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Guitar: Did Wes Montgomery 'double-thumb'?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by peteroberts, Jun 12, 2004.


  1. I am totally fascinated by Wes. His technique and sensitivity on the instrument put him in a class by himself. After checking him out and trying to find out more, I read that he played all that stuff with JUST HIS THUMB!!

    Jeez. I was just wondering...did he maybe use a technique they call 'double-thumbing', popularized recently by Victor Wooten and the likes? I got about 1/4 of the way through a transcription of the 'Full House' solo, and I just can't get my thumb to go nearly that fast (I'm sure I'm not alone!).

    Great tone though.
     
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    My friend Shiro Mori, who uses the same technique on guitar, does use the double thumb trick, very nicely I might add. I'm guessing Wes probably did some of that.
     
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I believe he also used a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs. All of teh Wes clones and other thumbers that I've seen double-thumb.
     
  4. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I have the honor of playing with George Benson from time to time. I do remember listening to him ripping through some of those signature jaw-dropping lines one time, and sensing something different in the sound. Sure enough, he was thumbing (we were probably doing some Wes tune, I guess). There was definitely some double thumbing going on, and as Ray mentioned, a lot of hammering and pulling off. Whatever it was, it sounded great.
     
  5. yeah, I kinda thought so! Thanks ... must be a real treat playing with George Benson!! :bassist:
     
  6. Someone asked Jim Hall what he thought of Wes. He said: "I spent a day in San Francisco with him once trying to catch his thumb in a Street Car door."
     
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    :)
     
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    It's just the sound....I can't think of another guitarist who balanced that warmth with just enough edge. Plus, he had such great time, great ideas, and he swung like a MF! I even like his pop stuff, just because it's Wes. Love him.
     
  9. Long live Wes!

    so here is a side subject... how many influential guitarists have there been in the 1900's - 2000's?

    I say, when it all boils down, distilled and all, there are really only four...that changed the guitar and the way people play it.

    1. Charlie Christian
    2. Wes Montgomery
    3. Jimi Hendrix
    4. Eddie Van Halen

    that's right, EDDIE! Dont say Jeff Beck, Clapton, etc, I love those guys, but when you really think about it, what did those guys bring to the table that was NEW?

    Segovia, yes...I just thought of him, and good point...

    who else do you think?

    I'm beginning to think Metheny and Scofield.
     
  10. I don't know how you could even think about a list like this without mentioning Jim Hall. Django was fairly historically important. Johnny Smith and Barney Kessel were important too.
     
  11. hmm...Jim Hall yeah. I totally hear his style in Metheny's playing.

    But he didn't have the impact on the guitar world?

    I'm talking about people that even non-musicians know as well.
     
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    OH, a popularity contest! ok..lessee

    Garth Brooks, Charo,Toby Keith, Tom Smothers, Esteban (the guy who hawks cheapo guitars on TV), and of course:

    ELVIS

    Just yankin' yer crank a bit, Pete.

    In a more serious vein, I've heard an awful lot of stuff recently in the various media that sounds like Bill Frisell. So maybe he's an influence-in-training.
     
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Though he prob did some double thumbing, I would tend to think that most of Wes' picking is downstrokes with the thumb (from what I can see). I think it was Barney Kessel who said that 90% of Charlie Christian's playing was downstrokes, so I think Barney subscribed to the same. You can see that in the videos of his playing.

    you can't forget these guys either:
    - Joe Pass
    - Tal Farlow - put bebop guitar on the map from what some say... and his way of playing bongo parts on the guitar are fun. Tal's just got some awesome speed and licks. Not to mention that he was self-taught and doesn't read music.
    - Jimmy Raney? He's so similar to Tal. I like him cuz he seems more harmonically sophisticated.
    - Kenny Burrell - he's got to fit in there somewhere but he's so unrecognized i guess. Hendrix was once quoted to say Burrell's name when asked "If you could be another guitar player, who would it be?"

    Blues guys...
    - T-Bone Walker - Prob one of the early guys to introduce jazzy things into blues. From what I gather, he was related to Charlie Christian as a friend or something like that.
    -B.B. King - simple. period.
    -Stevie Ray Vaughn - sure he copped licks from the '3 Kings' and others but his rough-shuffle comping style is pretty individualistic. People are still copping his style today playing blues.

    I'd only put weight behind Eddie Van Halen cuz he lead to dive-bombs, rock tapping, and fast playing guitar shredders like Satriani and Vai.

    Yeah, I think Frisell is gonna be a guitar hero someday cuz of his unorthodox playing and use of loops and sampling machines. Maybe Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder will be heroes too... they're pretty amazing in their own ways and very original.
     
  14. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Oh yeah, there is a Guitar Player interview with Wes in like 1965. He spent several weeks or months deliberating on which way to go: Thumb or plectrum. If I remember correctly (it goes something like this), his wife complained about him practicing late at night and waking the kids with the pick, so he started using his thumb. As time went by he just got a better tone out the 'Thumb', and went with it and gave up the pick.

    I can't see how he wouldn't get carpal tunnel from the way his hand sits on the guitar, but man did he sound good. And his thumb is so fast... he's prob faster than plectrum pickers with that thang! Although, hammer-on's and pull-offs certainly make a line go much faster.
     
  15. Frisell. Check. Interesting and unique.
     
  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Another one who really seems to float the boats of most of the jazz guitarists I know is Jimmy Bruno. I haven't heard him much, but everyone's ravin'.
     
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Hrmm, I dunno. I like Herb Ellis much more than Jimmy Bruno IMO, and their styles are kinda similar. So is Howard Alden. And they're both playing 7-stringers. I kinda hesitate to say that they had a big impact on guitar playing.

    But but but... thinking of seven strings, probabably George Van Eps has a BIG impact on guitar history because of his guitar books. I mean that's like Simandl for jazz guitar... maybe?
     
  18. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    There you go. George Van Eps used to say he was trying to play "lap piano".

    Have to reiterate what Paul mentioned; Johnny Smith affected a lot of people who are interested in pushing the contrapuntal limits of the guitar. He's also a bit more of a household word than some of the others, maybe due to his TV exposure.

    Les Paul did a few innovative things here and there. ;)

    I guess Chet Atkins would qualify. All-around scary good guitar player, very popular for a long time.

    For you fusion fans, the all-time greatest, Allan Holdsworth. Acoustic guitarists seem to worship Michael Hedges with the same verve as Jaco fans. For bluegrass players, there's Tony Rice....damn, there's some great guitar players out there.
     
  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Waaaaaaaaaht?!?! Jim Hall NOT HAVING an impact on the guitar world?!?! Egads Man!

    He pretty much has the most distinct influence on most guitar players from his early days until today. Rosenwinkel, Mike Stern, Metheny, they all name him as a big influence. Without Jim Hall you wouldn't have Bill Frisell! Even Buddy Guy (of all guitar players - the one that Clapton calls the best blues guitarist in the world) names him as a hero.

    Agh, I still need to get my hands on those Jim Hall recordings from the 40's and 50's. He plays like buttah!

    As for non-musicians... who cares about 'em!!! :spit: :p

    Anyways, this isn't TalkGuitar, so back to Wes. I just watched one of my Wes videos again (the one with him playing with Harold Mabern & Arthur Harper), and I'm willing to bet money that he doesn't double thumb. Yeah man, he's that fast! :crying:

    In my past research, I don't recall anywhere that he double thumbs. It's all downstrokes, just like Charlie Christian. Just fast picking, hammer ons, pull offs, and tons of rakes.
     
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA