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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: SpikeDriver on October 05, 2007, 02:38:43 PM

Title: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: SpikeDriver on October 05, 2007, 02:38:43 PM
While going through some older books I spotted a photo of Sleep John Estes playing a sexy Stratocaster. My thought was, no matter what instrument he plays, it would still be country blues, same goes for Lightin' Hopkins, and Mississippi Fred. Are there CDs and performers where this electric approach works well, or fails? Are Muddy Waters and Elmore James, and R.L. Burnside country bluesmen? Compare and contrast...hand your papers forward at the end of the class.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Pan on October 05, 2007, 03:51:12 PM
Many prewar artists used electric guitars later on in their careers. What exactly is CB maybe is open for debate. But the instruments used have usually been whatever is available.

I was lucky enough to see Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry in Finland when I was young. Brownie played an electric  hollowbody Gibson jazz guitar, and they had a young white drummer with them too, but I would still describe the music as being CB.
Does R. L. Burnside cease to be CB if he plays an electric guitar? What about Big Joe Williams?

By the way, do you know of prewar CB recordings where the electric guitar has been used, or do the "jazzmen" get the credit for this one?

Pan
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Rivers on October 05, 2007, 04:39:05 PM
Hubert Sumlin's tasteful work with Howlin' Wolf is the first one that springs to my mind.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: banjochris on October 05, 2007, 06:09:11 PM
By the way, do you know of prewar CB recordings where the electric guitar has been used, or do the "jazzmen" get the credit for this one?

I think there are some Big Bill sides that have electric guitar on them, not played by Big Bill, from the late '30s, and some of Lonnie Johnson's Bluebird sides have very restrained electric guitar on them. Not exactly country blues, maybe, but close, at least for Big Bill.
Chris
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Rambler on October 05, 2007, 07:38:14 PM
John Lee Hooker. 
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Nicolas Dussart on October 06, 2007, 01:25:54 AM
I think there are some Big Bill sides that have electric guitar on them, not played by Big Bill, from the late '30s, and some of Lonnie Johnson's Bluebird sides have very restrained electric guitar on them. Not exactly country blues, maybe, but close, at least for Big Bill.
Chris

Yes on "House Rent Stomp" a CD from the "blues encore" label (??), there are 4 tracks with electric guitar (see CD cover here (http://nicodussart.free.fr/images/HouseRentStomp-cover.jpg))

It was recorded  in Chicago, 1953, with BB Broonzy, Lee Cooper (!!) on electric guitar, Ernest Big Crawford on bass and Washboard Sam on ...washboard

On this video, Robert Belfour plays electric guitar :
http://youtube.com/watch?v=xHn7Ur8CEwI
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on October 06, 2007, 01:44:01 AM
By the way, do you know of prewar CB recordings where the electric guitar has been used, or do the "jazzmen" get the credit for this one?
I think there are some Big Bill sides that have electric guitar on them, not played by Big Bill, from the late '30s, and some of Lonnie Johnson's Bluebird sides have very restrained electric guitar on them. Not exactly country blues, maybe, but close, at least for Big Bill.
Chris
If memory serves correct in this regard somewhere there's a discussion of George Barnes and, maybe, Willie Lacey and their electric guitar accomps to folk like Big Bill or Dr Clayton.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: mississippijohnhurt1928 on October 06, 2007, 03:15:35 PM
Sticks McGhee recorded a song in the early '50s that is electric, but very much country blues.

"No More Revele"**


** (Reuvele?, Revelie?, ?)
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Johnm on October 09, 2007, 10:57:34 AM
Hi all,
I think there is a ton of great Country Blues played on electric guitar.  Some that haven't previously been mentioned that come to mind:
   * Jimmy Lee Williams' recordings for George Mitchell, released on Fat Possum as "Hoot Your Belly" (see Reviews)
   * Herman E. Johnson's recordings on Arhoolie, paired up with Smoky Babe on a CD that I think is called "Louisiana Blues"
   * A lot of Arthur Crudup's early recordings were played on electric, like "Mean Old Frisco".
I agree with Spike Driver's original observation that what these musicians were playing was Country Blues, whether played on electric or acoustic guitar, and in some instances, as with Jimmy Lee Williams and Robert Belfour, the music is particularly enhanced by being played on an electric guitar.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Bob B on October 09, 2007, 12:27:20 PM
I remember an old Appalachian recording of Etta Baker playing Railroad Bill and Bully of the Town on electric guitar.  This might be a bit of a stretch for country blues but seems to fit in the same genre.

