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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Carol Kaye talks about recording techniques




Carol Kaye, one of the most brilliant session musicians in the 60's from California, talks in a web forum (archive from 1999) about some
early experiements in music and how they got some unique sounds quite by accident (fuzz tone, echoplex, leslie speaker treatments..), sounds that shaped the ongoing evolution of Rock and Roll and other genres. What a knock out! All true to the spirit of the expansive 1960's.

*****
*****
There was SO MUCH going on, so many people. Please see my
website soon for just "some" select names of producers,
arrangers, contractors I worked for and "some" studio and
engineers names I worked with (on my Biography page, some
still on the Message Board) That will give you an idea of
the enormous number of people involved in our business in
the 60s on a constant every-day basis.

No, never saw anyone like Leo at Gold Star at all! That I
do know.

People were always coming up with new ideas every day in
the studios in the late 50s and early 60s, it was very
common. With the rock and r&b records selling like
hotcakes, everyone was in a feverish pitch to come up with
"new sounds", and mostly it was completely accidental....

no-one was trying to experiment with some off-beat sound
to make it something of a standard at all....it was
literally for 1-2 recordings and then off to some other
new sounds.

I remember when they put my guitar through the Leslie
organ speaker cabinet at Gold Star (they tried with
another guitar player at first but he couldn't trigger it
very well, it didn't work good with his way of picking,
and so they gave it to me to try as my way of picking is
strong and even -- I was well-known for the strong playing
I did on guitar). How different that sound was.

And it was good for 2 hot recordings for Jewel Akens -
"Birds And The Bees" etc. which I played guitar through the
Leslie.

BTW, I spoke with Jewel on the phone a short while
ago, he's well, appearing in Las Vegas and on the road
here and there.

People were wise enough to know that tricks like that were
only good for 1-2 recordings and they were off to do
something else. It was usually the song that would supply
a hint of something different to use, whether it be a
hook-line of music in the arrangement (jazz musicians in
the rhythm sections were quick to use their experience and
great ears to create good lines) or an effect of some kind.

I was there in the studios when the fuzz-tone was first
used, it was a Gibson pedal



(at first we'd simply take a
tube out of our amp to get a "fuzz" sound late 50s, then a
pedal was built for that effect). No I wasn't the "first"
at that, but was one who quickly used it for an "effect".
I saw the potential in it.

But I was the "first" to use the Echoplex on bass



, and the
first to use all kinds of effects on bass for movie scores
- inc. fuzz-tones (listen to "Heat Of The Night" movie),
and a few record dates (one with Brian even w/sound
effects)...

Listen to the theme of "Airport" cut out at Universal
Studios. I had my Gibson Maestro box on with the "steam"
and "claves" and octave-divider buttons on (could play 2
octaves at once, and I could also trigger that just fine,
again, with the strong way I pick with a hard pick).

And "True Grit", same thing, others like that. But effects
sort of ran their course very quickly (as they all knew in
the 60s).

The 12-string guitar hit big in the early 60s on a couple
of big records; "Walk Right In" (no not on that one) etc.,
and I'm one of the first ever to put a pickup (had my
trusty jazz pickup, the D'Armand) on the 12-string guitar
(about 1960-61) and start recording with it..... (later
the Dano bass guitar 6-string hit good too - I was doing a
ton of dates on the Dano for awhile).

The 12-string was HOT, according to everyone, and Barney
had a similar idea for his Gibson acoustic 12-string --
the two of us worked a lot of record dates immediately
with that innovation before other studio guitar players
caught on.

Pretty soon we were taking normal elec. 6-string guitars
and making them into elec. 12-string guitars thanks to the
help of our local luthier repairman, Milt Owens, a techie
genius. This was long before the manufacturers got wise
and started making regular elec. 12-string guitars.

I got a ton of work in the studios then, playing my "drum
paradiddle licks" (the same rhythmic phrases I played
later as 16th fills on the bass and 16-note patterns too)
on the elec. 12-string guitar. It became a HUGE staple
sound of the Sonny And Cher recordings which I played the
elec. 12-string on a lot, Sonny loved the way I played
those fills (Phil Spector used me on elec. 12-string a lot
too).

It was more common for different instruments like that to
become popular (and some stayed popular too, in adjunct to
the regular guitars, both acoustic and electric) for awhile,
a few years, but not odd things like the flangers altho'
once in a while you still hear some recordings with odd
uses like that of early uses of electronic stuff.

In fact, one of the reasons why I started to play the elec.
bass, as I reasoned "hey, this is more fun than playing
rock guitars, and I only have to carry in ONE instrument,
not 5 or 6 guitars".

Producers told you to bring "everything" as they weren't
sure themselves what they would use on their dates....and
part of my popularity as a studio guitar player was that I
was good on many different guitar instruments, played
cleanly, as well as good, knew all the licks, could solo
and play rhythm but was noted for my ability to create
background licks right there on the spot according to the
tune, singer, style etc.), funky rhythms as well as my
Dano bass guitar work and most solo-types of background
licks.

Not bragging here and excuse me if I am patting myself on
the back, but I knew what I could and couldn't do.....I
wasn't like Glen Campbell or Billy Strange
****** (photo of billy strange and the kids)
who could knock
you down with some fantastic bluesy rock solos on guitar,
but I sure had plenty of work and had to turn down work as
my 2nd husband did NOT like me playing in the studios at
all (I eventually threw him out - bad marriage, then I
really worked hard, and never turned down anything again
as I had kids to work for).

So just to give you a little history there.....it was not
unusual to try a little of this and that here and there on
recordings. I don't think "flanging" was an "art-form" that
was developed at all.....it was hit and miss accidental
stuff.


That's why I firmly believe in what Stan Ross says about
this (and Russ Wapensky quotes about Stan and Larry
Levine's statements about all this) as being totally
ringing true according to that time and space in studio
recording.

Carol Kaye http://www.carolkaye.com/

(taken from : http://www.spectropop.com/archive/digest/m268.html)

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