SEMI-HOL­LOW PRAISE

Guitar Techniques - - Talk Back -

I re­mem­ber read­ing some­where that Eric Clap­ton got his Cross­roads tone from us­ing both pick­ups on his 335, with the bridge hum­bucker flat out and the neck one knocked back a bit. I’ve never owned a twin­hum­bucker gui­tar un­til re­cently, so I’d never tried it. But good gra­cious – it works! Mov­ing on from that and us­ing the fa­mil­iar sce­nario that when you get a red car, all the cars you see are red; I watched a great bluesy pop band work­ing in my lo­cal, and guess what? On his ES-335 he rarely left the mid­dle po­si­tion; he was sim­ply bal­anc­ing the vol­umes and tones to cre­ate a gen­uinely vast ar­ray of sounds. I then went to see a well-known rock and roll singer in a theatre lo­cal to me; again, the gui­tarist was us­ing a semi and stayed on the mid­dle po­si­tion for 90 per­cent of the gig. It seems ev­ery­one is do­ing it and I never even re­alised such a sce­nario ex­isted. We all know of the Strat’s five-po­si­tion won­der and have all ex­per­i­mented with that, but why is this phe­nom­e­non with two hum­buck­ers not bet­ter known? Dan Burns I’ve prof­fered that piece of Clap­ton info on more than one oc­ca­sion in mag­a­zines, Dan. And in­ter­est­ingly, I’ve also taken to us­ing a 335 on stage again, af­ter years ad­dicted to my Stra­to­caster. And guess what too? I spend al­most the whole evening in that ‘both pick­ups on’ world. Therein re­sides the de­light­ful spanky funk tone, the twangy coun­try sound, the warm jazzy bloom, the throaty Cross­roads roar and a hun­dred other sub­tle vari­a­tions. I’ve al­ways main­tained that the ES-335 is Gibson’s most ver­sa­tile ‘reg­u­lar’ gui­tar, as its con­struc­tion lends an ex­tra­or­di­nary level of dy­nam­ics; some­thing that the Les Paul sim­ply can’t match. I’m thor­oughly en­joy­ing my re­turn to the model and would rec­om­mend any­one that hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced ‘twin hum­bucker heaven’ to give it a go. I’d bet that many play­ers who own semis have not even re­alised what’s right there un­der their noses!

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