how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Performing and Interpreting Shadows' Music

how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (karlo) » Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:03 pm

Hi all,
new to this forum and have been interested in The Shadows and Hank Marvins playing.

i am considering of buying a stratocaster but was wondering what would be idea for me to play like the person above?
At the moment I am using a Cruiser by Crafter strat style electric guitar (a gift from wife) and have been playing for 2 months daily now (had the guitar for 3 years!!)
I use at the moment the above guitar with a Park by Marshall amp and have been 'playing' lead guiter tabs with backup cds.

Would like to know if it s wise to purchase a strat or maybe give my present guitar a 'MOT'?

What other equipment would help me in the long term??
I have been thinking about the Squire but was wondering if I am better off paying that bit more for a 'better' Fender?
I have seen Goran's post on the budget strat but how do you know if you are getting a good one?
I know I should try the guitar at the store but my playing ablities are not that great at the moment.....(may never get any better :oops: ) so trying at the store will not really help me.
Also is my amp ok for the time being as I have been looking at the AC30 but seen the prices on ebay!!!! :( :( wondered if there is a budget amp which will help me to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Sorry if I am repeating questions that have been asked before but do not really want to get conned at the store.

Your advise would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (doctorno) » Sun May 02, 2010 5:10 pm

Hi, it seems you are a beginner, but nevertheless you seem to have a very clear idea, how you would like your guitar to sound.
It is always a good advice to use the best equipment you can get for your money. On the other hand you will probably not want to buy any signature models for thousands of dollars, if you have just started to play guitar. So my advice for you would be to buy a very good Mexican Fender Strat, a budget guitar amp by VOX and a good delay unit:
http://www.fender.com/products/search.p ... 0131002340
http://www.voxamps.com/uk/valvereactor/ac15vr/
http://www.hofner.com/gab/en/phpshop/43 ... ry_id,136/
You should be able to get these three things together for little more than $1000,- and with these instruments you can get very close to the Hank Marvin tone if you have got the right playing technique. Using proper strings and heavy plectrums is also very important.
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (trosse) » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:01 am

doctorno wrote:Hi, it seems you are a beginner, but nevertheless you seem to have a very clear idea, how you would like your guitar to sound.
It is always a good advice to use the best equipment you can get for your money. On the other hand you will probably not want to buy any signature models for thousands of dollars, if you have just started to play guitar. So my advice for you would be to buy a very good Mexican Fender Strat, a budget guitar amp by VOX and a good delay unit:
http://www.fender.com/products/search.p ... 0131002340
http://www.voxamps.com/uk/valvereactor/ac15vr/
http://www.hofner.com/gab/en/phpshop/43 ... ry_id,136/
You should be able to get these three things together for little more than $1000,- and with these instruments you can get very close to the Hank Marvin tone if you have got the right playing technique. Using proper strings and heavy plectrums is also very important.


Great advice. After the guitar itself the delay unit is the most important link in the Hank Marvin-chain whereas many different amps can be used succesfully. A VOX Pathfinder 15R (with reverb) is quite cheap - and REALLY value for money. I've played pro for many years with an old Super Reverb but has now retired my back - and therefore I use the little VOX - it's of course not better that the SR but does the job miked up and into the PA (the line out it's actually not so good...). It's also excellent for my Rickenbacker/Beatles sound...
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (somebodyelseuk) » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:36 am

Okidoki. Post #2!
Sorry, for the length of my ramble, I got a bit carried away and I would like to say before we get into it, I am not trying to rub anyone up the wrong way.

