Joined: Sep. 2004
||Posted: Mar. 20 2018, 04:18
In a similar vein to my Mike Oldfield synth timeline thread I made a few years back, I am also going to make a timeline of all of Mike's electric guitars and effects devices and rigs and where he had used them. However there is some uncertainty of exactly what he has used, especially in the 1980 "QE2" through 1987 "Islands" era. Before I get started on my timeline I would like to get some things cleared up:-
1) Was "Five Miles Out" the last Mike album to feature the 1965 Blonde Fender Telecaster until "Tubular Bells 2003"?
I have solved this. There is no evidence of the Tele on any track post "Five Miles Out" part from bits of "Amarok" and "Tubular Bells 2003".
2) What albums or/and songs was Mike's 1968 Black Beauty Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar used on? In the "Hergest Ridge" and "Ommadawn" eras Mike's main guitars were apparently the 1965 Blonde Fender Telecaster, 1957 TV Yellow Gibson Les Paul Junior, 1962 Cherry Red Gibson Les Paul SG Junior and 1966 Cherry Red Gibson SG Junior. However all of these guitars have single coil pickups and apart from the Tele are all P-90s. However some of the lead guitar sounds in "Hergest Ridge" as well as the double speed clarinet guitar in the build up to the end of "Ommadawn Part 1" sound very hard and sharp like a humbucker Gibson Les Paul Custom. Cleaner versions of those sounds also appear in "The Rio Grande", "Stars End" and the one off electric guitar solo near the end of "Orchestral Tubular Bells Part 2".
I have mostly solved this. Surprisingly the Black Beauty was only used on some bits of "Ommadawn" and some non-album tracks from 1975 and 1976.
3) Some pictures from the "Tubular Bells II" era show Mike with a Wine Red Gibson ES335 guitar. Was this actually used on "Tubular Bells II" or just for rehearsals or pleasure or "Tubular Bells II" demos or jotting ideas? Was the Gibson ES335 used on any Mike album?
4) Was "Amarok" the last ever Mike album to feature the 1963 Cherry Red Gibson Les Paul SG Junior guitar? Could it have been used on "Tubular Bells II"? There are no obvious SG P-90 pickup sounds at first glance however comparing the studio version of "Tubular Bells II" with the Edinburgh Castle Concert reveals that some of the distorted guitar sounds on the album sound considerably softer compared to the concert. This is the case for the big Farfisa Organ and synth driven "Sentinel" climax, power chords from "Sunjammer", the slide guitar at the end of "The Bell" and "Altered State". Were any of these the Gibson SG or Gibson ES335? Interestingly neither the Gibson ES335 or Gibson SG appear at the Edinburgh Castle Concert.
5) Were "Guitars" and "Tubular Bells 2003" the only albums to feature Mike's amber Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II guitar? This semi-acoustic guitar was also used on the "Then And Now Tour" including the New Year's Eve 1999 Concert at Berlin. However I am starting to wonder if this guitar was also used on "Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings" from "Voyager". Unusually for Mike, most of the distorted guitars on "Voyager" appear to be a David Gilmour-esque slightly overdriven Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster. However whilst I initially thought this sound was also present on "Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings", it sounds strangely both searing and airy, like an overdriven semi-acoustic guitar. Could the Gibson ES335 or PRS Hollowbody II guitar have been used on "Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings"?
6) Did Mike use his Gordon Smith or Veillette Citron electric guitars on "Islands" or any album or song at all?
7) Ant Glynne is credited as a guitar player on "Crises" whilst Rick Fenn is credited as a guitar player on "Five Miles Out", "Crises" and "Islands". Did any of these 2 guest guitarists play any guitar solos on "Five Miles Out", "Crises" or "Islands"? Did they duet with Mike on any guitar solos or did they just play rhythm guitar on those albums?
