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WHAT MOTOWN GUITAR EFFECTS DID YOU USE?

dennis

November 12th, 2014

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WHAT MOTOWN GUITAR EFFECTS DID YOU USE?
I remember back in the early sixties doing a session with the Royaltones at Bell Sound in New York City. We recorded two songs. One was “Our Faded Love”, and the flip side was “Holy Smokes”. The members of the Royaltones at the time were
George Katsakis – Saxes and Vocals
Dave Sandy – Saxes and Vocals
Bob Babbitt – Bass, Trumpet, and Vocals
Marcus Terry – Drums and Vocals
Dennis Coffey – Guitar, Vocals, and Arrangements

The Royaltones

The Royaltones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was using a Fender Bassman amp during this session. I accidently loosened a tube in that amp causing it to distort. I liked the sound and used it on the session. Unfortunately the mix engineer thought it was a problem and filtered out all of my distortion or I may have gotten credit for the first use of distortion on a recording. The special effects pedals I used at Motown and on other sessions were the following.
1. A Vox Tone Bender for fuzz.
2. A Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal
3. An Echoplex for echo
4. A Condor Unit and guitar pickup I had installed on a Gibson 335 guitar made by Hammond organ

Vox Tonebender

Vox Tonebender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VOX TONEBENDER

I saw my first Vox Tonebender when Mike Theodore and I were producing a local rock band called Mutzie. The leader of the band and singer/guitarist Mutzie was using a Tone Bender when we were over their house at a rehearsal. Fuzz tones were new and I was curious about how they worked and what they sounded like. Mutzie gave me a demonstration of the pedal and told me he always used a battery that had been used a little already to give him a mellower sound. The next day I went to see my friend Joe Podorsek at Capital Music and bought a pedal from him and starting using it. I first time I used it at Motown on the intro to “Ball of Confusion” along with my Echoplex. That guitar intro was not written, I created it on the session.

 

Cry Baby Wah Wah Pedal

Cry Baby Wah Wah Pedal

 

CRY BABY WAH WAH PEDAL

I first heard a Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal at Capital Music. Joe Podersek always showed me any new guitar effects he got in and played me a demo of how they sounded and let me try them out on the gig. That pedal gave you a wha wha voice like sound on the guitar when you moved the pedal up and down. Jim Hendrix and Eric Clapton were using one at the time. I bought a Wha Wha pedal and started using it on my club gig at The Frolic Showbar in Detroit with Lyman Woodard on organ and Melvin Davis on drums. That pedal helped me get into the Funk Brothers at Motown. Motown had hired me to be in bassist James Jamerson’s band in The Producer’s Workshop which had a new band to help producers try out new ideas off the studio and musicians union time clock. We set up four nights a week upstairs of Golden World Studio which Motown bought from Ed Wingate. After a few months of rehearsing with Motown producers, Norman Whitfield came in. He was the producer for the Temptations and had an arrangement of a song he wanted to produce called “Cloud Nine”. When I saw the arrangement, I thought my Wah Wah pedal would sound great on the introduction. When Norman heard me play that pedal, he said “That’s what I have been looking for”, and within two weeks, I was at Motown Studio A recording tracks for The Temptations. I was already a Golden World session musician and had played on many Northern Soul hits so I was ready to join the Funk Brothers, the most successful recording band in history at Hitsville USA. This is me playing at Motown for the first time adding my Wah Wah pedal to the Motown Sound.

 

 

Echoplex

Echoplex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ECHOPLEX
I first saw an Echoplex when I was playing with the Royaltones. We were doing a gig at the Scenic Inn in the Detroit area. Back then each band had to bring in a sound system and mics. We had to find a way to produce tape echo on our vocals to sound like the records we were playing so we found a music store that sold a unit called an Echoplex. The unit had a tape in it which provided tape delay that could be used in a sound system. It worked fine for until reverb and echo electronics were built into sound systems but I did buy an Echoplex to use on my guitar in the studio. The first record I used it on was the intro to “In the Rain” by the Dramatics. I created that intro on the session because it just seemed to fit the mood of the song. You can hear me using the Echoplex and Vox Tone Bender on Ball of Confusion by the Temptations.

Condor Unit

Condor Unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONDOR UNIT BY THE HAMMOND ORGAN COMPANY
I was first introduced to this unit by Joe Podorsek. I was looking for new sounds and this unit got my attention. It had bass, bassoon, oboe, organ, and other sounds. You had to put the Hammond Organ pickup on a guitar to make it work so I put that pickup on a Gibson 335 and was in business. The first time I used the Condor Unit was on “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Undisputed Truth on Motown Records. I used it on my guitar solo. I was playing with the Funk Brothers at Motown Studio A and created that solo on the session. I still use guitar effects and am always looking for new sounds. Does anyone else have stories about using guitar special effects? You can hear me using my Condor Unit on a solo in this record.

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