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"Pictures of Matchstick Men" bass: how did they do that?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by TOHARROV, May 15, 2018.


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  1. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Recently ran across a YouTube recording by Status Quo: "Pictures of Matchsticks Men", from 1968. No other recording that I've heard has a bass sound quite like that - and I've been listening to records since the late 40s. I understand that the engineers in the control room were having a lot of fun with phasing on the guitars, etc., but how in the world did they get that incredible effect from the bass?
     
  2. Sub-hoo-fer

    Sub-hoo-fer

    Nov 27, 2015
    Virginia
    Found a live version of the song on YouTube and it just sounded like a p bass. Then I listened to the recording and heard what you heard. That is a cool effect. It is like a dynamic flanger where the effect gets stronger when the bassist digs in. That might be common flanger behavior but the only one I ever had years ago had a set modulation range. That flange feel is there in the verse but it builds in the chorus.

    I might play around with a flange and an envelope to see if the the envelope can trigger the flanger but I honestly wonder if that effect on the recording is just someone’s finger on the tape reel.
     
    HolmeBass likes this.
  3. There's a video about possibly on Youtube called "Hello Quo" Francis Rossi briefly explains it on there if I remember correctly
     
  4. Sub-hoo-fer

    Sub-hoo-fer

    Nov 27, 2015
    Virginia


    Check this out. 13:20 and 15:20. This is a chorus / vibrato pedal, but I think the “broken Leslie” with overdrive gets you in the ballpark. That swoosh in the chorus is very flanger to me tho.
     
  5. Woo Boy Do I Remember That One! I believe I read in music magazines of the time that it was all done through a Fender Vibrolux amp pumping a (tube powered) Leslie tone cabinet. Yes did a similar recording with 1971 Starship Trooper.
     
  6. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Sincere thanks for your reply! I understand that fingers were current technology back in '68, but I do kinda wonder about flangers and envelopes...
     
  7. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    I will definitely look for it - thanks!
     
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    there was a 'phase' in the 60's during which many recording artists experimented with sending all manner of vocals/instruments through a leslie for effect. i was in a touring band (promoting our label 'hit') and an A&R cat at columbia records actually recommended that we figure out a way to use that "leslie effect" on our next recording: we used it on the lead vocal track...way too much! it was a flop! :laugh:

    OP: to my ears it does sound like a leslie effect = turning very, very, slowly. in those days: leslies were often 'rigged' just to accommodate the sound on that recording and then later 're-rigged' for another/different recording. we did some of our recording in chicago (chess studios) and they had a couple of leslies (one for the B3, the other for ????). that's the same studio where rotary connection first recorded...and they used a leslie effect, too!
     
    s van order and getbent like this.
  9. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Really impressive - thanks! My compliments on your ear!
     
  10. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    My thanks to you, sir!
     
    JRA likes this.
  11. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Eureka! My compliments on your memory and my thanks for your helpfulness!
     
    Linnin likes this.
  12. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Thanks to all who've been thoughtful enough to reply. Special thanks to Linnin, who remembers reading about it 50 years back!
     
    BigBeatNut and RedVee like this.
  13. I was all of 14 years old. I devoured everything I could get my hands on about music. I would get my first bass for Christmas 1969.
     
  14. Paulabass

    Paulabass

    Sep 18, 2017
    There isn't much I haven't put thru a Leslie in the last 50 years, including a sleepy kitty, who met a rude awakening when the low frequency unit turned on. Kitty unharmed, but confused, and emulating a Hammonfd B3 for a few days.
     
  15. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Some interesting memories from my visits to Waynesboro, back in the 80s/90s, including four day in intensive care. (Fell off Afton Mountain.) I do like your part of the world!
     
  16. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Watched the 9 minute video about it and immediately went to Amazon and ordered it - Thanks again!
     
    Christine and Sub-hoo-fer like this.
  17. callofcthulhu

    callofcthulhu

    Oct 16, 2012
     
    Crystalman85, sigterm, Kriegs and 2 others like this.
  18. Whil57

    Whil57

    Aug 7, 2013
    Long Island
    To me the bass in particular sounds like the Electric Mistress(Electro Harmonix) i use to have (not a bass effect but it worked). Although sounds like that whole recording has a flange on it as even the drums get tinnier and back off.
     
  19. TOHARROV

    TOHARROV

    Feb 17, 2017
    Deep Ellum Texas
    Thanks! Wikipedia has interesting things to say about both the recording itself and also elsewhere on the history of flanging. The fascination with this relatively new in-studio sound manipulation thing was apparently quite high at the time. I have sent for the Status Quo documentary DVD, "Hello Quo", as recommended by an earlier commenter, Christine, above. It is said to have some actual discussion of the effects on this recording. What is intriguing to me is the consistency of the sound of the bass through the recording, which seems to suggest something more than just a "finger on the reel"... And we shall see - hopefully!
     
    Christine likes this.

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