Friday, March 24, 2017

Jimi Hendrix Distorts: Horace Wee Replies Part 2

Horace Wee is one of the foremost professional pop guitarists this side of the Pacific, having been with our local radio station (RTS) for many years and a leader of his own group.  He has a reply to Henri Gann's interesting short comment about distorted guitar sound when I asked him to educate an ignoramus like me.

Thank you Horace.

His article starts here. 

The subject of distortion and a discourse of Jimi Hendrix - the man, his music and instrument has been covered in volumes of books and articles. Guitar distortion existed in various forms from the early 50's recordings. Much of it was by accident and the discovery that it produced musical tones.  Like the tremolo drenched sound of Link Wray's rumble or the bite of Keith Richards' telecaster.

Hendrix pushed the envelope further by playing louder and using larger amplifiers.  Influenced by his background of RnB music and likely listening to blues performers performing on inadequate small amplifiers distorting, were some factors that probably contributed to the crystallization of his musical approach (image: Richards-left, Wray-right).

Black people don't listen to white music. Essentially Hendrix foundation was the Blues. Probably America's greatest contribution to the world's art form.  The distortion on his guitar sort of emulates the growl in a blues holler or shout.  In short the distortion of an electric guitar sound can be equated to a primal scream. Pure raw emotion.
Technically in the beginning, Hendrix's equipment was a regular right handed Fender Stratocaster strung and played left handed, a germanium Big Muff distortion pedal, Vox wah pedal and a stack of Marshall amplifiers. He used a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face as well, mentioned in various articles about Hendrix.

The way he played was the most important element in the final result we all have come to appreciate.

Ah Andy, you have triggered my thoughts.

Horace Wee (left) has peppered this blog with many short anecdotes and comments for some years now. If you key his name in the Search engine on the right bar of this blog you can find many of his contributions.

What triggered this discussion. Read connection here:


Images: Google and a Personal Collection.
You Tube Video: Tone Factor.



Dear Sir
I am currently a student in NUS who would like to conduct an email interview with yourself regarding pop music in the 60s. Questions I would like to ask are regarding the consumers of pop music in the 60s, extent of Western influence and culture on pop music and the importance of pop music in developing the Singaporean culture. I hope you will be able to assist in answering my questions.

Thank you.

Warm regards,

chakap chakap said...

Distortion and overdrive are audio signal processes used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments\to increase their 'gain'. Distortion is commonly used with the electric guitar and with other electric instruments.

Guitarists playing blues obtained an over-driven sound by turning up their vacuum tube-powered guitar amplifiers high. Over driven tube amps are still used to obtain it recently, especially in blues and rockabilly, other ways to produce distortion have been developed since the 1960's using distortion effect pedals.

henri gann said...

Great comments from Horace and Chakap too.
Thanks !
I would like to add that Jimmy Hendrix was ahead if his time. His fearless guitar playing had inspired many of us to rethink how we play the guitar ( Dawsons Music, 6/5/16). " He was not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until 1992. As Henke said at the ceremony about Hendrix, " He was the epitome of cool, sort of like James Dean, he never grew old. "

matt tan zbraXing MJST canada said...

if you listen to Hendrix before he found out it was "easier to play guitar and influence others to listen" by buying a Marshall stack and like Eddie and Richie, "turn everything up to 10; 11 if you're Spinal Tap or Ted Nugent", LOL..
he was not the first person to use distortion. Hendrix mentioned Jeff Beck in the British scene, and less admittedly, Buddy Guy.
His music, after curtis knight,etc.. is also nothing original. .. (much like the other " greatest band in the world " ... hint (it's named after a balloon)..
who used up almost everything from Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon.. etc etc etc.. the list is endless (add your own to the list here..)
while we're talking about Hendrix, we must not forget the other power-trio who also "drew" from the same well.... Cream.
Listen to Cream, Hendrix,.. and then go to the other social media and listen to the originals.. you will not want to listen to anything else, but the originals.
it's much the same thing, re jazz, jazz fusion ,.etc..
as a young guitarist, i would not listen to anything that is not loud, but after learning to play the guitar, i realise there is alot more to play and learn
when you turn down the knobs and really play.
but, loud has its place. as i cover the festivals here, i find that it is almost impossible not to play loud, if you want the crowd to converge on your stage.
it also sells a lot more beer, and if you're a club musician, selling beer can mean you take home more pay as well ;)