Early B-52's album guitar sound
Old 31st October 2005
  #1
Lives for gear
 
r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Early B-52's album guitar sound

Ricky is my god.....
does anyone know any detailed info about his style....
4 string mosrite
DS-1?
TwinReverb....
Old 31st October 2005
  #2
Gear addict
 
BrianK's Avatar
 

On the first album, they supposedly did some "down the hall" ambience mixing when doing his gtr overdubs, particularly on Rock Lobster.

The guitar SEEMS to have monstrously heavy strings. The secret to great tone right there, plus he has THE MOST original stringing style ever...
Old 1st November 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 

I've been listening to the first album lately; he is a tone god! I really dig the production all 'round.

It sounds stripped but at the same time, really slick.

Also, I wouldn't automatically assume that the guitar in the picture is the one on every track, although it's not impossible.

The guitar in 52 Girls sounds like Strat bridge+middle p/u out of phase. Just a guess. I also wanna say I'm hearing a 4x10 (bassman maybe?) guitars definitely doubled and panned R+L (I'm sure you got that part! )
Old 1st November 2005
  #4
Lives for gear
 
r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
wuh wuh waaaaiiit a second....
whut trak does he sing on????

Tis Chris Blackwel on production no?

plus i downloaded a video of a few songs...(ever see the SNL performance? <--- amazing)

it's that same damn mosrite....i did see a Twin in the background...

max you might be right about that shit tho'....

we find out....

gearslutz rules the obscure technique!!!

second album isn't bad either...

party remix is a bit of a drag for around the house tho'
Old 1st November 2005
  #5
Gear addict
 
rlnyc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by r0ck1r0ck2
Ricky is my god.....
does anyone know any detailed info about his style....
4 string mosrite
DS-1?
TwinReverb....
i can tell you something about ricky's "style." i spent some time with ricky. we were playing different things and he kept trying different tunings. after a while i said, "well, why don't you just try standard tuning and maybe we can come up with something interesting that way too?"

he said, "i don't know standard tuning" so i said, "well, what tuning are you in, (G?, D?, etc...) and i can show you how to get to standard tuning from there" and he said, "i don't know what tuning i am in."

I said, "huh, you don't know what tuning you are in? how do you write songs?" and he said, "i just tune the strings till i hear something i like and then something comes out". (mind you, we had just been jamming for an hour or so and had been working fine together)

so i asked him, "well, how do you replay the songs you have written, like rock lobster? do you write down the tunings?" and he said, "no, i don't write anything down, and i have no idea how the tunings go." i was flabbergasted and i asked him, "how the hell do you play the songs again then", and he said (in all seriousness), "i don't know!"

a true story. and the nicest guy you would ever meet. i still don't know how he did it but every time i saw them live it was a complete blast, and they drove me nuttier than a sane man ought to get, jumping around dancing and screaming. (mind you i got pretty stoned back then). what a great band.

if you try to cop ricky's style, you are in for a hell of a figure out. good luck. make your own magic.

regards,
rlnyc.
Quote
3
Old 1st November 2005
  #6
Gear addict
 
mitgong's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlnyc
i can tell you something about ricky's "style." i spent some time with ricky. we were playing different things and he kept trying different tunings. after a while i said, "well, why don't you just try standard tuning and maybe we can come up with something interesting that way too?"

he said, "i don't know standard tuning" so i said, "well, what tuning are you in, (G?, D?, etc...) and i can show you how to get to standard tuning from there" and he said, "i don't know what tuning i am in."

