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What guitar for Rockabilly

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by vox Phantom, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. vox Phantom

    vox Phantom Tele-Meister

    Apr 17, 2010
    Wynantskill NY
    What are the three best guitars for Rockabilly music:?:
    I would think Gretsch, Fender & G&L now with Gretsch
    a Duo Jet, 6120. With Fender a Telecaster and G&L an
    Asat:cool: Also what Amp like a reissue Fender Bassman LTD
    or would a newer amp like a Tone King Galaxy give different
    sounds. If there are other Guitars and Amps please list them.
  2. RevMike

    RevMike Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 15, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    For Rockabilly or anything else...for me its a tele or a les paul and a Fender Blues Jr.
  3. purpletele

    purpletele Friend of Leo's

    My three:

    Gretsch with Dearmonds

    Gibson ES-295

    Fender Tele
  4. Doug 54

    Doug 54 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 12, 2004
  5. Brian blaut

    Brian blaut Friend of Leo's

    Feb 13, 2005
    SF North Bay
    carl Perkins played a Les Paul with P90's
    Buddy Holly played a strat
    Eddie Cochran played a Gretsch 6120 (with dynasonic in the bridge and P90 in the neck)
    Scotty Moore played a Gibson hollow with P90s (later moving to humbuckers)
    Cliff Gallup played a Gretsch Jet with Dynasonics
    James Burton played a Tele

    It's all over the map. I'm a HUGE fan of Gretsch guitars, but really the loyalty of rockabilly players to that brand has more to do with Brian Setzer than what the old guys actually played. (Brian plays it because of Eddie Cochran and Cliff Gallup). -But note, Brian plays filtertron pickups - the old Gretsch's didn't have them when Rockabilly was in it's prime. -But for what it's worth, my favorite is a Gretsch because it has a certain sound, whether it's loaded with Filtertrons or Dynasonic single coils, it has a sound all it's own and just seems to marry so well with that music.

    For my money, tonewise, you'd be best served with something hollow and single coil pickups (P90's, gretsch dynasonics). Doesn't have to be hollow though. My next choice (totally personal preference) would be a Gretsch Jet (cliff gallup) or tele (teles sound amazing for rockabilly because they have great raw bite). A tele can do anything. The solid body's will get you a little more focus, brighter will less big lows. Hollows will get you a deep bottom end and a less focused top end (generalizing). The most important thing is to play rockabilly music (with rockabilly energy) rather than play a 'rockabilly' guitar though. But for my money, there is magic in the old single coil sound. (I'll add Gretsch Filtertrons are very single coil sounding humbuckers - which is why they are also so popular, but they are smooth and refined; not as raw and 'plucky')

    Marry it with any classic Fender based tube amp. -Bassman, deluxe reverb works fantastic too, even if it has a scooped 60's bright sound. I'm not farmilair with the tone king Galaxy, but many many boutique amps are based on the old Fender amps, so It's probably a great choice. Personally, I'd stay away from an EL84 amp and stick with 6l6 or 6v6 but that primarily because I like the big clean fender sound. Any tube amp will work though. ANY. You might find you like the sound of playing through a Vox. -It might be the traditional 50's sound, but anything tube works.

    Put a delay pedal between them set for a single slapback reapeat, mixed about 75% lower than the dry note. DONE. Traditionally, these were tape units which compressed the sound of the repeats with a nice warm tone, but still enough high end to sound almost percussive. You can use a tape unit but they are expensive, big, and need lots of loving care. The strymon el capistan is a fantasic modeler, but still expensive. Many folks use an analog delay pedal (carbon copy, boss Dm-3, Dm-2, Aquapuss, Malekko 616...) - there are many great sounding inexpensive choices. Analog delays roll off much more high end than a tape unit does, but they sound warm and organic and are usually prefered over digital delays which don't usually roll off any of the high end. (there are exceptions as many digital pedals have analog and tape emulations).
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  6. ifallalot

    ifallalot Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2012
    Huntington Beach, CA
    What did Link Wray play?
  7. Brian blaut

    Brian blaut Friend of Leo's

    Feb 13, 2005
    SF North Bay
    Wasn't it a Danelectro or something? I always thought of Link Wray more of a pioneer of the 60's bright raw/dirty sound ( he started in the late 50's). Not exactly the same thing I think of when I think of the mid-late 50's Rockabilly cats who were playing a very country-fied version of blues and rock. But that is a different discussion all together :cool: It might help if the OP defines what HIS definition of rockabilly tone is. There's early old school, later old school (which is reach to call it rockabilly to me, but is still a GREAT tone), there's modern with Bands like Stray Cats, Cousin Harley, Rev H. Heat... Its a wide range.

