Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Byrds :: Guitar :: Mr. Tambourine Man

The story is well known. Fledgling folkie Jim "Roger" McGuinn took a 2/4 Dylan composition, put it in 4/4, seasoned it with some Bach via The Beatles, introduced a new sound to the world, and put The Byrds on the rock & roll map.

What is not well known is HOW he got that sound. For many years it has been assumed that the classic intro to The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man was the result of Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar plugged straight into the mixing console and smothered with compression. McGuinn himself has given seemingly conlicting reports on how he acheived "The Chime." His official website states that the tone was indeed the result of a direct injection into the old Hollywood Columbia Studios console, after which the signal was put through two studio quality compressors in series. However, McGuinn gave earlier hints, in an interview to Epiphone, that the sound heard on "Tambourine Man" was actually an "old Epiphone amplifier." Adding to the confusion were those who claimed it was, in fact, a Vox AC-30 amp heard on the song. So, what to believe?

A new website called Get That Sound thinks that they have finally solved this sonic mystery. The site, which caters to musicians looking to find and/or purchase equipment used on current and classic hit songs, contacted McGuinn recently in an effort to obtain a model number on the "old epiphone amp". While McGuinn did not recall a model number he did offer something which proved to be just as useful.

"Sorry, I never knew the model number ... it was gray with two 10" speakers if that helps," McGuinn offered.

After researching every pre-1965 Epiphone amplifier containing two 10" speakers, Get That Sound discovered that only one Epiphone amplifier was manufactured fitting this description. Model number EA-14RV, more commonly reffered to as The Epiphone Ensign.

The complete signal chain, according to Get That Sound, consisted of a Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar, an Epiphone Ensign amplifier, a Telefunken U-47 microphone on the amp, the Columbia Console, and two Teletronix LA-2A compressors in series.

This Gear!


At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a good idea! How many people have spent hours trying to find a specific sound from some song or other? If you have a website to consult like Get That Sound - it could save hours and you get it right in one go! Nice one!

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous leo koster said...

i have done a lot of research on this intro as well and am pretty confident it was recorded using the reverb on the amp turned up as you can hear the compression work on the reverb.
Did that Epiphone amp have built in reverb?

Leo Koster


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