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Post new topic How to get the Tom Morrell tone out of my D10?
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Author Topic:  How to get the Tom Morrell tone out of my D10?
Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 9 Oct 2017 3:33 am     Reply with quote

this thread is historically excellent.

As for his tone on his non-pedal E13.

Try altering your E9 I'm assuming it needs very little changes.

His non-pedal playing is awesome. highlight- "Pterodactyl Tales" album - musically progressive.

His Tone is Majority down to playing without pedals and knowing where his pockets are.

example he uses religiously M9#11 chord, Dom7th with 5th on top, 9ths and 13th chords

plus major and minor chord grips.
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Bill Cunningham


From:
Atlanta, Ga. USA
Post Posted 9 Oct 2017 7:07 pm     Reply with quote

I listen to those Top Hand CD's a lot. I had the Relaxin CD in the truck on the way to my gig yesterday. I think he played the E13 Carson Wells steel on most of them. (I remember talking with him in 1997 about why he had quit playing pedal steel).

I always wondered how much of his tone is due to the timbre of the E13 as opposed to C6. He's the only modern WS player I have ever heard play that tuning live or recorded. I do think a lot of it is his unique right hand attack and his licks. If you want to really hear the right hand chops listen to the Sextet Session LP where he and Maurice both play extended solos. It's pretty easy to tell which player is soloing.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 7:13 am     Reply with quote

He was a professional player as far back as 1952 at about 14 years of age.

So, I'm wondering about any recordings he may have done from the mid-1960s on back--before the various LPs on Priority with Maurice, the Case brothers, etc.

??

Such as maybe with the band shown below. What band is this? Recognize anybody? Not too many guys around with an eye patch. Did he play a Fender through the 1950s, before he got the T10 Bigsby?

He played standard guitar in the Western Starlighters in the early 60s, with Tex Williams on vocals and Billy Braddy on steel. You would think that band recorded.





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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 8:51 am     Reply with quote

That photo is SO 1950's! Humongous hat, western shirt, and white socks with penny loafers! Laughing Tom didn't get the email about the boots!

There's a photo somewhere... I think in the liner notes to one of the TWTH cds ... where Tom is playing twin steels with Bobby Koefer in Billy Gray's band in the 50's and he's on a Stringmaster.

Tom told me he felt that version of Billy Gray's band was the best western swing band ever, the one with Koefer and Bill Carson on lead guitar.
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 9:03 am     Reply with quote

If they ever need a cover for the book The History of Fender Pedal Steels there it is.
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 9:34 am     Reply with quote

David Mitchell wrote:
And their 1975 album. Lots of Morrel on pedal steel on these albums. Probably an MSA in this era. Morrell third from left.



Looks like they're right off the cattle trail.

Considering how this topic has drifted, I've moved it from the Pedal Steel section to Steel Players. Tom Morrell - one of the best western swing steel players ever.
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 10:22 am     Reply with quote

Kinda like threads on the Emmons Push Pull. Eventually we have to talk about Buddy Emmons.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 10:51 am     Reply with quote

The way Tom sounded was because of the way he played. His guitar playing sounds similar to it! I've heard a recording of Tom on guitar with the Western Starlighters (Billy Braddy on steel).

He played with a lot of confidence and flowing ideas (his lines were long and his chords were in motion). A strong attack and dead on pitch. Never heard a bum note out of the man.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 11:02 am     Reply with quote

Mike:

Do you have anything by the Western Starlighters other than "Rockin' Too Much" and "Blue Eyed Blonde"??

Neither has a Tex Williams vocal. I think the vocalist is Gary Van, third from the right in this pic.

The only connection I have between that band and Morrell to Tex Williams is this picture. But the pic may just stem from a one-nighter or very brief association--I don't know.

Morrell second from right. Billy Braddy second from left.


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Johnny Cox


From:
Lives in Nashville, Missin Texas
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 12:18 pm     Reply with quote

You have received lots of advice. My 2 cents, you can't buy that tone. It's just Tommy.
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post Posted 16 Oct 2017 3:07 pm     Reply with quote

Johnny Cox wrote:
You have received lots of advice. My 2 cents, you can't buy that tone. It's just Tommy.