Bob
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Johnm on October 09, 2007, 04:14:57 PM
Hi Bob B,
Though the early photo that surfaced of Etta Baker that appeared in Happy Traum's old "Fingerpicking Guitar" showed her playing an electric guitar, the earliest recordings of her that came out on "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" on the Tradition label featured her playing acoustic guitar only.  She played some electic guitar on her more recent recordings, and in performance.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Slack on October 09, 2007, 09:10:49 PM
Every time I hear Rollin' and Tumblin' Part 1 by Baby Face Leroy Trio - I wanna get my amp out turn it up to 13 and blow down the doors.  :P
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Rivers on October 09, 2007, 09:30:41 PM
Your amp goes up to 13 Slack? Respect.

Are Scrapper and Lonnie urban or country? That blues categorization thing is a huge topic Spike. Johnm kicked off a discussion on this a while back, here's what we came up with:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=114&topic=418.0

Feel free to revive the topic, we were making some progress but it went dormant, I believe we just decided we had to live with the ambiguities.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Alexei McDonald on October 10, 2007, 12:34:48 AM
Both Memphis Minnie and Blind Willie McTell played electric guitar post-war, though I don't think the latter made any recordings with it.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: GhostRider on October 10, 2007, 06:47:17 AM
Every time I hear Rollin' and Tumblin' Part 1 by Baby Face Leroy Trio - I wanna get my amp out turn it up to 13 and blow down the doors.  :P

I guess you're really beyond help.

Alex
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Slack on October 10, 2007, 07:10:39 AM
Quote
I guess you're really beyond help.

Pretty much - that's the problem with reliving ones youth.  The women love it though.  :P

But back to the topic - we had kind of a loose guideline for the juke that if the electric was played in similar fashion to the acoustic, then it was country blues.... which covers a lot of great music from post war Chicago.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: dj on October 10, 2007, 07:24:55 AM
Quote
Every time I hear Rollin' and Tumblin' Part 1 by Baby Face Leroy Trio - I wanna get my amp out turn it up to 13 and blow down the doors.

Well, I'm with you there.  Can we go on to Part 2 when that's done?  And then Wolf doing Moanin' At Midnight?

By then my ears will be hurting and I'll be ready to go back to some acoustic stuff...
Title: electrical recording
Post by: unezrider on October 07, 2010, 02:26:38 PM
hello friend,
every now & then i find myself wondering about electric guitars in country blues. i was listening to some early lightnin' hopkins yesterday. his gold star recordings, to be exact. & i followed that up with his "lightnin" record on the prestige label. sure his voice sounds a bit older on those prestige recordings, but his acoustic playing on that album is pure lightnin'. & here is someone who recorded 'plugged in' pretty much his entire career, until he started recording more for a white market.
i wasn't around then, but i know in the early & mid 60's there was this notion that acoustic music was purer, or something like that, among a certain crowd of music fans. hence the whole to-do over dylan 'going electric'. & i know lightin' was on that same coffee house circuit & folk scare scene as well.
now granted i am looking at this from afar, & very well may be wrong. but if this is so, why, & where exactly did this come from? because to me it doesn't make any sense. early muddy waters for example, is as "country blues" as the music of son house. what about frankie lee sims? lightnin' hopkins electric or acoustic would still be "country blues". just as lonnie johnson electric or acoustic wouldn't be.
i'm not really interested in trying to define "country blues" to a little category. but it puzzles me why there would be a notion out there (i've had to pick this up from somewhere) that if you plug your guitar into an amp, somehow it changes what you are playing.
i happen to like both electric & acoustic guitar sounds. but to me, it's what music is being played, not what the music is being played on.
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: banjochris on October 07, 2010, 03:08:46 PM
Not that I was around then, but I think the notion came from the '50s-'60s folk boom that centered at first on groups like the Weavers and the Kingston Trio and then carried over into some of the blues area. There was a (extremely mistaken, I think) notion that somehow acoustic "folk" music was free of commercialism, especially compared with early rock music and pop stuff with lush orchestral arrangements, etc. Read the liner notes on the first Peter, Paul and Mary album and you'll see what I mean.

