Modern Gretsch Guitars

Tone Pot vs Mud Switch Preference?

51

How many of you actually use the knobs on your guitar more than once a year, aside from the Master Volume?

– Billy Zoom

That’s pretty accurate for me, although I will sometimes flip the switch.

52

How many of you actually use the knobs on your guitar more than once a year, aside from the Master Volume?

– Billy Zoom

Sometimes I'll roll back the neck pickup in the middle position on my Duo Jet with Dynasonics. I rarely but occasionally have found useable tones playing around with the tone knob.

53

i use the volume knobs in conjunction with the pickup switch to turn the guitar output off when i set it down. once in a blue moon i'll turn the pickup i'm using below 10, or more often use the top 2 or 3 notches of the tone knob to take the shrillness out of my Strat or to dial down the howl on the Epiphone SG which has fierce pickups, but generally i use the knobs so seldom that they're more ornamental than anything else. i don't think i've altered the volume balance from one pickup to the other with both of them on more than a half-dozen times in my life. that's why i find the switch option attractive...fewer options to confuse me in the heat of, erm, something or other.

54

I had always thought "Wooden Ships" was a perfect use of the mud switch on his White Falcon, but it turns out he played all those parts on a Gibson Super 400. Doh!!

Well, if we trust that Stills remembers what he did. Claiming to remember the 60s is a sure sign you weren't there, and we have pictures to prove he was, so he may just be pretending to remember.


A Non-Sequitur Leading to a Digression Making Its Way to Topic Relevance

I actually listened to the whole Court of the Crimson King album last night.

This is news? Ya ya, I know from the avatar and the frequency with which I bring up Fripp et al, you'd think I worship at that shrine daily. Far from it. The whole gestalt of the album - from the full frontal assault of "Schizoid Man" to the dark funereal Mellotronic brood of the side-enders to the image on the cover - is embedded in my psyche simply from the profound impact it had on me in 1969, and the number of times I must have listened to it from then until whenever familiarity dictated I wasn't really hearing it anymore.

Which means I don't actually listen to it frequently.

So I heard it last night with very fresh ears, and was blown away in different ways than when I was 15. I still register the sources of the impact it had on me then, but I also hear how remarkable the musicianship is (everyone included - but the drums and flute especially struck me this time), and how much of the depth of the album comes from extreme dynamics, along with textural and timbral light and shade.

Which is where the surprises relevant to this thread lurk. For one thing, there's a surprising amount of musically integral acoustic guitar, actually mixed quite prevalently, with a lot of open-string dissonances and an ultra-present bright, dry texture unusual at that (or any) time. Like acoustic guitar used almost as a prepared piano in avant garde work.

And the other thing (finally, a point!) is how much dark but amazingly bell-like - and entirely clean - guitar work there is from Fripp's Les Paul. It is so unlike guitar tones I was familiar with at the time that I didn't even recognize it as guitar then. Now I hear it as coming straight out of that jazz heritage that prizes dark - some say muddy - tones. Since it just didn't sound like any guitar I'd ever heard, it was for me just an anonymous part of the sonic background from which the searing dirty guitars, mellotrons. and apocalyptic allure stood in relief.

But I can hear clearly now, and those dark, fat guitar parts are crucial to the songs (as is pretty much everything on the record). They're largely single-note lines or spare chords, used both melodically and as supporting inner harmonies.

And the tone works brilliantly for that. Not a mud switch, of course - it's a Les Paul - but it had to be the neck pickup with the tone rolled off. I do try to work with tones like that, and they often feed overdrive and fuzz gorgeously. But I don't seem to have a touch to make the full mud clean tone work.

Other than the famous recorded examples of "Michelle" and "Wooden Ships," the only rocker guys I know who make that tone work are Fripp and Steve Hunter - who I heard play a whole set at NAMM with a Falcon on full mud, and it was freakin' gorgeous. Both guys get a round liquid, bell-like tone (well, tubular bells played with soft mallets) - with a remarkable focus at the center of the tone that just isn't there when I try it. It's dark, but it has a dusky gleam.

These examples - one on a Gibson, one on a Gretsch - suggest to me that the problem with the full mud position is not it, but us.


How many of you actually use the knobs on your guitar more than once a year, aside from the Master Volume?

Oh man, all the time. There's so much control to be had even on a guitar with less-than-optimal controls. There's a remarkable range of sweetness and bloom under the volume knob, and tone controls of whatever sort are surprisingly useful to adjust...well...the tone of your guitar. Go figger.

