Стырено с Yahoo Jazz Guitar Group
Для тех, кто хочет получить "джазовый" звук из банки и даже не из банки. В принципе, ничего сложного, но прочесть стоит.
How do I get that Jazz Guitar Tone ...?
JAZZ GUITAR TONE - WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO GET IT
by YJGG member John Clarke msg #3354
INTRODUCTION TO PART I
One of the most fascinating things about the guitar is the range of sounds it can produce. The best players, armed with the instrument and amplifier of their choice, can produce a tone as unique as their signature or fingerprint. Much has been written in guitar magazines about tone production and individual style, particularly in the context of rock, R&B and popular music. But what about the jazz guitar ? The personal voice and expression of the improvising jazz guitarist is arguably one of the pinnacles of musical aspiration. Many commentators have dealt with the playing styles of the jazz guitar masters. But what about their tone ? Is it just a matter of acquiring a vintage arch-top and a Polytone or valve-powered amplifier ? As an aspiring jazz guitarist many years ago, I thought this was all there was to it, but I could not afford the hardware. What I now know is that all arch-tops aren't the same, construction, woods and pick-ups matter as much as for any guitar; and that much fine jazz guitar has been produced on other guitars. Even more importantly, I know that most of the tone comes from the fingers and soul of the player. The goal is a tone which is attractive in itself, so that it will enhance and not detract from what you are actually playing in terms of notes. Secondly, for a jazz musician, a `personal' voice is an asset. There's no `standard' tone, as can be the case in other types of music. To explore jazz guitar tone in more detail, let's look in Part I of this article at guitars. In Part II, next month, we'll look at everything else which affects tone, including amps, of course.
PART 1 - GUITARS
The Arch-tops The arch-top guitar, with its large curvaceous body, f-holes and superficial resemblance to classical stringed instruments was designed in the twenties by Gibson's Lloyd Loar. The design goal was volume. Dance bands of the day featured a rhythm guitarist, and to be heard without amplification they required a bright penetrating tone. The large resonant body and top produced this in plenty, especially when strung with heavy strings. But the laws of physics dictate that, in terms of energy, you can only get out what you put in. So if the note is going to be loud it will not last for long. Sustain, the holy grail of the contemporary guitarist, was not considered so important, and the stylistic developments which required it were decades away. These early arch-tops produced little memorable music in the hands of the dance-band guitarists, but there were some fine players who used them for solo and small group music of great sophistication. We will never know, because high fidelity recordings were not then possible, how those early arch-tops really sounded in the hands of such masters as Eddie Lang, Carl Kress or Dick McDonough. But don't let this stop you checking them out for their musical content, as their recordings are readily available.
The first Gibson arch-top was the L5, with the L50 and L7 following soon after. These guitars featured large bodies and carved solid spruce tops. The L50 was made until 1968, the L7 survived until 1970 and the L5 is still made to this day. These guitars have been used by such notables as Jimmy Raney, Bamey Kessel, Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery. They produce a warm punchy tone with great depth, perhaps a little too much when it comes to controlling feedback.
Feedback with a jazz guitar is highly undesirable, and is different from the controllable kind used to great effect by Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. Likely as not the strings which are feeding back with an uncontrollable and un-musical boom are not the ones you're playing. Because of the low frequency resonance of the large body, the lower strings are the most vulnerable. Arch-top players have solved the problem in a number of ways. Some have used a George van Eps string damper, which is a damping pad which presses down on the strings between the nut and first fret, thereby stopping open string feedback. Others have resorted to taping up the f-holes, which lowers the resonant frequency of the body, or of filling the body with foam or cotton wool. Another way is to use the heel of the right hand to damp those strings not being played. Other Gibson arch-tops of note are the ESI50, used by electric jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian, the ES175, and the Super 400. There were also many signature models. The Johnny Smith, The Tal Farlow, and the Barney Kessel models featuring in sixties catalogues but not selling in large numbers. The thin bodied Byrdland and the round-holed Howard Roberts arch-tops introduced in the seventies are also worth mentioning, as are some contemporary models by Epiphone, Aria, and Heritage.
