Duane Eddy's House of Twang

How to get that Duane Eddy Sound

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One thing that isn't mentioned is pick gauge. I feel like he uses a fairly thick pick, no?

– shane kislack

Dunno. I know I don't because a heavier pick tends to dampen the "crispness" of my own playing.

However, if Deed is still lurking hereabouts (and she does from time to time), maybe she might chime in and let us know.

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His sound on record is pretty consistently great, but he's changed the gear he was using over the years. Here's what he said about the old days (from a musicradar interview in 2019:

“There was a bass player in Phoenix named Buddy Wheeler, who was also a pedal steel guitar player. He and a friend of his, Dick Wilson, who’s a guitar player in Phoenix, modified Magnatone amps. They originally had two Jensen speakers in them. Well, they did away with those and put a 15-inch JBL and a tweeter in the amp, a 100-watt power pack and a spring echo, and then hooked it all together. Then they covered the case with black Naugahyde with a white grille front and charged $100 for it, which was a lot of money in 1957. They did that for several guitar players around town.

That was my amp. That was the one I played Rebel-Rouser through and it was the most powerful amp and one of the best amps in the world at the time. I compared it with a Standel, which was supposed to be the best amp in America at the time. That’s what Chet Atkins played. But when I played through the Standel it would break up at a certain point. But you couldn’t get mine to break up no matter how hard you hit the notes. They just rang clear as a bell.”

"Now, our echo chamber was actually a 2,000-gal water tank. We went down to the Salt River and visited a junkyard there. Floyd Ramsey, who owned the studio, Jack Miller, the engineer, and Lee and I went round the place and we yelled into tanks that might work as a reverb chamber - they had holes at each end. Lee would go, ‘Whoop!’ and he got an echo out of them.

He finally found one that he yelled into and he liked the echo, so they bought it for a couple of hundred bucks and trucked it up to the back of the studio. Jack Miller, the engineer, built a pinewood cradle for it. It was about 8ft tall and about 15- or 18ft long. So it was a big thing.

Jack put a speaker in one end and a mic in the other. He’d run, say, my guitar and the band through the speaker and it’d swirl around in the tank and into the mic at the other end, and we’d have our echo. It worked. Then, of course, Lee would take - when he took it to Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, they had the best echo in the world at that time and he’d have their record, mix it with ours. That’s why it had such a wild echoey sound on many of those records. That’s how we recorded it.”

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Dunno. I know I don't because a heavier pick tends to dampen the "crispness" of my own playing.

However, if Deed is still lurking hereabouts (and she does from time to time), maybe she might chime in and let us know.

– Kevin Frye

IIRC a thumb pick...

29

One thing that isn't mentioned is pick gauge. I feel like he uses a fairly thick pick, no?

– shane kislack

Great thread and I'm not sure how I missed it.

Good point made by Shane about the pick. I made the switch a year ago to heavy and boom, the tone got better, playing cleaner and all because of the switch from medium to heavy. I don't what Duane has ever used but whatever it is has always provided him with the confidence to "go after it". His confidence in his pick attack has a great deal with the tone and the pick (the right tool) is a big ingredient in the mix.

I think something that has to do with Duane's sound is that he actually playing the song....his playing IS the song. Committing to the melody via the voice of his vision of the song and his guitar. So simple it cannot be duplicated!!

This is what makes his playing so special. He makes it and noone else. The beauty of it is that instead of being intimidating to play any of Duane's songs, it is inviting. His music welcomes any guitarist to play along and be a partner with your own unique/personal flavor.

Even BB KIng couldn't sound like T-Bone Walker as hard as he tried. But it was certainly sweet when they shared the stage in BB's earlier days.


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