I’ve been obsessin’ over the 1980 Rockpalast footage of that little ol’ band from Texas. The boys were a lot more fiery back then, and the Rev. Willy G sounds AWESOME. yeah, some of it’s the style, the hands, all that, but some of it fo sho is that Lester paul through…what?
First give this a listen – it’s 8.5 minutes and worth every second. You can hear the Les Paul, you can hear “a” fuzz pedal (more on that later), not sure about the amp but it sounds loud….
A-how-how-how did he get that tone? First a few things my eyes and ears noticed:
> He’s playing the bridge pickup but it sounds a bit like the neck pickup. Why? The fuzz? The tone control?
> The fuzz doesn’t kill how great the guitar tone sounds. This is possible and definitely is well within the Kung Fu black belt tonal skills of Billy, but how is he doing it? Is it the fuzz, the amp settings or….?
> He has no visible pedals on the stage, and his guitar cord is snaking off to stage left – meaning it doesn’t seem to be plugged into one of the heads behind him.
Maybe you have the answers – if so, leave ’em below. Anyhow, we know he was using Pearly Gates, his legendary ’69 burst, with original PAFs.
We apparently don’t know what amp he was using. Some say a brownface Fender combo that he was seen using on the Old Gray Whistle Test vid below, same year – some say it was a different Fender combo or Marshalls or whatever, the bottom line being no one knows for sure.
We also apparently don’t know what the fuzz pedal was. Believe it or not, there was no shortage of fuzzbox options by 1980, including:
> Maestro (Gibson) Fuzz-Tone (Rolling Stones)
> Vox Tone Bender (Beatles)
> Mosrite FuzzRite, Fuzz Face, Big Muff (Hendrix)
> Rangemaster (many)
There are many other examples, so really it’s a shot in the dark about what pedal Billy had hooked up that night. Or pedals: His experiments in chaining fuzz pedals together were inspired, as he’s said, by watching Jimi do it.
Unless you have deets with actual references about what he was using at Rockpalast or in 1980, I’m kinda stumped. But here are a couple vids that are…interesting…culled from a crapload of YouTube vids where people used fuzzes with no attempt to sound musical!
To give you a taste….
This is the best one (can’t embed). This guy has taken the time to dial in his tone – all three parts: guitar, pedal, amp – and it sounds freakin’ great.
And then there’s this fuzzless vid – sweet!
And this one….
Here’s the Old Grey Whistle Test vid. Does this prove Billy used a brownface at Rockpalast? Not to me. The OGWT is a TV show. Doubtless the volume had to be lower and to my ears the tone is different.