I know Les Paul had some strong critiques against the jazz players of his day for rolling off the tone control.I was always curious to know who was the first or the first generation of players to start this trend.Charlie Christian had a pretty mid-range-y tone,but not at all to close to what is now defined as the classic mellow and dark tone.
The first jazz player to roll off the tone control(10 posts)
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I would say Jim Hall. Wes sort of dark sound come more from his thumb than the tone control I guess...
That was gonna' be my first response,but I wasn't sure.And of course Wes used his thumb exclusively but he had a mid-range tone.
As you sure there rolling off the tone control or backing off the volume control or changing where on the string they are picking changing how they attack the string, palming the pick and switching to fingers. In other words lots of ways to change the timbre of the notes. Check videos of some of the legends and you don't see them mucking around with their controls it coming from their hands. In fact a lot of the archtops with floater pickups only have a volume control my GB-20 only has a volume knob.
Generally speaking,I am sure there are a fair amount of variables involved with each individual player,as you say.Really though I was just basing my comments on the above critique from Les Paul.But I do know for a fact based on many interviews I have read that a good deal of jazzer's do roll off their tone.I think Pat was one of them.
This question doesn't take into account how much of the tone control is being rolled off. Jim Hall and Pat Metheny would be extreme examples of this practice, and they are the most recognizable because their sounds wouldn't be possible without the extreme manipulation of the tone knob. There are countless other players who roll off some treble using the tone control but who do not sound as dark or tubby as the two aforementioned players.
I have been very frustrated with Pat Methey's tone over the years. I've been to see him twice. The first time was back in 2000 when he was touring with his trio. Most of the time, he played with his typical dark have archtop tone, and I often had difficulty making out the individual notes. His tone started off dark but was made worse by the size of the auditorium in which he played. The sections where his note definition was best was when he used the guitar synth, but that doesn't count as any sort of traditional jazz tone. I would have much preferred to hear a brighter, more defined tone in that setting.
In the studio, Pat Metheny has a great deal of control over the production of his sound and how that sound resonates off the studio walls. This allows him to play with his dark, rolled off tone while preserving clarity and note definition. He doesn't have this luxury when playing live. Here, he must work with the sound man to produce an acceptable tone, and the result is not always as successful as it is in the studio.
Besides Metheny and Jim Hall, which players would you all include in the category of dark, rolled off tone-knob players?
I nominate Pat Martino; although I'm not sure if his dark tone is a result of tone knob manipulation of that of the piano wire he uses as guitar strings.
Martino's tone has become much darker since he converted to ss "jazz amps". His twin "el hombre" sound is much brighter and pleasant.
I understand what you say about metheny. His current tone is actually brighter - I've seen him in July and he now uses a mic he blends with the pickup which gives his sound much more clarity,
I think Pat's tone has become darker though much more cleaner with the addition of Digitech pre-amps.Martino's tone has indeed become darker,listen to the THINK TANK album.I believe he used ACOUSTIC IMAGE amps on that Cd.Kenny Burrell's ROUND' MIDNIGHT is another fine example of the dark or warm/mellow tone.
At certain times Bill Frisell. Most noteworthy is Jeff Beck.
Hey Klatu I agree, Martino,especially on Think Tank really has a great dark(is it dark-mellow-warm...or all the above?)tone.Kinda' sexy! lol Those string gauges are mad crazy.I think his high E string is .016.Frisell on his archtops has somewhat of a dark tone,not overly so.He has a nice balance.I don't know about Jeff Beck,I always associated him with a trebly tone,stuff like Blow by Blow and Wired anyway.
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