Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

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Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby MeBHank » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:15 am

This may be of interest to some...

Over recent years I have developed a passion for the music of Pink Floyd. September last year saw me travel to the Royal Albert Hall to see David Gilmour in concert. I had made seeing and hearing him play Comfortably Numb a 'bucket list' inclusion. He didn't disappoint. It was a technical extravaganza the likes of which mere mortals such as I can only dream of conceptualising, let alone executing (yet it was understated compared to Floyd's later tours in the 1980s and '90s). The show was the most epic and musically perfect night of individual and ensemble musical performance I have - and, likely, will - ever witnessed.

Anyway, the reason for this post...

At the start of this video listen to Gilmour recall the early process of the writing of Comfortably Numb from 'The Wall' album:



I had no idea that Bruce Welch had inadvertently assisted in the development of one of the all-time immortal post-beat-era rock classics. Comfortably Numb is a key part of my general guitar show and is easily the most pleasing solo to improvise. On a good night, when I'm playing anywhere near on form, it's like surfing the most powerful wave or soaring the highest thermal.

By the way, what is a high-strung guitar?

J
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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby JimN » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:16 am

A high-strung guitar can be several things but always to do with pitch (not action).

Originally (back in the thirties), it referred to the method of stringing and tuning the Hawaiian guitar - "high bass" - so that a six-string model produced a chord of A when played open: high to low - E C# A E C# A.

It'd seem more obvious to string it (again, high to low): E C# A E A E, which is just like the basic A chord on a Spanish guitar, but the high bass tuning allowed the player more control over melody playing (no seven-semitone intervals between adjacent strings).

High-stringing on a spanish guitar is also sometimes known as Nashville tuning. It consists of the first three strings of a guitar (E B G) in normal stringing and tuning, but the ostensibly lower three are each strung an octave higher than normal. So it's still EADGBE, and chords still work, but not as we know it. It is very useful for a high shimmer on a recorded rhythm part. In unison with a conventionally strung spanish guitar, the sound is a bit like a 12-string.

A standard medium acoustic set would be 13 - 17 - 26w - 36 - 46 - 56.

A medium gauge Nashville acoustic set might be 13 [E] - 17 [B] - 26w (or maybe a 22p) [G] - 14p [D] - 22w [A] - 32w [E].

Hope that's clear.
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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby RayL » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:55 am

Hi Jim
Let's make it easier on the fingers!

This is what I use on my Nashville-strung acoustic

10(E), 13(B), 8(G), 12(D), 17(A), 22w(E)

This has been talked about before, when I've mentioned that an excellent example of standard and Nashville guitars combining together on rhythm is Billy Joe Spears' Sing me An Old Fashioned Song. Nashville on the left, standard on the right. Listen on headphones to hear the effect clearly.

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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby drakula63 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:07 am

Well... I've heard it all now!

I've said it before, I'll say it again...

The Shadows influence - both collectively and individually - is EVERYWHERE.

And I'll also say, of course, never listen to what drummers say - they never know what they're talking about! ;)

(Mr Bennett being the one exception, of course!)
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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby Didier » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:02 am

drakula63 wrote:The Shadows influence - both collectively and individually - is EVERYWHERE.

And David Gilmour uses a fair amount of echo on his guitar, but Hank Marvin did it first !

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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby JimN » Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:30 pm

RayL wrote:Hi Jim
Let's make it easier on the fingers!

This is what I use on my Nashville-strung acoustic

10(E), 13(B), 8(G), 12(D), 17(A), 22w(E)

This has been talked about before, when I've mentioned that an excellent example of standard and Nashville guitars combining together on rhythm is Billy Joe Spears' Sing me An Old Fashioned Song. Nashville on the left, standard on the right. Listen on headphones to hear the effect clearly.

Ray


An interesting set!

Your G is obviously also an octave higher than normal (equivalent to the first string, third fret), which is one step further on from the original Nashville tuning (developed before the days of the custom gauge box).

In fact, the whole set is like the "second" course on my Electric XII.

The only thing I would change would be the 17p for the A, where I'd use a 15p.

A 17 thou plain string will certainly tune up to A (third string, second fret), but will be more taut than the rest of the set, which is otherwise an effective adaptation of the standard Ernie Ball slinky gauge.

So: 10 / 13 / 008 / 12 / 15 / 22w (or perhaps 24w).
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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby George Geddes » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:56 pm

Any description of 'high Nashville' tuning which I have read usually refers to it being "the octave set from a 12-string" which is not strictly true, and it's only the bottom three i.e. 4, 5 and 6 which are an octave up.

I am suitably impressed,Ray,that you have enough acoustic guitars to have a dedicated high Nashville one!

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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby cockroach » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:14 pm

I heard about that and tried it years ago..interesting sound.. and fascinating for about half an hour!...but if you only have one guitar (as most folks did back then) and just want to use it normally, you then have to restring it...and I hate changing strings!

If played along with a regular strung guitar, IMHO, it sounds nice, but different to a 12 string of course. There's a unique sound from a 12 string probably because of the interaction within and between the double courses as they are picked or strummed. Also depends on how the 12 string is strung (normal or Rickenbacker style with the heavy string before the octave string- i.e. whether the pick hits the heavy or octave string first).
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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby JimN » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:49 am

George Geddes wrote:Any description of 'high Nashville' tuning which I have read usually refers to it being "the octave set from a 12-string" which is not strictly true, and it's only the bottom three i.e. 4, 5 and 6 which are an octave up.

I am suitably impressed,Ray,that you have enough acoustic guitars to have a dedicated high Nashville one!

George


There was always a problem with finding a plain string light enough to tune to the octave G. When I got my first twelve (a Danelectro) back in 1966, I was advised (by Bob Hobbs - he who sold the Gibson Jumbos to John and George) to tune it (low to high) with medium gauge strings and an ad-hoc set for the "extra" strings) C - F - Bb - Eb - G - C, which would have made a C chord sound like an Ab. Tutor books available at the time advised the same thing.

Tuning to C (ie, EADGBE) with a 10-46 set as the basic building block achieves much the same effect in tension.
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Re: Bruce's part in inspiring 'Comfortably Numb'

Postby RayL » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:19 am

George Geddes wrote:I am suitably impressed,Ray,that you have enough acoustic guitars to have a dedicated high Nashville one!George


My 'secret' is that I don't buy expensive guitars, but I try to get guitars that sound good and are well made without being a 'famous name'. Because I do a lot of recording, I like to have one example of each type of guitar - solid electric with single coil pickups, solid electric with humbuckers, semi-acoustic, jumbo electro-acoustic, 12-string electro-acoustic, Nashville acoustic, 4-string bass, 5-string bass, mandolin, etc. That way I can get the sound I want by choice of guitar rather than having to use EQ or pedals.

My recently-acquired jumbo electro-acoustic with XLR as well as jack out (£119 from Gear4Music) has meant that my 40-year-old Diastone acoustic (done me great service and didn't cost a lot) now has the Nashville tuning.
Acoustics.JPG
Acoustics.JPG (133.87 KiB) Viewed 478 times

(Justin- sorry for going off-topic!)
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