Other Players

Clapton’s solo tone on “Badge”

26

Some document somewhere stated multiple mics were used on the Leslie to create a very wide stereo spread. Badfinger's No Matter What has a similar sound in it, but maybe that's a flanger.

27

It is a Leslie on slow rotation, and to Proteus' point, mic'd away from the speaker. Jimmy Page used the same setup on "Good Times, Bad Times".

I don't know how to set it up but loved playing with a band mate's Leslie when we played and I played lead on Hendrix's "Come On (Part III)"....at a fast speed and mic'd very close to the speaker for the more SRV version.

28

It's funny how both Leslie as a guitar effect and wah wah took the rock & roll world by storm in 1968-69, with notable examples all over the place, then faded back into the ever-increasing ranks of effects, to be deployed more sparingly in the following decades. (Well, except for in funk/R&B/porn soundtracks.)

We talk about chorus "in the 80s," but that was a whole durn decade - and fuzz had a longer run after "Satisfaction," with more varied stylistic approaches and applications.

I'm still waiting for the heyday of ring modulation. I should probably get busy on that.

29

Very similar tone throughout Badfinger's "No Matter What," as well (and, of course, that's no coincidence).

30

So y'all are saying it's JUST a Leslie? I'm stil hearing something else to get that tone. Whatever it is, it's cool as hell.

My latest theory is it's a rolled off tone pot (or board EQ) where the highs are smooshed, giving it that distinctive quality.... some variation of Clapton's "woman tone".

31

Nothing “smooshes” tone like a Leslie! There will be all sorts of tone shenanigans going on, the top rotor (treble) and the lower drum (bass) rotate in opposite directions so there will be a fair bit of phase cancellation, as well as Doppler shift and tremolo. It just sounds like a guitar through a Leslie to me. Of course mic placement and eq make a lot of difference but I don’t hear any other “effects” other than the effect of the Leslie.

Here is a vid of someone trying to recreate the tone. You can see the wedge shaped preamp / controller pedal I mentioned on the floor. This guy is using a transistor 330 model (as far as I can tell) Badge would most likely have been a tube amplified 145, 147/122 (or RV versions of these). ((After doing a bit more reading it would seem that it was a 147RV which has the normal top treble rotor, bass speaker with drum and separate stationary reverb speakers. You can tell these cabinets as they have an extra set of small louvres half way down the cabinet rather than just the top and bottom louvres of the non RV models))

I notice that in the vid that the rotor and drum are spinning in the same direction but they are supposed to be running in opposite directions.

32

No...I'm saying the only outboard "effect" is the Leslie. (And it's hard to consider a Leslie an outboard effect, as it's also at least the preamp - and the speakers - you're playing through.)

The rest is unknowable - which guitar (other than bridge humbucker, and we cain't swar tew Gawd it's not a P-90, except there's zero evidence for that), what volume and tone settings at the guitar, and - critically - what was done in the control room. Massaging tracks with truly expert dynamic shaping and EQ are how the Big EnginEars get the Big Jobs. Sooo much could be done with those tools, even in 1968.

33

Here’s Clappers with a 147RV..... (or 122RV but they’re pretty much the same. The 122 has a balanced audio signal and the 147 doesn’t)

34

WAIT —  You nailed it. The secret sauce is... You just need a dog in the mix!

All kidding aside - admittedly, the world of Leslie is not well-known territory for me (I only know recordings and heard one live once connected to a Hammond B3, back when I was in my teens). I thought it just warbled and trem'd things up a bit, but didn't really mess with tonality of the signal.

It's really a certain era of sonic goodness I've long loved, so thanks for all the posts and input!

35

The later Vibratone style Leslies WERE just the rotating speaker parts you needed to hook them up to a guitar amp first. The Organ Leslies, as you’ve seen, are an entire universe of tone in one difficult to move cabinet!

36

Was it 'Tomorrow Never Knows' that first ran a vocal through a rotating Leslie?

To Proteus' observation; it seemed there really was a lot of 'experimenting' going on in the mid-late 60s, especially in getting new sounds into music.

