THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

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THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Quacoan » 23 Jan 2011, 03:24

What was the first use of the patented George Harrison slide guitar sound? By that I mean the one used on "My Sweet Lord", "Isn't It a Pity", "Beware of Darkness", and so many solo GH tunes after that. He used right up to the very end.

Many others of the time did slide guitar, but GH's is unique and instantly recognizable. In fact, other artists have copied it ... America's "Sister Golden Hair", 10cc's "Headline Hustler", Roy Wood's "The Locomotive", etc. ... you can "do a George Harrison" if you have a slide guitar like that.

Was "My Sweet Lord" the first the public heard of that sound? How did Harrison develop it? What influenced it? Any theories?

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THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Harvey K-Tel » 23 Jan 2011, 03:55

I'm mostly curious as to how he got that sound. What combination of amp, effect, and guitar did he use?
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Quacoan » 23 Jan 2011, 04:38

I think it was generally (most often?) his psychedelic Strat, "Rocky", set with high action for slide. And it sounds like he always doubled the lines to make them thicker.

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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby zphage » 23 Jan 2011, 04:53

it is distinctive, but it is limpid, particularly on harrison's mid to late 70's albums


yet it sounds great with the Wilbury's
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Billybob Dylan » 23 Jan 2011, 05:56

Harvey K-Tel wrote:I'm mostly curious as to how he got that sound. What combination of amp, effect, and guitar did he use?

Oh, that's easy. He gets that sound using his 1963 Gretsch Country Gentlemen doubled through a 1958 Fender Twin, with a touch of chorus pedal using his fingers (no pick) and a glass aspirin jar.

I thought everyone knew that.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Loki » 23 Jan 2011, 06:16

It shows up in some Badfinger songs, dunnit? Didn't he produce some of their stuff? I can't remember.
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THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Molony » 23 Jan 2011, 09:17

That guitar sound makes 'Free As A Bird' and it was mimicked to good effect on The Sleepy Jackson's 'Good Dancers'.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Tactful Cactus » 23 Jan 2011, 09:38

I think another key to the style is he didn't tune to an open chord, avoiding every possible blues cliché in the process (like Rory Gallagher, Ry Cooder etc) The downside is it limits you to single string playing so you have to rely more on a quick, precise style and more melodic lines. Something he had in spades.

Its funny, he admits on the Anthology documentary that he didn't have the dexterity of Clapton and sometimes he wish he did have it. He probably wasn't quick with his fingers on the fretboard (Chuck Berry riffs was probably as fast as it got) but when it came to slide he was very swift and precise. Not easy.

I Dig Love is one of the more slight songs on ATMP, but one of his best slide solos
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Diamond Dog » 23 Jan 2011, 09:47

Molony wrote:That guitar sound makes 'Free As A Bird'



Until you've mentioned that I'd never really thought about the dichotomy of it - yeah, I love the slide on "FAAB", and I adore the harmonies that swell up behind it, but.... that's the problem. The harmonies are pure Beatles, but the slide is totally alien to that era? I love it, I really do, but it feels like an imported sound. Or, more to the point, that horrible dustbin lid production and the slide are right and fit together - it's the harmonies that are the imported sound.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Diamond Dog » 23 Jan 2011, 10:01



I'd forgotten the slide on the intro.

Really, the song is fucking horrible. Pedestrian doesn't even begin to describe it. That effing horrid drum sound (and Ringo sounds like he's playing with two broken arms), the painfully thin phased Lennon vocal, and the piano and bass are 'music by bontempi'.
And then at 3.43....we get about 20 seconds of brilliance.
And then, sadly, "Free As A Bird" starts again.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Tactful Cactus » 23 Jan 2011, 10:54



Here's a cool clip of him in slide mode, although THE sound is a bit weedy in person
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby yomptepi » 23 Jan 2011, 11:03

The biggest problem with Free as a bird is the cunt Lynne's appalling production, which is vomit inducing. a little more sensitivity, and a little less gush would have resulted in a much shorter and more valid record. Of course, what does the imbecile Lynne know about that??
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Diamond Dog » 23 Jan 2011, 11:11

yomptepi wrote:The biggest problem with Free as a bird is the cunt Lynne's appalling production, which is vomit inducing. a little more sensitivity, and a little less gush would have resulted in a much shorter and more valid record. Of course, what does the imbecile Lynne know about that??



