Which "sound" is "that" then?

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Which "sound" is "that" then?

Postby David Martin » 21 Sep 2009, 10:41

Before you drive yourself crazy, be reassured... there isn't one "that sound"! Go back to the records and listen carefully...

1) Apache: in my opinion, it's a one off. Nothing else sounds quite like it...
2) Midnight: much the same
3) MoM, FBI, Frightened City etc...
4) Wonderful Land and thereabouts...
5) Atlantis, Shindig...
6) The Burns era...

Perhaps you will add to the list for 70's and 80's ... I'm not really up on those. Tell us if you can discern a distinct "sound" related to a certain era in time.
Then we can try to examine each sound in turn... and make some recommendations.

One thing, however, is certain. No one set of hardware will give you it all, and no group of players will agree on what's right either.. :D And whilst it's true that buying gear can edge you closer and closer to your ideal, it's your ideal which is most important. When you are happy with your sound the job is done... you will never get everyone to agree that you have "that sound" because there is no, one, single sound which is "right"...
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Re: Which one?

Postby dave robinson » 21 Sep 2009, 11:13

I agree on all counts and I don't think I have the will nor the energy to revisit all the past discussions and arguments. As far as I'm concerned I have heard what I revere to be that sound on the old Shads records (as well as Shane Fenton & The Fentones and similar recordings from that period) and after trying out a lot of different gear and listening to much opinion, have managed to nail it down and hear the same tone from my own instruments. For me it ends there. I waited patiently for the new Cliff & Shadows recordings and although great to hear, it's not there either, Phil Kelly's Meazzi and a few other guys I've heard with the same kit sound great, but it's not what I'm hearing when compared to the sound I'm hearing from those early records. I accept now that the studio must have added something and played a massive part in this phenomenon known as 'that sound' - it's even apparent on the early Beatles tracks and their sound changes as the years pass, just as The Shads sound changed.
Sometimes when we gig or when I play for my own amusement, the sound is perfect, whilst at other times, even using the same gear it can sound 'different'. That is the part that wears you down and I have learned to accept that it's best to play and enjoy a sound that's 'somewhere close to it'.
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Re: Which one?

Postby rogera » 21 Sep 2009, 20:36

Like Dave I agree with David's idea of the different catagories of sound we hear over the years.

Dave mentioned that he thought that Abbey Road studio 2 was very important and I agree wholeheartedly. Something that isn't mentioned all that often is the superb quality of reverb that was available from the dedicated reverb room that they had and I think that was a great part of it.
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Re: Which one?

Postby John McCaskill » 22 Sep 2009, 06:45

I agree with the sentiment regarding "that sound" and would like to say "it's all in the ears"
it all depends what you are listening to, be it old or new and what equipment you are listening on.
John McCaskill

Re: Which one?

Postby Tab » 22 Sep 2009, 07:26

Justin's comments on the 'Happy Birthday' thread sum it all up for me - a guitar tone to die for! Also to be found on the first album.

Re: Which one?

Postby Bluesnote » 22 Sep 2009, 07:31

John McCaskill wrote:I agree with the sentiment regarding "that sound" and would like to say "it's all in the ears"
it all depends what you are listening to, be it old or new and what equipment you are listening on.

Thats the trouble with us guitarists. We are never totally happy with our sound all the time, we just dont seem to hit the right mix somehow. When in actual fact, the punters listening to us would'nt even notice how much different our sound is to Hanks.
As long as its a clean sound with nice echo and nice tone. It would be great to be able to afford the same gear as Mr Marvin but really in reality as previously stated, you can get a good sound using good technique without overspending imo.
In my mind I think I had a better sound years ago than now, I dont know if its just the fact that my ears have improved over the years and now I am demanding more from my equipment. Maybe becoming more clinical in my taste for a better tone.
Hope this makes sense. Well I know what I mean :roll: :D

This is brilliant set of threads you have started David. Its great to hear other people's opinions on this complicated and often frustrating subject of "that sound" :think: (we need a headbanging smilie here).

Re: Which one?

Postby Tone » 22 Sep 2009, 12:45


"Sometimes when we gig or when I play for my own amusement, the sound is perfect, whilst at other times, even using the same gear it can sound 'different'."

Dave has touched on a phenomenon which has plagued me for ages. Can anyone explain why it should be that you can get a "spot on" sound one day but it can be quite different the next even in the same environment and using the same equipment on the same settings.

Could it be a change in ambient conditions which affect the sound frequencies, a change in our hearing which has been affected by what we had for dinner etc or something else as equally obscure?

I'd love to know the answer!


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Re: Which one?

Postby tony parnham » 22 Sep 2009, 13:22

I think Dave sums it all up perfectly and I think your word Tony of phenomenon is what it appears to be. We all know sound changes from venue to venue because of size etc,etc in that respect but theoretically when I play in a small bedroom with the same gear same EQ and settings all the time it should always sound the same but it does'nt. I thought it must be something as daft as to do with the time of day. I don't know what it is but there's no doubt it's a fact.
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Re: Which one?

Postby Goran » 22 Sep 2009, 14:59


Dave is quite right, the perceived sound from your gear changes quite radically depending on the venue, but, I think, even more so depending on the mood you yourself is in. I believe psychologi has a lot to do with it.

And a well known fact is that when playing the first set of a gig you often think that the whole band's sound is a disaster (the audience does not seem to notice, though........) in spite of the thorough soundcheck you did (in an empty venue, of course). When performing the second set after having had a cup of coffee (or perhaps a very small beer...) everything sounds all right again.

Re: Which one?

Postby KurtFroberg » 22 Sep 2009, 16:16

Spot on, Goran!

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