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kirkhawley
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#1
3rd August 2010
Old 3rd August 2010
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Donovan Guitar

I want that Donovan guitar sound, like on Hurdy Gurdy Man and others - tons of midrange but still sounds good, lots of string noise, the strings buzz a little bit. I've got the J-45. Anybody know how they recorded it? Guess?

-Kirk
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3rd August 2010
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One of my favorite sounds, too. And Donovan's extremely underrated as an acoustic guitar player. He's one of the best folkies ever - not everyone knows it because of his pop hits.

I don't know the answer but you might also Google producer Mickey Most.
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5th August 2010
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Well, I liked your question!

Now if you'd asked, who were the musicians on Hurdy Gurdy Man, you would have had dozens of replies.

I know the answer to that, but I don't feel like defending it to the death.

Another clue would be to find out where the album was recorded, in what year, and try to figure out what the equipment list was at that studio. Either Donovan used the same studio a lot, or his acoustic guitar sound was remarkably similar across his well known albums. I would guess there's one particular mike his J-45 liked, but can't guess what it is.

Then you could also track down the engineer, see if they're alive and they might remember.

I can also say that, in general, Donovan is not a great self-historian for these kind of details. So try and find someone on the technical side, which is, I guess why you're here. . .
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5th August 2010
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Off topic I know, but he's my second cousin. I haven't met him though. And he taught John Lennon how to play the finger picking style used on "Dear Prudence". Glad to see him getting some attention on here!

-Alex
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5th August 2010
Old 5th August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
One of my favorite sounds, too. And Donovan's extremely underrated as an acoustic guitar player. He's one of the best folkies ever - not everyone knows it because of his pop hits.

I don't know the answer but you might also Google producer Mickey Most.
Yeah. At his best, Don has been really sublime. For instance, "Sunny Goodge Street" has always just killed me. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of stuff that goes right past me... my tolerance for twee is far from bottomless. But there are so many good songs by him. And an amazing singer for that ultra intimate, breathy, confessional thing. Hell, I really like the guy, even if I laughed my ass off in the hotel room sequence in Don't Look Back.
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5th August 2010
Old 5th August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
Well, I liked your question!

Now if you'd asked, who were the musicians on Hurdy Gurdy Man, you would have had dozens of replies.

I know the answer to that, but I don't feel like defending it to the death.
Now there's a question. The best answer I've heard about the lead guitar is Alan Holdsworth, but I've seen a supposedly complete list of everything he's ever played on and it's not on there. As far as I know the answer is "Nobody knows."

-Kirk
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5th August 2010
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Donovan is one of the greats for sure! Jersey Thursday is one of my favorites. I believe Donno played not a J-45 but the Gibson built Epiphone version. That is if we're talking about the red sunburst acoustic he played back then. Bit later I saw him on TV (early 70's) and he was playing what appeared to be a custom made job. The guitar had very cosmic inlay appointments and a crescent moon shaped sound hole. As I recall the guitar sounded outstanding during that performance. Sadly I never saw him with it again.
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5th August 2010
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I guess we have to go "there," just to keep the thread in front of people who may be able to answer the original question.

Regarding the Hurdy Gurdy Man musicians, rather than looking up "who said what," just using your ears, not researching on the internet . . . does the backing band sound like 3/4 of Led Zep or not?

Find a sample of Allen Holdsworth - the guy's like a fast, prog-rock scale guy. Guess if he recorded with a fuzz tone in his life.
Find a sample of Jimmy Page (already in your brain). Who used plenty of fuzz with The Yardbirds? Who is it?

Find a sample of drummer Clem what's his name.
Find a sample of John Bonham (also already in your brain). How is that not John Bonham? Is it possible to have a more distinctive style?

Less obvious is the bass, but it's the lead guitar and drums that have been the objects of conjecture.
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5th August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
Well, I liked your question!

Now if you'd asked, who were the musicians on Hurdy Gurdy Man, you would have had dozens of replies.

I know the answer to that, but I don't feel like defending it to the death.

Another clue would be to find out where the album was recorded, in what year, and try to figure out what the equipment list was at that studio. Either Donovan used the same studio a lot, or his acoustic guitar sound was remarkably similar across his well known albums. I would guess there's one particular mike his J-45 liked, but can't guess what it is.

Then you could also track down the engineer, see if they're alive and they might remember.

I can also say that, in general, Donovan is not a great self-historian for these kind of details. So try and find someone on the technical side, which is, I guess why you're here. . .
I was just listening to the Hurdy Gurdy Man album today and thinking how great the production is. Donovan is so under-rated.
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5th August 2010
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The lineup on Barabajagal is great too. Jeff Beck, Aynsley Dunbar, etc.
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5th August 2010
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Yeah, I always thought it was Page on guitar, and now that I listen again I see what you mean about Bonham, although the drums are more of a consistent "part" than he might normally play.

Yes, Dono is the real deal--still. I saw him do a solo acoustic set in Santa Ynez a couple months ago and he still shows exemplary guitar skills and that same breathy voice. It was to my surprise an incredibly great show. It's like he's been in a time capsule for 35 years.

