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Who's got the Tone?

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eric b
Dec 18, 2009 4:28 AM GMT

Im bored,and this might have beenasked before,but...who has the amplified tone that you most admire?I'm pretty much reffering to modern players(for lack of a better word),but if You need to gush about the Walters then so be it.

for My money,in no specific order,it goes to:

1.Gary Primich - Modern,full,round,compressed...just gorgeous.

R.I.P.... One of the coolest guys I've ever met.

2.Kim Wilson - Brutal,mean,jagged,and nasty...sounds like He's hurting that thing...in the best possible way of course.Speciffically the "Tigerman"/"That's Life" era.The sounds He gets on the Tigerman solo are stupifying.

I heard a rumor that He recorded that through a Fender Twin that was placed inseperate building so they could crank up the amp...I would love to know if that's true.

3.Dennis Gruenling- Sophisticated,big,classy.One of my favorite tones coming from a shure element.

I saw Him in a tiny bar in Hoboken in 96'.It was an incredibly valuble lesson in stage volume.He was playing a shure through a very small amp with a huge "G" on the speaker panel.It appeared to be a 12"...dont know if it was an old Guild or a Gibson,but it was amazing.

4.Paul Delay - Not what You would expect,kind of thin and strange,minimal gain.

He just had His own thing going on.Seemed to play thru any cheap jt30vc with an open hand techinque,and that totally worked for Him.

R.I.P. to You too big fella.


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Comments (27)

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Dec 18, 2009 5:19 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Best harp tone ever - Walter Horton. He was simply incredible.

Best harp tone around today - Steve Guyger.


Dec 18, 2009 5:51 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

1. William Clarke - Miss this man. His tone and phrasing just spoke volumes.

2. Dennis Gruenling - I keep coming back to this mans myspace page for a lesson in tone.

3.Taj Mahal - Like all of his work, raw and unpretentous, but so soulful. Just impossible to duplicate.

4. Paul Delay - I just agree here.

That was harder to do than I thought, I mean how could Little Walter and others remain off the list. I also went though a Captain Beefhart phase. Still love his stuff. And of all people Beck Hanson. Shows that it is not always the most technically brilliant that speaks to you.


Dec 18, 2009 7:02 AM GMT
eric b Replied:

Ha!I knew You guys couldn't go a second without mentioning Big Walter.But it's not really fair to everyone else because He's Big Walter...no one could or will ever touch His tone.It must have been His gianormous hands.

That reminds Me.I've been listening to "An Offer You Can't Refuse" lately...Big Walter and Robert Nighthawk is a match made in heaven.Any guitar player that wants to learn how to back up a harp...that's the album to start with.


Dec 18, 2009 5:20 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Lee McBee (Mike Morgan and the Crawl) and Johnny Mastro (Mama's Boys)!

moose.


Dec 18, 2009 6:10 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Well if we ruled out the enormous talent of Big Walter and kept it to only players that are still alive today then for me it would be these guys:

Steve Guyger, Kim Wilson, James Cotton, Jerry Portnoy, Rick Estrin, Dennis Gruenling, RJ Mischo, Lee McBee, John Nemeth, Mark Hummel, Carlos Del Junco, Sugar Ray Norcia, Egidio Ingala, Mitch Kashmar, David Barett, Joe Filisko and Jim Liban.



Dec 19, 2009 2:09 AM GMT
john j Replied:

AGHHH// THE [TONE] BIG WALTER CARLOS CHARLIE M KIM WILSON



Dec 19, 2009 11:53 PM GMT
schaef Replied:

alive today jerry portnoy



Dec 20, 2009 4:22 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

First and main for me is Jason Ricci's tone, he has incredible tone, which is different from other harp players. I love Lee Oskar tone (not overdriven) too and Chris Michalek tone and Sugar blue.



Dec 20, 2009 4:33 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

1. Jason Ricci. A lot of gain, a lot of bass, his tone is his signature. I hardly can imagine better tone than his.

2. Lee Oskar - best clean jazzy tone

3. Sugar Blue



Dec 20, 2009 5:03 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

oops, I didn't notice that messages goes backwards... It'll be more logical to put reply form closer to the latest comments.



Dec 20, 2009 9:14 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Thanks Boris! I can't believe I left Jason out of the list! (Sorry J!).

Also in terms of more "modern" tone I'd mention, Howard Levy, Brendan Power, J.J. Milteau and P.T. Gazell.



Dec 20, 2009 10:17 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Annie Raines deserves a mention as well. Love this youtube with her and Dennis Gruenling ripping it up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MAtCwifXl4



Dec 20, 2009 1:46 PM GMT
John P Replied:

Paul Butterfield/ James Cotton/ Sugar Blue/ Junior Wells/ Howlin Wolf



Dec 20, 2009 2:00 PM GMT
John P Replied:

I'm not a big fan of distortion. But, for that style Watermelon Slim has a pretty decent sound. Lee Mcbee certainly has excellent tone, too. Rick Estrin, too. If you like dirt. The favorites I listed have a different style. BUT, by any standard Big Walter sets the high water mark. Lee Oskar is great, but does not have a readily identifiable signature tone.



