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kenny burrel es


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Hi!

 

It will seem weird , but at more than 60 I've just discovered the record "midnight blue"

 

The disc is 24 hours in my CD player.

 

I'm crazy about the sound, so my question:

 

is it a 175 ? wath kind of pups ? the sound is less "woody" than the other recordings with ES175s; it's more clean and.... lets say "electric"

 

any informations ???

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This question is right up my alley. I've been a huge KB fan for decades, and somewhat obsessed with his sound- especially in the early 1960's. He of course used a number of different Gibson models through the years (as well as the wonderful D'Angelico New Yorker that he used in mid-60's to the mid-70's), but my favorite sound was that of his custom L5 with a Charlie Christian pickup. For me, there is no other sound quite like a Charlie Christian pickup, especially in an L5 with Burrell playing it. I eventually found one myself, a 1966 custom-order:

 

DSCN3492.jpgDSCN3280.jpg

 

Unfortunately I haven't found a larger image yet, but here's a photo from the 1963 "Midnight Blue" session, Burrell with Stanley Turrentine:

 

burrell02.jpg

 

Another close-up:

 

516ec78252ceb.jpg

 

The guitar is his sunburst L5 with CC pickup. He used this guitar on many recordings from that time period.

 

Here's another photo of him with the guitar (I believe this was taken at a tv studio):

 

53887510.jpg

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I have 50 albums with Kenny as leader or featured sideman so I'm rather obsessed with him too. Midnight Blue was a groundbreaking and highly influential recording that's provided me with years of listening enjoyment--I bought my first copy in 1963 and have listened to it often since then.

 

Great-looking guitar, Jim. I've never owned a guitar with a CC, mostly because I hate the looks of the mounting screws; maybe I should reconsider that.

 

Danny W.

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I have 50 albums with Kenny as leader or featured sideman so I'm rather obsessed with him too. Midnight Blue was a groundbreaking and highly influential recording that's provided me with years of listening enjoyment--I bought my first copy in 1963 and have listened to it often since then.

 

Great-looking guitar, Jim. I've never owned a guitar with a CC, mostly because I hate the looks of the mounting screws; maybe I should reconsider that.

 

Danny W.

Thanks Danny. Yeah, I have just about everything KB recorded under his own name, and dozens of his sideman appearances. He always got a great sound, but that L5CC was my favorite (followed closely by his D'A NY with the DeArmond 1100... "Night Song" on Verve is a killer example of his tone on that guitar, imo).

 

The biggest thing to get used to in terms of CC's is that they're noisy, but I'm sure you know that. The tone is heaven, though, as far as I'm concerned.

 

One of the members here ("flameburst") had a L5CC very similar to KB's, which he was interested in selling a few years back. Not sure if he still has that or not...

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Thank you all!

 

JimR your guitar featuring th CC is fantastic.

Thanks Bernie.

 

I thought these pick ups were kind of prototypes of humbuckers

No, CC's were single coil pickups, which pre-dated P-90's (also single coils). CC's were in production beginning in the mid-1930's. Humbuckers didn't go into full production until 1957.

 

not used in regular production.

CC's were used in regular production on 1930's Gibson EH lap steels, tenor guitars, and even some mandolins, as well as the ES-150 and ES-250 model guitars, until WWII. They were still popular after the war, though production was no longer consistent, and they appeared on some models as a custom option (Barney Kessel's customized ES-350 is a famous example). Their design went through gradual changes (wire guage and winding; magnets, etc) over the years. There was one model (the L4-CE) on which they were used in the late 50's, but that model run was very short, and those are rare guitars (about as rare as ES-250's).

 

GIbson is still able to produce them?

No, Gibson last produced them in the late 1970's for a variant of the ES-175 model. By that time, the pickup design was quite different from the originals, and those guitars have generally been given poor ratings for their sound.

 

My understanding is that there are still a few companies that are making CC's (one of which is in the UK), but I don't know too much about them. One of the key characteristics of the original CC's was the cobalt content of the magnets. Cobalt has many uses in industry, and demand for it rose over the years, driving up the price. It was thus gradually phased out of the design. This is one important factor in the decline in quality of CC pickups over the years.

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CC Pickups in the UK seem to be dedicated to replicating the original pickup...

Yes, that's what I've read. I just wonder how exact they can be, for example with regard to the cobalt content of the magnets. When they were first being produced in the UK, I expected to hear more about them in guitar circles. I don't subscribe to any guitar magazines now, so I'm somewhat out of touch I suppose. I still follow the guitar market, however, and it's not often that I see any archtops with CC pickups (the UK ones, Lollars, or any other).