I said, "huh, you don't know what tuning you are in? how do you write songs?" and he said, "i just tune the strings till i hear something i like and then something comes out". (mind you, we had just been jamming for an hour or so and had been working fine together)

so i asked him, "well, how do you replay the songs you have written, like rock lobster? do you write down the tunings?" and he said, "no, i don't write anything down, and i have no idea how the tunings go." i was flabbergasted and i asked him, "how the hell do you play the songs again then", and he said (in all seriousness), "i don't know!"

a true story. and the nicest guy you would ever meet. i still don't know how he did it but every time i saw them live it was a complete blast, and they drove me nuttier than a sane man ought to get, jumping around dancing and screaming. (mind you i got pretty stoned back then). what a great band.

if you try to cop ricky's style, you are in for a hell of a figure out. good luck. make your own magic.

regards,
rlnyc.
Great post.
Old 1st November 2005
  #7
Gear maniac
 
dtucker's Avatar
 

Seriously...DITTO!

Amazing post...
Old 1st November 2005
  #8
Gear maniac
 
allbaldo's Avatar
 

That rules! Love that guitar sound.
Old 1st November 2005
  #9
Lives for gear
 
r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Great story
you see THIS is why i come here every damn day...
you give me xtra stomp fun story
priceless
if you got anything else you could add i would just love it....
i think we all would....
Old 2nd November 2005
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

52 Miles... West of Venus

Quice Lorraine!!!!!!!

Wikid stuff
Only wish the last album after cosmic thing was only half as good as the preceeding ones

Wiggy
Old 19th January 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
 
r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
i'm going to bump this one because i want to prove what a loony i can be..
you will see that this was years ago and there is no proof that i still type like this..

besides, i want to see if anyone can tell me more..
because i'm on a bit of a b-52's kick lately..

go to youtube and find fred soo earnest and serious about the cowbell...

they make my girlfriend happy and that's what counts in music these days...
maybe always.

rlnyc will hopefully let loose 52 more stories about the b-52's..
oh please oh please..

more fun please!
Old 19th January 2007
  #12
Lives for gear
 
bcgood's Avatar
 

I love B 52's stuff. The song "Good Stuff" is one of the songs I listen to sonically to compare my stuff to. The bass and highs on that song are crazy! Love the guitar tones. They usually have a surfy Fender Strat sound to my ears...

bcgood
Old 19th January 2007
  #13
Gear maniac
 
Notron Fan's Avatar
 

I actually found a Mosrite Ventures Mk II guitar that looks just like the one on the back of the first B-52's first album. Same blue color, broken trem bar, basically everything except the duct tape.

I think I paid $25 bucks for it back in 1985.
Old 19th January 2007
  #14
Lives for gear
 
bdmctear's Avatar
 

The first musical purchase I ever made with my own money was the B-52s first album (on tape) and a pair of drumsticks. I walked to the Mall (an 11 year old crossing major highways on foot... by myself, too).

In the past few years I have been truly blown away by the sounds on that record, so it's amazing to read someone's first hand experience with the band. I love the guitar and I love the drums... especially the weird tom sound (what is that, no bottom head?)

An additional aside... I own a console that recorded part of Bouncing Off Satellites. I know it's not the best of the B-52s catalog, but it nice to know that it was a part of Ricky Wilson's last contribution.
Old 19th January 2007
  #15
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Taking road trips with my 3 daughters, they would join in trying to hit all the note in Revolution Earth. What an amazing vocal and a great album!
Quote
1
Old 1st April 2014
  #16
Gear interested
 

This is an old topic I'm replying to but I wanted to add to it.

I've played a Mosrite guitar like the one Ricky did though of an earlier name (Ventures II - Not the same as the one Johnny Ramone played which is even another guitar design under the Ventures II name which came earlier!) - I think the blue one he (Ricky) played is a 1966 Mosrite MK V since the truss rod adjustment is at the body end on it.

Anyway, Here is more to it; I've had great success nailing his tone with a set of 10-46 strings tuned to DADxBB. x means the string is not in that slot and Ricky played in that tuning for a lot of early B-52's songs, And for a few other songs he played in CFxxFF. For Rock Lobster I tried sticking these gauge of strings on an Epiphone: .105, .085, .026p and .022p. Yes you read that right, BASS strings. I'm not sure where he got the thick plain strings from, Maybe a baritone pack or a single string? Anyway, Those strings were so close to that Rock Lobster tone at CFxxFF it was almost the same thing even without playing it on a Mosrite guitar.