I agree, it's the type of music, not whether it's acoustic or electric. The most ridiculous story I ever read about this, and I don't know if it's true, is that the Rooftop Singers refused to play on a gig with Bo Diddley once because his electric guitar wasn't real folk music. Ridiculous.
Chris
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on October 07, 2010, 03:10:16 PM
"it puzzles me why there would be a notion out there (i've had to pick this up from somewhere) that if you plug your guitar into an amp, somehow it changes what you are playing."

I'd argue that it most certainly does change what you are playing. It certainly changes the sound quality by a great amount, which is an important part of music. But there was a lot of elitist attitude that you couldn't use electricity if you were being traditional, because musicians before the mid-20th century didn't have electrical amplification, and the idea of traditional music being "home" music fostered romantic images of the old folks at home on the back porch. But anyone playing on a street corner or in a juke joint must have wished they did have amplification, as evidenced by the popularity of resophonic guitars and the need for a penetrating voice.

But the first electric amplifiers and speakers were not up to the task asked of them: to cut through a noisy, boisterous crowd, so they were used way beyond their design limits, resulting in distortion that became part of the blues sound. I find it interesting that city blues imitators, who could afford 200 watt amplifiers and speakers to handle that power, had to then buy extra devices to dirty the sound back up again, just as if they were overdriving a cheapo combined amplifier and speaker in a 1-foot-cube box.

Arguing about authenticity is futile, but certainly there's a big difference between acoustic and electrically-amplified music as it applies to blues (Mance Lipscomb vs. Lightnin' Hopkins, for instance).  

Non-blues city performers of traditional music, I've noticed, are tending to use acoustic pickups on acoustic instruments, with only modest amplification: a trend away from the sound distortion that was a hallmark of Chicago blues.

Lyle
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Rivers on October 07, 2010, 06:25:52 PM
Well I've thought for some time the musical expression curve, when it's working in an upward direction, is built on:

1. The biofeedback loop. In other words if you like what you're hearing naturally you will play better, alpha waves (or whatever) probably.

2. The more tricks you have up your sleeve the higher you can push that expression curve, which is why we are motivated to persevere in the practicing area. This applies equally to unplugged or plugged.

3. Amplification really helps in the 'hearing' department, to get the loop started. Anyone who has played a gig where they had great sound on stage, by which I mean you can hear yourself, versus another one where you had lousy stage sound for whatever reason, knows exactly what I'm talking about.

4. Then there is the dynamics issue. More (uncompressed) volume, by definition, immediately gives you a much wider dynamic range, no matter what the instrument. This is where 'touch' becomes very apparent, you can really work with it. Compressors can be good but using them properly is a whole skill set in its own right.

5. Final point I have on this is tone. I have owned and played a lot of electric guitars and they are/were all (well mostly) a lot of fun but each one was different in its own right. These days, plugged in, I'm totally a Gretsch guy. Why? I just love the sound of them.

So there's that the biofeedback loop idea again, return to step 1
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: banjochris on October 07, 2010, 07:24:50 PM
I'd argue that it most certainly does change what you are playing. It certainly changes the sound quality by a great amount, which is an important part of music.

And just to clarify, I totally agree with this statement, I just meant what I said in terms of mattering from the point of view of so-called "authenticity." And just as an aside, I always thought both Lightnin' and John Lee Hooker sounded much better amplified, providing they weren't playing with an entire band. Probably my single favorite Lightnin' recording is "Cotton Field Blues" live from the Newport Folk Festival, with just drums backing him.
Chris
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Slack on October 07, 2010, 07:25:10 PM
This stuff does not belong in the main forum!  :P

Quote
3. Amplification really helps in the 'hearing' department, to get the loop started. Anyone who has played a gig where they had great sound on stage, by which I mean you can hear yourself, versus another one where you had lousy stage sound for whatever reason, knows exactly what I'm talking about.