One of my favorite uses of a rotating Leslie for a vocal track is still Grateful Dead's 'Rosemary' (1969).

It elevates an otherwise simple and lovely acoustic song into something hauntingly beautiful and memorable.

37

Interesting.. I was always under the impression that “Badge” was cut at The Village Recorders in West L.A. but that’s where his solo LP was done with Delaney. I knew the story about the Leslie interface pedal and Mal taking it. We all knew that in 1969/70.. I knew a lot of folks that hung with them in those days. All the solo’s, vocals, etc we’re done in London.

38

I have a 50’s era Leslie “Model 25”. It’s just a speaker and a motor. I power it with a guitar amp. Still sounds great but very impractical to take on a gig. I use a Hughes & Kettner “Rotosphere” or a Boss “RT-120” and two amps.

39

.. Interesting and related video just recently posted on YouTube.

It would feel more complete with actual samples of the classic recordings mentioned (as well as others not), but I'm sure the producers didn't want to risk having the video flagged or de-monetized for copyright issues. YouTube being who they are.

Still, it's a nice overview of the history and trajectory of the rotating modulation effect, to date.

40

The 147 is for Hammond use only, the 122 is for everything else. The Vibratone units are vertically oriented, just like the Cordovox versions and use only a single 10" or 12" speaker. Cheaper spinet organs have a 8" speaker version without the treble rotor. The treble rotor only uses one horn, the other is basically a counterweight meant for balance. Laurenz Hammond absolutely hated Don Leslie's speaker unit. He wouldn't allow his dealers to carry or sell the Leslie. Baldwin, Allen, Yamaha and Wurlitzer organs all had versions of rotary speakers.
Leslie also made a speaker unit for Fender Rhodes pianos that basically pulsed between two cabinets. One of the more interesting uses of a Leslie I've ever heard was a pedal steel run thru one.

The worst possible way to mike a Leslie is to jam one mono mike into the treble rotor. The speaker unit is meant to use the interplay of both rotors and the cancellation and combination effect of the two. The Leslie should be near a corner, but not jammed into a corner. They need room to breathe! You need to hear the broad sweep of sound. It really needs stereo pairs of mikes at a distance to properly record the direct and reflected sound. It's hard to do that on a typical gig, but for large scale concerts, I've seen Leslies set up in a room by themselves and properly miked for the PA, and a second one onstage for the organist as a monitor.

Read "The Beauty of the B" to really understand all of the nuances of a Leslie.

41

The worst possible way to mike a Leslie is to jam one mono mike into the treble rotor. The speaker unit is meant to use the interplay of both rotors and the cancellation and combination effect of the two. The Leslie should be near a corner, but not jammed into a corner. They need room to breathe! You need to hear the broad sweep of sound. It really needs stereo pairs of mikes at a distance to properly record the direct and reflected sound. It's hard to do that on a typical gig, but for large scale concerts, I've seen Leslies set up in a room by themselves and properly miked for the PA, and a second one onstage for the organist as a monitor.

Amen to all that. For a truly nauseating listening experience, close mic one in stereo and pan the mics 180°. Whoa baby.

For all that it takes two ears to truly appreciate the complexity of a Leslied tone - and any emulation that doesn't provide stereo is doomed - subtlety in application of stereo separation is a requirement. Leslie emulations have gotten so good that I don't know if even a well vetted Leslie "expert" could tell the difference in a recording - emphasis intended. Even the best emulations, live in the room, don't capture the fullness of the swirly bath. The emulations can sound gorgeous, and you wouldn't generally consider them deficient. Still, the real thing is a singular experience.

There are just sooo many variables when it comes to mic'ing and reproducing a real Leslie - and the cabinets themselves can vary widely thanks to speaker condition and/or replacement, preamp condition/drive, location and distance of the cabinet vis a vis adjacent hard surfaces, mic distances from the cabinet and the mics used (and, consequently, eq and treatment of the mic at the mixer) - that no emulation could hope to model everything. Even if it could, it would still not be the same, psycho-acoustically, as being there in the space with your two ears located as they are on the side of your head, picking up the diverse phase relationships of all those scattered and complexly intersecting sound waves - and your brain giggling and then dissolving into goo trying to decipher it all.

