That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
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David Norton
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That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by David Norton » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:52 am

Not sure if this is a Luthier question, or a Recording question. But here's as good a place as any to start off.

I have always had a definite bias for the LP guitar recordings of the 1950s/60s. Whether the disc is by a great master like Segovia, Lagoya, Ghiglia, or by lesser figures like Laurindo Almeida, Charlie Byrd on his straight classical discs, or Vicente Gomez, and on down to very obscure players like Rudi Vanelli (who?) or Al Viola (who?), there's a certain depth and warmth to the playing which seems to have disappeared by the mid-1970s. And by now, that sort of sound is a museum display.

What changed? The recording equipment? The strings? The technique? Probably not that much changed in the guitars themselves, save for the obvious Ramirez 1a users like Ghiglia and Parkening. I listened to Rudi Vanelli's only LP tonight, 1950s jazz ballads on Side A and mainstream CG music on Side B, and was drawn in by the quality of his sound, though honestly his playing leaves a lot to be desired. But wasn't that the thing, the lure, the attraction back then? The SOUND of the instrument itself, not so much the precision of the performer.

Thoughts?
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Jack Douglas
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by Jack Douglas » Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:30 am

Hi David,
I also like the sound quality from that era. It was the heyday of tube type amplifiers like McIntosh and speakers like Bozak. The sound was rich and warm. I'm not certain when the tones changed, maybe it was the late 70's but certainly the current tones of recording equipment and modern guitars tend to be more brassy/metallic and have a colder, less warm tone. There was something special about the LP's of that era and of course who can forget reel to reel tape recordings. Remember Tanburg?
I didn't start playing CG until about 1990, a bit before the double top era, but I've listened to recordings of 60's-70's guitars such as Ramirez and Hauser and they're very special.
It seems to me volume has become more important to some than the quality of tone.
Hauser III 2014!

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gabasa
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by gabasa » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:01 am

I totally agree. I think it's the favoring of louder, modern instruments. I was recently listening to Barrueco's Bach & DeVisee CD and it sounds so good. That one was done with his old Robert Ruck guitar, I think; a well-made, traditional beauty!

astro64
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by astro64 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:26 am

The problem with this question is that it may be difficult to disentangle the dominant factor. The instruments changed, the players techniques changes, and the method of recording (amps, analog/digital, etc). I would not be surprised that the latter is an important factor. And I suspect that the modern recordings, even if they are less appealing to some, are probably closer to being "real" than the older ones. We have at least some players that span that period, most notably Bream. I can't say that Bream's recordings from the 1950's sound better than those from the 70's 80's, or 90's. But he played different guitars during those periods too. Williams made the switch from Fleta to Smallman so any comparison there is most affected by that change. Come to think of it, to answer the question it might be best to find more players that spanned the period from when you liked the recordings to when you liked them less, and then see if that preference also applies to them.

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leafhound
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by leafhound » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:50 am

I think you are just romanticising about exceptional past instruments of that time but just dont know it.

Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:58 am

Analog vs. digital recording. And vinyl records on a high end system versus on-line play back over computer speakers.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Steve Ganz
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by Steve Ganz » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:39 am

David, I'm of your era. I imprinted on Segovia and Hauser, Bream too, and whatever John Williams was playing on 20 studies for guitar.
Imprinted like a mother's voice. And while I do like other voices, these still reside in my head.
I wonder about the recording equipment losing spectrum since digital recording arrived. It seems like some of the low frequencies have been lost, and yes, the guitars have changed too. Historically the advent of lattice top and digital recording seem correlated. While the newer technologies may be just good, and playing has advanced, I still yearn and respond at a deeper level to the original sounds.
Steve

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Michael.N.
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:31 am

The guitars are still the same. They were basically all fan braced, derived from Torres/Hauser/Hernandez and there's still plenty of makers constructing that style of guitar. One of the differences is that there aren't as many top players using that style of guitar, although there certainly are some. So my guess is that it's a combination of factors. You've been bombarded with the modern piano guitars, the style of playing has changed (less romantic?), recording equipment has changed and you can also throw in a dose of nostalgia.
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by simonm » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:39 pm

"Modern" recordings or "re-mixes" of old recordings are digital vomit produced a generation who are half deaf either due to using earbuds from infancy on, cranked up to levels so high that anyone, who is not as deaf as a plank, sitting within 10 feet of them can "enjoy" the "music" or because of frequenting clubs where the objective of the amplification is to ensure that seismic gear on the other side of the planet can monitor the DJ.

Exaggerating ever so slightly. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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gabasa
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by gabasa » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:30 pm

This is very, very interesting! It made me think if something I did a while ago and now I'm curious to hear your opinions on old vs. new guitars. We recorded six different classical guitars build by the same luthier. Nothing was changed from one recording take to the next other than the guitars. Even the player stayed sitting in the same position. Check it out, some of you may have already seen this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQA_SYFT3Q0

In order, the guitar styles are:

1 - Hauser (built to the Elliott drawing from GAL)
2 - Romanillos (built to a 1990s drawing, larger than the Courtnall one.)
3 - Friederich (cedar top)
4 - Friederich (spruce top)
5 - Double top (cedar, balsa-core)
6 - Double top (spruce, balsa-core)

The first two guitars are built traditionally, the second two are modern-traditional, and the last two are very modern. If guitar construction has changed to the point that we don't like the sounds of our recordings as much as we used to, then #5 and #6 would be the least favorite.

Recording gear today has changed, and in the process it has gotten drastically cleaner, and with far less noise levels.

Maybe the Aaron Shearer picking technique has also changed things quite a bit.

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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by riffmeister » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:14 pm

astro64 wrote:The problem with this question is that it may be difficult to disentangle the dominant factor. The instruments changed, the players techniques changes, and the method of recording (amps, analog/digital, etc). I would not be surprised that the latter is an important factor. And I suspect that the modern recordings, even if they are less appealing to some, are probably closer to being "real" than the older ones. We have at least some players that span that period, most notably Bream. I can't say that Bream's recordings from the 1950's sound better than those from the 70's 80's, or 90's. But he played different guitars during those periods too. Williams made the switch from Fleta to Smallman so any comparison there is most affected by that change. Come to think of it, to answer the question it might be best to find more players that spanned the period from when you liked the recordings to when you liked them less, and then see if that preference also applies to them.
I agree.....everything has changed. But I think the likely dominant factors are the changes in recording and playback systems.

I find some of Bream's old recordings to sound a little wonky, but the ones from the 60's are some of my favorites. He recorded the Bach Lute Suites 1 & 2 in the 60's and then again in the 90's. I greatly prefer the sound and performances from the 60's. And particularly the performance from the 60's.

astro64
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by astro64 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:35 pm

Ah, Bream's 1960s recording with the 1960 Bouchet vs the 1990s recording on the 1940 Hauser. I'll give them a listen again today.

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RobMacKillop
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:56 pm

According to Pepe Romero (senior) nylon strings did change around that time, and it's certainly a possibility. He yearns for the old sound, and the marketing of his son's new strings alleges they restore that quality. All hype and nonsense, or is there a smattering of truth in there?

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gabasa
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by gabasa » Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:44 am

That's a great point.

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Contreras
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Re: That 1950s-60s CG Sound

Post by Contreras » Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:28 am

Good thread, but I'm going off at a tangent (while addressing the O.P.)

Luiz Bonfa (OK, I know you cited Almeida) and Charlie Byrd aren't lesser figures in my book. I think I'd rather play like either of them than, say, Segovia.

Just sayin'
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