We must swap stories some day.  

Quote
5. Final point I have on this is tone. I have owned and played a lot of electric guitars and they are/were all (well mostly) a lot of fun but each one was different in its own right. These days, plugged in, I'm totally a Gretsch guy. Why? I just love the sound of them.

I was too, until Jamie (slackabilly/swingo lead guitar) bought an eastman T146smd on ebay and stuck TV jones classics in it. I seldom lust after guitars these days, but that is a good one, at about half the price of a Gretsch.

But isn;t the topic electrical recording?  :P  

Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Rivers on October 07, 2010, 07:27:23 PM
I have an Eastman too!  ;)
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Slack on October 07, 2010, 07:28:50 PM
I have an Eastman too!  ;)

I know.. but not a thinline with tvjones.  ;D
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Rivers on October 07, 2010, 07:30:42 PM
Heh! Now you've got me thinking.

And yes, the topic was about recording. Sorry about the diversion there. But actually I think it's probably more to do with the player than the medium, whether they actually like it and can embrace it. If it feels good do it.
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: lindy on October 07, 2010, 07:48:40 PM

I always roll my eyes when this question gets raised, I think it's one of the biggest non-questions us Weenies can possibly ask. No one asks it about other instruments. Ray Charles or Henry Butler on electric piano? No one bats an eye when they're playing churchy blues or funky New Orleans style tunes on electric keyboards. Why do we insist on treating guitars differently?

I think the best examples of how well country blues can be played by soloists on electric guitars are the last three CDs recorded by Larry Johnson: Blues for Harlem, Two Gun Green, and The Gentle Side of Larry Johnson. All done on his beautiful Gibson big-body electric. Also, take another look at the vids I posted a couple of weeks back of R.L. Burnside playing Jumper on the Line on two different electric guitars. Pure North Mississippi hill country blues. In his hands, that song sounds great on either an electric or acoustic box.

Lindy
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Rivers on October 07, 2010, 07:50:17 PM
Amen Lindy.
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Slack on October 07, 2010, 08:05:28 PM
Right, and to wind our way back. 

If you have never checked out Jimmy Lee Williams ("Hoot Your Belly" on Fat Possum records) - do yourself a favor.  The most distorted funky electric you've ever heard and it works great.  "Have You Ever Seen Peaches" is a favorite.  Johnm did a nice review here:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=1666.0
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: lindy on October 07, 2010, 08:21:53 PM

Cecil Barfield. I love this guy's country 'lectric version of Lucy Mae Blues.

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Ffatpossum_production%2Fpublic%2Fsystem%2Fartists%2Fphotos%2F112%2Fcrop_630.JPG&hash=a50a6fe5aba9f63d37061e342cedb7d5d17c169b)

Natural fact, that George Mitchell Collection has a lot a great stuff that's plugged in.
Title: Re: electrical recording
Post by: Stumblin on October 08, 2010, 01:24:21 AM
If you have never checked out Jimmy Lee Williams ("Hoot Your Belly" on Fat Possum records) - do yourself a favor.  The most distorted funky electric you've ever heard and it works great.  "Have You Ever Seen Peaches" is a favorite.  Johnm did a nice review here:
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=1666.0
That is a wonderful, and eccentric, collection of songs. Thanks fro reminding me of it, I'm going to dig that disc out right now!
My first exposure to Lightnin' was an album from his "folk revival" period, it sounded a little odd to me when I started to listen to his earlier electric stuff. Now I understand that there was an "appeal to authenticity" kind of imposed on him via the folk consensus, which meant that his new audience operated under the assumption that CB was a form of folk music. He was thus able to reach a much larger and more lucrative audience by playing acoustic guitar. Check out the Vestapol DVD Lightnin' Hopkins; Rare Performances 1960-1979 (Vestapol 13022), to see Lightnin' playing some very "folky" looking and sounding acoustic guitars, as well as a Stratocaster with wah-wah pedal. There's some priceless footage on that disc. To be frank, I don't think Lightnin' was too bothered what guitar he was playing, he could take off and fly on any old thing.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: uncle bud on October 08, 2010, 06:43:13 AM
Hi all - as we had an older thread about country blues on electric guitar, I've merged it with this newer one.

