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The Neil Young Tone


Mileslong
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Neil is my favorite rock star, versatile, great songwriter, but it’s that tone that sets him apart for me.

 

When people ask what I’m talking about I usually have them listen to either Powderfinger, Cortez the Killer or Love and Only Love. Here is one few people I talk to have ever heard of but it a great example of that tone.

 

To get his tone all you need is a modded 1956 les Paul goldtop, paint it crudely with black paint put a p-90 in the neck, a firebird mini humbucker in the bridge, strap on a bigsby trem add some brass plating and your almost there. Then plug that beast into a 1959 fender tweed on the verge of blowing up and a whizzer then sprinkle in some unreal talent and you’re ready to go.

 

9f26d470fa56cbe050daad93aaed4d73.jpg

 

Behold “Walk like a Giant” live and it has whistling!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mileslong said:

Neil is my favorite rock star, versatile, great songwriter, but it’s that tone that sets him apart for me.

 

When people ask what I’m talking about I usually have them listen to either Powderfinger, Cortez the Killer or Love and Only Love. Here is one few people I talk to have ever heard of but it a great example of that tone.

 

To get his tone all you need is a modded 1956 les Paul goldtop, paint it crudely with black paint put a p-90 in the neck, a firebird mini humbucker in the bridge, strap on a bigsby trem add some brass plating and your almost there. Then plug that beast into a 1959 fender tweed on the verge of blowing up and a whizzer then sprinkle in some unreal talent and you’re ready to go.

 

9f26d470fa56cbe050daad93aaed4d73.jpg

 

Behold “Walk like a Giant” live and it has whistling!

 

 

 

You forgot "be a total asshole".   That's a big part of Neil Young. 

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Are "whizzers" those doo-dads on top of the amps that turn the dials to pre-set configurations?  

I remember reading about those 20 years ago and saying "My God.  This man is a GENIUS!  He has Jawa's on stage and Star Wars gizmo shit for his amps."

I still feel the same way.

I was in 7th grade playing acoustic in the church music group when one of the older guys taught me how to play my first Neil song.  I had no idea who Neil Young was, but this guy telling me about him had a 12 string Martin and showed up drunk at church sometimes (I suppose he needed to get as much fun in before confession as possible) so I was pretty sure it was legit.  

I've learned a shit load of Neil songs since, but this will always be my go to Neil tune, of what is still my favorite Neil record:

 

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Are "whizzers" those doo-dads on top of the amps that turn the dials to pre-set configurations?  
I remember reading about those 20 years ago and saying "My God.  This man is a GENIUS!  He has Jawa's on stage and Star Wars gizmo shit for his amps."
I still feel the same way.
I was in 7th grade playing acoustic in the church music group when one of the older guys taught me how to play my first Neil song.  I had no idea who Neil Young was, but this guy telling me about him had a 12 string Martin and showed up drunk at church sometimes (I suppose he needed to get as much fun in before confession as possible) so I was pretty sure it was legit.  
I've learned a shit load of Neil songs since, but this will always be my go to Neil tune, of what is still my favorite Neil record:
 

Neil young’s whizzer and how it works

56adc650ab6818084cd419c44c7bfaac.jpg

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I was literally listening to formula 55 demos last night. Is the formula 5 just an earlier version?

Also, I played a Belle Epoch yesterday. Ho lee fuk. 

This song has great Neil tone. Ragged Glory is the best album for illustrating the most saturated heavy riffs IMO. Guitar solo starts around 4:50 minute mark.

 

 

 

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I always said that if I could play one guitar performance including song, solo and venue it would be comfortably numb with David Bowie and Gilmour here:



Second might be Neil playing Love and Only Love in Madrid in front of like 100k. He extends this version like he always does live and the crowd just goes nuts.

