Elmore James blues guitar sound

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Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby snakehips on Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:52 pm

Hi there !

I'm new to this forum and wondered if anyone has ever tried to get the Elmore James guitar tone.
For those who have never heard of him, he is a well respected and loved singer and slide guitar player, recording from 1951 - 1963. Jimi Hendrix, for one, was a big fan.

Here he is, playing his Kay acoustic :
Image

He gets an amazing sound out of that guitar and a valve amp.
I tried for years with electric guitars to get that sound he has on his records but never could get anywhere close.
With the advent of searching on the internet, I eventually was able to find guitar pickups that looked the same as the pickup's on Elmore's Kay acoustic. They are Dearmond pickups, sold seperately, to add to your acoustic guitar, to amplify it, way back from the 1940's onwards. Their sound is a good bit different from modern guitar pickups - and mostly coveted by jazz guitarists, and some blues and country players, seeking early electric guitar sound. They tend to sell for several hundred dollars regularly on ebay.

After 7 years searching ebay every day, i finally got one of these Kay acoustics, to go with the pickups i had already sourced :
Image

If anyone is interested, the soundhole Dearmond pickup, i think, is the model 210.
The other pickup, with the control box (with vol&tone pots and a tone switch) hanging down, is called the Rhythm Chief Model 1000.

Image

Upon setting these pickups up on this Kay acoustic, i found that the soundhole pickup sounds nothing like the elmore james sound on his recordings. This pickup is actually only on his guitar, in colour photographs taken of him in an October 1959 gig - and not on other photos before and after that date. Perhaps he was trying out that soundhole pickup on that gig ?
The Rhythm Chief pickup is present on almost every picture of Elmore with this Kay guitar.
Amazingly it has THE Elmore guitar tone, sustain, and crunch breakup characteristics, just like on his records.
The Rhythm chief pickup is the one to get if you want to get Elmore's sound.

I hope this info is useful to someone - as it took me years of trial and error to get to these findings - and i'd be happy if it saved others some time !
snakehips
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Re: Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby pdf64 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:03 pm

Thanks for that info, the tone he gets on those last sessions from 1963 is just unbelievable.
He plays his heart out and the sound is fantastic, I'd love to find out the whole picture of how it was captured.
Strings, slide, pick, cable, amp, speaker, miking and that echo!
Pete
My band:-http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwingBand
pdf64
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Re: Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby snakehips on Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:23 am

Hi again !

That echo, i think, is just the guitar amp's reverb, turned up full.
Perhaps some studio echo added too - as it seems to be on the vocal too.
I love just about all the recording sessions though.
All the 1952&53 stuff is great, as is the 1957 Chief recordings - raw guitar tone.

Amps wise, Elmore is pictured beside a :
Magnatone 280
Check this website out :
http://www.vibroworld.com/magnatone/280.html

Image

and a
Silvertone 1384

http://www.silvertoneworld.net/amplifie ... /1434.html
(visible in some of the colour photos from the Oct 1959 gig).

And pictured in front of Elmore, in a later photo of Elmore, is a two-tone Gibson amp, although that supposedly belonged to his cousin and bandmember, Homesick James.

No idea if he used any of these for any of his recording sessions though, but I'd guess it is possible with the Magnatone 280 amp, as this amp came out in 1957, and the 1957 Chief recordings reportedly had the three guitarists (2 guitars plus bass ?) all playing through the one amp.

Obtaining any of these amps is nearly impossible for someone like me, in the UK though !
snakehips
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Re: Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby bubbling-crude on Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:49 am

Hi snake hips. Greetings from downunder.
Love the post re the Dearmond set up on a Kay.
I am speccing a similar project. and have a few questions if you can help.

#1 How is the Rhythm Chief Model 1000 pickup held in place [glued/screwed]??
#2 Is the Model 210 connected and do you use it?
#3 Looks like the Rhythm Chief Model 1000 flex is connected via an endpin jack?
#4 If both connected via an end pin jack can you shed a bit of light.

My start point was to leave Rhythm Chief Model 1000 connection loose and put the Model 210 through the end pin as wouldn't think
there was a need to play both together.

Cheers mate.
bubbling-crude
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Re: Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby Dust2 on Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:11 pm

Hi Snakehips
Nice playing by the way.
Re: DeArmond Rythmn Chief 1000 I notice that some of the ( DC ) outputs seem to differ from 6.50k to 14.5k. As you have obviously done your research what in your
expert opinion would be the one to go for?
Kind regards ,keep on sliding'
Dust2
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Re: Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby Olinelooo on Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:42 am

way back from the 1940's onwards. Their sound is a good bit different from modern guitar pickups - and mostly coveted by jazz guitarists, and some blues and country players, seeking early electric guitar sound. They tend to sell for several hundred dollars regularly on ebay.????
Olinelooo
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Re: Elmore James blues guitar sound

Postby Seby on Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:03 am

Well now I just learned a thing or two. Carry on please =)
Seby
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