Just as with Fender's Telecaster, one of the most successful and best sounding Gibson arch-tops was the cheapest - the ES175. The list of users of this model reads like a who's who of jazz guitar and includes Jim Hall, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, Herb Ellis, Pat Metheny and avant garde-ist Derek Bailey. Its shorter scale simplifies the fingering of many jazz chords. The ES175 doesn't feature the awe-inspiring craftsmanship or beauty of the L5, L7 or Super 400, but it has a more even and thicker tone. Its stiffer laminated top was cheaper to build than the solid carved ones, but to many ears actually sounds better when amplified, although not acoustically. Back in the thirties makers such as D'Angelico, Stromberg and Epiphone vied with Gibson to produce bigger and louder arch-tops. The Super 400 was Gibson's answer. Longer by 1 1/2", and wider at the lower bout by nearly 2" than an ES175, it's a huge guitar. Players of Super 400s include Larry Coryell, Louis Stewart and Kenny Burrell. Another maker to feature in the arch-top market is Guild. Their X500 model is a fine instrument but with the two important exceptions of Johnny Smith and George Benson (in his earlier years), it never achieved the same level of star endorsement as Gibson. Both Guild and Gibson still produce arch-tops, but today's aspiring jazz players have some other alternatives which don't require a second mortgage. The Ibanez Joe Pass and George Benson models are excellent instruments as is the Aria Pro II played by Herb Ellis. But stay clear of the cheapest oriental makes which have little to offer other than pose value (although, an exception proving the rule is Jim Mullen's Aria, as he gets a great tone from it).
So, to sum up, if you're looking for sustain don't buy an arch-top. Also, if you like the acoustic tone of a Martin or Guild flat top you'll probably find the un-amplified arch-top overly hard and bright in comparison. Plywood topped guitars like the ES175 can sound positively `clanky', but plugged-in, those short firm notes, provide the building bricks of the fluid horn-like lines jazz guitarists love so much.
A spruce-topped L5, L7, Super 400 or Johnny Smith will give you the best deep "woody" tone, but be prepared to spend some very serious money for, second-hand, these are now rare collectors' pieces.
Laminated top models may well give a tone you prefer. A new or second hand ES175 is a more reasonable buy but still expensive compared to a top flight solid guitar. Watch out for new or secondhand Ibanez Joe Pass and George Benson models, which are outstanding value. The Heritage Company, founded by ex-Gibson employees are also producing new arch-top guitars of a comparable quality to Gibson's original ranges. They are not cheap, but do manage to capture much of that real arch-top tone.
Alternatives to an Arch-top
You can, however, get a good jazz tone without recourse to an expensive arch-top. Try the neck pick-up of a Telecaster with a fair amount of treble rolled-off. It's a warm thick tone used by Joe Pass on his early records, and also by the under-rated Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert. Don't forget also our own Jim Mullen, who got a superb tone from his Telecaster during his days in the Morrissey-Mullen band. One of the most individual contemporary guitar sounds is that of Mike Stern His guitar? A Telecaster, with neck-position humbucker fitted. The Gibson ES335 (Larry Carlton) and ES330 (Grant Green) produce an excellent bluesy jazz tone, but older models can be very expensive. Besides Gibson's Semis, look out for similar models by Aria, Epihone, Yamaha and Ibanez, the latter being popularised especially by top contemporary jazz guitarist, John Scofield. His Ibanez AS200, is a great sounding and playing instrument, and Ibanez should make and sell many more of them. Scofield's signature sound is commented on by all who appreciate his playing, even non-guitarists. He has been quoted as saying that the AS200 enables him to do things he can do on no other guitar. But don't expect it to sound like a Gibson 335 - it's totally different. Not better or worse, just different. An overview of guitar tone in jazz would be incomplete without a look at the acoustic players. I've already mentioned the arch-top acoustic pioneers such as Eddie Lang. Then of course there's Django Rheinhardt. Django's genius flowed out of a flat-top guitar built by Mario Maccaferri in 1932. It featured an inner resonating chamber to boost volume. Little was seen of the acoustic guitar in jazz until Charlie Byrd and Antonio Carlos Jobim popularised the Bossa Nova in the early sixties. But this music has never been widely recognised as top- flight jazz and this, perhaps, has something to do with the nature of the classical instrument's sound. A decade later saw the emergence of more acoustic jazz as new technology pioneered by the Ovation company produced good sounding acoustic guitars which could be amplified without major feedback problems. John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and Bill Connors have ill produced interesting jazz on these instruments, and many more have experimented with the `un-plugged' sound. Finally, what about those giants of guitar music outside the field of jazz - the Les Paul and the Stratocaster. Amazingly, these guitars feature hardly at all in the inventory of guitars favoured by the major jazz players, perhaps for the following reasons. Firstly, it is well known that Strats and Les Pauls sound best played loud. Guitar volume in jazz has often been constrained, quite rightly, by the need for balance with acoustic instruments such as the piano, the saxophone and the double bass. Played at lower levels these guitars just don't sound that good. Secondly, the sustaining qualities of these instruments, which have made them so popular in rock and blues, seem to work against the production of clear chord punctuation and the well articulated jazz "line". In Part II next month, we'll look at everything else which effects tone - strings, picks, pick-ups, tone and volume controls, cables, amplifiers, speakers, and effects - and you thought getting a great guitar was all you needed !