8) Was "On Horseback" from "Ommadawn" the only song were Mike used a slide? I know Mike at some point removed the frets from his 1960 Blonde Fender Precision bass guitar in between 1981 and 1990 when he made "Amarok", effectively creating a fretless Fender Precision bass guitar. This fretless bass guitar was used for the fretless bass line in the "Boat Reprise" section of "Amarok". But the very special gliding nature of this sound suggests a slide was also being used! The guitar sound from "Stars End", the end of "Ommadawn Part 1" guitar solo, the lead guitar throughout the "Heavens Open Title Track" and final electric guitar parts from "The Wind Chimes" and final guitar solo from "The Bell" also have a special gliding nature to them which reminds me of slide guitar.
9) Did Mike borrow any of Rick Fenn's electric guitars such as Rick's Washburn Wing Falcon for any of the guitar solos on "Five Miles Out", "Crises" or "Islands"? The Falcon was Rick's axe on the autumn leg of the 1980 "Platinum" tour and 1981 "QE2" tour. Possible suspects of Mike borrowing the Washburn Wing Falcon is a solo in "Taurus II" (at 5:38-6:14), a solo in "Crises Title Track" (at 11:12-12:57) and this part of "The Wind Chimes Part 2" (at 16:35-17:57).
10) What exactly did the Glorfindel Box do? There's not even any pictures of it anywhere! Most people reckon it was just a combined fuzz box and compression device but I've always thought there could be more to it. On "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", the 1975 David Bedford album were Mike played some guitar parts, David referred to the Glorfindel as "The Glorfindel Sound Machine" in the instruments list. The Glorfindel also seems to drastically alter the timbre of Mike's electric guitar sound. This was part of how he created the bagpipe sounds in "Tubular Bells Part 2", the "Thunderstorm" in "Hergest Ridge Part 2", the soprano clarinet in the build up to the finale of "Ommadawn Part 1", the swirling foggy guitars in the intro of "Ommadawn Part 2" and the beautiful woolly flute SG sound in the middle of "Mount Teide". Its possible that the Glorfindel had a filter or a frequency divider for this along with a muting effect, in effect making the Glorfindel an early version of a guitar synth or guitar remodelling unit. Tom Newman also described the Glorfindel as a "noise making device" and "like tuning a radio". Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that Mike didn't have any amps for the "Tubular Bells" demos and yet a lot of the guitar work sounds very resonant as though they were played through amps. The slightly overdriven mandolin guitar from "Peace Demo B" in particular has a brassy resonance to it. This suggests the Glorfindel had some resonance or reverb effects onboard.
11) Was "Ommadawn" the only album to feature the Gibson EB3 bass guitar? Could it have also have used on parts of "Hergest Ridge" such as the "Thunderstorm" and/or on the rocking parts of "Incantations"?
12) Was Mike's 1959 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster originally owned by Tim Renwick? When Mike's Sunburst Strat had its black scratchplate on, it looks very similar to the strat that Tim Renwick played on the 1982 Five Miles Out World Tour and 1982 Who's Next? tour.
I have solved this. Mike's Sunburst Strat was never Tim's. In 1982 Tim's Sunburst Strat had a maple neck whilst Mike's had a ebony neck in late 1982 and early 1983 and again after 1985.
13) Was the Natural Finish Höfner Shorty Super "Tubular Bells Guitar" used only on "Amarok"? I know this electric guitar was given to Mike by Virgin to celebrate the Tubular Bells 10th Anniversary in 1983 which suggests a possibility of it being used on "Discovery" or/and "Islands" as well. In the few solo guitar parts of "Amarok" that feature it, the hard and sharp sounds of the Höfner guitar sound very similar to the powerful distorted Gibson L6-S solos from "Incantations" and "Platinum" and there are plenty of L6-S/Höfner-esque hard and sharp distorted sounds all over "QE2", "Five Miles Out", "Crises", "Discovery" and "Islands" and "Amarok". This isn't too surprising since the Höfner shares many of the features of the L6-S such as the 24 fret neck, thin body and humbucking bridge pickup.
