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Thread: Syd-era guitar tones.

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    Default Syd-era guitar tones.

    I have always loved the fuzzed out guitar sound on “Candy and a Currant Bun” and “Apples and Oranges”.

    However, it seems the large part of “Piper” relies on an overdriven amp for the “distorted” sound.

    As far as I can tell, Syd uses a fuzz on Candy, Apples and Oranges, Emily, and Vegetable Man for sure.

    He also used some pretty extreme fuzz sounds on his solo stuff (Clowns and Jugglers, Gigolo Aunt, No Mans Land, Wolfpack, and No Good Trying).

    How do we feel about Interstellar Overdrive? I think probably a dimed Selmer.

    And I’m trying to parse out the Golden Circle show. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s fuzz on “Reaction in G” (in all reality very likely a completely improv jam).

    Anyone have any info on what fuzzes he may have used?

    The overdriven sound is most likely a cranked up Selmer Treble ‘N Bass, though I have also heard he used a Watkins Dominator at some point as well.

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    When my band was recording a couple of years back we tracked some guitars through a '60s Selmer Treble and Bass. I had a 'bash' on it during one of the breaks, armed with my guitarist's Fender Jazzmaster. The Syd/Piper tone was inherent in the amp. If I played a chord and dug in I got the same grinding "brang" sound that you hear on Interstellar Overdrive. Its a gritty overdrive that isn't too compressed but isn't too weak or wiry sounding either. The amp also cleaned up when I rolled back the volume on the guitar. Plugged into a fairly anonymous Marshall 412 cab I was able to get close to a fair few Piper tones. The breakup, note attack, EQ and voicing of the amp was spot on. It was also constantly right on the point of feeding back. It was like riding a runaway train! I don't think you will get that tone and feel from a 9/18 volt pedal.

    I don't think there is too much mystery to Syd's tone, but I do wonder if he had his Binson before the input of the amp or in an effects loop. Syd used the Binson either for a short (210 ms or so) slapback delay or he let the thing run away and self oscillate. I can't think of any time Syd used it for five to ten repeats as such. Part of the selling point of the Binson Echorec was the various combinations of playback heads you could engage (a la Hank Marvin), to create various polyrhythms and desert-canyon textures. Syd, and David, both ignored these options and used them as straight delay units with equal time intervals between each repeat. Sometimes Syd's echoes sound overdriven, such as in the middle of Interstellar Overdrive, but this could be because the power tubes were running pretty hot in his Selmer; indicating that the Binson was in an effects loop rather than before the input of the preamp.


    On the second day of recording with my band, we fired up the Selmer and it went 'pop' and released the magic smoke. No more Selmer for that session!


    What I find interesting is that Syd was allowed to dime his amp during the Piper sessions. I feel that S.F. Sorrow, Tommy and other '60s albums suffer because the guitar is so subjugated and thinned out, even when it is meant to sound quite thick and heavy. On Piper Syd was allowed to use brash, braying guitar tones when the music required it.

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    Actually just found an article in Melody Maker where a reader asked Syd about his guitar setup.
    F Gabriel asks about Syd's guitar, amp and fuzz box.
    Syd probably answered around June or July as Syd was totally off the grid in August and on vacation do to nervous exhaustion. Anyway just found this article in Melody Maker August 26 1967 and it is new to me.
    Syd wrote exactly this.
    "Fender Telecaster with 100 watt Selmer stereo amplifier and a home made fuzz-box built for me by an electronics friend out of bits of other fuzz-boxes! Syd Barrett, The Pink Floyd "
    Interesting that he wrote " The Pink Floyd". I would not be totally shocked if their manager Andrew King etc wrote this for Syd because if it was written in August that was a time where they said Syd was almost not speaking to anyone. ALL shows for August 67 were canceled. The fact that Syd did not mention his Esquire or Dan Electro is a little odd too but it very well may be Syd who answered it as he still could be very lucid during periods where he was said to have been a bit catatonic at times. In any case whoever responded knew some interesting details about the fuzz box details.
    Of course Syd used a Fender Esquire though around July we do see photos of Syd with a white Telecaster on the pictures of the second and third Top of The Pops and there is also a picture of him playing his Esquire in July with the white Tele behind him on a stand. Now that I think of it he was using a white Tele on the American Band Stand as well so guessing Syd answered this in July sometime. He also used the white Tele for Tomorrows World from Late Dec 67 and seems to be using it for the Christmas On Earth footage as well.
    A lot of Syd's sound comes from his Selmer Amps on FULL volume. Also Syd used a Binson Echorec "Baby", note it was the Baby model and that has it's own overdrive and you can also get feedback with it. Roger and Rick used an Echorec 2 witch is a different model. Check this video out for great demo of Syd's PF sound straight through a Selmer amp and with no effects. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIER8JSz9sA&t=1s