Lindy, agree about Cecil Barfield, blues from another planet. Also John Lee Ziegler from the George Mitchell Collection does beautiful slide work plugged in.

Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: unezrider on October 08, 2010, 08:26:26 AM
thanks for tidying up, uncle bud. i completely forgot about about this thread.
"There was a (extremely mistaken, I think) notion that somehow acoustic "folk" music was free of commercialism, especially compared with early rock music and pop stuff with lush orchestral arrangements, etc. Read the liner notes on the first Peter, Paul and Mary album and you'll see what I mean." ? banjochris
that's kind of what i was wondering. but it's interesting to me that peter, paul & mary didn't consider themselves some sort of pop, radio friendly folk music. i mean, compared to woody guthrie or ramblin' jack they seemed so safe to me.
i'll have to see if i can't pull those liner notes up on the interwebs.
chris
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Bunker Hill on October 08, 2010, 11:14:40 AM
My first exposure to Lightnin' was an album from his "folk revival" period, it sounded a little odd to me when I started to listen to his earlier electric stuff. Now I understand that there was an "appeal to authenticity" kind of imposed on him via the folk consensus, which meant that his new audience operated under the assumption that CB was a form of folk music. He was thus able to reach a much larger and more lucrative audience by playing acoustic guitar. Check out the Vestapol DVD Lightnin' Hopkins; Rare Performances 1960-1979 (Vestapol 13022), to see Lightnin' playing some very "folky" looking and sounding acoustic guitars, as well as a Stratocaster with wah-wah pedal. There's some priceless footage on that disc. To be frank, I don't think Lightnin' was too bothered what guitar he was playing, he could take off and fly on any old thing.
FWIW in 2006 there was a discussion topic concerning when LH "went acoustic"
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=2768.0
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: oddenda on October 08, 2010, 02:46:09 PM
The Hopkins material recorded for Herald Records is something of a high-water point for me. Amplified with a vengeance, it's Sam at his very best recording for the African American marketplace. 'Tis W.E. who put him back on acoustic! Not what he played on Dowling Street!!

Peter B.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Mr.OMuck on October 08, 2010, 09:03:42 PM
Fred McDowell. His live at the Gaslight record on Oblivion is one of the most seamless uses of electric guitar in CB that I've heard.
I'm not of the opinion that it makes no difference at all though and in most cases I prefer un amplified instruments.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Parlor Picker on October 09, 2010, 02:26:44 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. O'Muck. As far as I'm concerned, Fred could do no wrong, so if he wanted to play electric guitar, then fine.

I like electric guitar, but again have a preference for acoustic - and when it comes to acoustics, I prefer steel to nylon strings.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: uncle bud on October 09, 2010, 08:22:16 AM
Big Joe custom job:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWpqrKNgsNA
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: uncle bud on October 09, 2010, 09:11:26 AM
Another frequent electric player but playing in more of an East Coast style is Ralph Willis, whose recordings are on Document 5256 and 5257 or the JSP Shake That Thing set. Willis is a hoot, IMO, and a nice player one rarely sees discussed. I wonder if he might be better known among today's Piedmont blues enthusiasts if he had played acoustic more. Listening to some of his stuff one can imagine how Blind Boy Fuller might have ended up sounding had he lived to record into the 1950s.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Johnm on April 18, 2012, 02:42:44 PM
Hi all,
This topic has not been posted to recently, but one player mentioned earlier in the thread for whom I will reiterate thanks that he played an electric guitar was Arthur Crudup, who really sounded spectacular on "Mean Old Frisco", "That's All Right, Mama", and a host of his other early recordings.  He had a beautiful amount of "dirt" in his electric sound.
Another player whose work on electric guitar I've been quite enjoying is Jesse Thomas in the 1948-1958 era.  Not only does his electric guitar work well on the single-string leads he played with his larger ensembles, but it also sounds sensational on his solo performances.  One reason it worked so well on his solo performances is that he was such a nuanced player that working on an electric guitar gave him maximal control of the duration of his notes so that with some chords, he can just stab with a short sharp attack, and with others he can get a beautiful sweet sustain.  It would be hard to get a similar effect on an acoustic guitar, with its much more rapid decay.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: WayneS on May 02, 2012, 06:29:15 PM
I?m afraid I get way too enthusiastic  about this stuff. 

