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Neil Young's '59 Deluxe

6/26/2003 6:38 PM
Neil Young's '59 Deluxe
Hi all,  
Has anyone attempted, or been successful, in getting the sound Neil Young gets from his one-of-a-kind '59 Deluxe? Other than being modded to 6L6's from 6V6's for more power, apparently it is stock, no pedals or external devices. My stock '55 just does'nt get the same clear, rich harmonic distortion. Any ideas?  
6/26/2003 7:10 PM
kluson guy
Who says Neil doesn't use pedals and external devices?  
There is the Fender reverb unit that is first in the signal chain. An echoplex, plus an assortment of old pedals on his pedal board. Neil also has the "Whizzer" a mechanical device that dials "preset" configurations of the volume knobs for different levels of clarity/compression.  
Try a boosted signal, maybe a compression pedal) on the front end of your '55 and see if you get a bit more Neil in the tone.
6/26/2003 7:23 PM

I have a long article that Guitar Player did many years ago on Neil, with a pretty good discussion of his amp. He said he bought it in '67 for $50! He brought it home, plugged in a guitar and the walls started vibrating...  
He's got some "Rube Goldberg" contraption that sits on top called the "Whizzer" that basically turns the volume & tone knobs to about 3 or 4 basic settings, such as clean at 4, punchy at 8, and "over the top" around 10 - or something along those lines. It's sort of a hightech/ lowtech solution for what modern amps do with channel switching.  
That is his main amp, and the rest of his live sound is other amps and the PA tied in.  
Why doesn't yours sound like his?  
Kind of a loaded question :)  
The '55 is a little different circuit than the 5E3, isn't it?  
That's part of it, plus the fact that older amps generally had wider swings in the tolerances of the components.  
And Neil does use a few pedals, but I don't remember specifically if they're tied in to the Deluxe..  
Still, that being said, with good tubes, the right speaker, and the amp in good working condition, you should be able to get darn close....  
I have his "Weld" cd, and it has pictures on the cover from that tour. He had huge reproductions of the front of a Deluxe on the stage, about 10' tall. I thought that looked pretty cool.  
6/26/2003 10:01 PM

I have the Guitar Player issue with the article, I also have all the effects as listed in the article (execpt the wizzer, which is not in the signal path)as well. As far I can research, the '55 and the '59 both use the same 5E3 circuit. Try listening to "Mother Earth" on Ragged Glory, the tone is incredible! I can get something like maybe 60%,of that, but the missing 40%? Guess I'll just keep experimenting...  
6/26/2003 8:08 PM

I have that album, so I'll give a listen. 'Course, the other part of the equation is that black LP he plays most of the time. I think I remember him saying the pickup is microphonic...  
On his live stuff, his sound has so many other things in the mix that it's hard to say where the Deluxe is in all that.  
Still: LP/ good tweed amp/ some delay and OD, should get you close
6/27/2003 2:45 AM

once I got home I had a chance to check this:  
According to Weber's first book, 5E3's were made from '56 to '57. I don't want to go into all the little differences, but I did notice that he said the 5E3 was the first one without a negative feedback loop, and that, to me would make a difference in the tone.  
Actually, if your tube chart is still legible, that's a quick way to check the circuit.  
Again, though, I've heard the early, wide panel Deluxes sound great...
6/27/2003 7:20 AM
It was actually guitar guru Sal Trentino who built neils whizzer. His guitar goes into a tube reverb unit first then his custom big red pedalboard which uses relays to activate the pedals, and then into the deluxe. Neil actually dropped his amp down the stairs when he first got it, I kid you not, and believes this may be a reason why it sounds so cool. His pedals include and old Mutron octave divider (rust never sleeps), an analog delay, and an alesis microverb he steps on to sound like the end of the world!!! His guitar is an old LP goldtop oversprayed black, but with a Firebird pickup in it that is very microphonic. Neil says you can talk into it, it's that sensitive. I'd recommend reading Neils biography 'Shakey' by Jimmy McDonough I think. It's got a fair bit of info about his gear and is an interesting read anyway!  

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