He plays an intro to the intro lulz and just watching him stomp around the stage is so awesome. Great example of the Neil tone

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I was literally listening to formula 55 demos last night. Is the formula 5 just an earlier version?
Also, I played a Belle Epoch yesterday. Ho lee fuk. 
This song has great Neil tone. Ragged Glory is the best album for illustrating the most saturated heavy riffs IMO. Guitar solo starts around 4:50 minute mark.
 
 
 

Hell yes, mine is a second gen formula 5 I believe....
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  • 2 weeks later...

Someone with a Tweed Deluxe RI and record some chops with these settings. Post immediately.

Here are Neil's Whizzer settings: For the highest volume, we have both the tone and the main volume on 12 and the second volume knob is at about 9.9. When it really compressed and breathing and screaming, that's whats going on. You can hear it on "Cortez". If we push it past 9.9 the sound goes away. The next button down moves his volume to 10, which just cleans it up. It's still broken up but its less garbled. The third button sets his volume on 6 with his that other volume still at 9.9 and the tone just down a little. The fourth preset moves one volume to 3,the other volume to 0, and backs the tone off a bit, its really bright and clean, almost country sounding.

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  • 2 weeks later...

that is his signature tone, but he hasn't always had it.  in the early days he was more country/folky, and he played a gretsch then, right?  what's the first album that this tone came out on?  rust never sleeps maybe?  I have live weld and it seems like pretty much every song is coming through this distortion.

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I've got a Magic 5e3 (Fender Tweed Deluxe Clone).  The builder has this demo.  He gets into some Neil about half way through.  Great little amp.  No pedals required.  Volume knobs are interactive without jumping channels.  Rolling off the guitar volume a bit can take you from compressed/distorted to beautiful cleans. 

 

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  • 1 year later...

In case anyone missed it, Neil finally released the lost album "Homegrown" a few weeks ago. It's a masterpiece and immediately among his best albums IMO. 

Recorded in 74 and 75, it's mostly about his breakup with Carrie Snodgrass. He deemed it too personal to release back then. 

Incredibly, at the time he replaced its release with "Tonights the Night", which had been recorded in '72 about the heroin overdoses of two members of his circle. An extremely raw, emotional album. For me, a desert island record.

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I'm a huge fan of the music, and always found the man to be an asshole.

Went down the youtube rabbithole the other night.  Found an old interview with Stills.  "Neil's my buddy, my best friend, blah blah blah".  Then he talked about all the times that Neil fucked him/them over.  Headed to NYC to play The Tonight Show when Carson was still in NY.   Neil bails at the last  minute.  Buff Springfield loses a huge opportunity for exposure.  Refuses to be on camera for the Woodstock movie.

Stills says "Neil has never, ever played a team sport.  Not once".  Meaning, of course, that he literally never played basketball, football, baseball, etc.  He has no idea about how to be a part of something bigger than himself; it's all about Neil all the time. 

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I'm a huge fan of the music, and always found the man to be an asshole.
Went down the youtube rabbithole the other night.  Found an old interview with Stills.  "Neil's my buddy, my best friend, blah blah blah".  Then he talked about all the times that Neil fucked him/them over.  Headed to NYC to play The Tonight Show when Carson was still in NY.   Neil bails at the last  minute.  Buff Springfield loses a huge opportunity for exposure.  Refuses to be on camera for the Woodstock movie.
Stills says "Neil has never, ever played a team sport.  Not once".  Meaning, of course, that he literally never played basketball, football, baseball, etc.  He has no idea about how to be a part of something bigger than himself; it's all about Neil all the time. 

I recall hearing “he follows his muse and nothing else” in the context of a Neil Young documentary. That’s when the light bulb went off for me. It’s the perfect thing to say when what you really want to say is, “Goddam he’s an asshole, but he makes great music.”

But since I don’t hang out with him, I still keep on rockin, guilt free. One of my all time favs for sure.
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  • 3 weeks later...

So I'm catching up on this thread and wanted to mention a few things about the Whizzer settings for those unfamiliar with how these old Tweed 5e3 amps behave.

