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It takes a man that have the blues to sing the blues - Huddie Lead Belly Ledbitter, to Alan Lomax

Author Topic: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning  (Read 2524 times)

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Online Johnm

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Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« on: February 17, 2012, 12:45:11 PM »
Hi all,
Listening to Roosevelt Graves recently has made me think about country blues guitarists who were only recorded playing in one position or tuning, and made me think it might be interesting to compile a list of such players.  In order for the distinction to have any significance at all, perhaps we could limit the distinction to players who recorded more than four titles, just because it would be hard to generalize about the playing position/tuning repertoire of someone for whom there were only two recorded titles.

Just to get the ball rolling, I'll select Roosevelt Graves, whom I believe recorded only in Spanish tuning.  Any other such players out there?  Please only name one or two at a time to allow more folks to participate, and name the tuning/position the player used.

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 04:07:02 PM by Johnm »

Offline blueshome

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2012, 01:51:25 PM »
Big Joe Williams - Spanish
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 01:52:42 PM by blueshome »

Offline blueshome

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2012, 01:53:34 PM »
Buddy Boy Hawkins - Spanish

Offline unezrider

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2012, 01:55:03 PM »
hello friend,
not exactly 100% in one key or tuning. but maybelle carter really liked the C position in standard tuning.
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline banjochris

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2012, 02:19:53 PM »
Are all of Charlie Hicks' pieces in Spanish; likewise Willie Baker? I know Barbecue Bob recorded at least one tune in out-of-tune standard C position, but all the rest of his are Spanish as well, yes?

By the way -- I also remember reading somewhere about Big Joe Williams occasionally playing slide in some kind of weird high-bass Spanish variant; was that recorded at all (not that it really counts as different, I don't think, but I'd be interested to hear it).
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 02:21:28 PM by banjochris »

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2012, 02:27:23 PM »
Charley Hicks/Lincoln had only "Mama Don't Rush Me" in Vestapol, otherwise everything was in Spanish, out of 12 titles.
While Maybelle Carter certainly played the preponderance of her repertoire out of C, she also played a fair number out of F position, and early on, a couple out of G, as well as some Hawaiian guitar numbers.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2012, 02:27:48 AM »
Quote
By the way -- I also remember reading somewhere about Big Joe Williams occasionally playing slide in some kind of weird high-bass Spanish variant; was that recorded at all (not that it really counts as different, I don't think, but I'd be interested to hear it)./quote]

Chris - the variant I saw him do regularly was to detune the sixth string to B. I asked him about this tuning and he grudgingly (and mendaciously) replied 'E'. He wasn't about to share his secrets readily! He then went on his break and I took the liberty of strumming the chord on the guitar to determine what he'd lowered the 6th string to. That was in about 1972 in Frankfurt.

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2012, 08:21:27 AM »
Hi all,
I believe everything recorded by Connie Williams was played out of Vestapol.  And I'm glad it was, given the way he played in Vestapol!
All best,
Johnm

Offline unezrider

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2012, 01:45:01 PM »
thanks for the maybelle info, john. i didn't realize she played any tunes out of the F position. not exactly an easy position to play out of.  :)
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 07:41:37 AM »
Hi all,
I believe that everything Doug Quattlebaum recorded was played out of Vestapol.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 09:35:30 AM »
I know Barbecue Bob recorded at least one tune in out-of-tune standard C position, but all the rest of his are Spanish as well, yes?

I remember California Blues being in std tuning, A position...  Atlanta Moan is in vestapol...  I think there are a couple of other examples, but you're right about the preponderance being in spanish.

By the way -- I also remember reading somewhere about Big Joe Williams occasionally playing slide in some kind of weird high-bass Spanish variant; was that recorded at all (not that it really counts as different, I don't think, but I'd be interested to hear it).

I think he occasionally tuned the 6th string down to B and I know I've heard at least one recording of it, but I can't think of the album or song title... mebbe later...

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 10:57:00 AM »
...and here seems to be Big Joe playing a regular A7 chord on a 6 string electric!