We agree completely. Which is worrying.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby TG » 23 Jan 2011, 15:10

I've often wondered about this. His style is like no one else's and his tone is also very different from everything that came before.

I remember, as a kid, reading that he was introduced to slide playing by Delaney Bramlett when he was slumming with Delaney and Bonnie. Also that his first recorded slide part (in that style) was on Dylan's If Not For You. A quick jaunt through Wikipedia confirms that these stories are still out there and, presumably, have some whiff of truth to them.

Does Harrison ever talk about this? It's been a while since I read his book or any interviews with him.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Charlie O. » 23 Jan 2011, 15:38

TG wrote:Does Harrison ever talk about this?

Certainly not in the last nine years or so.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Charlie O. » 23 Jan 2011, 16:31

yomptepi wrote:The biggest problem with Free as a bird is the cunt Lynne's appalling production, which is vomit inducing. a little more sensitivity, and a little less gush would have resulted in a much shorter and more valid record. Of course, what does the imbecile Lynne know about that??

I won't praise Lynne's work, but let's face it - he was hired to polish a turd. The real problem with "Free As A Bird" is the song itself. John (or should I say Yoko) didn't leave them a whole lot to work with, and Paul and George failed to rise to the challenge. The bridge is musically awkward, and lyrically well beyond trite. Whatever happened to the life that we once knew? / Can we really live without each other? Really?? That's the best they could come up with? Did they consider asking Richie if he had any ideas?
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Quacoan » 23 Jan 2011, 17:11

TG wrote:I've often wondered about this. His style is like no one else's and his tone is also very different from everything that came before.

It is indeed a weird thing, and I'm surprised it hasn't been talked about more. I suppose there is a precedent in the solo to "Something". It's not a slide, but it's the same sort of melodic quality in effect. But (as Diamond Dog has suggested) it really isn't a Beatles sound, it's a solo George sound. He discovered it seemingly during ATHMP and used it heavily immediately: "My Sweet Lord" theme, "Wah-Wah" solo, "Isn't It a Pity" epic solo, "What Is Life" fills, "Beware of Darkness" solo, "I Dig Love" solo, and maybe more. ("I'd Have You Anytime" and a few others feature slide but it sounds a bit different. Can't tell if it's Harrison or maybe Dave Mason or Clapton or something.)

And he continued to use it from that point on. It did change in the Jeff Lynne days, got more compressed and distorted (it seems?), much as David Gilmour's guitar tone has turned into a more processed version of itself in later years. The "Free As a Bird" solo is obviously the same melodic sense, but it sounds rather different somehow.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Charlie O. » 23 Jan 2011, 17:33

Remember (Quaco) wrote: ("I'd Have You Anytime" and a few others feature slide but it sounds a bit different. Can't tell if it's Harrison or maybe Dave Mason or Clapton or something.)

It is Clapton.


Remember (Quaco) wrote:It did change in the Jeff Lynne days, got more compressed and distorted (it seems?), much as David Gilmour's guitar tone has turned into a more processed version of itself in later years.

He developed it right through the '70s - his tone on the late '70s albums is quite different from his tone on ATMP. Like Ry Cooder, he refined it over a period of many years.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Six String » 23 Jan 2011, 19:20

His slide sound is unique and maybe part of that is due to there's almost no blues presence in his style and it is basically single string stuff played with a lot of economy with no harmony notes or chords. It's like he's playing a "regular" solo with slide effects. I don't know if that last bit makes sense but his choice of notes are not very "slidey" really. They are lovely, simple melodies.
As far as his tone, it is sweet without a doubt but it doesn't seem that unique to me. It's a very clean, pure tone, again without any blues effects/harmony notes. Probably not a Fender guitar and the amp doesn't sound like it's anywhere near peaking. It's a very polite sound. This isn't negative criticism mind you. I like his sound, especially for its uniquness.
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Re: THAT patented George Harrison slide guitar sound

Postby Quacoan » 24 Jan 2011, 17:10

Somebody online said:
AFAIK from interviews etc.
strat>glass slide on pinkie>fender champ
he used high action and heavy strings as suggested by ry cooder iirc
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