#1
Right now I'm playing with Mick Taylor's solo from the Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knockin". It's pretty straightforward, but there's one thing that has me baffled.

Taylor's solo starts at the 4:40 mark on the album version. A few bars in he plays the 13th fret on the B string, then plays the 16th on the B, bends it up a full step twice, back down to play a note again, two more full step bends and then back down to the B 16th fret, then 13th, then G 14th fret, then B 13th fret.

What I can't figure out is how he's getting distortion on those bends. I can't hear any chords, just single strings. There's no distortion anywhere else in the song, so he's not playing distorted or using any pedals (if they had distortion pedals in 1970).

Does anyone know how he gets that?

Thanks for any replies.
#2
sounds like he's rolled up his volume control i.e. he had it down a bit earlier in the solo (though even at the start of the solo i can hear a bit of distortion, he may well be picking quietly too, it has that kind of sound where the amp is trying to distort but where you're picking quietly to try to keep it clean). or (sounds a bit like a les paul) he was initially using the neck pickup with its volume down a bit and then switched to the bridge with its volume control turned up.

they had fuzz pedals in 1970- he could be using a fuzz as well. though even if so i'd still guess at the guitar volume control thing. sounds like it to me. i'm pretty terrible at hearing things on records though so bear that in mind.

TL;DR: He's either turned up his volume control, playing quietly and later playing harder, or using a fuzz. Or a combination of any or all of those.
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#3
Thanks, Dave_Mc. It has to be that he's playing those few notes louder, as he's getting distortion on the first two bends of the B string, then on the next note on the un-bended B, then on the two bends and the un-bended B again. He's not on the other notes in the riff. I don't think he could reach a pedal or the volume controls on a Les Paul that fast twice.

I've read that he kept the volume controls down to 2 or so, and the Fender blackface (Vibrolux?) up to 8 on volume.

I'm surprised how easy the solo is to play. It's getting the soul that's difficult.
#4
yeah it does kind of have that sort of sound that tube amps have when they're more or less cranked, but you're playing quietly to try to keep it clean. it may well be it's set like that and he's just playing really quietly to get cleaner tones, and then digging in to get more dirt.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#5
Sounds like he's playing direct into an old Brit style amp (they have the tinny overdrive).

Used to be that guitarists would control overdrive with volume alone, and the tubes would distort when the input volume got above a certain threshold.

The quieter phrase is definitely played with a light touch here, so I'm inclined to say it's mostly Mick's dynamics. In the next phrase he's digging in a bit more and pushes the amp to overdrive a little bit.

Could also be two recording takes in there. You can hear both guitars playing rhythm during the sax solo, and immediately after the sax is done, you hear one of them switch from chords to soloing for 8 bars before pausing for about 4 bars. He plays a bit more aggressively after that pause, so they might have done a second take to change the tone for a proper solo.

The phrases probably sound about the same volume on the recording because of compression. Basically, amplifiers and other equipment compress the overall dynamic range, boosting the quiet and hushing the loud. This is why when you listen to the radio, you can hear the singer's whisper at nearly same apparent volume as their scream.
Last edited by cdgraves at May 8, 2014,
#6
I don't know about the two takes. According to Mick Taylor and others in the band, the band had gone through the entire song and finished at some point in Bobby Keye's sax solo. Mick Taylor just kept playing for the fun of it, it sounded good so other members picked up their instruments again, and they followed Taylor through to the end. That was the one take that made it to the album.

If true, then the distortion could just be one of those happy accidents, such as Charlie Watts' too-soon drumbeat on the opening of "Start Me Up." How he got the distortion is a mystery for me. I'm using a Fender Super Reverb Reissue with a Tube Screamer, and then a Blues Driver for just those two bends, and it still doesn't sound right.
#7
how loud are you playing? that sounds to me like amp (power tube) distortion i.e. the amp up really loud. it doesn't really sound that "out there" to me, at least.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#8
I'm using a Weber Mass Lite attenuator so I can get the sound of a loud amp without the volume. I've tried the amp at various volumes and distortion levels. The thing is, if the amp is at a point where it distorts from tubes or from a pedal, there's other parts of the song that will distort more than the bend of the B string at the 13th fret.

I've found a way to get it, although I don't know if it's what Taylor did. On that little riff, he plays the B string at the at the 10th fret, then hits the B string at the 13th fret, and bends up a full step. If the first finger is moved to the 10th fret on the E string while the other fingers are pushing the B string on the 13th, it gives some distortion up until the point where the pitch of the bent string and the pitch of the E string match. Then it's distorted on the way back down, and on the chord played with the E string and the un-bent B string. Play the next two notes without the chord, then resume for distortion on the next bend.
#9
ah right (about the attenuator)

yeah i mean if you can get it to work any way, no problem.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?