I haven't stuck such thick strings on the Mosrite I've played yet at least. Also, These Mosrite MK V guitars have open-slot tuners if stock rather than closed on the top like a lot of Fender Squiers have. I like how the Mosrite sounds with 10-46s, It's very resonant with those strings and when I put some 12-52s on it the tone just flew off on vacation.

There's another thing; With this Mosrite guitar, Sticking the tone knobs like this on a Fender amp gets it very close: Treble; All the way up. Mids and Bass; All the way down! Just like D. Boon of the Minutemen did.

Here's a photo of the blue MK V that Ricky played (Though since it's my first post here I can't directly show it yet)

http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lk...vhmzo1_500.jpg

Does anyone here know where the guitar is located and the serial number on it, If it still has it which is or was stamped on the fretboard near the body? Maxkat on the Mosrite Forum is looking for serial numbers for these Mosrite Ventures II (All designs) and the MK V guitars to add to a list he's compiling. Here's a link to his thread if you want to contribute.

http://mosriteforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5189
Old 1st April 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlnyc View Post
i can tell you something about ricky's "style." i spent some time with ricky. we were playing different things and he kept trying different tunings. after a while i said, "well, why don't you just try standard tuning and maybe we can come up with something interesting that way too?"

he said, "i don't know standard tuning" so i said, "well, what tuning are you in, (G?, D?, etc...) and i can show you how to get to standard tuning from there" and he said, "i don't know what tuning i am in."

I said, "huh, you don't know what tuning you are in? how do you write songs?" and he said, "i just tune the strings till i hear something i like and then something comes out". (mind you, we had just been jamming for an hour or so and had been working fine together)

so i asked him, "well, how do you replay the songs you have written, like rock lobster? do you write down the tunings?" and he said, "no, i don't write anything down, and i have no idea how the tunings go." i was flabbergasted and i asked him, "how the hell do you play the songs again then", and he said (in all seriousness), "i don't know!"

a true story. and the nicest guy you would ever meet. i still don't know how he did it but every time i saw them live it was a complete blast, and they drove me nuttier than a sane man ought to get, jumping around dancing and screaming. (mind you i got pretty stoned back then). what a great band.

if you try to cop ricky's style, you are in for a hell of a figure out. good luck. make your own magic.

regards,
rlnyc.
I missed this thread the first time around, but I have to say. This post ^^^^ is awesomesauce!
Old 1st April 2014
  #18
Gear interested
 

Ricky did learn how the tunings go later on though, If a photo of a note he wrote which I read is correct.
Old 3rd April 2014
  #19
Gear interested
 

From this set here's what tunings Ricky used in 1978:
http://youtu.be/V0qxHAWdVp4

Planet Claire EADXXBB
52 Girls DADXXBB
(switch guitars)
6060-842 XADXGA
Devil XADXGA
Hero XADXGA
(switch back to first guitar)
Lava DADXBB
(switch to 3rd guitar)
Running Around CFXXFF
Dance This Mess Around CFXXFF
Rock Lobster CFXXFF
(switch to fourth guitar)
Private Idaho EBXXBB

I think the CFXXFF and XADXGA tunings are on Mosrite's or possibly the Epiphone Coronet I have seen him playing in videos. He used Teles and Strats with the DADXBB tuning, but probably all of the guitars since this is his most widely utilized tuning. I'm fairly certain he is using his Silvertone 1449 on Private Idaho, tuned EBXXBB.

Not all songs require the top strings. The tuning XADXGA is used for the middle 4 strings except for Hero Worship where he uses the top GA for the rather wicked sounding solo at the end of the tune.

I've had the best results using a large triangular fender medium pick. It gets that percussive "snap" that is key to his style. Watch his right hand!

Hopefully one day Keith Strickland will kindly publish a definitive analysis of Ricky's approach. Ricky was an unsung hero who should have had wider influence.