This is easier than you'd think. Which Shadows era do you want to sound like?
58-61 - 50s Strat
61-64 - 60s Strat
64- 73ish - Burns
75 - 09 - 70s/50s/Custom Strats

I should point out that I'm not a Shadows 'fan'. I have a great deal of respect for them. My Dad is a huge fan, though, so I have grown up hearing the Shadows round the house; (I can tell you which guitar, pickup selection & where HBM is striking the string (and which string) by ear now!) and has spent the last 50 years trying to get 'that' sound and never quite nailed it... 'til recently. Now, he uses either a JV series Squier Strat or a Fender Japan 54 Strat reissue from the early 90s (one of the very last of the original series of these, I believe) depending on his mood and can get 'the sound' using a tiny plastic Vox transistor thing or through his Fender Performer 1000.
Any DECENT Strat copy will do - a cheap plywood plank won't - and if you're on a budget I highly recommend the Vintage V6. They are cheap, but use good woods and the pickups are very good, at the expense of attention to details in terms of final fret finishing (rough edges and occasional high spot) which a decent shop would sort out anyway. ANY amp that has plenty of headroom and clarity when set clean and finally, this is the key to the holy grail, a multi-effect or delay unit that can do AT LEAST five multi-taps AND adjust the repeat timing of the group of multi-taps, as well.

Before I go any further, I'm in my mid 40s and I've been playing 30 years now. I do realise that most of you are probably older than I am, with a lot more playing experience and have studied the sound of the Shadows a lot more intensely than I have. I'm not trying to undermine or say that I'm right, you're wrong. I'm offering my opinion as a relative outsider with, perhaps a fresh set of ears. That brings me to the most important part of the equation - EARS. The great joy about this from my point of view is that most of you will have learned to play way back in the days when we didn't have videos, youtube, tab etc, when we had no choice but to buy a record, stick the needle on and listen, and listen, and repeat, and listen etc. That's the only way to get a good ear in my opinion, so if you're new to the guitar and reading this, forget youtube and tab. 99% of it is wrong. I frequent a forum for a band with a younger 'audience' and I keep telling them the same - you would cry at how many people pick up a guitar and can't even tell whether it's in tune. Get a tuition book, learn some basic theory and scales. Personally, I would recommend every beginner to start with the Shadows. I did and I really cannot think of a more suitable way to learn the basics. Shadows material is very easy to play (if you avoid the rhythm guitar part of The Savage and Man Of Mystery) and if you really get into it, it's a great way to learn to play with feeling instead of playing like a machine.
General sound
Let's start with the guitar. Majority of the time you should be on the bridge pickup. Tremolo arm - don't grip it, you want it loose in the palm of your hand and just subtle use when you let the note ring, not using it as you're picking the note (unless you can hear that happen in the tune concerned). From what I've seen, a lot of players grip the arm and overdo the pitch change and just end up sounding like a warped record.
The amp. What worked for us was to turn the bass and treble up full and the middle down to minimum. Then back the treble off while pick the top string until it stopped cutting my head off ;) and gently back the bass off to give a nice balance, then ease some middle just to bring in a little body (I think on my Dad's Fender it was something like B-8, M-3, T-6?).
IMHO, the most important bit is the echo settings. I stumbled on some (8 or 9) spectral analysis charts that the guy who actually builds and programs Hank Marvin's current echo unit on the net, but they seem to have been taken down. Fortunately, I did save the time settings. I have a feeling that I might have the page saved somewhere on my laptop (I'll look into it), but if I can figure out how to post the settings here I will.
UPDATE: Yesterday, I stumbled across and free plug-in that has (I think) in the region of 100-150 Shadows presets programmed into it. If you dabble with DAW, even if you don't actually end up using the plug-in itself, it could prove invaluable in obtaining those settings. Link - http://www.echotapper.nl/etap2/etap2doc/index.html - and the preset codes, you need to locate the preset and then read the settings off from the plug-in's GUI
http://www.echotapper.nl/etap2/