Dec 21, 2009 1:22 AM GMT
Tom H Replied:

Check out a Florida harp player Jim Bukiet, I hope I spelled that right. Check out the website for his band Juke Joint KIngs sound samples. Wonderful tone. I saw this guy last year in Clearwater and was knocked out. cheer, Tom Harpell



Dec 21, 2009 11:38 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Women diatonic players with great tone in my opinion are Annie Raines, Beth Kohnen and Cheryl Arena.



Dec 21, 2009 3:17 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Of all the players I've had the opportunity to see and meet with, the man with the greatest overall tone as well as tonal variety and breath controlwas Big Walter Horton. I learned more about blues harmonica from the many times I saw him during the 70's than all of the recordings I ever bought.



Dec 21, 2009 7:14 PM GMT
Not a Replied:

For me, if I am thinking of what is the future of amplifed tone, it's Jason Ricci, hands down. His tone is the beackon that leads us forward into a new era of harmonica tone. Other guys who get good modern tone are Chris Michalek, Adam Gussow, and Richard Hunter. If I'm thinking of older music with TONE, I'm thinking first of Junior Wells. His music, to me, was all about tone, not about super fancy playing. Yeah, to me, Junior beats many of the classic players for just pure tone. If I'm thinking who is a modern player with great clean tone (amped or not), I think of Brendan Power. Man, Brendan just hits it. He's amazing. I think Igor Flach had some sweet acoustic tone too...



Dec 21, 2009 8:29 PM GMT
Joe L Replied:

Here are my favorite living Blues players that I think have absolutely killer tone, amplified or acoustic. The first four are relatively well known. The last two should be well known.

  1. James Cotton. He's James Cotton. He's legendary and no one else sounds like him. What more needs to be said?
  2. Billy Branch. You can hear a ton of different influences in his playing. His tone is deep and rich. It also cuts like a razor blade straight to the bone. While it's not dark, he's got a sound that is very identifiable like many of the legendary players of the past.
  3. Sugar Blue. There is nobody else like him on the planet. His technique is amazing, but if you've ever heard him play slow Blues, he demonstrates beautiful tone that most others can't match.
  4. RJ Mischo. One of my favorite traditional players. His tone is absolutely magnificent. You can tell he's studied not only legendary players, but some of the more obscure players from the post war period. Rick Estrin has said, "RJ Mischo has very pretty tone" and I've got to agree with him.
  5. Steve Bell. Steve Bell has killer tone that is reminiscent of his late father, Carey Bell. Beautiful sound.
  6. Matthew Skoller. Tone to the bone. Solid technique and a killer song writer!


Dec 21, 2009 9:01 PM GMT
Dave F Replied:

All good choices, one player with super tone not mentioned yet is Curtis Salgado. Deep, sweet funky tone. And like most (all?) good players he don't need any kind of amp to get it.



Dec 22, 2009 8:50 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Dont forget Alanis Morissette, He He.



Feb 22, 2010 12:49 PM GMT
Steven T Replied:

Gary Primich had a killer tone.

For me Big Walter has the biggest tone of them all.



Mar 05, 2010 12:13 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

Bobby Mercy Oliver. check his stuff on reverbnation. bear in mind- i saw him live this week and he blows harp with NO HANDS. he had a guitar on and also had a harp duct taped to a bullet mic and neck rack, and he was absolutely the best hands-free tone i've ever heard.

hear him to believe it!



Mar 07, 2010 4:34 PM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Adam Gussow- Clean mic intoa Bossdigital delay (manufactured as a guitar effect) into a signal splitter into adirty vintage tube amp slaved to an old solid state monitor type thing. Totally unique set up. Totally unique tone.

Jason Ricci- One of the only guys whose use effects adds more than it takes away from his playing. Plus his "regular tone" is phat and a lot of his great tone comes from HIM as a player, not from the equipment.

Paul Delay- I have one live recording of his with sucha gritty, greasy, intense sound wailing out from the speakers that gives me goosebumps. Listen to "Blues and Trouble."

John Mayall- Earie and moving. Hard to explain but I personally love his sound on his 70's records, particularly on "Jazz Blues Fusion."



Mar 07, 2010 4:36 PM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Adam Gussow- Clean mic intoa Bossdigital delay (manufactured as a guitar effect) into a signal splitter into adirty vintage tube amp slaved to an old solid state monitor type thing. Totally unique set up. Totally unique tone.

Jason Ricci- One of the only guys whose use ofeffects adds more than it takes away from his sound. Plus his "regular tone" is phat and a lot of his great tone comes from HIM as a player, not from the equipment.

Paul Delay- I have one live recording of his with sucha gritty, greasy, intense sound wailing out from the speakers that itgives me goosebumps. Listen to "Blues and Trouble."

John Mayall- Earie and moving. Hard to explain but I personally love his sound on his 70's records, particularly on "Jazz Blues Fusion."




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