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Grateful Dead - Wall of Sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by xray, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. xray


    Feb 15, 2009
    Kona, HI

    Anybody remember this? I'm not really a dead head but somehow how ran across this picture. If you were lucky enough to attend one of their concerts when they were touring with this massive rig from 73-75 I'd like to hear your thought. Some of the comments are it was distortion free - what's the point of live 70's music if it was distortion free!
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I saw several shows using it, in various configurations. Sounded anything from spectacular to sucktastic. The vocal scheme was especially questionable, but then, so were the Dead's vocals...:cool:

    Phil always sounded great through it though.
  3. It cost them a fortune to haul around and I think it almost broke them.
    Cool idea, probably concocted while under the influence of ...
    Heck, what do I know, I did '86-'95. No wall of sound, but I always
    enjoyed the shows.
    Miss you Jerry.

  4. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    If i recall, the who purchased that system from the dead?
  5. Blue


    Jun 19, 2004
    South East Penna
    ... I heard they actually had two of them - 'cause that was the only way to tour: it was a two-day deal to set up and tear down. I saw them once with it .. as I recall there were a couple interruptions for technical issues.

    At that time they were also finishing up the golden era - say '69 into '73. Early Godchaux was often pretty phenom' .. apparently too much coke was his downfall ... but the warm up shows into the Europe '72 tours often glisten with his playing. The first few Albums after their hiatus were cool ... but by the late 70's they were pretty much a parody of themselves.

    Regardless of what else one thinks, it's probably hard to deny their live tone was pretty much always to die for.

    All IMHO, of course ... but get the Live Dead / Skull & Roses / Europe '72 albums. They are worth the money and show a nice array of material - and all live recordings - which if nothing else shows what can be done.
  6. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    I think a lot of stuff has been posted here before, but here is what I can recall...

    The Wall of Sound was designed by the GD soundcrew which included "Bear" Owsley, Bob Matthews, & Dan Healy to make a PA that sounded the same no matter where you were in the venue. The reason the vocals sounded weird was the phase-cancelling mics they used to eliminate feedback. However it's huge size made it extremely difficult to set up & transport, so they ended up with two of them & leap-frogged them to every other show. Because of the impracticality of this they only used them for a few months.

    However, anybody that has ever picked up an Alembic owes a bit of gratitude to the Dead as it's origin comes from people associated with the band! :cool:
  7. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    The Grateful Dead Movie was filmed at the last Winterland shows before the hiatus and the W.O.S. is featured prominently in it!
  8. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    Not!, I would know I was a Polydor engineer back then.
    The Who used Tasco sound and light for the PA in the UK/Europe and sister company Show Co in the states, apart from rehearsals which where via SIR rentals at the time, there where also some JBL pa cabs etc the band owned and used for rehearsal at eel pie island but these where UK built 4560's and 2441 drivers on lensed horns.
  9. I also remember as a kid growing up in St. Louis that the Who used a lot of Bob Heil's stuff (if I have that name spelled correctly). There was a wonderful music store outside of St. Louis called Fast Eddie's (actually, Ye Olde Music Shoppe.... run by 'Fast Eddie'!) that was associated with Bob, and after a Who tour, the store would be filled with the stuff from their previous tour, including some of the busted guitars!

    I remember those PA cabs being wild colors...white and purple or something. Long time ago, with at the time, some ganja coloring my memories a bit:p
  10. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    I hafta agree with you that it is my favorite era as well. The loss of Pigpen changed the band and he was greatly missed, but Keith was still pretty good at that time. :cool:
  11. I'm not a huge 'Dead' fan, but I recently picked up a remasted live double CD called 'Road to Terrapin Station', which I guess is considered one of their 'classic' performances (in 77 I believe). It is really good, and to me, is kind of that 'one Dead recording' for those who aren't total fans. Has 'Jack Straw' on it, which is just a beautiful tune.
  12. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    It was pieced off. Much of it was given away (the Dead gave a lot of stuff away).

    Beyond cool! :bassist:, indeed!
  13. rickdog

    rickdog Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2010
    Does anyone know where to find the specs for the cabs Phil used? I think the drivers were JBL 15s (D140 maybe?) but how big were the boxes?
  14. Blue


    Jun 19, 2004
    South East Penna
    I'm pretty sure they were D140's ... in single driver cabs. At one time (early 80's) I declined the opportunity to purchase as many as I wanted for $400 each ...
  15. The little Bag End cubes that we all crammed with JBL 15's back in the day (they were sold 'empty') are probably pretty close. They even look the same, and I assume there was some sort of link between Bag End and Alembic, which means at least an indirect link to the 'Wall'.
  16. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    Good to know, that rumors been around for years.
  17. Blue


    Jun 19, 2004
    South East Penna
    I have a theory 'bout them ... and why they are "hated" .. or at least polarizing. Here's the theory:

    Most bands (at least pre youtube and cell videos) had some control over their recordings and limited releases to what sounded good. The Dead did the opposite - everything was open - so you have perhaps 30 years x 100 shows / year (average?) x 20 songs (?) per show = 60,000 recordings out there ... of what could be considered usually experimental material ... so that provides a lot of dogs .. tens of thousands of craps. Contrast that with say the Beatles - who published like 200 songs (/) ... or Led Zep: only 73 tracks released on their 8 albums ...

    I can cite perhaps Dead 30 to 40 songs (really performances ) that will stand the test of time. If those were the only TRACKS out there, their reputation would be FAR elevated ... or so my theory goes.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Rush uses something like this ...

  19. will33


    May 22, 2006
    The Wall of Sound was fairly advanced for it's day. Uses principles of the line array and pretty much amounts to a giant backline.

    Some who have heard them several times say it could sound wonderful outdoors and pretty much suck indoors. I don't know, I wasn't there, never saw the Dead. Although not a Head, I do like some of their stuff. I think it was Garcia playing lapsteel on Crosby, Pills & Hash's "Teach your Children".
  20. Simple to figure out, take the Fs of the speaker and plot the box size for a full bass reflex. It is really big for a single driver, but sounds so darn good.

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