigtronix. Possibly the Eventide.
He’s got a bunch of filter options, but most of the best of it is the Purple Pigtronix thing imho.

Having been partially responsible along the way for the development of his current production, I’ve been able to ring that Strat out thru that rig without effects, and the whole rig sounds completely different with me behind the wheel. Kinda unrecognizable unfortunately.

Right? Most of it has to be how he plays and how he manages his processing, rather than “amp” or amp settings. If there’s a single significant sonic signature to the amp/speaker contribution to his whole sound it’d have to be “bright clipping”.
This is why I gear page.
 

dmr34

Member
Messages
378
The amp’s part of it, but it’s hardly the lion’s share.
Most of that sound is just the way he plays, how he holds the pick, the angle of it to the strings on the attack, and the fact that a lot of those attacks are more “percussive articulation” than Harmony.
Y’know what I mean?

A bunch of the Weir thing is more “pitched click” than power chord at a rock rhythm guitar level if you were comparing him to almost anybody else.

He’s always playing time, and he plays great time.
He plays great chords too, he’s just not playing them all the time.

So there’s a constant high frequency harmonic component to his sound, the thick pick biting the string sideways, carrying the time, with predominantly “inside 4” style non-triadic grips interspersed with higher double stops and single note accents.
There’s not a whole lot of low end fundamental present in the actual playing and constant high harmonic info, so his whole thing tilts “bright” at his hands.

And in his concept, which is to look for unoccupied territory to occupy both in terms of register and timbre.

At guitar level, that approach does work extra nice on that Strat.
Single coils, 12 flats with a stupid big plain G, .024 maybe, low action.

Low power stereo amps, 4x8’s. Brown Fender derived, so not a lot of “big iron girth” and speakers with low end response falling off well above the low E string.
So there’s nothing in the above equation favoring bass, he’s not playing it, and the amp can’t deliver it.

Any timbral abnormalities beyond that are the result of processing which he uses plenty of, and not much of it qualifies as “warm/analog”.
Almost everything’s clipping almost all the time.

He doesn’t like straight guitar sounds, he finds them uninteresting.

The envelope filter is probably a Pigtronix. Possibly the Eventide.
He’s got a bunch of filter options, but most of the best of it is the Purple Pigtronix thing imho.

Having been partially responsible along the way for the development of his current production, I’ve been able to ring that Strat out thru that rig without effects, and the whole rig sounds completely different with me behind the wheel. Kinda unrecognizable unfortunately.

Right? Most of it has to be how he plays and how he manages his processing, rather than “amp” or amp settings. If there’s a single significant sonic signature to the amp/speaker contribution to his whole sound it’d have to be “bright clipping”.

Steve- thanks for taking the time. I have been a Bobby fan and guitar player for a long time, and to get your perspective is fascinating. For what it's worth I appreciate the lyrical aspect to your post, "looking for unoccupied territory to occupy" I love it.
 

Bluedano1

Member
Messages
7,043
So his tone is in his fingers? ;)
It kind of is- even in the late '60's early '70's ( think '72 Euro Tour) Jerry's and Bob's guitar tone take almost opposite sides of Traditional Fender vs. Gibson tones:
Listen to the shimmer of Bob's ES-345 on Tennessee Jed, He's Gone, China Cat, while Jerry is ' barky or growly' with a boosted Strat bridge pickup

Seems like Bob dials in a very clean tone ( as well a processed compressed dirty tone) , stays away from the lower strings when doing a lot of his playing, and composed these ' piano chords'
He played the 345, the Ibanez Artist, the Pointy Casios or Modulus Graphites, and now Strats, Tele, DeAngelicos and it alwsys sounds like Bob- that transparent shimner
 

jkendrick

Member
Messages
9,898
It kind of is- even in the late '60's early '70's ( think '72 Euro Tour) Jerry's and Bob's guitar tone take almost opposite sides of Traditional Fender vs. Gibson tones:
Listen to the shimmer of Bob's ES-345 on Tennessee Jed, He's Gone, China Cat, while Jerry is ' barky or growly' with a boosted Strat bridge pickup

Seems like Bob dials in a very clean tone ( as well a processed compressed dirty tone) , stays away from the lower strings when doing a lot of his playing, and composed these ' piano chords'
He played the 345, the Ibanez Artist, the Pointy Casios or Modulus Graphites, and now Strats, Tele, DeAngelicos and it alwsys sounds like Bob- that transparent shimner
Yeah, I always wondered why Jerry sounded the way he did. Came to discover he played really close to the bridge. I think that’s a commonly overlooked part of his tone.
 