What Johnny said...

Incidentally, I think a big part of Tom's phrasing comes from the fact that he used three finger picks.
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Dave Grothusen


From:
Scott City, Ks
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 4:22 am     Reply with quote

Back in the late 60's, before I had any idea who Tom was, I an pretty sure it was him with Gary Van and the Western Caravan.
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David Cubbedge


From:
Toledo,Ohio, USA
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 8:26 am     Reply with quote

What a great thread! Love Tommy Morrell! I bought one of his CDs in 2000 based on the funny cartoon cover and now I have the whole 15 volume set! Great playing, great music, wonderful sense of humor!
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 9:49 am     Reply with quote

Holy Moly, da b0bster might have just repaired me... 2nd paragraph. First paragraph:
I dug out my Tophands CD's because I don't trust YouTube. It's neat-o to have it there, but when you hear something kinda squashed, it's been stepped on. Using as few possible oh's & ones to transmit just enough data.
Dead giveaways:
ALL the singers sound like Joe Cocker; Crying or Very sad
The cymbals sound more like... static, than a vibrating metal music thing. Crying or Very sad

Tangental diatribe over, when I listen to the Tophands stuff, what I don't hear is everybody wanking along in the background while Morrell is playing a solo. They SHUT UP! You know how fiddle players like to pluck the bouncing ball? Plucking the root note like they just woke up on the island of Lilliput, and their fiddle turned into a really weenie little bass? Mr. Morrell gets the room he needs. And he does so with lots and lots of upper midrange, ah, 1.4K-2.5K maybe? This is the same frequencies that all the singers and guitar players and fiddlers want to have, so they tell everyone else to shut up and go away to... Scooped-Mid Island. I am a huge fan of NOT cutting through the mix, if everybody's cutting thru the mix WHOLE IN HELL IS PLAYING THE MIX, A.K.A. the song..?!?

I think Morrell tone is as much about what other people aren't covering up. A big wood & aluminum steel like yours is putting out all the frequencies you need, good clean tone is largely subtractive. I wood* avoid an Alumitone though, they're great pickups but in that context you'd just be jacking your center resonance up about a K or two... so you'd just have to beat it back down, compensatory-wise -> speaker choices, preamp settings etc. I'm thinking this stuff because I'm in the process of trying to tame an Alumitone in one MSA SuperSlide, I think somebody dumped it in without changing the pots and capacitor, WHOO-EE! Dere be some Teeth-Crackin' Tonite!! I have a few tricks to try first, bridging a resistor across the pots outer... arms (?)lowers their values; but I may very well bail out and trade the PU for something, I don't like adding things when subtraction gets to the same place.

In looking at Morrell, he seems to keep his right hand in the same place, a bit out from the bridge. To do that MONGO-SLICK palm muting - 0:22, 0:28, 0:34, 0:44 etc., just popping it down and back... MY hand has to be (index finger) around 4.25 to 4.5 inches from the bridge. And your mileage won't matter, you HAVE TO DO IT EZACTLY THE WAY I SAY or we'll be coming for ya, boy... he's also pick muting, he has to be right? The palm is like a re-start, clear, back to Ground Zero.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiZsbYyWAGo
So he's gotta be packin' some fairly serious low mids and bass to handle "bright" picking. He picks fairly hard, too. BTW, that clip is a good example of bad U-tooberry - everything's just a little fuzzy.

Again, I think all the tones you want are already there, just gotta kill off the OTHER ones.

The "Eureka" I just got from b0b0: I do have an ancient, gray Peavey 4-cylinder parametric EQ lazing around; if I can't knock a big chunk of highs off that pickup, hmmm. The Para should go right at the end, right? Just before reverb, after delay, after all tonal smidgies, right?
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 11:05 am     Reply with quote

Glenn Demichele wrote:
How to get the Tom Morrell tone out of my D10?

My issue is just the opposite: how to get Tom Morrell's tone into my D10? Wink
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 12:38 pm     Reply with quote

David Mason wrote:
The "Eureka" I just got from b0b0: I do have an ancient, gray Peavey 4-cylinder parametric EQ lazing around; if I can't knock a big chunk of highs off that pickup, hmmm. The Para should go right at the end, right? Just before reverb, after delay, after all tonal smidgies, right?