The first recording with an electric guitar of any kind apparently was made by Sol Hoopii in 1926.  Blues players were very late to the game.  An earlier thread on this forum revealed that in 1938 Big Bill Broonzy recorded two blues sides with 16 year old George Barnes pulling off a first, playing a Spanish electric guitar on these recordings.  Barnes' guitar style was definitely jazzy, and he was Caucasian.  I'm curious about who the first non-jazz, African American, out-and-out country bluesman/bluesmen were to record with a Spanish electric guitar.

Ro-Pat-In made a prototype Spanish electric guitar in 1932, it seems, and that was used by a dance band player.  It was the third electric the company made; the first two were frypans.  http://www.vintageguitar.com/3588/ro-pat-in-electric-spanish/ (http://www.vintageguitar.com/3588/ro-pat-in-electric-spanish/)   This guitar used the "Rickenbacker" pickup, designed by George Beauchamp and two employees.  They built and sold others based on this prototype, beginning, I believe, in 1932.  No later than '33.

Dobro made an electric.  The Dobro electric Spanish came out in 1933, and the virtually identical Nationals and Supros (made by National/Dobro) in 1935.  http://www.vintageguitar.com/1803/supro-guitars-and-amplifiers-part-i/ (http://www.vintageguitar.com/1803/supro-guitars-and-amplifiers-part-i/)   

One of these Dobros, or so it appears, is on sale on EBay right now for about $2000. 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140679496444?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/140679496444?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649)

(Memphis Minnie's guitar was a later model.)  The bodies were made by Regal.  These guitars used a pickup which was designed by Paul Tutmarc and Arthur J. Stimson (sometimes Stimpson), and was the basis for most of the future National, Valco and Supro pickups.  I have a 1937 "A" Supro Electric Hawaiian lap steel, an unusual-looking lap steel which I believe has a pickup quite similar to those in the first Dobro, National, and Supro Spanish electrics.  There is a VERY big horseshoe magnet built into the wood body of the guitar, and a split blade.  Far more gain than later Supros (!), but less tone.  Looks like this one, on EBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140746002817?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/140746002817?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649)

Homesick James played a Spanish electric quite early, but I don't know if he recorded with it.  If so, he may have been the first country blues player in the CB tradition to do so.  Anybody else got any news on the first players and recorders, and the guitars they played? 
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: alyoung on May 03, 2012, 04:52:07 AM


The first recording with an electric guitar of any kind apparently was made by Sol Hoopii in 1926.   

Have you got any corroboration for this suggestion? Hoopii did start recording in the mid-1920s, but I don't know of any that even vaguely resemble an electric guitar until he switched from acoustic square-neck National triplates in the mid-1930s. I also suspect electric guitar in any form was not recorded as early as 1926. Usual wisdom is that steel players were first to record electrically, but not until the early 1930s. Mind you, I cld be wrong ... and am happy to be proved so.   
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: WayneS on May 03, 2012, 11:17:48 AM
Ouch!  Right you are, and sorry about that.  I had found a webpage that made the claim about 1926, but also found some of his online recordings from 1926, and they were not done with electric guitar.  Wikipedia says that he only started recording on electrics in 1935.