    Or just get a single coil guitar of any sort and plug it into Fender based tube amp with slap back echo OR spring reverb and find what suits you. :cool:
  8. taxer

    taxer Banned

    May 11, 2009
    new york
    Excellent post.

    I have two Gretsches, and yeah, they do rockabilly...but so do some of my other guitars. My Telecaster and my Epiphone Casino can really give me great rockabilly.

    Yeah, if you're in front of an audience playing rockabilly a Gretsch sure looks the part. But as pointed out, some great rockabilly players didn't play a Gretsch.

    As far as amp goes, it's all in the slap back delay. I have a small, cheap Crate Taos acoustic amp that has a bulit in slap back delay and it is this amp that gives me an incredible reproduction of the early rockabilly sound. No pedals needed, just click on the slap back and away you go.

  9. superbadj

    superbadj Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 26, 2008
    roanoke, va
    I have one of these, and it can do anything from The Who to classic Rockabilly, and it sure as hell looks the part too.

  10. TBird

    TBird Tele-Meister

    Jun 14, 2011
    I have a set of Don Mare's Joel Foy's pickups in my tele and it does rockabilly so well. Play it through my DRRI Normal channel with some slap back delay. As long as I can turn it up to at least four, the natural compression makes it perfect.

    Check out a clip of Carl Bradychok playing at the Hahn booth at NAMM for a great rockabilly sound through a Tele... or Hahn 228.
  11. Sean65

    Sean65 Tele-Holic

    Oct 19, 2011
    6120 with dynasonics > Analogue Delay > Bassman :cool:
  12. vespa1

    vespa1 Tele-Meister

    Aug 23, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    Link Wray used a goldtop Les Paul with p90s to record Rumble, the same guitar as Carl Perkins used pre car crash. There are photos of Link Wray playing many different guitars, including: Gibson Firebird, A Supro, Danelectro Longhorn (Guitarlin?), that goofy 60s Ibanez, an SG in the 70s and 80s, among others. When I played with him shortly before his death he played a Strat through a Marshall 1/2 stack with an MXR compressor pedal.

    The 3 best guitars for rockabilly, in my opinion, are:

    1. Telecaster
    2. Telecaster
    3. Any guitar with p90s
  13. Triton Thrasher

    Triton Thrasher Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 8, 2010
    Wick, Scotland
    I think Link Wray could get a Link Wray sound out of anything with strings, that plugged into anything.
  14. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Friend of Leo's

    Nov 16, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    I'm taking my 6120TM and Tele to a rockabilly gig tonight.
  15. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

    It's more of a playing style thing than a particular sound, IMO...but a bit of slapback delay does help the vibe a lot.
  16. Lee Harvey

    Lee Harvey Banned

    Mar 1, 2012
    1- tele

    2- goldtop LP with P90's

    3 - ES295

    all of these used during Sun Studio recordings.. Anything else is just a poser.. LOL...
  17. jipp

    jipp Friend of Leo's

  18. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

    Feb 9, 2009
    London, England
    Well, Luther used an Esquire and he sure wasn't a poser.
  19. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Fort Collins, CO
    When I was playing in a '50's/Rockabilly act I played my '52 RI Tele into a Roland RE-150Space Echo, a Traynor Bassmaster head into a small Fender 2 x 12" Bassman cab. That sounded good!

    These days if I play that kind of music, it's the Tele or a '97 Gretsch 6120 into a Rivera S120-210 with either the Space Echo or an old Ibanez DM 2000 digital delay patched in the effects loop.

    I think you can get it with most any good guitar, some slapback and a clean amp. I heard that when Carl Perkins played shows with neo-rockabilly acts in the '80's he couldn't figure out why everyone played old hollow body guitars. He thought his Peavey's were much better.
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