We were fortunate enough to have dinner with him the following night, and found that he is still full of the 60's idealism and romanticism that fueled his music, perhaps to a fault. His current project is a collaboration with David Lynch to attempt to bring Transcendental Meditation to the elementary and middle schools.

-R
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6th August 2010
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There's a movie about Donovan's career, I forget the name, but there's a sequence about the guitars he started using (green !) where he's chatting with the builder in his shop. They're custom Ferrington jobs, but I don't know when he started using them for recording. Search for "donovan ferrington" for details.
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6th August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
The lineup on Barabajagal is great too. Jeff Beck, Aynsley Dunbar, etc.
Absolutely. Barabajagal is a f*cking great record.
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6th August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
Yeah, I always thought it was Page on guitar, and now that I listen again I see what you mean about Bonham, although the drums are more of a consistent "part" than he might normally play.

Yes, Dono is the real deal--still. I saw him do a solo acoustic set in Santa Ynez a couple months ago and he still shows exemplary guitar skills and that same breathy voice. It was to my surprise an incredibly great show. It's like he's been in a time capsule for 35 years.

We were fortunate enough to have dinner with him the following night, and found that he is still full of the 60's idealism and romanticism that fueled his music, perhaps to a fault. His current project is a collaboration with David Lynch to attempt to bring Transcendental Meditation to the elementary and middle schools.

-R
Now, that sounds like fun.
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6th August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkhawley View Post
Now there's a question. The best answer I've heard about the lead guitar is Alan Holdsworth, but I've seen a supposedly complete list of everything he's ever played on and it's not on there. As far as I know the answer is "Nobody knows."

-Kirk

At the time I heard the lead guitar was played by Jeff Beck.
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Here we go. . . at least Jeff Beck played stuff that sounded somewhat like HGM with The Yardbirds . . . really dramatic bends with a somewhat similar tone as in "Over Under Sideways Down" as opposed to Holdsworth, who basically played instrumentals in a non-rock style.

I still kinda doubt it was Beck, although he's a good second choice now that you mention it, cause Page was well known as an independent studio musician at that time while Beck was in a band, The Yardbirds (before they were both in The Yardbirds, as seen in the classic Blow Up).

. . . Getting back to Donovan's acoustic guitar sound in the 60's, it is strange that it's not imitated more, sonically, as it kinda sounds like eternity . . .
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7th February 2012
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Sorry to bump this older thread, but this is exactly what I was wondering - what's the acoustic "Donovan sound" made of? How do you think the guitar was miked and "processed"?

Thanks!
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7th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by globalist View Post
Sorry to bump this older thread, but this is exactly what I was wondering - what's the acoustic "Donovan sound" made of? How do you think the guitar was miked and "processed"?

Thanks!
I would guess it's just a condenser like a U47/U67/U87 placed wherever it sounded good in front of his guitar through the studio board to tape with some reverb. I doubt there was much processing occurring. using compression on any individual elements of a track was uncommon in the '60s (with a few notable exceptions such as the Beatles).
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7th February 2012
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really? you think that's bonham?
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7th February 2012
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I saw Donovan a few years ago and was surprised to discover how they got that vocal tremolo sound on Hurdy Gurdy Man.
He sings it like that!

Great show. I was surprised how many hits he had. The whole night was I remember that one.....and that one.......and that one......and that one....and that one........and
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7th February 2012
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Try this....

i onced had a sound like this when i placed a 149 in front of the hole of the guitar in "Kugel" charecteristic (think its in english "omni).
Very in front......
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8th February 2012
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According to the Liner Notes on one of his CD's, it states as follows:

Hurdy Gurdy Man:

Donovan - Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Tambura
Allan Holdsworth and Jimmy Page - Electric Guitar
John Paul Jones - Bass
John Bonham and Clem Clatini - Drums
Recorded April 1968

Apparently Donovan wanted Hendrix to play guitar but he was booked elsewhere. John Paul Jones arranged the track.

It does not mention gear or the studio it was recorded or mixed at. It is from the LP "The Hurdy Gurdy Man" so I suspect if you have the LP it might contain info as to where tracking and mixing were done - although back in those days, perhaps not.

My favorite Donovan is Sunshine Superman. I've loved that tune since the first time I heard it on the radio. Ah the good old days!!!
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#23
8th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PdotDdot View Post
...I suspect if you have the LP it might contain info as to where tracking and mixing were done - although back in those days, perhaps not...
Just checked mine and all it says is 'Produced by Mickie Most. A Mickie Most Production.' (Not sure why they had to tell us twice.)
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8th February 2012
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8th February 2012
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Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
Just to add to the Hurdy Gurdy confusion I found this.
Did Jimmy Page play on Donovans Hurdy Gurdy Man
Interesting. Well if this comment from JPJ can be verified, I would figure this to be more accurate than the info from a Best-Of liner notes.

Thanks for the URL.
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8th February 2012
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the lead guitars were Jimmy Page
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8th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stravinsky View Post
the lead guitars were Jimmy Page
How do you know this?
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8th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stravinsky View Post
the lead guitars were Jimmy Page
He seems to disagree with you.
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