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Author Topic: The Guitars Of Early Blues  (Read 666 times)

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Offline Blues Vintage

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The Guitars Of Early Blues
« on: September 22, 2021, 09:41:51 AM »
The Guitars Of Early Blues


Offline waxwing

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2021, 10:59:20 AM »
And there is this from the Early Blues site:

http://www.earlyblues.com/blues_singers.htm

It's dated 2007 but I think has been updated continuously.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2021, 11:45:00 AM »
Looks like this is the more updated list (2012)

Also from The Early Blues website;

http://www.earlyblues.com/Blues%20Artists%20and%20Their%20Instruments%202012.htm

Offline waxwing

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2021, 02:57:52 AM »
Hey, Thanks Harry,

I'll update the link in my browser favorites. I definitely put that in there before 2012 (heh, heh). I've posted. it numerous times in the past. It probably could be updated in Weeniepedia Links, too.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2021, 07:57:30 AM »
It's listed in the Weeniepedia Weblinks. But a lot of the links don't work on the Weeniepedia Weblinks.
Under "Lyrics and TAB" only 4 of the 12 links work.

This whole page could definitely use a update. It says coincidentally "This page was last modified on 7 March 2012".

Weeniepedia Weblinks
https://weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=WebLinks
« Last Edit: September 23, 2021, 08:02:32 AM by Harry »

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2021, 08:13:49 PM »
Just so you know, and don't tell anyone, when we were implementing weeniepedia in the beginning we discussed leaving out weblinks entirely, since they're, um, weblinks.

We were very short of content at that time due mostly to people not being able to type fast enough. At that time things were changing on the interwebs less frequently, so we went for the padding option, as one does.:)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2021, 08:29:55 PM by Rivers »

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2021, 03:22:51 PM »
Alright, I love Weeniepedia anyway.

I was at the guitar shop the other day. The owner heard me playing the blues. Next thing I know he hands me a 1933 Gibson and a 1918 Martin.
Then he says "you want to play the same guitar Robert Johnson played his Dallas recordings" he added "but I'm not selling it".
I said "sure".  Then he pulls out this guitar (picture) from the attic. I didn't believe it at first.
Anyone know if that's really the model guitar Robert played on his later records?

« Last Edit: November 20, 2021, 03:42:15 PM by Blues Vintage »

Offline rein

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2021, 04:36:22 AM »
I don t think there is no one alive now that can know for sure, but we know that he had his picture take with a late 1920s flattop gibson and a later kalamazoo kg-14. So all we know is that he held those guitars and probably played them and owned them. His friends, like Johnny Shines also say he liked Gibsons and Kalamazoos at the time, so it is within reason he used a flat top or even an archtop Kalamazoo or Gibson on his recordings. But you played, did it sound like it could be the same type as on those records ?

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2021, 04:52:24 AM »
I don't recall seeing anything about RJ using an archtop, but that doesn't mean he didn't.

Steve James discussed Robert Johnson's sound and possible setup at a Port Townsend workshop. He actually achieved a very passable imitation of his playing (and singing) using his usual wood body National of the time, late Nineties. I remember he had to work really hard to get as close as he did, I wasn't the only one present that was mightily impressed.

Capoes were discussed in reference to the very 'tight' sounding strings on the recordings. Steve theorized though that RJ was tuned up much higher than would be usual for those times, or for today for that matter. I recall he tuned his National up about 3 semitones (or something like that, crazy stuff I thought at the time). It sounded like the records to me. Disclaimer, I don't know if Steve still thinks that, it was a while back. I recorded that session, must dig out the tape sometime.

I mention this in case anyone would like to comment about the feasibility of cranking up an archtop like that. I'd never dare do it to mine.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2021, 05:20:53 AM by Rivers »

Offline rein

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2021, 12:44:54 PM »
There are various string tension calculators online, I found after filling in my most used gauges, that substituting a wound .024 g string with a plain .018  would correspond to going down one gauge for the whole set, and the guitar tuned up a semitone would be roughly equivalent to the tension before with the  wound string. Also going down one size in strings, you can get away with tuning up another semitone and end up at roughly same tension. You can play it safe by determining what tension the strings have now and see what gauge strings give the same tension with the same scale length tuned one,two or three steps up. Just DO NOT use mediums because lighter strings broke, I did that and it breaks the rules of physics and damages your guitar. Probably the original players did not always play it safe, but they were more dependant on cutting power and the days of $15 kalamazoos or stella s are long gone. Please do the calculations yourself and do nt just take my word for it, I have a set of .011 to .50 strings that i want to use tuned a step up instead of the .012 to.54 that I  use now and I haven t even totally convinced myself yet, but the physics say that the tension on my guitar will be even  less than it has to endure now.

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2021, 01:07:42 PM »
I have no interest in calculating anything actually rein. I use medium gauge strings tuned to the usual frequencies and have no desire to destroy a guitar by over tensioning the strings. I told the RJ workshop story as a matter of interest relevant to the archtop in the thread.

Offline rein

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2021, 02:21:54 PM »
I dont think you should, but since you seemed to ask for an opinion on the feasibility, here it is. These calculations can be done to avoid destroying a guitar by over tensioning the strings. In all of my examples, the tension would be less than mediums at regular pitch, which would probably destroy my guitar, but  obviously do work for yours.

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Guitars Of Early Blues
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2021, 02:51:54 PM »
I don t think there is no one alive now that can know for sure, but we know that he had his picture take with a late 1920s flattop gibson and a later kalamazoo kg-14. So all we know is that he held those guitars and probably played them and owned them. His friends, like Johnny Shines also say he liked Gibsons and Kalamazoos at the time, so it is within reason he used a flat top or even an archtop Kalamazoo or Gibson on his recordings. But you played, did it sound like it could be the same type as on those records ?


It's a strong possibility. If you fingerpick (or even strum) this guitar I think the notes fade away a bit more quickly than on a regular flattop.
You can hear it on "Love in Vain" and other later recordings.  I learned that the owner of the guitar shop, who told me the story has years of experience in repairing, maintaining, trading, and selling guitars. He did an excellent set-up on my Martin. He also told me Robert never really played a Gibson L1 (it's quite funny Gibson made a Robert Johnson Signature model out of this axe just based on one picture of him holding it). He stated that the L1 belonged to one of his (half) brothers.

Steven LaVere wrote in the liner notes to The Complete Recordings (The Centennial Collection) that it sounds like Johnson used an archtop for the Dallas sessions and a flattop for the San Antonio sessions.

The Wikipedia page Edward Phillips (who made the video in my first post) refers to mentions that both Johnny Shines and Johnson used Kalamazoo archtops.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Johnson_(guitars)

Edward Phillips has a great blues based YouTube channel btw.

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