- Subject: TONE
- From: Richard Sampson <rsampson@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 03:25:43 -0500 (EST)
On Sat, 18 Jan 2003, Ron/datadigr wrote:
> Who do I think has doesn't have great tone:
> Paul Delay
Well, to help prove your point about subjectivity:
I think Paul Delay has wonderful tone...ESPECIALLY on chromatic, he's
almost got a Stevie Wonder type quatlity to his chromatic work, to
me anyway. But I also dig his diatonic sound...its not Big Walter, not as
fat, but still great.
I think one of the things I love about Delay is that he has a very
DISTINCTIVE sound. I think that distinctiveness is an import attribute of
all great players' sounds
Also I think it is hard to compare say Sonny Terry with Carey Bell tone
wise...or even techniquewise....they are in totally different bags.
Having said that, I do agree that there is
the appropriateness idea. Different times, I like different sounds. For
example, I'm a Rice Miller nut and cover his stuff regulary and when I do,
I sound very different from my own identifiable sound because I'm playing
in Sonny Boy's STYLE. Sonny Boy's tone is not as fat as Big Walter's or
say Mark Hummel's.....but I wouldn't say that he doesn't have GOOD
tone....he's just in another bag than those guys. Similary, Sonny Terry
may not have a prototypicaly good harmonica sound, but he is distinctive
and identifiable nonetheless. I think it's more appropriate to break down
a player's tone in terms of what qualities their sound has.
**DISCLAIMER: These are all just my opinions so please just discuss or
disagree with academic spirit. Also, some of these guys....a lot of them
in fact have sounds that have evovled considerably over the years...it
seems like some players just keep getting better and better like Wilson,
Hummel, Estrin....shows you what a life long process mastering a musical
idiom like blues is.....anyway, I digress, here is the list:
BIG, SMOOTH, FAT, ROUND CHICAGO SOUND:
Big Walter--Biggest sound I've ever heard pretty much. What amazes me is
how unbelievably big sounding his acoustic tone was no matter what he was
doing technique wise....even his blowbends were always thick and rich
James Cotton--Probably the second fattest sound I've head....but
regardless it is very distinctive.
Kim Wilson--What can I say, Kim has great, distinctive tone..VERY FAT. I
would say he has just as good a tone as Horton or Hummel.
Bruce Ewan--The fattest sound I have ever heard live...Most of you
probably haven't heard of him. Bruce is a D.C. harp player who is top
notch and easily as good as many of the top pros. In fact I would go as
far to say that Bruce is as good as Kim Wilson for traditional, chicago
Junior Wells--To anyone who thinks Junior doesn't belong in this category
next to Horton and the like, take a listen to his "It's My Life Baby" CD.
Steve Guyger--Very much similar to Wells in his tone.
Mark Hummel--Huge Chicago type tone...but on his earlier releases he had a
more focussed, compressed sound that was slightly more distorted.
R.J. Mischo--Really warm, pleasing tone
Adam Gussow--He's got a nice fat type sound, but he can also be very
lighty and pretty sometimes.
Rick Estrin can have this type of sound too, and for anyone who doesn't
think so check out the HARMONICA MELTDOWN 2 CD set. but he also does a
great sonny boy, and then has a unique sound in his chrom playing
Gary Smith--Big tone, kinda like Mark Hummel and RJ Mischo
Carey Bell--Huge tone...plus he does this interesting thing with a rotary
speaker effect on occasion that is really neat...it's one of the very few
stomp boxing i like for harp...I don't think I could listen to it all
Willam Clarke--Kinda like Musselwhite, but fatter. And what an acoustic
sound this guy had...good LORD =)
Dennis Gruenling--This guy is great, has great tone and is still very
Little Walter although from Chicago I don't think goes with these
guys. I think he had wonderful, yet it was extremely varied. It is hard
to identify him just from tone....for me he sticks out more for his
Sonny Boy--To me Sonny Boy had a sharp, somewhat harsh sound...but at
times it would be really sweet like on "Trust My Baby"
Charlie Musselwhite--His sound is a little more...shall i say crisp than
the guys I put in the first section...it's not that his tone isn't
fat...it just sounds a little more focussed and compressed. he can have
feeling tone at times...and I can easily pick out his amplified playing
Mark Wenner--A little harsher, a little more overdriven than say a william
clarke (except maybe Clarke's sound on "Pawnshop Bound"). Wenner does a
GREAT Jimmy Reed imitation.
Carlos Del Junco--nice smooth sound, but it seems to lack any real
to my ear. He isn't painful to listen to at all....but his tone isn't
very emotive to me.
Fred Yonnet--A D.C. area player akin to Del Junco, but not as nice
tonally, a little more thin for lack of a better word.
Ah hell, I'm not into this list anymore...there are so many more players
but anyway, theses are the few I thought of off the top of my head. Any
comments or additions are most welcome.
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