Online Johnm

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 11:26:29 AM »
Aw man, he's messing with us!

Offline blueshome

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 11:31:11 AM »
Or maybe he's not fretting at the 3rd fret and is just about to make his regular slide 2-3 on the top strings....

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2012, 07:59:36 AM »
Hi all,
I believe all of Guitar Shorty's music on his recordings was played out of the EAEGBE tuning.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2012, 11:33:41 AM »
Aside from Spoonful, did Charley Jordan do other tunes outside of his regular E position style? Seems like almost everything I have sounds like E position capoed at various places.

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2012, 12:19:23 PM »
Hi Lastfirstface,
Charley Jordan played "Raiding Squad" out of G position in standard tuning.  And I think the way the category is defined, even one song recorded out of the dominant playing position/tuning would disqualify a player from fitting in the category.  This occurs to me re Big Joe Williams playing what looks like an A7 in standard tuning: He very well may have known how to play in E position in standard tuning, but did he record in anything other than Spanish?
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2012, 03:48:59 PM »
Charley Jordan played "Raiding Squad" out of G position in standard tuning.

"Spoonful" too, of course. I'd suggest Joseph Spence for drop D but I think "I See Mary and Joseph" is in C.

edited to add: Oops, just saw "Spoonful" was mentioned already.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 10:13:10 AM by banjochris »

Offline lindy

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2012, 05:45:07 PM »
Does Smokey Babe qualify for doing everything in Spanish, and Blind Connie Williams for Vestapol?

Lindy

edited to add: Whoops, Connie Williams has already been mentioned.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 07:39:12 PM by lindy »

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2012, 05:01:05 PM »
Hi Lindy,
It had been nagging at me that Smoky Babe recorded a song in a position/tuning other than Spanish tuning, and I found it--"Two Women", recorded with Lazy Lester on harmonica on the Arhoolie "Louisiana Country Blues" CD that is split between Smoky Babe and Herman E. Johnson.  "Two Women" turns out to be a version of "Catfish" which Smoky Babe played, as did most folks, out of E position, standard tuning, the only recorded piece of his not played in Spanish that I know of.
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2012, 05:15:18 PM »
Hi all,
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn had thirty titles, and I just checked them.  Every blessed one of them was played out of Spanish with a slide.  That's a lot!
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2013, 10:04:57 AM »
Hi all,
Sister O. M. Terrell's entire recorded repertoire was played out of Vestapol tuning.
All best,
Johnm

NOTE: 9/19/16, I was wrong about Sister O.M. Terrell playing everything in Vestapol.  She recorded one or two tunes in cross-note.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 06:54:44 AM by Johnm »

Offline chickenlegs

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2014, 12:52:41 PM »
How about King Solomon Hill in Vestapol. Although he barely qualifies with six known sides.
                             CL

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2016, 06:55:46 AM »
Hi all,
Does anyone know of anything recorded by Arthur Crudup that he did not play in cross-note tuning?  I think he may qualify for this category.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2016, 09:36:26 PM »
Did Big Bill Broonzy ever record out of standard tuning? I can't think of anything but I bet there's something out there [he said, hedging his bets].

Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2016, 04:34:01 AM »
Did Big Bill Broonzy ever record out of standard tuning? I can't think of anything but I bet there's something out there [he said, hedging his bets].

Big Bill plays "Joe Turner Blues" out of Vestapol, I think.

Offline alyoung

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2016, 04:39:53 AM »
Beaten to the draw! You must have posted while I was checking, Alexei. But after that check, I agree -- Joe Turner Blues in Vastapol.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2016, 04:04:44 PM »
I'm glad I hedged. The exception that breaks the rule.

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Re: Guitarists who were recorded playing in only one position/tuning
« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2016, 04:21:38 PM »
Yes, and Broonzy played in numerous different playing positions in standard tuning, E, A, D, C, G, so he wouldn't have qualified in any event.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 04:29:34 PM by Johnm »

 


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