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The skinny on David Rawlings' guitar...

#1 User is offline   jsghome 

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 04:34 PM

GILLIAN WELCH AND DAVID RAWLINGS

Gillian Welchís main guitar is a ca. 1956 Gibson J-50 with a factory-installed adjustable bridge. "Itís pretty much just like a J-45," she says. "Itís blond, and itís got a big ugly pickguard on it." A couple of years ago, she picked up a five-string Vega Senator banjo, which sheís specially modified "with a little bit of bubble wrap shoved under the head."

David Rawlings gets his signature, midrangey guitar sound from a 1935 Epiphone Olympic archtop with a carved top and plywood mahogany back and sides. He likens its sound to that of a resophonic guitar. "I bought it without a bridge," he says, "and had a one-piece mahogany bridge made for it. I think with a top this small it really behooves you to get as much stuff touching the top as you can, because the top doesnít have that much flex to it." He says his guitar is unique in that every note on every string plays at the same volume. "It doesnít have any dead spots or any high spotsówhich is very, very strange," he says. "It makes it fun to play lead, because you donít have to worry where youíre at. Itís not much of a solo instrument, but I canít really play by myself worth a darn, so it doesnít make much of a difference."

Welch and Rawlings switched their stage amplification rig in 1996 from pickups and DIs to external microphones. Rawlings explains that the change has made setting up for shows easier, although they do need to be a bit more hands-on during setup than they used to be. "We carry Shure SM-58s and SM-57s," Welch says. "Fancy microphones can be very difficult. The one thing thatís nice about the Shures is that their quality control is low enough that they are all different. Theyíre like snowflakes. If we carry a complement of eight microphones, we can go into a hall and find the right one for the room and the system. We play the microphone game; we swap them out." "And itís easy to control volume by changing the proximity to the mics," Rawlings adds.

#2 User is offline   Gilliangirl 

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 05:00 PM

Quote

......but I canít really play by myself worth a darn.....

Yeah, right. Who is he trying to kid? The guy's amazing! They do complement each other so well. I hope I get to see them play live someday. It's on my bucket list.

Thanks for the info, Jsg!
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Karen

2004 Southern Jumbo (Magic) with bridge pins by Bob Colosi
2005 J-185 (Lily)
1993 Seagull S6 cedar (Jonathan)
2007 Epiphone EL-00 (Elmo)
1, 652 guitar picks (1,645 of them stuck between the barrels of the washing machine)


#3 User is offline   Rambler 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 01:18 AM

"I canít really play by myself worth a darn" True, in way way. He essentially plays electric lead on that thing. And grimaces like Bruuuuce.
"As through this world you ramble, you meet some funny men. Some rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen"
Woodrow WIlson Guthrie.

"Aint no easy job to sit down and play guitar!" Rev. Gary Davis

#4 User is offline   Taylor Player 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 02:35 AM

My 14 year old daughter likes the way he "Dances" when he plays. I personally love the way his guitar adds to Gillians playing and singing.
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#5 User is offline   rustystrings 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:00 AM

One of the VERY best shows I ever caught was when they played the Handlebar in Greenville, SC several years back. A storm had knocked out the power, so they played the first half of the show in pure acoustic mode, totally focused. The (small but packed and reverential) house was utterly silent, early summer evening light coming in through the huge old windows - just exquisite.

When the power came back on, they chased us all out, finished setting up, and then we all trooped back in for a more standard show. It was top notch then, but it wasn't as intense as the totally unplugged first half had been.

#6 User is offline   Doc 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:21 AM

Such an amazing show. These two are the peanut butter and chocolate of Americana. Love their music. Gillain's first record changes my life. It opened my mind to different approaches to songwriting.

#7 User is offline   Hoyt 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:35 AM

Saw them in a big old 1920s movie theater in Atlanta about a year ago, "opening" for Bright Eyes (or something like that).

Jeeeeez Welch and Rawlings were great. In that old hall, the big Gibson was beautiful and full. The vocals really were like angels singing. Welch even commented how great it sounded in there.

Most of the folks came for the headliner. Many around us asked who the two were? But even the uninitiated were impressed with the singing and guitars (and a few songs with banjo). Bright Eyes were good. But after three or four songs, it was an early exit for us old folks.

#8 User is offline   Hoss 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:54 AM

I've seen them once-- David is a terrific guitarist. What I find interesting is that suddenly, this el-cheapo archtop model he uses is unavailable. If one turns up, it's already sold- and for a good price!

#9 User is offline   asmith9509 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 05:23 AM

Gillian's guitar sounds great- who says that the adjustable bridge J45/J50's don't have tone? =P~
Not wild about David's sound... just not an archtop guy I guess. I do like the approach of just mic'ing the guitars. Interesting comments from David about Shure 57's/58's... I have a whole box of them and any one is just like the next. I wouldn't usually use one for live mic'ing a guitar, but it seems to serve the purpose well.
"He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master." -Hunter S. Thomson

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#10 User is offline   onewilyfool 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 06:05 AM

I wonder if they get paid the same for a concert? I mean, she's the headliner, but do they split the pot????
"The sole of my shoes is thin, and I'll soon be on my feet again" Lonnie Johnson

#11 User is offline   jsghome 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 06:37 AM

Quote

I've seen them once-- David is a terrific guitarist. What I find interesting is that suddenly, this el-cheapo archtop model he uses is unavailable. If one turns up, it's already sold- and for a good price!


Just for example, here's one for only $2K

http://cgi.ebay.com/...%3A1%7C294%3A50

#12 User is offline   rscott4079 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 06:49 AM

That's a 40's large body. His little Olympic is a small bodied 1934 model I believe. 13 5/8 inch across the bout I believe.

#13 User is offline   Hoss 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 06:54 AM

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Just for example, here's one for only $2K


Sort of my Point--- this is/was a $650 guitar before Rawlings. I know someone who sells archtops on line, and he says these old cheap Epis have mostly disappeared- or tripled in price.

#14 User is offline   Gilliangirl 

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 07:58 AM

Good to see you again, OWF!

Another thing that Gil and Dave have popularized is that vintage tweed case they carry to their shows. These things used to sell on eBay for $35.00 tops. Now, you're lucky if you can buy one for $$280.00! If you've got one of these in your attic or basement, you're smart to sell it on eBay right now.....
Posted Image
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Karen

2004 Southern Jumbo (Magic) with bridge pins by Bob Colosi
2005 J-185 (Lily)
1993 Seagull S6 cedar (Jonathan)
2007 Epiphone EL-00 (Elmo)
1, 652 guitar picks (1,645 of them stuck between the barrels of the washing machine)


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