    The overdriven sound is most likely a cranked up Selmer Treble ‘N Bass, though I have also heard he used a Watkins Dominator at some point as well.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by Friend of Squirrels; 2020-10-17 at 11:06 PM.

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    That is a good question about The Binsons. Pete Townshend has said on several occasions that Syd would run two or 3 Binson's at the same time. Can this be achieved with one Binson and an effects loop as apposed to being plugged in before the amp? Also Syd used a Binson Echorec Baby and not a Binson Echorec 2 as Gilmour, Roger and Rick used. The Baby model had it's own overdrive, the second nob in particular could create some great feedback as well.
    I am learning about Binson's however and still not entirely sure how they work.


    On the second day of recording with my band, we fired up the Selmer and it went 'pop' and released the magic smoke. No more Selmer for that session!


    What I find interesting is that Syd was allowed to dime his amp during the Piper sessions. I feel that S.F. Sorrow, Tommy and other '60s albums suffer because the guitar is so subjugated and thinned out, even when it is meant to sound quite thick and heavy. On Piper Syd was allowed to use brash, braying guitar tones when the music required it.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by Friend of Squirrels; 2020-10-17 at 11:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Friend of Squirrels View Post
    That is a good question about The Binson's. Pete Townshend has said on several occasions that Syd would run two or 3 Binson's at the same time. Can this be achieved with one Binson and an effects loop as apposed to being plugged in before the amp? Also Syd used a Binson Echorec Baby and not a Binson Echorec 2 as Gilmour, Roger and Rick used. The Baby model had it's own overdrive, the second nob in particular could create some great feedback as well.
    I am learning about Binson's however and still not entirely sure how they work.
    Binson Echorecs use a revolving disk with a magnetic metal tape around the perimeter. As far as I know the disk rotates at a fixed speed, unless you modify the unit to alter the control voltage going to the motor.

    If you imagine a clock face, picture three playback heads at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. A single recording head is located at 12 o'clock. A signal is recorded at 12, and you hear it as that 'spot' in the tape passes 3, 6 and 9, giving you three echoes. An extra head at 11 o'clock erases the signal on the disk. However you can control how much of the echo from, 3/6/9 is fed back to the recording head at 12 o'clock. If you have more heads, you can control which are muted and which play back signal, giving you complex patterns and polyrhythms.



    This is a photo of the disk and heads in an Echorec. It looks like the disk turns anti-clockwise and the heads aren't as even spaced out as my description, but the principle is the same.

    On a Baby Binson, the second control from the left is called 'length of swell'. This probably controls how much echo signal is played back onto the disk. This tips beyond a point of infinite repeats to a point where a stronger signal is recorded with each rotation of the disk, giving that 'swell' in volume and repeats.

    Being a tube (valve) driven unit it would be easy to overdrive the preamp in the Binson with a strong signal, giving additional overdrive.

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    That is interesting thanks.
    On a Baby Binson, the second control from the left is called 'length of swell'. This probably controls how much echo signal is played back onto the disk. This tips beyond a point of infinite repeats to a point where a stronger signal is recorded with each rotation of the disk, giving that 'swell' in volume and repeats.

    Being a tube (valve) driven unit it would be easy to overdrive the preamp in the Binson with a strong signal, giving additional overdrive.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by Friend of Squirrels; 2020-10-17 at 11:21 PM.

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