If so, can you name five rock Strat players in 10 seconds? How about five rock Strat players whose tones you’d want to cop?
I can only name two. I’m not dissing Tommy Bolin or anyone else who might be on your faves list, but all I can think of when it comes to good classic rock Strat tone is Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen. (Hendrix I’m excluding because not sure he fits into the classic rock category – he’s his own genre. Ditto for Beck.)
Both Ritchie and Yngwie, who idolized Ritchie, played/play Strats through Marshalls – loud. And let’s face it, just about anything through a cranked Marshall will sound great.
Both have great album and live tones. But for me, Blackmore has the edge. Notably in Rainbow, and especially in later Rainbow, like the 1979 album Down to Earth.
Not to discount the amazing Purple stuff or the equally great Dio-era Rainbow, I just like the more-aggressive guitar tone on the Graham Bonnet-era stuff. Anyone remember these gems from the early days of MTV:
‘All Night Long’
‘Since You’ve Been Gone’
Here’s a rough mix of ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ without singing, so you can really hear the guitar tone:
Ritchie’s signal chain at that point in his career seemed (as it usually did) to be pretty simple: guitar, boost, amp. But every part of the chain was modded.
> His guitars had pickup and tone circuit mods.
> By this time the boost seems to have been modded boost pedals, apparently two different treble boosters, or maybe the same brand but with different chips. But he had slaved a Vox AC30 into a Marshall before and had a homemade tape-recorder boost (see below).
> The notoriously unreliable Marshall Majors were modded in several ways including an extra preamp tube.
(More gear info here in a previous post.)
However he did it, Ritchie was after a tone in his head and it sounded good! Who’s rock Strat tone beats that? Any opinions, deliver them below….
> Here’s an example of how he fooled around with different ways of getting more of what’s now known as gain, from this long and early (Purple era) interview: “I don’t use an Echoplex. I use my own thing. I made like my own tape recorder up as an echo. It gives me an echo when it’s played back. It’s hard to explain. I just overload the input side and I can get my sustain as well. It doesn’t thin out my sound like all the echoes do. Echoes always thin the sound. The way I’ve got this built is to give me the exact same sound that I’ve had if I was actually plugged straight into an amp without all that bloody extra circuit.”
Graham and Yngwie in Alcatrazz doing a tune off Down to Earth
Brian May playing and singing a good version of Since You’ve Been Gone – which was not written by Rainbow, btw.