Dang.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: btasoundsradio on May 04, 2012, 07:40:50 AM
Anything by Cecil Barfield on electric is impeccable. Jimmy Lee Williams (on the same George Mitchell collection) blows me away as does John Lee Ziegler playing lefty knife slide on upside down right handed electric with a spoon player soothes me.  Trumpet era Big Joe Williams, Houston Stackhouse, RL Burnside with the Sound Machine Groove, Jessie Mae Hemphill's "She Wolf" LP is incredible.  John Fahey doing Skip James on electric is brilliant too!!
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: JohnLeePimp on May 06, 2012, 06:22:12 AM
Blues practitioners from the swampland deserve a mention

I've taken particular liking to Country Jim Bledsoe Country Jim - Philippine Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKGBO6dng-I#)

and Lonesome Sundown

Lonesome Sundown - Lost Without Love (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNRjwRaYtoA#)

I don't know about technical proficiency but they take full advantage of the electricity to make their performance empowering
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: btasoundsradio on May 06, 2012, 05:58:10 PM
I FORGOT (maybe these had been mention but:)
Lone town blues (Junior Brooks)
No ridin' blues (Charley Booker)
from Chasin' That Devil Music CD, seriously raw stuff
and anything by Joe Hill Louis and Dr. Ross
 (http://youtu.be/ttV31MDlFFM)
 (http://youtu.be/P0Bj4nyaf2g)
 (http://youtu.be/fzI6u1ltdm8)
BOB LOG!!!
 (http://youtu.be/sqFE5fJ3xT4)
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: oddenda on May 06, 2012, 07:53:00 PM
Of the folks I recorded:

          Eddie Kirkland
          Baby Tate
          Frank Edwards
          Henry Johnson
          Robert Lockwood
          Tarheel Slim
          Roy Dunn
          Honeyboy Edwards
          Brownie McGhee (as side-man to Big Chief Ellis)

plenty more unissued.

Peter B.

p.s. - the Lightnin' Hopkins sides for Herald are seriously wonderful.

Peter B.
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Pan on May 10, 2012, 03:09:04 PM
I must say I was surprised to hear Mance Lipscomb play an electric guitar on this video:

Mance Lipscomb- Angel Child (Vinyl LP) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQlKXVj1T9E#)

It was recorded on December 5, 1968 at Mance Lipscomb's house in Navasota, TX by Chris Strachwitz; Mance Lipscomb, voc, g; Frank Lipscomb, b; Wayne Davis, dr

source of information (of course): http://www.wirz.de/music/lipscfrm.htm (http://www.wirz.de/music/lipscfrm.htm)

Perhaps he felt that the band setting required an electric guitar? Go figure. Anyway, I think he does very well on that track. Not all acoustic players can adopt their technique to an electric instrument very successfully.

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Pan on May 10, 2012, 04:22:38 PM
I must say I was surprised to hear Mance Lipscomb play an electric guitar on this video:

Mance Lipscomb- Angel Child (Vinyl LP) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQlKXVj1T9E#)

It was recorded on December 5, 1968 at Mance Lipscomb's house in Navasota, TX by Chris Strachwitz; Mance Lipscomb, voc, g; Frank Lipscomb, b; Wayne Davis, dr

source of information (of course): http://www.wirz.de/music/lipscfrm.htm (http://www.wirz.de/music/lipscfrm.htm)

Perhaps he felt that the band setting required an electric guitar? Go figure. Anyway, I think he does very well on that track. Not all acoustic players can adopt their technique to an electric instrument very successfully.

Cheers

Pan

Apparently there's more:

MANCE LIPSCOMB TRIO electric recordings (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_ImLNWNCZg#ws)

Mance Lipscomb- Blues In A Bottle (Vinyl LP) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7zzZSbwvJs#)
Title: Re: Electric Guitar in Country Blues
Post by: Johnm on December 24, 2014, 09:11:40 AM
Hi all,
One of my favorite players who did Country blues on an electric guitar was Andrew Dunham, who recorded out of Detroit in the early '50s--distortion, reverb, he had it all!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Country blues on electric guitar?
Post by: eduardosanz on February 26, 2015, 03:12:10 AM
Hello, I wonder why is it that most people play this style with acoustic guitars? Is it due to respect of the tradition? Or is it due to any kind of sounding posibbilities of the acoustic axe imposible to achieve with the electric one?

Can you give me nice examples of electric country blues?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Country blues on electric guitar?
Post by: Johnm on February 26, 2015, 06:17:54 AM
Hello Eduardo,
Welcome to Weenie Campbell!  This thread, "Electric Guitar in Country Blues", has many examples of what you're seeking:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4269.0 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=4269.0)
All best,
Johnm
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