The volume knobs are interactive, even with the guitar plugged into one channel.  Starting with the volume you have the guitar plugged into.  At 3, you are mostly at full volume (technically maxes at 6).  Before 3, there's almost no volume.  0--60 in nuthin flat.  From there, it just gets more compressed/distorted all the way up to 11.5.  At 12, it will cut out to nothing for some reason (or maybe that's the unused volume knob; I can't remember).  Tone is tone, but adds some hair after about 9.  The other volume knob interacts by lessening the distortion as you turn it up.  So if he has the input volume on 5 and turns the other volume up to 9, he's cleaning up the level of distortion a bit.  Turn the other volume down to 2, and it adds the hair back.  With all of this, the amp, even if running super nasty, will give a beautiful clean if the guitar volume gets rolled off from max to 7 or so.

So with the Whizzer settings above, I don't see any of that lessening the overall volume since that maxes out at around 6 on the main volume input.  What the Whizzer is doing is adjusting the amount of distortion/hair/compression/tone.  Clean or dirty is almost entirely accomplished with guitar volume.  A 5e3 really doesn't have a clean tone with the guitar on 10.

It's way more complex than this.  For a 3 knob amp, the thing is supremely complicated and can keep you more busy than a board full of dirt pedals.

Edited by dcbc
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On 7/20/2020 at 7:52 AM, Chad Fuck said:


I recall hearing “he follows his muse and nothing else” in the context of a Neil Young documentary. That’s when the light bulb went off for me. It’s the perfect thing to say when what you really want to say is, “Goddam he’s an asshole, but he makes great music.”

But since I don’t hang out with him, I still keep on rockin, guilt free. One of my all time favs for sure.

Heard Tom Morello on Sirius XM yesterday tell a story about when RATM was doing some festival tour and playing right before Neil, who was the headliner. Tom said Hey Hey My My was his favorite song and Neil always played it as his encore. Rage would have to leave for the next town before Neil was done so he would miss it. He got the chance to meet Neil and was starstruck and nervous as hell, and awkwardly told him he loved the song and it would be cool to mix it up and open his set with it. He said Neil gave him the most condescending, dismissive look and didn't even respond.  And the next night he opened with it

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On 8/5/2020 at 10:31 AM, Dennis Taylor said:

Heard Tom Morello on Sirius XM yesterday tell a story about when RATM was doing some festival tour and playing right before Neil, who was the headliner. Tom said Hey Hey My My was his favorite song and Neil always played it as his encore. Rage would have to leave for the next town before Neil was done so he would miss it. He got the chance to meet Neil and was starstruck and nervous as hell, and awkwardly told him he loved the song and it would be cool to mix it up and open his set with it. He said Neil gave him the most condescending, dismissive look and didn't even respond.  And the next night he opened with it

I believe it.

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  • 4 months later...

 

Quote

Just weeks after the release of the 10-disc set Archives Volume II 1972-1976 and the live album/film Return to Greendale, he has announced that Way Down in the Rust Bucket, a 1990 Crazy Horse club gig, will come out on February 26th as a film and double album.

The show took place November 13th, 1990 in front of 800 lucky fans at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, California, two months after the release of Ragged Glory and shortly before the start of a long arena tour with Sonic Youth and Social Distortion.

Oh hell yes.

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  • 1 month later...

Iove Neil young but releasing everything through that incredibly shitty archives website is stupid, and a very Neil young thing to do. There have been several releases that i've been interested in but never heard because...archives.

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  • 1 year later...
Poster for Neil Young: Harvest Time

Created between January and September 1971, this docu-film takes us on an intimate journey to Young’s farm in Northern California for the ‘Harvest Barn’ sessions, to London for an iconic performance with the London Symphony Orchestra and to Nashville where the then 20 something Neil Young worked on various tracks of this signature album. The feature is a fan piece that has never been seen before. Performance and rehearsal content is intertwined into creative storytelling and includes most of the tracks from album Harvest (released in 1972) including “Heart of Gold”, “A Man Needs A Maid”, “Alabama” and “Old Man”.

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