Mike's 1989 Vintage Yellow Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Signature guitar was the sole electric guitar on "Earth Moving" but this was only bought in 1989 so that also leaves the possibility of the Höfner Shorty Super guitar and/or an Gibson L6-S guitar being used for the 1988 "Earth Moving" demos. However on the few "Earth Moving" demos that I have heard ("Far Country", "Innocent" and "Earth Moving Title Track") the guitar sounds very similar to the final album. Then again that might just be the case if Mike already had the Roland GP-8 at this point.
14) Was the Natural Finish Gibson L6-S Deluxe replaced by the Höfner Shorty Super guitar prior to the 1989 Vintage Yellow Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Signature being acquired in 1989? There are plenty of photos which show Mike with the Höfner guitar from 1983 through 1990 but none with the L6-S Deluxe. On the other hand the "North Point" video shows Mike with an L6-S guitar once again. However it isn't the Natural Finish Gibson L6-S Deluxe which had earlier been customised by Tony Zemaitis in late 1979. Nor is it the Ebony Gibson L6-S Custom which apparently was only used as a spare guitar for the 1979 Exposed Concerts and was sold at the Abbey Road Sale in 1980. Its not very clearly shown, I admit, but this mysterious "North Point" L6-S appears to have a very rare Fire Engine Red finish on its body. Unusually for all electric guitars, this mysterious L6-S also appears to lack a scratchplate.
15) Was the mysterious "North Point" Fire Engine Red Gibson L6-S only used on "North Point"? What about the rest of "Islands" or even "Crises" or/and "Discovery" and non-album singles?
16) Was the Höfner Shorty Super guitar or any Gibson L6-S used for non-album singles such as "Jungle Gardenia", "Afghan" or "In The Pool", or "Pictures In The Dark"? The video for the latter wrongly suggests the Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster guitar was used! Since the highest notes of the "Pictures In The Dark" lead guitar are beyond the strats natural 21 fret range this would have been impossible unless the solo was sped up. I know Mike's 1957 TV Yellow Gibson Les Paul Junior guitar had a 24 fret neck which would allow for very high notes but even the very high pitched guitar solos from "Mirage" and "To France" sound much softer compared to the hard and very sharp guitar solos in "Jungle Gardenia", "Afghan", "In The Pool" and "Pictures In The Dark".
Surprisingly neither the 1957 TV Yellow Gibson Les Paul Junior or Natural Finish Gibson L6-S Deluxe guitars appear in the pictures of the "Boxed" booklet. Incidentally, the Hammond Organ, Farfisa Professional Duo Organ, Gemini Organ, Lowrey Organ and Roland SH2000 synth are also all missing from the "Boxed" booklet pictures.
17) The hard and sharp "Jungle Gardenia", "In The Pool" and "Pictures In The Dark" guitar sounds are like a dark and powerful distorted Gibson L6-S (reminiscent of "First Excursion", much of "Incantations", "Platinum" and the end of "Orabidoo" and "Mount Teide") but at the same time it also sounds like a guitar being played through a Roland GR-100 guitar synthesizer like "Poison Arrows" and "Shine". However to my limited knowledge non of Mike's L6-S guitars were ever fitted with synth pickups. On the other hand are synth pickups the only way to play a guitar synthesizer?
The live Edinburgh Castle 1992 performance of "Tubular Bells II" shows some strange events. In "The Bell" Mike apparently plays the "2 slightly sampled electric guitars" part with his Vintage Yellow PRS Custom 24 Signature guitar and he is also shown apparently playing a synth flute from "Altered State" at 0:43 through 0:47 into the song with the Vintage Yellow PRS Custom 24 Signature as well even though this guitar didn't have a synth pickup on it.
Also, in this awesome "Weightless" cover video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiLFDqMUpjM from 0:43 through 2:23, José Manuel Guerra appears to be controlling a guitar synthesizer with an Epiphone SG Custom guitar without a synth pickup.
"It is good to be on Horseback" - Mike Oldfield "On Horseback"
"(Insert "The Thunderstorm" here)"