Notwithstanding all the other places in the signal chain where I can adjust gain and EQ, my favorite place to do so is at the guitar. It feels much more dynamic and expressive. (Even, horror of horrors, when playing through a compressor.)

55

finding the Hot Rod not versatile enough, I ADDED a tone switch (modern Gretsch Values):

56

I'm not picky - I've used both the tone controls, and the mud switches on my Gretsches and other guitars in an equally facile manner. Most of the time due to a decent amp set up tone control-wise, I don't even need to use them (even when turning down the guitar's volume control, while using a single channel amp, in order to clean things up, and/or make things quieter) - they're there as a just in case option. About the only time in recent memory I've really had to resort to tone controls, is with Teles, to keep them from sounding spiky.

57

I had always thought "Wooden Ships" was a perfect use of the mud switch on his White Falcon, but it turns out he played all those parts on a Gibson Super 400. Doh!!

Well, if we trust that Stills remembers what he did. Claiming to remember the 60s is a sure sign you weren't there, and we have pictures to prove he was, so he may just be pretending to remember.


A Non-Sequitur Leading to a Digression Making Its Way to Topic Relevance

I actually listened to the whole Court of the Crimson King album last night.

This is news? Ya ya, I know from the avatar and the frequency with which I bring up Fripp et al, you'd think I worship at that shrine daily. Far from it. The whole gestalt of the album - from the full frontal assault of "Schizoid Man" to the dark funereal Mellotronic brood of the side-enders to the image on the cover - is embedded in my psyche simply from the profound impact it had on me in 1969, and the number of times I must have listened to it from then until whenever familiarity dictated I wasn't really hearing it anymore.

Which means I don't actually listen to it frequently.

So I heard it last night with very fresh ears, and was blown away in different ways than when I was 15. I still register the sources of the impact it had on me then, but I also hear how remarkable the musicianship is (everyone included - but the drums and flute especially struck me this time), and how much of the depth of the album comes from extreme dynamics, along with textural and timbral light and shade.

Which is where the surprises relevant to this thread lurk. For one thing, there's a surprising amount of musically integral acoustic guitar, actually mixed quite prevalently, with a lot of open-string dissonances and an ultra-present bright, dry texture unusual at that (or any) time. Like acoustic guitar used almost as a prepared piano in avant garde work.

And the other thing (finally, a point!) is how much dark but amazingly bell-like - and entirely clean - guitar work there is from Fripp's Les Paul. It is so unlike guitar tones I was familiar with at the time that I didn't even recognize it as guitar then. Now I hear it as coming straight out of that jazz heritage that prizes dark - some say muddy - tones. Since it just didn't sound like any guitar I'd ever heard, it was for me just an anonymous part of the sonic background from which the searing dirty guitars, mellotrons. and apocalyptic allure stood in relief.

But I can hear clearly now, and those dark, fat guitar parts are crucial to the songs (as is pretty much everything on the record). They're largely single-note lines or spare chords, used both melodically and as supporting inner harmonies.

And the tone works brilliantly for that. Not a mud switch, of course - it's a Les Paul - but it had to be the neck pickup with the tone rolled off. I do try to work with tones like that, and they often feed overdrive and fuzz gorgeously. But I don't seem to have a touch to make the full mud clean tone work.

Other than the famous recorded examples of "Michelle" and "Wooden Ships," the only rocker guys I know who make that tone work are Fripp and Steve Hunter - who I heard play a whole set at NAMM with a Falcon on full mud, and it was freakin' gorgeous. Both guys get a round liquid, bell-like tone (well, tubular bells played with soft mallets) - with a remarkable focus at the center of the tone that just isn't there when I try it. It's dark, but it has a dusky gleam.

These examples - one on a Gibson, one on a Gretsch - suggest to me that the problem with the full mud position is not it, but us.


How many of you actually use the knobs on your guitar more than once a year, aside from the Master Volume?

Oh man, all the time. There's so much control to be had even on a guitar with less-than-optimal controls. There's a remarkable range of sweetness and bloom under the volume knob, and tone controls of whatever sort are surprisingly useful to adjust...well...the tone of your guitar. Go figger.

Notwithstanding all the other places in the signal chain where I can adjust gain and EQ, my favorite place to do so is at the guitar. It feels much more dynamic and expressive. (Even, horror of horrors, when playing through a compressor.)

– Proteus

Are you gonna play it, or drink it?


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