With no walls to deflect the dual rotating sound sources of the Celestial Leslie, heaven will have such an anemic acoustic soundstage it will hardly qualify.

42

The worst possible way to mike a Leslie is to jam one mono mike into the treble rotor. The speaker unit is meant to use the interplay of both rotors and the cancellation and combination effect of the two. The Leslie should be near a corner, but not jammed into a corner. They need room to breathe! You need to hear the broad sweep of sound. It really needs stereo pairs of mikes at a distance to properly record the direct and reflected sound. It's hard to do that on a typical gig, but for large scale concerts, I've seen Leslies set up in a room by themselves and properly miked for the PA, and a second one onstage for the organist as a monitor.

Amen to all that. For a truly nauseating listening experience, close mic one in stereo and pan the mics 180°. Whoa baby.

For all that it takes two ears to truly appreciate the complexity of a Leslied tone - and any emulation that doesn't provide stereo is doomed - subtlety in application of stereo separation is a requirement. Leslie emulations have gotten so good that I don't know if even a well vetted Leslie "expert" could tell the difference in a recording - emphasis intended. Even the best emulations, live in the room, don't capture the fullness of the swirly bath. The emulations can sound gorgeous, and you wouldn't generally consider them deficient. Still, the real thing is a singular experience.

There are just sooo many variables when it comes to mic'ing and reproducing a real Leslie - and the cabinets themselves can vary widely thanks to speaker condition and/or replacement, preamp condition/drive, location and distance of the cabinet vis a vis adjacent hard surfaces, mic distances from the cabinet and the mics used (and, consequently, eq and treatment of the mic at the mixer) - that no emulation could hope to model everything. Even if it could, it would still not be the same, psycho-acoustically, as being there in the space with your two ears located as they are on the side of your head, picking up the diverse phase relationships of all those scattered and complexly intersecting sound waves - and your brain giggling and then dissolving into goo trying to decipher it all.

With no walls to deflect the dual rotating sound sources of the Celestial Leslie, heaven will have such an anemic acoustic soundstage it will hardly qualify.

– Proteus

I wound up going to an emulator (Boss RT-20) myself. I'm an old man with a bad back, I'm not gigging or recording, so no real need for the real thing, and going digital thru a stereo PA sounds more than close enough for government work. Price is far better, size and weight are easier to deal with, and the sound is as close as you can find. 99% of audiences (and most players) couldn't really tell the difference. I'd prefer the real thing as I know them well, but the difference between the two isn't worth the cost and size differences to me.

44

I wound up going to an emulator (Boss RT-20) myself. I'm an old man with a bad back, I'm not gigging or recording, so no real need for the real thing, and going digital thru a stereo PA sounds more than close enough for government work. Price is far better, size and weight are easier to deal with, and the sound is as close as you can find. 99% of audiences (and most players) couldn't really tell the difference. I'd prefer the real thing as I know them well, but the difference between the two isn't worth the cost and size differences to me.

– wabash slim

I did a recording session a while back with my digital Hammond XK-2 (the one I use at the RoundUps). The studio had a real Leslie 147, and we A-B'd the results with both the real deal and the internal stereo emulation. The emulation was cleaner and every bit as satisfying in the mix as the Leslie, and required exactly zero time to place mic's for optimal results, so that's what ended up on the recording.

Many digital organs (Hammond, Korg, Nord, Roland) have input jacks so a guitar can use the Leslie effect as well. Not that anyone would buy one just for that purpose, but if you've got one anyway ...

45

The emulation was cleaner and every bit as satisfying in the mix as the Leslie

Yessir. It's pointless to have a Leslie for recording or the great majority of live-and-mic'ed purposes. Its proper domain at this point in time is in permanent installation, in an ideal position, for the enjoyment of those in the room with it.

46

The one thing needed with any digital emulation is a stereo playback source, whether PA or small scale amps.


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