I put it right after the volume pedal. I don't want to mess with the impedance match between pickup and VP, but I want everything downstream to react as though they're processing a twangier guitar.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 12:42 pm     Reply with quote

David Mason wrote:
The "Eureka" I just got from b0b0: I do have an ancient, gray Peavey 4-cylinder parametric EQ lazing around; if I can't knock a big chunk of highs off that pickup, hmmm. The Para should go right at the end, right? Just before reverb, after delay, after all tonal smidgies, right?

Parametric eq before ambience enhancement. That way it will tonify the instrument signal rather than the effects' signal.

What kind of amp did Tom Morell use? What tone settings? How was it mic'd? I know some of his recordings were direct to console, but all these things have an effect on a player's tone. And Dave has a great point about an instrument's tone cutting through the mix because the other players in the band know how to "not play".
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 17 Oct 2017 4:13 pm     Reply with quote

Part of his sound is the evenness of attack. His level is very constant, something that few of us can do.
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Jeff Harbour


From:
Western Ohio, USA
Post Posted 18 Oct 2017 3:31 am     Reply with quote

When I think of Tom Morrell's tone, I think of "Little Sustain" and "Lots of Punch". When I'm after that type of sound, I use a graphite bar that I bought from Bobbe Seymour. It's the bar intended to be used with the Dobro-simulator pedals. When I use it with a normal steel tone, it gives me a feel very close to how I perceive the "Morrell Tone". Also, take your foot completely off the volume pedal (or unplug it!). I know he didn't use one at least some of the time, maybe even all or most of the time.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 18 Oct 2017 11:00 am     Reply with quote

Jeff Harbour wrote:
Also, take your foot completely off the volume pedal (or unplug it!). I know he didn't use one at least some of the time, maybe even all or most of the time.

Well that is pretty huge. If the full signal of the instrument is going into the amp, there is going to be a lot more tonal wallop. When the signal is partially cut off with a volume pedal, tone gets thinned out too. Did he have volume or tone control knobs on his steels?
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Jussi Huhtakangas


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post Posted 19 Oct 2017 12:39 am     Reply with quote

Here's Tom in 2005 at Greenbay Rockin' 50s Festival playing with The Texas Playboys. Tommy Allsup was on guitar and Leon Rausch on vocals. That's the custom built guitar he's playing that was mentioned in an earlier post, and as you can see, he's using a volume pedal.
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 19 Oct 2017 12:45 am     Reply with quote

He played rapid arpeggios and skipped strings full attack - HARD and confident

I know as I'm practicing on his tuning merged into mine.

He relies heavily on add9, 6/9, add9#11 , dom9 and dom7, min7, Maj7 and 13th and one reverse slant aug & dim chords but whether he used the 3 fingerpicks loads that is up for debate as a lot of what he played sounds to me with just 2 and a thumb pick.

I definitely noticed he wasn't a heavy user of any volume control. Didn't need it.

Use the above chords every time they come up and you'll soon realise that the straight bar inversions which is only 3 of each are what he used. except for the one reverse slant augmented & dim chord.

I wondered why in some instances he didn't use other inversions/voicings but I realised he doesn't like to slant even if it is super easy.

His style meant having to hit it bang one at speed so even though he had more chords available he wouldn't use them. Rather just play single note melodies.
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Jussi Huhtakangas


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post Posted 19 Oct 2017 12:47 am     Reply with quote

It's hard to see from that pic I posted but yes, he's using three finger picks.
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Jeff Harbour


From:
Western Ohio, USA
Post Posted 19 Oct 2017 2:20 am     Reply with quote

Jussi Huhtakangas wrote:
It's hard to see from that pic I posted but yes, he's using three finger picks.


Not much surprise there if you've heard the "Sextet Sessions" album. Tom uses a lot of the same wide-voiced chords as Maurice. Those specific chords aren't possible with two fingers and a thumb.
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post Posted 19 Oct 2017 5:26 am     Reply with quote

He appears to have used picks on all fingers at least some of the time. I think this picture is from the late 1970s.

What brand guitar is that?


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