Right which era? 58-61 - Apache, Man of Mystery, The Stranger and so on. You want to be picking the notes close to the bridge, with th trem hanging out of the way, used almost as an after thought. Remember hank was new to the Strat at this point and so was only just starting to experiment with the trem, and still playing with his hand resting on the guitar. Also, bear in mind when trying to replicate what was on a record, that the old mics, played a part in what you hear, too, and that most of the earlier recordings were done using AC15s and not AC30s. If you're trying Nivram, forget the Stra, it was recorded on Gretsches. We recently recorded this and found that my old Yamaha SG2000S got us closest using both pickups.
61-64. Wonderful Land, Kon Tiki, Midnight. By now, HBM is using the trem extensively, meaning he's picking the strings over the neck pickup. This is generally accepted as 'the sound' I think, mellower than the earlier sound and I'm not convinced that the switch to the rosewood necked guitars had that big an influence - I can get this sound on a 50s reissue Strat.
64-mid 70s Dance On, Atlantis, Foot Tapper, A dramatically different sound. The Burns era. Same playing technique as the early 60s, but I think HBM was also experimenting with pickup selections and he also incorporated the use of a volume pedal in the early 70s. Tunes like Warlord, Place In The Sun, Maroc 7 and so on used 12 string, baritone and/or six string bass guitars as well. Honestly, unless you get a Burns Marvin, you're really not going to get THIS sound.
mid 70s to 2009 Differing guitars (70s Strat, 58 Strat, Custom Shop Strats, Burns Marvin & Double 6), all sorts of different amps (Boogies, Vox, Matchless), all sorts of different echo units. The sound is still mostly the same. Just goes to show. You can spend fortunes getting the 'right'gear and you'll still always sound like you.
You don't need a 58 Strat. They're 54 years old now and I don't think (apart from a brief period in the early 80s) that HBM has ever used a guitar that was more than ten years old in anger. Bruce is using that original guitar now, and I wouldn't be surprised if the one he uses live is a replica.
I promise you, getting 'the sound' is easy. Sounding like Hank Marvin is a whole different ball game... that you'll never win.
If you're playing in a tribute band, you'll also need to get everyone else sounding authentic, too, and once they're sorted you'll then need to readjust your sound to fit. Electric guitars almost always sound cack in the context of a band when their tone has been set up in isolation.
I saw a couple of DVDs recently - Final Tour and the 50 years Reunion - and to be honest, I don't think Hank Marvin sounds like Hank Marvin these days, I was really disappointed. He uses these custom shop guitars now, with the two point floating trem, which doesn't suit his playing. Those trems are too sensitive for that style. He sounded like a warped record a lot of the time. Sorry chaps, I love the guy, but someone should tell him.
If you haven't heard the Marvin, Welsh & Farrar stuff, you should. Rockin With Curly Leads, too. Brilliant. I wish they had done more of this kind of thing over the years. The endless covers put me off over time. Bruce Welsh and HBM are much better musicians than that and it's a shame they haven't shown the world that.
"As long as I stay between 'The Sun & My Shadow', I guess, I'm doing well..."
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (admin) » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:58 am

Julian: Your comments are appreciated. The search for the golden section and the Holy Grail continues but your summary certainly gives some food for thought and practical suggestions. A couple of the digital stomp boxes can also afford the novice with some good results including the Yahama Magic Stomp and the Zoom 508. I love the very early Shadows' work and some of my all time favorite recordings are from Marvin Welsh and Farrar.
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (somebodyelseuk) » Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:07 am

admin wrote:Julian: Your comments are appreciated. The search for the golden section and the Holy Grail continues but your summary certainly gives some food for thought and practical suggestions. A couple of the digital stomp boxes can also afford the novice with some good results including the Yahama Magic Stomp and the Zoom 508. I love the very early Shadows' work and some of my all time favorite recordings are from Marvin Welsh and Farrar.


The great thing is that there are plenty of affordable effects units out there now that have multi-tap delay. I use a couple of Digitech rack units, though I've never really experimented with multi taps, yet. My Dad uses a Yamaha FX900. It's something like 20 years old, he paid a fortune for it secondhand in the mid90s. The multi-tap on that is a little limited in that it doesn't feedback, but I figured out a workaround using a second delay module within the unit for the feedback... literally turned it into a digital tape echo that gets the effect he was after.
I'm with you on the M,W & F and earlier stuff. I've always felt that since around 76ish they've 'played safe'. I'd have loved it if they'd done more albums in the same way they did Curly Leads - original material with just one or two covers, rather than what was usually the opposite way around. It'd be great to hear a Hank Marvin Blues album, Jazz album or country/folk album. If you listen to the backstage material @ the sound check on the 50 Year/Cliff DVD, you can hear him in the background knocking out the riffs, so it's not like he doesn't know how.
"As long as I stay between 'The Sun & My Shadow', I guess, I'm doing well..."
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (admin) » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:34 pm