Last edited by jharms; 3rd April 2014 at 03:56 AM.. Reason: More copy
Old 3rd April 2014
  #20
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Tell It Like It T-I-S

Tele through Vox's

Kate's voice in top form too.

Quote
1
Old 4th April 2014
  #21
Gear interested
 

In addition to my earlier post I wanted to add that I'm involved in a B52's first album cover band project, so I had to figure out the tunings and string configurations over the past several months. Some of the tunings are available on the internet and some are not. I wanted to share my solutions for the guitar/amp and string gauge issue that engages almost anyone who is going after Ricky's sound. I am a certified vintage guitar nut and realized immediately that my pockets were not deep enough to reproduce the same guitars Ricky used back in the late 70's. I'm sure Mosrites, Coronets, Silvertones etc were plentiful and cheap back then when pawn shops overflowing with cool guitars. I started instead to look for Mosrite knock offs and ended up happily finding this amazing site called Drowning in Guitars which has cataloged an enormous quantity of Japanese guitars from the 60' and early 70's. I was able to acquire both a Guyatone Mosrite copy and a White Univox H-Flier from them. I also found a very cool Silvertone 1445, which is probably the coolest Mosrite copy ever. And then a second Hi-Flier which gave me the 4 guitars needed to do the set.

The white Univox is tuned DADXBB. I use Ernie Ball Not Even Slinky strings (56, 44, 32, X, 16, 16). I had to buy an extra b string. I use this guitar for Planet Claire (you have to tune the bottom string back up to E) 52 Girls, Lava, Moon and Downtown. We also added Mesopotamia as an encore tune and DADXXBB is the correct tuning. I strung up the other Univox Hi-Flier CFXXFF. String gauges were cobbled together (60, 50, X, X, 22, 22). I tried wound g strings at one point and it didn't have the same chime. This is the Dance This Mess Around, Rock Lobster guitar. It's kind of difficult to manage. I end up tuning the C and F a little sharp from a440 to get it to pitch correctly to my ear. I have read that Ricky did the same. The third guitar, a Guyatone Mosrite copy, is tuned XADXGA and I use it on Hero and 6060. I use the same gauge strings as on the first guitar. For a while I had the e string on as well but then realized it was in the way of the sweeping pick motion that Ricky used. So I got rid of it. The fourth guitar is used for Private Idaho. It wasn't recorded for the first album, but was on the set lists in that that period. There is a video of Ricky playing his Silvertone so I decided to use mine on that as well. It's tuned EBXXBB.

As far as amps go, I was able to borrow a mid-60's Showman head and a homemade closed back cab with 2 12's. I have the volume at 5 and it provides a full clean punchy sound. Lots of bottom without sounding too bassy. For reverb I am again going the economical/vintage route using an 80's issue Boss digital reverb. For Mesopotamia I found an old Electric Mistress flange pedal. I was able to try out other options (Bassman, Super Reverb, Twin) but the Showman was the ticket. The B's early sound is fundamentally guitar and drums. So the guitar has to be really full and percussive. You have to be able to really whack the bottom string, esp on Rock Lobster without losing any crispness in tone.

So that's my 2 cents - trying to be as true to the sound and to the thrift shop spirit that drove the early Athens based group.
Old 4th April 2014
  #22
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 101Volts View Post
Ricky did learn how the tunings go later on though, If a photo of a note he wrote which I read is correct.
I agree with you. rlnyc's story is a little misleading though wonderful and often quoted. I'm also convinced the author is Richard Lloyd who did have contact with Ricky back in the CBGB days and even recorded with him on this tune:
• Tom Verlaine • Breakin' In My Heart - YouTube
Yeah that's Ricky! Anyway Ricky knew what he was doing, just not in the formal sense. Richard is a total cosmic music theory nut and Ricky was not.
Old 4th April 2014
  #23
Gear interested
 

This is a recent fb post from Ricky Wilson's first guitar tech Keith Bennett.

"What a special honor it was to have been Ricky’s first guitar tech. What he was doing was unique in concept, technique and execution and he had great patience with me as I had to learn, pretty much over night, the precise details of my duty in this regard.

