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Sonny Terry's bright sharp tone

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Lost T
Apr 28, 2013 8:20 PM GMT

In this video we'll go through some Sonny's chuggings and the Sonny's bright sharp tone, also called "icepick" tone, Sonny used this sound in almost all interpretations.
Sonny played these chuggins and riffs in several songs like "Hooray, Hooray, This Woman Is Killing Me", "Boogie Baby",...

I try to accurately reproduce the original, and that everyone can enjoy playing the blues and country harp.

Hope you enjoy,

In my website you can find an index organized by levels of all my tutorial videos:

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Comments (4)

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Aug 05, 2013 5:55 PM GMT
Bulldog B Replied:

A lot of Sonny Terry's tone came from the fact that he typically didn't use a handheld mike or a distorting amp; there was just a microphone on a stand a few feet away connected to whatever sound system they were using. You have to remember that the old timers that sang as well as played harp didn't have a separate system for harp, so whatever they were using had to sound fairly natural. I know from seeing him play at the Fillmore that Paul Butterfield used a Shure 545 mike connected to a Fender Twin Reverb amp, and sang thru the same mike that he played harp thru. Same priniciple holds true for the Animals and the Yardbirds and for Mick Jagger (who was actually quite a good harmonica player at one time). I was in a blues band in that same era and just plugged my mike into any open input on any available amp (back then mikes were all high impedence so you could just plug into anything). Later on I bought a cheap public address amp from Pacific Stereo (50 watt?) and used it to drive the speakers from a non-operational Fender amp I bought at Goodwill. Back in the late 60's Little Walter was a minor character on the harp scene - he and his sound are much more popular now than they were then.

Aug 05, 2013 5:58 PM GMT
Bulldog B Replied:

By the way, the song is "Oho wee, oho wee, these womin is killin' me." Or at least the version I heard is. "Oho" rhymes with "who."

Aug 05, 2013 6:16 PM GMT
Bulldog B Replied:

Sorry to go on and on, but I was just watching a BBC video of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and I realized for the first time that Sonny Terry must have been left-handed, because he's playing the harp upside down (low notes on the right). Also noticed that he was playing a Hohner Golden Melody. And I've always thought that one of the most remarkable things about him was that he played the harp sitting down (probably because he was blind). Try it some time - it's surprisingly difficult. As you can tell, I'm a big Sonny Terry fan.

Aug 06, 2013 4:31 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

In the last 15 years of his life, he used GM's on certain keys and I always knew without wathcing him when he was using them because the chords and ouble stops he used would sound very harsh and dissodent wheras when he was using Marine Bands, which were tuned to just intonation until a few years after he passed away, those same chords sounded smoother, sweeter and played withmore punch. You have to have good posture when doing harp or vocals when seated and many players often don't work on those things.

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