 

As I mentioned above, the originals are relatively noisy pickups (being relatively primitive in the evolution of things), and there was a trade-off between the shortcomings of the noisiness and that heavenly tone. In this day and age, I would think that modern manufacturers would tend to lean toward creating a less noisy pickup, and sacrifice some of that classic, raw tone.

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Reputedly both Wes and Duke's favourite guitarist....I'll have to seek out 'Nightsong'....I love the guy's playing. Many great albums; 'Round Midnight', 'Tender Gender', the albums with Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, "Ellington Forever" and the Concord albums and the Verve including 'Blue Bash', 'Guitar Forms' and 'A Generation Ago Today'...if anybody sums up American jazz guitar it would be him or Wes...God bless Kenny...but I don't have any of the vocal albums...!

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Reputedly both Wes and Duke's favourite guitarist....I'll have to seek out 'Nightsong'....I love the guy's playing. Many great albums; 'Round Midnight', 'Tender Gender', the albums with Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, "Ellington Forever" and the Concord albums and the Verve including 'Blue Bash', 'Guitar Forms' and 'A Generation Ago Today'...if anybody sums up American jazz guitar it would be him or Wes...God bless Kenny...but I don't have any of the vocal albums...!

I believe that B.B. King also named him among his favorite players.

 

I've bought everything with his name on it, basically. The Blue Notes, Prestige, Verve, Concord, Muse, all of it. "Night Song" has only been issued on CD in Japan, as far as I know (at least that was true when I bought it some years ago). I actually enjoy his singing, and I have "Weaver Of Dreams" on Columbia.

 

I started another thread on KB, with regard to his L5/CC, on the Les Paul Forum. Notice the strange bridge in this photo I posted above (post #3):

 

43c77b26250832e9bf30320ffc401687.jpg

 

There's an interesting answer to my question about it, here: http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?p=2580592

 

I'm hoping that somebody here (Danny, etc) might know more about it...

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one guitar I can't figure out is the one Kenny is playing in the Les Paul forum link Jim posted.

in post 3 of that link it looks like a blonde florentine L-5 w/Christian pickup and selector switch on the upper bass bout like a 175, and no point @ the end of the fingerboard

can't see what kind of pickup is in the bridge position and it has what looks to be one of those Oettinger finger tailpieces.

the control knobs are from the late 50s, so you'd think that was when the guitar was made.

 

Kenny has often been credited w/pushing Gibson to make a 17" carved top w/ floretine cut, maybe this is some sort of prototype?

I'm guessing he had this guitar before the single Christian pickup sunburst he's pictured w/on the Weaver Of Dreams lp.

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one guitar I can't figure out is the one Kenny is playing in the Les Paul forum link Jim posted.

in post 3 of that link it looks like a blonde florentine L-5 w/Christian pickup and selector switch on the upper bass bout like a 175, and no point @ the end of the fingerboard

can't see what kind of pickup is in the bridge position and it has what looks to be one of those Oettinger finger tailpieces.

the control knobs are from the late 50s, so you'd think that was when the guitar was made.

 

Kenny has often been credited w/pushing Gibson to make a 17" carved top w/ floretine cut, maybe this is some sort of prototype?

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

I wonder too. I'm not sure whether that's a stock florentine L5 body, or not. Seems plausible. The cutaway is definitely wrong for a 175, though.

 

I'm guessing he had this guitar before the single Christian pickup sunburst he's pictured w/on the Weaver Of Dreams lp.

I think so. He looks a bit younger in the above photo than those taken of him with the sunburst L5/CC. I'm guessing he used that florentine-cut custom looking guitar around '60 to '62.

 

Ever seen this photo? Some obvious similarities to the mystery guitar, but the body almost looks like it could be 18" (top appears to be spruce, also):

 

G-barrel.JPG

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Thank you all;

 

I'm happy to have relaunched this subject and that my

 

admiration to KB is shared by many on this forum

 

I have something on my mind I have to let out:

 

if the Pups used on Midnight blues are CC, why is the sound so clean and pure ???

 

while the CC are said to be noisy ?????

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hqdefault.jpg

 

I wonder too. I'm not sure whether that's a stock florentine L5 body, or not. Seems plausible. The cutaway is definitely wrong for a 175, though.

