Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

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Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (jcreasy) » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:49 pm

Kids,

These questions/thoughts have been generally covered before (and I've looked around before posting), but I've got some nuanced questions/concerns I'd like collective feedback on.

My latest project has bumped me over to lead. (I've comfortably occupied the rhythm slot for many years). This new position also requires lots of different voicings/effects. (Again, being rhythm, I had 2 sounds on my 2 channel amp and the rest was with pick-ups and blend knob). In rehearsals I've been playing a Stratocaster (all single coils) through a borrowed Mustang GT100. (It actually sounds pretty nice). We are covering everything from Hoodu Gurus to The Cult to Blondie to The Cure to Cheap Trick to Replacements. So, I'd say progressive rock/pop to alternative. Not too heavy, but w/ effects.

In any event, I'd like to switch to a Rick (more comfortable to me) and figure out if I can make my old tube amps (Mesa Heartbreaker and/or Vox AC30) that versatile. But, I am trying to save some time (and money) running down a bunch of variables or issues other folks have encountered.

On guitars, I've seen discussions about the versatility of Ricks, followed video clips of big band and swing/jazz and some pretty decent blues drive sounds posted.

One question is has anyone covered the kind of lead territory referenced above with a Rick? For example, My Sharona has a pretty powerful (and busy) lead (from a Les Paul). So do some Blondie and Pat Benetar songs. Anyone been in that neighborhood with a live band situtation? Any tricks to bump through the mix for that and tone? (Again, on rhythm, I never had to really punch up and then back down into the song much). I know Kenny Howes does it (and does it well), but his stuff is all original and I am trying to get as close to the recorded versions as I can.

Second question is that I have a 360 w/toasters (blend knob I like), and a 480 with Hi-Gains (no blend). Which of those?

Third guitar question. Thoughts on the Rick trem system? I'm not planing on doing any Steve Vai dive bombs, but I'd like a little trem here and there. Not much more than a little bump.

On amps, again, on rhythm it was either easier, or I was just comfortable there. Mentioned above, there are tonnes of effects going on here... Probably too many to have a full blown pedal board. Any thoughts on any of the multi-effects/modelers out there?

Vox has a couple that look interesting, but they seem to be focused on amp replacements (at least the tone lab does). Also, my AC30 is the handwired with no effects loop, so it'd go in front. Boss has a few too. However, what people seem to be doing is getting a clean, non-colored amp, then using these to ape the sound. So, why even haul a 70 pound AC30? (Not to mention a 2 gajillion pound Heartbreaker). Again, doing what this project contemplates me doing doesn't require top dog tone, but reasonable... And lots of easy to reach flexibility. Any help? Should I just stick with the GT100 and be done with it?

Thanks for reading and any feedback appreciated.

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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (sloop_john_b) » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:00 pm

jcreasy wrote:One question is has anyone covered the kind of lead territory referenced above with a Rick? For example, My Sharona has a pretty powerful (and busy) lead (from a Les Paul). So do some Blondie and Pat Benetar songs. Anyone been in that neighborhood with a live band situtation? Any tricks to bump through the mix for that and tone? (Again, on rhythm, I never had to really punch up and then back down into the song much). I know Kenny Howes does it (and does it well), but his stuff is all original and I am trying to get as close to the recorded versions as I can.


Is it doable? Yes. Is it the best tool for the job? No, and no amount of modifications will ever change that - I've tried.

Second question is that I have a 360 w/toasters (blend knob I like), and a 480 with Hi-Gains (no blend). Which of those?


As I recall, the bridge Higain on the 480 model is quite a low output sound - it's possible that the ones I played had the bass-cut capacitor wired in. If that's the case on yours, I'd just go with the guitar you feel more comfortable on.


Third guitar question. Thoughts on the Rick trem system? I'm not planing on doing any Steve Vai dive bombs, but I'd like a little trem here and there. Not much more than a little bump.


If you want to use vibrato, the Accent is a fine unit that requires no modifications. Worth a try.

On amps, again, on rhythm it was either easier, or I was just comfortable there. Mentioned above, there are tonnes of effects going on here... Probably too many to have a full blown pedal board. Any thoughts on any of the multi-effects/modelers out there?


I use a Line 6 HX Stomp live in lieu of an amplifier and would highly recommend it.
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (jcreasy) » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:45 pm

John,

Thanks for the detailed reply. I am going to check my Hi-Gains on the 480. I fiddled with the 360 last night.

