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It's the player not the guitar


jdd707
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So I went to see Gillian Welch and David Rawlins at a 750 seat restored theater. The show was great with an interesting happening. As David was tuning Gillian's J50, they traded guitars. To fill time she announced "this is how David's guitar sounds when someone else plays it". She proceeded to play a tasteful Wildwood Flower on his Epi. It sounded thin and understated. In her hands it was a *****cat, in his hands it is a beast.

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So I went to see Gillian Welch and David Rawlins at a 750 seat restored theater. The show was great with an interesting happening. As David was tuning Gillian's J50, they traded guitars. To fill time she announced "this is how David's guitar sounds when someone else plays it". She proceeded to play a tasteful Wildwood Flower on his Epi. It sounded thin and understated. In her hands it was a *****cat, in his hands it is a beast.

Considering that he plays an old small-body archtop Epiphone (w/ f-holes), which traditionally sound thin compared to today's flattops, this is rather surprising.

 

Here's a tiny desk concert by them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcBfCsJW9Ts

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Considering that he plays an old small-body archtop Epiphone (w/ f-holes), which traditionally sound thin compared to today's flattops, this is rather surprising.

 

Here's a tiny desk concert by them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcBfCsJW9Ts

 

 

Rawlings has a really sharp pick attack much of the time, which he is capable of modulating to the point of tenderness. It really is a unique sound he gets out of that little box.

 

By the way, check that casual plucked harmonic he does at 3:24 in this video.

 

The man really does make love to that guitar, and it pays him back in kind.

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Yes What a split-moment

 

 

Yeah, that one caught me, for sure. As an old sound tech, when I hear a song I like, I listen to it a bunch of different ways, isolating different components each time. Rawlings' guitar lines are superb and unexpected and little things like that harmonic jump out. He's only doing that for himself, as you might never hear it when listening to a live performance.

 

For a real exercise in how to squeeze love into and out of a guitar, just listen to his whole solo from about 2:44 to 3:12 in the video. About 30 seconds of acoustic guitar bliss!

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To me there's little doubt that it's "the player" and not the instrument. Rawlings, Eric Clapton, Marty Stuart, Keefer, and a bunch more could play a set of rubber bands and make them sound good. It sure helps to have a guitar with a sweet tone, but without someone who knows how to make that guitar's tone speak, it's just a guitar that sounds like a guitar. Chet Atkins, when once told (I suspect someone said something like this countless times) that his guitar sounded great, set his guitar on a table and said "How does it sound now?".............Still, from my side of it as a "hacker," it sure is sweet to have something like a Hummingbird on my lap when I'm performing. It doesn't make me great, but it certainly helps me sound as good as I can.

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Both Rawlings and Pattengale essentially function as mandolin players in their groups. Chord chops and bright single note runs. Kind of like the Delmore, Louvin and Monroe Brothers, updated with some electric lead sensibility. Both Rawlings and Pattengale get a bright penetrating tone (some might say spiky), but works because they can play off the low end/midrange cushion provided by their partner's jumbos. Might not work quite so well as for a solo gig. Different guitars for different functions.

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A lot of great comments in this thread about a great guitar player, Dave Rawlings. But, the comment that he seems like he's making love to his guitar seems a bit over the top. I would say it's more like he's "in the zone" with his guitar while he's playing it, eh? Thanks for sharing this clip. I have never heard Rawlings play before. Quite impressive.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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When I saw the two of them a few years ago at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, they did the same thing -- trade guitars for a song. And Welch made the same comment about how the Epiphone sounded in somebody else's hands.

 

Rawlings is a great player who knows how to squeeze and cajole the best tone possible out of his guitar.

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Yeah, I was fortunate a couple off years ago - to be in the 3rd row center for one of their performances. They absolutely bring you into 'the zone'. It was the most uniques concert experience I've ever had. There's a cliche, you often see it on Reviews of album CDs on iTunes - that 'this group sounds great on CDs, but you have the see them in concert, they are unbelievable.' Well, while every performer would hopefully be more energizing in concert - Rawlings and Welch are at a whole different level. Rawlings could make any guitar sound great - even "Trigger" !

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Nothing is new anymore it's all been done before. All the chord progressions and riffs have been played before. The only difference is how the player puts himself into the sound. All the sweet notes, riffs, etc. that Rawlings plays can and have been played by many others. The difference is that he expresses them in his own way while they do it in their own way. There is a set number of notes with their sharps and flats. All those notes have already been played in every order possible. There is a set number of chord progressions and they've all been used again and again. They've all been done before by individuals who do it in their own way. Melodies are the same thing. We've heard them before somewhere and we are influenced by them. You can't get away from it. Same thing with lyrics. There's nothing that hasn't been said before. You've just got to find your own way of saying it......I think this guy trying to be like Rawlings is a talented guy, but he can't be Rawlings. He has to be himself, whoever that turns-out to be. Cash said when asked about being admired by young people, "Everybody wants to be somebody, but you've got to be who you've got to be." Lots of Cash tribute bands around and for me the worst ones are where the lead singer tries to sound like Cash instead of himself......Anyway, that's my rant for the day.

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I think this guy trying to be like Rawlings is a talented guy
. Misso, I think the similarity is more superficial than a copy; anymore than one would say Dave Sawtelle copied Tony Rice. Both drew on Clarence White, just as the MC boys were drawing on the duo trad.

 

EDIT: did a little research on the Milk Carton laddies. They connected over harmonies. The main comparison is to the Ebros & S&G. Patt doesnt take a lot of solos; Ken and Joey weave, like Keith and Ronnie, if you will. Here's aninteresting piece about his approach to tone and accompaniment..

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I was blessed to be present at the Handlebar in Greenville, SC, when Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' scheduled show was interrupted by a power outage. With no P.A., they played the most focused performance I have ever seen to an absolutely still and silent audience that hung on each note and each word. When the power came back on, they ran us out of the place for a quick sound check, etc., and when we all returned the usual microphones and P.A. rules were back. It was still an amazing show once the power came back on, but the pure acoustic half was magical and I am grateful I got to be there for it.

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