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Why'd they stay "clean" so long?
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10 November 2012
Ed Sullivan Show
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17 November 2011
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I'm not referring to drugs, but rather their guitar sound. While there's no argument that The Beatles were incredibly innovative, one place where it seems they lagged behind their rivals/contemporaries was that they really waited until Revolver to start cranking the gain.


I've also noticed that their 1965 and 1966 live sound was a lot "heavier" than their studio sound, though this might be an inadvertent result of cranking the amps in order to be heard.


I'm not complaining, "heaviness" isn't everything (Their "folk" period is actually my favorite), and I like the pre-1966 clean, "twangy"/"jangly" (or "muddy" in the case of the Ric 325) guitar sound, I'm just curious as to why they seemed to stick with it for so long.

10 November 2012
Ben Ramon
Candlestick Park
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10 November 2012
Ed Sullivan Show
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3 March 2012
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Great topic

I've wondered this myself. Keith Richards has mention it too actually, saying he felt George sounded too "thin" on the Gretch in the early days (I don't think it's the guitar. I have a Gretch and love it). Personally the early stuff (pre Rubber Soul) took me a bit longer to get into because of the lack of distortion. I now see that I was, in a word, stupid. When you can crank out rock n' roll without the distortion then you are truly playing the ass off those guitars.

A square is not a square when the sides are less than four...
11 November 2012
Ed Sullivan Show
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Upon further review, I believe that I'm Looking Through You is actually the first Beatles song with a purposely distorted guitar, followed by Day Tripper (George plays two guitars, the left-channel is distorted and the right-channel is clean. This is most evident on the U.S. stereo mix on "Yesterday... And Today!" which begins with only the distorted guitar, before being joined by the clean one).

There was accidental "fuzz" distortion on John's guitar in the song Chains two years previously (it's on-and-off throughout the song), but it was apparently the result of a bad guitar cable. George's solo on Slow Down is also right on the cusp of distorting.

13 November 2012

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vonbontee said
Apparently John experimented with a fuzzbox in 1963, for some song during the WTB sessions, but they were getting too much feedback and distortion and ultimately abandoned it.

1963 was pretty early in the game, considering that the fuzzbox first appeared on record in 1962.

Was it not in Beatles Gear and the song was She Loves You? Probably wrong but thats the memory i have of a discussion on this site.


Edit: It was Don't Bother Me. From the 'Looking for funny/interesting alternate takes' thread (post #3).

meanmistermustard said

The fuzz box was used on early takes of Dont Bother Me but these have never been bootleg or officially released – yet.

Chapter 6

"Early studio effects
Continuing with their relentless schedule of live gigs, television appearances and radio shows, The Beatles found time to get into Abbey Road studio 2 again to continue work for their second LP, With The Beatles. On September 11th and 12th they recorded 'All I've Got To Do', 'Not A Second Time', 'Don't Bother Me', 'Little Child' and 'I Wanna Be Your Man'. Lennon and McCartney had written the latter song just days before and given it to The Rolling Stones, who also recorded it, as the a-side of their second single. Gibson's Maestro Fuzz-Tone distortion box, first experimented with by the group on the 'She Loves You' sessions a few months earlier, was tried again, this time by Lennon on early takes of 'Don't Bother Me', but again it did not make the final issued version.
A journalist present at the session reported that the first take was not too successful. "When they had rearranged the opening bars, John produced a fuzz box … John was knocked out with the result, but George Martin wasn't too happy. 'You'll have to do something, John,' said Martin. 'It's already distorting from the amplifier. Do you think it sounds OK? Are you sure about it?'" The vote went against the fuzz box. Harrison, the report continued, asked engineer Norman Smith,"                    

                                                                 Copyright BEATLES GEAR by Andy Babiuk

(found that on the web so apologies if incorrect)

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