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Post new topic PSG tonality, Buck Owens, Studio version
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Author Topic:  PSG tonality, Buck Owens, Studio version

Los Angeles
Post Posted 8 May 2017 9:21 am     Reply with quote

I have wondered about this for years.

It seems that there are basically two distinct tones from PSG players.
- A full bodied humbucker tone, or
- A thinner single coil tone.

The player on the recording was probably Ralph Mooney (or Tom Brumley). (You can find the recording on YT.)

In any event, this has never sounded like either humbucker or single coil to me. I'm not quite sure how to describe the way it sounds. It sounds like there could be some radical EQ going on, except in the early 60's that really hadn't entered the picture yet.

Any ideas what it is or how it was done?


I know a lot of guys use the Boss GE7 or similar to get dobro sounds. And guys will add chorus/echo/reverb/distortion/etc as well. But those are "traditional" effects, and are not what I'm talking about.

Do any of you use your GEQs to vary up the tones in your performances to keep it from all sounding the same, but still sounding like a PSG?

Last edited by ajm on 8 May 2017 1:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ken Metcalf

San Antonio Texas USA
Post Posted 8 May 2017 10:31 am     Reply with quote

Sounds like a single coil and Fender amp to me.
Buck mixed his early songs extra twangy to sound brighter on auto radios of the time.
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Greg Cutshaw

Corry, PA, USA
Post Posted 8 May 2017 10:41 am     Reply with quote

I doubt the original amp/guitar sounded much like this. The studio often remixed the sound for Buck to sound clear as a bell coming out of road noise plagued car stereo speakers.
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Ian Worley

Sacramento, CA
Post Posted 8 May 2017 11:42 am     Reply with quote

That was Brumley. It was recorded in June '64, shortly after he joined Buck's band, so it would been a Fender 1000.

There are several stories about two Fender 1000s that belonged to Buck around that time. The first one that Brumley used on "Together Again" in Jan '64 (apparently the same guitar that Jay McDonald had used before him) was supposedly pretty beat up, so Leo Fender was said to have brought him a new one at some point before the June '64 session. According to some of the anecdotes, Brumley did not like the sound of that newer guitar.

I think what Greg said is pretty accurate. The psg tone on the record was more a product of the engineer/producer than the instrument/musician. If you search the forum there are lots of discussions and posts from folks who knew him and from Brumley himself about those early recordings with Buck, and his dissatisfaction with the tone on the record.
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Fred Jack

Bastrop, Texas 78602
Post Posted 12 May 2017 8:12 pm     pickups Reply with quote

Moon played on Bucks first albums. He used his homemade steel. He thought he had taken the pickups, (two ) off of an old Magnatone and he staggered them so he could get all strings. Leo gave Moon a new Fender and Buck would not let him use it to record. Leo had to bring the homemade one back. Leo was trying to capture the tone from the old steel. Moon got it back a couple of years later. It ended up burning in a fire. Thats a whole nuther story.
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Los Angeles
Post Posted 13 May 2017 6:46 am     Reply with quote

OK, let's back up.

Somehow it was deleted or cut off from the original topic heading. (Probably my friend the computer again, working overtime to "help" me.)

I had intended to specifically discuss the tone on "Truck Drivin Man" from the "My Heart Skips a Beat/Together Again" album.

I had always heard that the steel on that album was a mixture of Mooney and Brumley.

Going off of memory, the steels on "TDM" and "A11" and a couple others don't sound the same as "Together Again".

So, now that that is hopefully away.
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Ian Worley

Sacramento, CA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 1:01 pm     Reply with quote

Same response as above, it was Brumley on Truck Drivin' Man. But yes, both Mooney and Jay McDonald are on a couple of cuts on that record, tracks that were recorded much earlier though.

That record was released in July '64. Mooney played on Buck's studio recordings until about '62, it was Jay McDonald in '63, them Brumley for many years thereafter starting in Jan '64. Praguefrank's Country Discography has all the studio logs from all those sessions listed in chronological order.

It was Mooney on:
    Storm Of Love (recorded Dec '61)
    Save The Last Dance For Me (recorded April '62)

Jay McDonald played steel on:
    Over And Over Again (recorded Feb '63)
    Getting Used To Losing You (recorded July '63)

Recorded in Jan '64 with Brumley:
    My Heart Skips A Beat
    Ain't It Amazin' Gracie
    Together Again

The rest were recorded in June '64, also with Brumley, but probably with a different guitar than the January session:
    Close Up The Honky Tonks
    Truck Drivin' Man
    I Don't Hear You
    Hello Trouble

If you don't know about Praguefrank's Country Discography you should check it out. It's a great, and extensive resource. Here is the Buck Owens page:

There was also a recent topic discussing these same sessions and Brumley's guitar and sound in them here:
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Henry Brooks

Los Gatos, California, USA
Post Posted 15 May 2017 3:43 pm     Reply with quote

Many years ago, early 80's, I attended a one night program with Jeff Newman. At the time he was writing a series of articles called the Moon-Ear. What he said about Moony's sound was that limiters were used on those recordings and that it gave Ralph's licks a very distinct pumping sound. Jeff was using a MXR Dyna-Compressor to simulate the Limiter. All he said about the setting was that you fool with them till you got the compressor to pump. Compressors and limiters are basically the same circuit but the Limiter is set to keep from overdriving what follows. It has a fast attack and a slow release. Once the threshold is exceeded the limiter quickly turns the gain down and then will slowly bring it back up. The pumping happens if while gain is rising the threshold is exceeded again. What your hearing is the rapid gain change amplitude modulating music. He had the MXR between the volume pedal and the amp. I think the amp was Session 400.
BTW: the Nashville amps have a peak limiter built-in and will pump if you really push the power amp hard.
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