 

 

I think so. He looks a bit younger in the above photo than those taken of him with the sunburst L5/CC. I'm guessing he used that florentine-cut custom looking guitar around '60 to '62.

 

Ever seen this photo? Some obvious similarities to the mystery guitar, but the body almost looks like it could be 18" (top appears to be spruce, also):

 

G-barrel.JPG

 

yeah I've seen that, Kenny had a lot of guitars!

he was using a non cut Epi Emperor then too.

once he got his DA NYer from Al Chernet he used if for quite awhile before switching to Super 400's exlusively [not counting the occasional nylon string, and the blue Heritage]

 

the sunburst L-5CC has 60's reflector knobs, so it's surely a later guitar than the blonde

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Thank you all;

 

I'm happy to have relaunched this subject and that my

 

admiration to KB is shared by many on this forum

 

I have something on my mind I have to let out:

 

if the Pups used on Midnight blues are CC, why is the sound so clean and pure ???

 

while the CC are said to be noisy ?????

"Noisy" generally refers to humming or crackling from the amp when the room is quiet. It doesn't mean that the pickups are necessarily noisy while being played (although a 60-cycle hum can occur while playing, as I unfortunately know all too well thanks to an overloaded power transformer near our house).

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Some great photos coming up here!

 

I don't have any experience of Hoyer bridges but it looks a similar design concept (only better made) to Hofner bridges of the time, which had cheap metal/tin saddles which moved back and forth and also fell out if you were unlucky. I have to confess that I do know that from experience of Hofner bridges....!

 

The guitar in the last photo is very interesting - surely this one is in the tiny pic on the front cover of "Midnight Blue"? Big body, s/c pickup at neck position, unusual tailpiece and almost plain fretboard - probably a one-off?

The dimensions and cutaway look similar to his Heritage model guitar.

 

I always love to hear more about Kenny....I am in the UK and he is one guy I have never been fortunate enough to catch live.

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  • 5 years later...
On 11/23/2014 at 11:35 PM, JimR56 said:

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

I wonder too. I'm not sure whether that's a stock florentine L5 body, or not. Seems plausible. The cutaway is definitely wrong for a 175, though.

 

I think so. He looks a bit younger in the above photo than those taken of him with the sunburst L5/CC. I'm guessing he used that florentine-cut custom looking guitar around '60 to '62.

 

Ever seen this photo? Some obvious similarities to the mystery guitar, but the body almost looks like it could be 18" (top appears to be spruce, also):

 

G-barrel.JPG

 

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Kenny told me this is an L5 that gibson made for him( with Florentino cut) ..I read elsewhere that gibson didn't like the idea of Florentine cutaway L5 but kb requested it...he also told me this is the guitar he used on the classic Midnight Blue recording with the van gelder studio fender deluxe amp...he uses 12s flatwound,, right hand attack is light but firm...looks like circle picking ,I could be wrong about that..I neglected to ask if he still owned this guitar..

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I love Kenny’s Sound 😛

 

Roadsong2 how do you know Kenny? Are you one of his students?

 

In this thread I’ve noticed everyone is pouring over his guitar choice but I’m not seeing a lot of talk about his amp. 
 

I have read before (long time ago so who knows how accurately I’m remembering) that Kenny pretty much exclusively used a 1960 Fender 5e3.

 

Frankly I think whether you are using a Les Paul or an L5 won’t make as big of a difference as long as you are using the right amp at appropriate settings. The 5e3 is a unique sounding amp and is very very important in this equation


Do not try to get the correct sound out of the Edge signature 5e3 “reissue” or anything like that. They use a 12AX7 for V1 and do not sound right. I’m not sure if a simple tube swap would fix it or if they messed with more aspects of the amp but it doesn’t sound good to me. 
 

there are loads of 5e3 options out there that will be better than a current offering from fender

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I play ,I've known Kenny since the late 70s but don't see him often. Last time I saw him face to face was about 5 years ago..I asked him about the guitar on midnight blue specifically...he said he used the  house amp at van gelder( tweed delux) with the blonde L 5..he's also playing it on 'man at work'

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Thanks roadsong it’s great to hear confirmation on the amp. It’s a distinctive sound 

 

As you probably know Rudy Van Gelder was famously secretive about his techniques. It is sort of loosely assumed that he probably “close mic’d” the amp with a condenser. Kinda sounds like a small diaphragm condenser. 
 

I wonder if Kenny has any recollection of the way his amp was mic’d on midnight blue. It would be so interesting if he recalls seeing a Neumann KM54 for example

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