Bluedano1

Member
Messages
7,043
Yeah, I always wondered why Jerry sounded the way he did. Came to discover he played really close to the bridge. I think that’s a commonly overlooked part of his tone.
The way these two guys played will fascinate me forever!
I know lots of folks hate him ( his playing, tone, both) but he knew how to embrace a clean ( relatively) bridge pickup on a Strat- which many of us stay away from w/o Distortion- but it really complimented his ' hot Country/ electric Bluegrass' - most folks would use a Tele
Some of the best playing an tone both would get (IMO) is on the jam ( once again early 70's) beween China Cat and I Know You Rider- Weir's R&B slurs and double stops against Jerry's lead excursions practically gets me in tears it so good. The whole band ( just BK alone on drums) is just rolling- a force to be reckoned with!
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,525
Steve- thanks for taking the time. I have been a Bobby fan and guitar player for a long time, and to get your perspective is fascinating. For what it's worth I appreciate the lyrical aspect to your post, "looking for unoccupied territory to occupy" I love it.
Hey, no problem, and thank you too.
I’m a huge Weir fan myself, been studying his thing for decades, musically, production-wise, as a bandleader and friend, all around. . He’s unique.
 

Lephty

Member
Messages
1,531
It sounds to me like his pick is almost bouncing off of the strings. Might even be some combination of pick and fingernails striking the string, quickly but lightly. I would not have thought that his strings would be so heavy (per Kimock's post). Perhaps because he plays a lot of acoustic too--and I'm struck by the fact that he sounds just as much "like Bob" on an acoustic as he does on a Strat.

Ain't nobody else plays guitar like that...totally unique.
 

iaresee

Member
Messages
3,775
@kimock over my (considerable...wow) years on TGP I've asked exactly two questions about The Dead. This one and another (terribly naive) one about their live sound. You've been gracious enough to provide thoughtful answers on both of them and I can't thank you enough for sharing your wisdom, experience and knowledge. After that last thread, some two years ago, I went way, way, waaaaaaay deep on The Dead and I've been stuck here, happy, ever since. I'd definitely count myself a fan now. Sorry I was late to game! :D

And while I'm gushing a bit here let me say: I had Satellite City on the car stereo a few weeks ago as I was coming back from Sausalito from a mid-week gig. At 2 am, heading over the Bay Bridge, with that big moon hanging in the sky and that song playing it was a perfect moment in time. That whole album is great, but that track is really the standout for me.

But to get back to Bobby and The Tone. "Pitched percussion" is such a great way to describe it. I can't stab and rake like the way he does, that's for sure. He gets all kinds of great texture out of his guitar that really floors me.

I'll have to check out that Pigtronix filter. The long time to open on those gliss notes is really striking. I feel like the Mu-Trons I've tried to work with all open far too fast. I'll admit I prefer that tone mixed a bit back on Althea, but it's the sound that adds the unique motion to the entire song. I also think it's very cool he's stayed up on modern effects units.
 

Hack Prophet

vile mighty wretched
Messages
7,067
The way these two guys played will fascinate me forever!
I know lots of folks hate him ( his playing, tone, both) but he knew how to embrace a clean ( relatively) bridge pickup on a Strat- which many of us stay away from w/o Distortion- but it really complimented his ' hot Country/ electric Bluegrass' - most folks would use a Tele
Some of the best playing an tone both would get (IMO) is on the jam ( once again early 70's) beween China Cat and I Know You Rider- Weir's R&B slurs and double stops against Jerry's lead excursions practically gets me in tears it so good. The whole band ( just BK alone on drums) is just rolling- a force to be reckoned with!
Pretty sure it's Weir playing lead on the vast majority of the transition jams between China Cat and Rider in the one-drummer era
 

Bluedano1

Member
Messages
7,043
Pretty sure it's Weir playing lead on the vast majority of the transition jams between China Cat and Rider in the one-drummer era
He's definitely the dominant guitar- almost like ' loud Rhythm' while Jerry's more in the background, but still playing lead, picking... It's intoxicating!

I have a Dick's Picks ( Stanley Theater Pittsburgh '72?) that's in my car, so I'm listening to it all the time and the whole CD is a Bob Weir guitar showcase if you hone-in and listen for it
. Plus it has one of my fave GD songs ( not one you hear much) on it - Black Throated Wind- which I want to record myself, just for kicks.
 

Puckbucker

Member
Messages
1,290
Great thread (and thanks to Mr. Kimock for his insights). Mr. Weir has always had interesting and different tones and approaches. Sometimes reminds me of the McCoy Tyner of rock rhythm guitar (though to say it's "rock" would severely limit what Bob does. Very unique.
 




Trending Topics

Top