It was no secret that I had signed on to the first US tour to preserve mine and Cindy’s on going courtship but my relationship with his sister in no way softened what Ricky required in order to perform on stage night after night in city after city for months on end. Nor did I want it to.

Looking back, believe my rookie status was actually a positive in Ricky’s mind. My ability to handle the learning curve presented to me was unencumbered by any past guitar tech experience; the unconventional ways of Ricky’s approach to the guitar did not run counter to some engrained standard methodology I might have harbored.

Ricky’s familiarity with me was perhaps a comforting factor in having a nomadic working relationship, given his profound reticence. I had experienced first hand the attitudes of some guitarists who were somehow offended by Ricky’s idiosyncratic approach to the instrument, as if an EADGBE tuning had been carved on stone tablets and six strings were a sacrament.

Of course the deep root of their being so tightly wound up about one man’s creative technique was bitterness over being technically proficient, excellent even, yet completely overlooked and left behind; one person’s excellence indistinguishable from that of the next.

I don’t know whether Ricky was ever bothered by such individuals.Their subset became smaller as the B-52’s became bigger. Who knows. Ricky and I didn’t talk much, his shyness often reflected in my own awkward social malfunctions and those misfires reflecting back off of his and so forth until a nervous feedback loop was formed. But there was no animosity, just chronic hesitation.

True to form, Ricky rarely said two words to me in the tuning room before the show, where he would come in each night to check the tunings of the freshly restrung and tuned guitars. I changed the strings, stretched the new ones and tuned and retuned six guitars every single night, one of them, a double neck. Although Ricky did not invent alternative tunings for the guitar, he certainly took it to an extreme.

In the tiny tuning room before the show, Ricky would sit in complete silence and check the tunings using a small Korg meter which the band had used from day one, all beat up and held together by gaffer’s tape and luck. This after I had already stretched the new strings and tuned them using the fancy new Conn strobe tuner, a technological marvel of its day. Fast, easy and spot on accurate, it was my best friend in my new world of daily string changing and nightly travel by rental truck.

Those moments alone in the tuning room, along with the chemical bond that he shared with Cindy, both in terms of family and on stage, inform my perception of Ricky and define those early years on the road working as his tech. I am confident that those shared moments of silence in the tuning room, the eye of each evening’s hurricane, were a lot more relaxing to Ricky than they were to me as he began testing each string with meditative concentration.

He would sit and select a guitar, pluck a string and then stare straight ahead into the void as the vibration faded away into the silence of the room like a stone tossed into a sonic pond. Sometimes he would listen long after it seemed the sound had decayed. As he confirmed the validity of each string, he would occasionally raise an eyebrow ever so slightly or give the most subtle of shrugs. Body language that I learned to pick up on and which I lived for in those moments.

Then he would focus on certain strings on certain guitars, and using the little Korg analog tuner, he would throw those strings, which I had tuned to digital perfection, off of A440 ever so slightly. In other words, I had to get it perfect so he could then deviate from it to a place that only he could find.

Then, once he had finished he would stand and with a shrug and a slight shadow of a smile, he would leave and head back to the dressing rooms as I began to transport the six or seven guitars to the stage area where I had earlier set up the station fat which I would alter the guitar tunings and string variations during the show, as per the set list dictate.

Ricky used only five strings on his guitars, sometimes only four, and always the heaviest gauge possible. During the show he would punish the strings with an extra heavy pick, staring intensely at some point on the stage floor or a million miles beyond, thrashing away as a constant rivulet of sweat dripped from the end of his nose like a waterfall.

He hit hard, holding nothing back, creating his unique chording with his thumb over the top of the fret board and hitting down while pulling up on the higher strings, usually tuned to exact unison. Pushing down and pulling up and pulling out dynamics like lava from a volcano. He gave the illusion of two guitarists in this way and combined with Keith Strickland’s painfully exact drumming, he produced an infectious rhythm. His was no wimpy sound and in fact his tone and rhythmic chops rivaled any guitarist, anywhere, in any type band - punk, metal or in between.

