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GP Flashback Paul Simon June 1970

October 12, 2010
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Paul_Simon5_nrWhat type of guitar do you use when you play “Angie”?

It’s a Guild—a D-30.   

What type of strings do you use?

I use D'Aquisto, light gauge.   

On “Baby Driver,” did you play solidbody electric?

On “Baby Driver,” that’s all me, but I don’t think I played any electric guitar on the album.

Do you have a few arpeggios or types of strums you use?

I use different types. On “The Boxer,” I use Travis picking.

Did you compose the piano part on the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water”?

No, I didn't write the piano part—that’s Larry Knechtel. The chords are mine, but the piano is really Larry’s part.

Is that the way you worked most of the album? Did most of the musicians arrange their own parts?

It depends. We give the musicians as much freedom to play as we possibly can. Sometimes, we have a suggestion, but most of the time we let them play. They’re all good musicians. It’s more fun that way. You can’t put somebody in a prison and make them play.

Do you use any other tunings, other than standard?

Occasionally, I use another tuning. “Baby Driver” is in DADGAD.   

Is that a folk tuning?

It’s a modal tuning, but I’m not sure where it comes from. The guy who showed it to me was a guy named Sandy Darlington. He showed it to me years ago when I was living in England.

I suppose you have to devise a whole new set of finger positions to use with it.

Yeah. You can’t play the straight fingerings. It is similar to a D tuning, but it’s a little bit different.

From the June 1970 issue of Guitar Player


Check out another feature from this GP Flashback series: Bob Brozman on Open-G Around the World

Phil-Ramone-Head-Shot

In The Studio With Paul Simon

Producer Phil Ramone speaks with JBL Professional’s Peter Chaikin about sessions with Paul Simon

PC: Phil, when did you first work with Paul?
 
PR: The first time I met Paul was when we did a song called “Me and Julio” on his first solo album. His ability not only to know how to be a great songwriter, but also his instinct about how he plays guitar – and the things we tried on that record, which became iconic in itself, just the sound of a solid body guitar, never turning on the amp – he played acoustic with the other guy playing an un-amped solid body - made those percussion sounds on “Me And Julio.” We had a great time working on that record. And then I started working on There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and subsequent albums.
 
PC: In his tunes, Paul’s guitar seems to be an inseparable part of the song itself.
 
PR: The thing about Paul, the most inviting part, is when he gives you the trust to hear a song in its formative state, playing the song on the guitar and singing.  I think a lot of people know that he plays good guitar but don’t realize how REALLY good he plays. Over the years I’ve watched him create, not only from a musical point of view, but also his intense work on great chord progressions and voicing. He’s the maestro of that. Those that play guitar understand after a while, it’s not just “one, four, five” or combinations thereof that make for a great song. We just finished this album - we spent all year. We’ve spent a lot of years in and out of making records. I think we see eye to eye. (Producer/engineer) Roy Halee who made those historic records with Simon and Garfunkle was also a part of Paul’s solo career. In all these records, the guitar is one of the great elements, especially on ballads. Paul’s really fussy about how we mic the instrument. You really hear the intensity of how musical it is. Paul’s mastered not only the acoustic but he’s really quite efficient on the electric and understands the various sounds that come from the instrument. For him it’s organic. And for me, as a person who works closely with the songwriter, it’s the life and blood of what a song is about. I think he’s the maestro.

 

 Phil-Frank-Graceland

Left to Right: Engineer Frank Filipetti, and Phil Ramone use JBL LSR6300 Series studio monitors to produce the 5.1 surround sound mixes of Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

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