22 Mar If anyone is interested this is the 1st of a five part series where Paul Kossoff’s father talks about his life.
Not that our grandchildren may be interested in this write up, but I always owe you at least a brief description.
The acoustic is an older of mine, never showed I think, usually I play it to my children. It’s a 15 years old Larrivee “Presentation”, bought new back then.
It is an extremely light guitar, featherweight. I put 009s on it, as I do with ALL my guitars (yes, even acoustics!). I like the sound of 9s. I think also Pete Townshend played at least a few times acoustics with thinner strings.
I also like the sound of it recorded, and in fact I recorded it with my Neumann U67 (whatever you put through it, will come out nicely).
I compressed (post-compression) the HECK out of it, that’s how I like the sound of acoustics: super compressed. I think “back in the day” many did that, and I still dig that sound.
The plugin I used to compress it though, is a “Fairchild” UAD emulation, a very good one. I used to have a real Fairchild at the studio for a while, a mono version of it. Great compressor.
I also recorded vocals with the U67 and compressed my voice. I sang in all the choruses except the one with the solo (a long one too).
Electric guitar is a particular Les Paul that you saw me (if you did) play in an older video, the “Slow Turn” one. It has a newer, high quality original Gibson neck, but the body is not a Gibson. It is an old growth wood body made by a luthier and it sports boutique pickups of some brand (will remember that if you want me; not a secret but lousy memory). Harness is the RS-Guitarworks one (pots, caps, all).
It’s a great guitar really, though it does sound “new” compared to the other older Les Pauls I have. However, I like to change gear (and play different guitars) often. It’s also a “rotation” of the guitars I do to play them all. I still think that playing the guitars make them sound good in time.
The amp was my Wizard Vintage Classic, you can probably hear its characteristic vibe, although for the rhythm sound I was going with as much as possible a similar sound to Koss’ on that recording.
Which sounds very much like a microphone was shoved somewhere off axis and off center. Which is what I did too, from center of the cab I moved it slightly towards one speaker rotating the mike in the speaker general direction. Amp’s settings were my usual one basically, with presence 2, bass 2, mids 5, treble 6, volume 7.
You have – some of you at least – seen me play this song for years, in several versions.
So you’d think that I’m confident with this song. Wrong. I am not. I still have to fight it to the edge, every time. I think also Koss had to fight his guitar with this part. It’s just “tough” to nail, because you need to make it roar by striking it quickly and heavily. The “heavily” is just a naturally consequence of the strumming pattern you’re forced to make in order to get the timing right.
The timing here is REALLY fundamental (it always is for me) but here if you don’t pull it right, you will sound like shit no matter what you try.
I don’t think there is another way – physically – to play this. Your right arm HAS to go down and up that way. Would be curious to see how Koss did it, but never found a video where he played exactly this part like this. Live he used to do it mildly, maybe because it would be too demanding this way and he could not hold up the whole concert with this type of effort.
The best one I like – video – is this:
PLEASE try this yourself and comment away.
The solo was not easy either, also because I had to slightly re-arrange it to make it fit on the part. These vibratos will kill you (but will make you exercise as well). But if you manage to pull it off right… you’re going to go to the moon for the resulting pleasure and satisfaction (not saying that I did though).
For the solo I used the beloved SVDS with mild boost, since the Wizard Vintage Classic is really a CLEAN amp. Had to blast the amp’s volume at 10! And it still wouldn’t drive too much. NOT like a Marshall 1959 for sure. A Marshall 1959 has way more drive than this amp. This is a wanted feature of the amp (so much for AC/DC wanting hotter amps?).
I will likely try to change the pre-amp tube in the V1 stage to get it more driven.
The microphone – U67 again – position was different to the rhythm part naturally, and it was closer and more in front of the speaker to try and get as much drive (or a perception of it) as possible. Same settings as for rhythm, with the exception of the amp’s volume in fact blasted to 10.
With the SVDS it became a lot easier to play the solo, since the SVDS does intentionally compress the signal giving you more sustain and more drive, if you clean-boost (which I did).