The fact that his contribution to the artistry of the instrument goes unsung in the compendiums and yearly collections of the “100 greatest guitarists” only serves to illuminate the limited scope and specious credibility of the so called experts responsible for these lists. But Ricky would be the first to tell you, or indicate in some manner anyway, that playing the guitar, (regardless of his genius in so doing,) was not all that he was about or even his main thing. He was engaged in so much more. Always reading, researching, traveling or seeking some new avenue of life experience.

But his relation to the guitar and of course to Cindy, now my wife of many years and the mother of my children, are the points of view by which I hold Ricky in my mind. And in those very kids, through whose wry smiles and natural flowing talent he indeed shines on. A gentle, bemused soul, Ricky brought his own customized standard to whatever he did.

Very private, Ricky was always somewhat enigmatic to me. But the one thing that was never obscured, always as crisp and bright as an October morning, was his love for his sister and the central role he played in her life. He will always be her wise, loyal and protective older brother in the vast timeless universe that is in her heart. And I will always be his guitar tech, striving for a glimpse of that slightly raised eyebrow."
Quote
2
Old 5th April 2014
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 

That's really beautiful. Thanks for posting it here.
Old 28th April 2014
  #25
Gear interested
 

jharms, Thanks for that; I hadn't figured it out for Hero Worship. Maybe I should try the tuning out for 6060-842 before actually commenting on it though.
Old 15th July 2014
  #26
Gear interested
 

Now THAT'S beautiful... @ the risk of offending, well, everyone(!) I guess the moral here is the best piece of 'gear' a Tone Hound can have is a great & understanding spouse! But seriously, jharms, this IS a wonderful post THANK YOU sincerely for sharing it
Old 16th July 2014
  #27
Lives for gear
 
ionian's Avatar
I saw the B-52s a few years ago at Jones Beach in Long Island. They were opening for Cyndi Lauper, believe it or not.

Anyway - they totally decimated Cyndi and her band. In fairness to Cyndi, after the level of energy and balls that the B-52s put out I don't think there's really too many bands that would have been able to follow that. They had people dancing in the aisles from their first song to their last. In fact, my girlfriend and I had split halfway through Cyndi's set because everything just felt so down and sluggish after that, we felt like the party was over. We called it a night and left before the rush and went to go eat instead.

And we originally bought the tickets to see Cyndi! The B52s left some impression on me as a live band.

Regards,
Frank
Old 20th July 2014
  #28
Gear interested
 

Good news for Ricky Wilson fans - there is now footage of a complete 16 song set in order (I think) from the Capitol Theater circa 1980. I have not had a chance to analyze the sequence of guitars and tunings yet but I did note a couple of things. First Kate uses Ricky's Epiphone ET-290 on 52 Girls, but it is in the XADXGA tuning he needs for 6060, Devil and Hero Worship. So she is playing in a tuning which I did not realize before. Also he plays Quiche and Party Out of Bounds on the 12 string neck of his double neck Mosrite. So they are the same tuning but I have not figured it out yet. If anyone knows the tuning I would appreciate it. Also, check that wild little Danelectro he uses for Private Idaho... I thought it was his Silvertone 1448. Enjoy. The B-52's - 11/07/80 - Capitol Theatre - YouTube
Old 20th July 2014
  #29
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by merseymale View Post
Now THAT'S beautiful... @ the risk of offending, well, everyone(!) I guess the moral here is the best piece of 'gear' a Tone Hound can have is a great & understanding spouse! But seriously, jharms, this IS a wonderful post THANK YOU sincerely for sharing it
Oh my wife.... She was in the band!
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
TYY / So much gear, so little time!
10
Kestral / High end
13
dbbubba / Work In Progress / Advice Requested / Show & Tell / Artist Showcase / Mix-Offs
2
Douglas Whates / Mastering forum
8

Forum Jump
 
Register FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.