This is one track that for me pushes Big Walter ahead of Little Walter (just my opinion) This has been on my favourite listening list since the 70's. I've never ever thought that this was an amp effect and I hear it as simply part of the skill set of Big Walter that we can try and aim for. Whether it's throat or hand made, I'm not 100% sure. I'd be inclined to think that it's throat produced but would be happily corrected.
This is the discussion I was thinking of. While he didn't have a lot of support, I think 5F6H made a pretty good case and the question of variability in the effect was defused effectively and supported by htownfess.
I admit to having splinters in my bum on this issue.
Whenever my friend argues strongly for a position and his supporting evidence is demonstrated to be spurious, his backdown statement is "I guess we'll never know"
Having seen Walter enough times between 1968 & 1973, I'd expect it was throat, hands, lips, not amp. He was a monster on tone and effects. He'd give different answers to the same "how" question, and if you thought you were going to watch to see what he was doing he had an ability to turn/move away, or move his hands to cover what you thought you were going to see and learn. The amp was almost superfluous to Walter's sound. There was a reason Willie Dixon described him as "...the best harmonica player I ever heard." ---------- BnT www.BluesWithAFeelin.com
Wow, for some reason I missed this discussion at the time. Maybe SuperBee is right about "we'll never know", but I wonder why Horton never replicate this effect on other recordings? (as far I know I never heard that tremolo effect again from him). The fact that this effect is not constant on all the track make me think that it was created by BW (he seems to choose when to apply the effect), but I'm beginning to think that It might be a defective amp also, but most likely it was created by BW.
Love this track. What a huge sound he has. I can get this effect but it's difficult to do consistently. I don't believe it is vibrato but I think he does it by pulling air on the draw notes and pushing air on the blow notes. So for the blow it's a kind of rhythmic pulsing ha ha ha ha ha ha ha supported by the diaphragm. The trick is maintaining that regular pulse. Of course his big sound is enhanced by the amp reverb.
To my ears, it's a little bit different from "Easy". This weekend I read a Tom Ball's quote from his book: In Escott and Hawkins' book "Sun Records-The Brief History" Big Walter recalled, "We cut that thing in three or four takes but my box started screechin' and we had to cut it. I played real loud on that one. I like to play loud." I also read Hawkins' book to check the quote, but could not find from where Hawkin's got it, but it's another evidence to my weird hypothesis of a defective amp.
Throat and diaphragm, all day long. If you can time the "cough" action in your throat with a quick diaphragm quiver, you get that trem sound. I'm no Big Walter, by a loooong shot, but I stumbled across that sound a while back. Lot's of fun when you get it.
tmf714 Yes it's not quite as defined as on Easy but the diaphragm shimmer is there.
A-Static Cal Yep, that's what I'm hearing. I tried it with the method I mentioned above (like a cough action), which worked ok for me when I played it slow but I had to swap to the diaphragm quiver to play it at the same speed as BW.
Here is a small, rough sample of my attempt.
To be honest I don't think my diaphragm could take the punishment of doing the whole song.
I think Walter Horton likely used throat and diaphragm as suggested above. The short instances of variability in the pulses would tend to indicate it is not an amp tremolo circuit. This technique would wear me out quickly. The prolonged diaphragm workout would cause soreness afterward!
There is another approach to a similar sound that I use at times, though I doubt it was used in this recording.
You hold the harp as usual in one hand (I use the left hand on low octave). Then you use the right hand on the right/high end of the harp to GENTLY move that end into and away from your mouth embouchure. The speed of the minimal movement determines the pulse rate. You can speed up the rate or slow it down, like a Leslie.
I mainly use this when playing octaves as a background, but it can somewhat replicate the Big Walter sound in "Easy". I think it is worth trying out. ----------
In early 50's there were some amps with tremolo built in (Premier 66, Gibson GA50T, both before 50, and Danelectro before 52, Magnatone and Fender released their version after 55). Echo and reverb units came latter. What he hear in Sun and Chess recordings were effects created in studio, and I think the players had no control over echo or reverb, but tremolo was possible at the time.
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