On Line 6, do you plug into a powered speaker, then, or just DI into the house and rely on the floor monitor? That must be a lightweight rig! If it sounds convincing enough for live work, things have changed in the last 10 to 15 years. I had an early POD and never could get a good sound out of it!

Thanks, again, for taking the time to explain your thoughts.

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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (jcreasy) » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:49 pm

Just looked. Line 6 is multi effect, still through my combo.

Got it.

Thanks,

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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (sloop_john_b) » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:04 am

Hey Jim, the Line 6 is a amp modeler and multi-effects unit. I use it right into the PA and no longer use an amplifier. It has made load-in significantly easier. :) Our soundguy also loves it!
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (parker_knoll) » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:42 pm

sloop_john_b wrote:
jcreasy wrote:Third guitar question. Thoughts on the Rick trem system? I'm not planing on doing any Steve Vai dive bombs, but I'd like a little trem here and there. Not much more than a little bump.


If you want to use vibrato, the Accent is a fine unit that requires no modifications. Worth a try.


Gotta disagree with this. I couldn't get an Ac'cent to keep in tune, I had to bin it. It's really just a piece of tin, not properly sprung at all. A bigsby is much better IMO. I've never found a really good vibrato for a Ric - I wish I could.

That said, I had a Ric 330 as my sole guitar for about a decade and played plenty of lead on it. Mine had reasonably high frets on it. I find toasters to be a bit too low output for lead playing, but higains are fine. In the end I ran a hot toaster in the neck and a higain in the bridge. If you want to use the toasters, you could always use a booster, but they're a bit lacking in midrange for use with more gain.

You can get heavy rock sounds out of it, no problem. Check the band Fugazi.
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (Tubwompus) » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:57 pm

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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (whitford) » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:51 pm

My personal experience is an Accent vibrato works well- at least as well as a Fender strat's. Playing lead on a Rick is... different. I have done it for about 20 years, but it's mot ideal. And this coming from a guy who only plays Ricks.
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (collin) » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:18 pm

It all depends on your definition of a "lead."

There are many players who have demonstrated amazing lead work on a Rickenbacker - Pete Townshend, Johnny Marr, Roger McGuinn to name just a few. But not in the typical "blues rock" vein that people tend to associate with lead guitar playing.

Would I use a Rickenbacker for a Cream or Zeppelin tribute band? Probably not, but it's great for alternative styles of "lead guitar" playing.


As for the vibrato -- being perfectly honest, I'm a much bigger fan of the look of an Accent vibrato than the actual function and I usually remove the arm. It can add a nice shimmer, but I fumble reaching for the skinny arm, and it always goes out of tune. The Kaufman is even worse, just a clunky design. Much prefer a Rick that's been modified to accept a Bigsby than any of the usual factory options.
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (admin) » Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:21 am

A very nice thread.
QED
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (jdogric12) » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:56 pm

Smithereens!
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (admin) » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:01 pm

A great example, Jason.
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (antipodean) » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:46 pm

Paul Weller did a pretty decent job of playing some aggressive lead licks with The Jam on his various 330s, and those '70s Higains were pretty low output compared to the modern units.

Of the various vibrato units I've used (Strat, PRS, Bigsby, Mosrite Vibramute, and Accent), the Accent has less travel than the others, but I haven't noticed the tuning issues to be significantly worse. I'm not, however, fond of the pointy end of the arm on the Accent. That thing could be lethal in the wrong hands!
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (wmthor) » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:22 am

jcreasy wrote:One question is has anyone covered the kind of lead territory referenced above with a Rick? ...


I'm going to address the first question only. I'm of the option, why not. I'd venture to guess that al least 98% of your audience doesn't care what kind of guitar you're playing.
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Re: Thoughts on Playing Lead on Rick

Postby (rickenbackerkid) » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:16 pm

I play both in a 3 piece rock covers band and a 9 piece Springsteen Tribute.

I have no problem playing blues rock lead on my 360 - it just takes a little getting used to. You have less sustain, which means you have to pick more notes, work the vibrato hard and so on. I also use 11-52 strings, which are a bit heavy for lead, but once again, it's just a matter of getting used to it. The sound of Hi-Gain pickups with overdrive is a great tone, no problems there, and it goes into 'nice' feedback, not awful screechy feedback.
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