Let's hope Hank takes a page from your book and records such a CD before he calls it a day. I would love to hear Welch and Farrar hop aboard the same train!
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (somebodyelseuk) » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:04 am

Okidoki. Having spent a couple of weeks actually trying to get these sounds...
For early (58-64) era, turn the bass and treble all the way down on your amp and adjust the middle to around 7-8. If you have access to EQ adjustment (parametric if poss) low shelf cut below 200hz, high shelf cut above 2000-4000hz and then cut about -12-18db @ 800hz. I think I did these over about an octave. These will get you very close. With a bit of time spent tweeking around this guideline, you could get almost spot on.
For mid to late 60s era, turn the bass and treble full up and adjust the middle to suit. Beware though, this is extremely cutting, so while it does get that sound, it will give you a headache. Haven't spent long enough on this sound to advise on EQ, but I would think same again on the 800Hz and the high and low may need opening up a little(?).
Hope this proves helpful.
Cheers, Julian
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (kenposurf) » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:30 pm

Have used the Magicstomp with the Jim Hall patches...a Fulltone real tape delay..an El Capistan......and more than a few others..
The Magicstomp or the Zoom with the right patches are very cool but so much depends on your touch...now I use a MXR Carbon Copy with a Strat (bridge pup) ...a nice tube amp..VOX //Fender etc will work just fine. Go after the vibe/feel of Hank's playing first..practice the tunes..his style is very understated which is a big part of it's charm.
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (admin) » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:58 pm

George I agree that a bit of delay and a Strat bridge pickup with a decent amp are the requisites. A little dash of talent doesn't hurt either. :lol:
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (kenposurf) » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:30 pm

admin wrote:George I agree that a bit of delay and a Strat bridge pickup with a decent amp are the requisites. A little dash of talent doesn't hurt either. :lol:

For sure on the dash of talent Peter..I think most of us fall victim to trying to nail a tome or style buying the correct gear.
One does need to have guitars/amps/effects etc that will get you in the arena but I know I can get carried away at times doing so!
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (ByrdBro) » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:59 am

This is an interesting thread and Julian's posts are on the button with excellent advice, observations and comments.

Some years ago I got into a project that was close to my heart, writing and recording original songs in the Shads style.
In the early days of this project I asked Bruce Welch to check out three or four of the songs ( I'd worked with him off and on since the early 70's) Bless him, he duly listened to them and his comments were helpful and inspiring. This gave me the impetus to carry on and get the album finished.

This album was a labour of love that once finished, mastered and pq'd, sat in a PreMaster CD box :roll:
The Shads were no longer recording new material by this time and were just doing good bye tours.

One of the songs from this album did see the light of day, it was recorded by an American artist from Texas I knew
and included on his album.

All this rambling just to say its not rocket science to get 'that sound' or close to it and doesn't mean you have to have a top end vintage correct Strat or a high end amp, in my opinion. And the most important thing to remember is its all in the soul and fingers so sounding exactly like HBM is probably next to impossible. It's important to know when to stop :D
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (manta) » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:25 am

If you switch to the LEE Marvin sound, you can forget the amp!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: how to get the Hank Marvin sounds?

Postby (vjf1968) » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:26 am

For the guitar you want a decent Strat with flatwound strings 11-52 if you want to be authentic, roundwound nickle strings 11-48 if you want to get close. Try the middle pick up for a real Hank sound.

For the amp, The Shadows used VOX AC30's with NO TOP BOOST in the early days but any AC30 or amp will do. You can find an AC30 cheap used.

For the delay you will need something like the following:
- http://www.catalinbread.com/Echorec
-http://proguitarshop.com/boss-re-20-roland-space-echo.html
-http://proguitarshop.com/line-6-dl4.html
-http://proguitarshop.com/vox-pedals-delay-lab.html

You will also need a compressor. There was always slight or agressive compression on Shadows recordings depending on the era. This was done at the board but you can simulate the sound with a basic compression pedal like this one http://proguitarshop.com/xotic-effects- ... essor.html

Chain should be:
Guitar>>>compressor>>>delay>>>>amp
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