Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ed Bickert on "Pure Desmond"

"Pure Desmond," Ed Bickert's first album with the great alto saxophonist, is one of my Holy Grail discs. I think it has Bickert's best recorded sound ever, and I've heard all sorts of explanation as to why it sounds like it does (both pro and con).

One of the best sources is Canadian guitarist and teacher Joey Goldstein, who's very active on rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz. He's answered my questions on this before, but I believe this is the first time he says that Ed Bickert's Telecaster, on "Pure Desmond," could be equipped with the original single-coil neck pickup and not a Gibson humbucker (as seen in the 1980s at left). And Joey also thinks that Ed might have played at his bar mitzvah (whoa!) Also -- Ed had an ES-175:

Joey Goldstein
Date: Sun, Aug 20 2006 12:20 pm
Email: Joey Goldstein ...@nowhere.net>
Groups: rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz

Dave M wrote:

> I recently got The Paul Desmond Quartet Live (from Toronto) album (the
> one w/ Desmond on the cover looking like Larry King). Bickert's tone is
> warm and clear, and sustaining, and there's something about it--a
> certain openness in the freq range that reminds me a hollowbody. This
> album was recorded in '75. Wasn't he playing the Tele by then? Anyone
> know for sure?

Yes. He was playing the Tele on Pure Desmond as well but I think he may have had the single coil pickup still on it.

I think he switched to the humbucker right after Pure Desmond, but I could be wrong.

Most of the recordings of Ed in existence will have him on the Tele. But I've got a jazz calendar with a pic of the CBC Orchestra, circa 1964 (or possibly earlier), and he's holding a 175.

I think, but I'm not sure, that Ed was in the band that my Dad hired to play at my bar mitzvah. He hired some CBC musicians and I think Moe Koffman was the leader. My friends were all..."That guy plays slow!"....But I said "Yeah, but look at those chords!". I was more into fast playing myself but at least I had the sense to recognize the chords.

-- Joey Goldstein http://www.joeygoldstein.com joegold AT sympatico DOT ca

Keith Murch said Ed's favorite amp was a Standel. (But was it a solid state or tube model?) I have heard good things about the old solid-state Standels. Ed used a Roland Cube-60 for many years, but that amp was first made in the 1980s. For all we know, Ed could've used whatever amp the studio already had. Along the same thread (but not really), rumor is that Rudy Van Gelder's Englewood Cliffs, N.J., studio had a Fender Deluxe amp that all the guitar players used on his sessions. Even today, many guitarists just don't travel with amps. On the road, they use what the venue provides, usually a Fender Twin or Roland JC-120. When he toured as a solo artist, Joe Pass neither brought nor even used a guitar amplifier. He just went through a direct box straight to the board.


Carl said...

I asked Ed how he got that great sound on that album. As usual, in his modest way, he shrugged and said "It was the engineer" He said that he hadn't changed anything.

I know for sure that this was before he changed his single coil pickup. I saw him playing with the single coil after this album.

Steven Rosenberg said...

I've been listening to more early Ed Bickert lately, and he always gets a good sound with that Tele.

Listening closely to "Pure Desmond," I can believe that it's the original single-coil pickup on the Tele.

Besides the amp -- it could be a Standel or any Fender, for all we know -- and besides all the variables Ed himself brings to the guitar (his technique/touch is very unique), I wonder what weight of strings he used.

I know he favored a plain 3rd (G) string, and from experience know it's hard to get thick unwound 3rd strings ...