Dylan blues tone

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Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:32 am

Do any of you know any specifics on how to achieve a good Dylan blues tone? I know he uses Strats primarily, but for instance, what type of pick-ups?

What about amps and other effects? He seems to favor trem quite a bit, at least in the late 80's and throughout the 90's.

Thanks all! I'll probably be asking similar questions to this as I learn more.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby guitarslim101 » Sat Sep 26, 2009 8:41 am

My guess would be a strat with reasonably low output pickups into a Fender Deluxe Reverb turned up a bit. Maybe some slap back delay, too.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:13 pm

I bought some Fender 57/63 pickups for my Mexi Strat. This seems to have gotten some great Dylan tones. I totally think that he favors the blackface series of amps. Seems to use a good deal of blues distortion anymore too.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby allanlummox » Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:38 pm

Man, I cover a lot of Dylan songs - recently added "My Wife's Home Town" to my set list - but I never try to SOUND like him. Well, not since I learned how to sing, anyway. Mostly I play Dylan songs on a Resonator guitar. It's a good tone!

All this hero worship and Celebrity shit - it looks bad anyhow, and it REALLY doesn't suit Dylan. Get the most out of the gear you have, stick yourself in the middle of the music. It's silly enough, people trying to sound like SRV or Eric Clapton. Beyond a certain point, tone is just an excuse for not working on your chops.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Sun Sep 27, 2009 12:16 am

I disagree, it is possible to like someone's tone and want to capable of emulating it. Why learn someone else's licks or even cover a song?

That's what I love most about the blues is seeing who can do what or expand further on someone else's work.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby jaybee » Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:00 pm

Post by Rhambama » 27 Sep 2009 01:16
... Why learn someone else's licks or even cover a song?

That's what I love most about the blues is seeing who can do what or expand further on someone else's work.



I would think expanding on someone else is not done by copying him, whether it be tone or licks... take a song - yours or a cover - you like for it's lyrics or the feelings it expresses and play it YOUR way, with YOUR tone and your licks. If it's sincere it doesn't matter it isn't flawless ;-)
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Lo-Fi » Sun Sep 27, 2009 5:59 pm

Dylan may have been a blues singer but having a guitar blues tone?

Anyway - early on Dylan played both Teles (a black one comes to mind) and Strats. He was also a child of Blackface Fenders which means scooped mids (as opposed to say the earlier tweed amps which had full mids) which I am guessing figure pretty heavily in his sound. So, in theory, pretty much any low gauss Alnico pup Tele or Strat plugged into something like a BF Fender Super Reverb will get ya there.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:31 pm

He certainly has a blues tone. Refer to the album Time Out Of Mind and his new one Together Through Life. Both are amazing blues albums.

Some his best blues solos are on New Morning.

Here is one of the best video's I've seen of him doing blues, looks like he's using a Twin Reverb and maybe some sort of Tweed amp, but it's hard to say:

I'm a little irked still with that comment about the hero worship. Someone's tone can be just as much an influence as technique. Look how many people have tried to emulate some of Hendrix's tones. SRV would be a hero worshiper if this line of thought were true.

What about how much Johnson has influenced prolly everyone here on this board? What Johnson had access to electric instruments? We'd be trying to emulate him in that way too.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:34 pm

I guess what I am getting at is influences. Music is an art with artists. We study them the same way someone would study Picasso or Rembrandt. We draw from others to improve on as ourselves.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby allanlummox » Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:51 pm

Be irked.

Be so irked that your response is something both passionate and original.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby jeffl » Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:29 pm

I get ya' Rhambana. Everybody has a different approach to learnin' and playin' music, and they're all valid. Some guys start out playin' without a whole lotta outside influence, and they develop unique characteristics on their own; other guys get good by copyin' others and playin' 'til they bleed, and develop their own sound over time. One of the challenges of learnin' music for a band situation is to get your tasks accomplished while continuing to grow passionately and with originality, unhindered by your more mundane tasks. It's not as easy as it sounds. I have limited time (due to a 50 hr. workweek) and spend much of it learning tunes for my group, and occasionally I realize that I haven't been true to myself and haven't been as creative as I feel I could/should be. Since I don't play guitar, I haven't concerned myself at all with Dylan's guitar tone, but one of the sounds that comes to mind is "reverb".
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:36 pm

He does tend to use a lot of reverb. Especially when he has worked with Daniel Lanois (Lanois uses a lot of "swamp" production). My guess on the abundant reverb as of late is because he was going for the production quality that Chess's used, I always think of Muddy Waters-Folk Singer when I see this mentioned about both Time Out Of Mind and Together Through Life.

Dylan seems to use a lot of fuzz in some solos, think of the ending of "Meet Me In The Morning/Call Letter Blues." I think there is some light fuzz on some of his leads on Together Through Life.

Any other thoughts?
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby jeffl » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:42 am

I think one of the reasons Dylan uses augmentation of his sound (including the use of electronic organ) is that his tunes are all relatively simple: so simple in fact that it can take a good musician to make his stuff sound good. "Watchtower" is a great example. Recordings often require more interesting sounds to keep one's interest than the live performance would. His phrasing is unsurpassed (imo) in the popular music world, and difficult to reproduce. He incorporates a ton of verses in his tunes, which can make them boring unless you make the sounds interesting. In fact, I've stayed away from most of his tunes that have alotta verses, except for "Subterranean Homesick Blues". I've done a ton of Dylan tunes over the years, and my solution to him is to jus' make his tunes my own (usually when I'm playing organ or piano) by doin' 'em any damn way that feels right to me without tryin' to do 'em the original way. Most of the traditional blues "purists" around here snub their noses at guitar effects, but I like fuzz,flanger,reverb, or wah, as long as they aren't used to cover up one's technical inadequacies, and are not obtrusive.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby Rhambama » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:48 am

That's interesting you point that out Jeff!

I've noticed that I play some his songs *way* different that he did. Course, many of these songs are standards anyway. Compare his version of Coo Coo to that of Clarence Ashley's.

How about his versions of Cocain Blues to say, Johnny Cash's from the Fulsom album.
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Re: Dylan blues tone

Postby jeffl » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:18 pm

I've learned tunes outa songbooks without ever hearing the tunes previously, and I've been amazed a couple times that I like my take on it better than the recorded original version. It's just interesting to see what happens when you remove your preconceptions.
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