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640786 Posts in 25595 Topics by 3639 Members - Latest Member: treblephone December 10, 2018, 12:48:56 PM
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Author Topic: Barney Kessel WIBN Mandolin Found AND Sold Nov 10th...But the mystery deepens...  (Read 2850 times)
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« Reply #75 on: December 05, 2018, 05:42:30 PM »

I wouldn't completely rule out a bellzouki, except I really don't think they sound all that unique.  The one time I had a chance to play one, it was unplugged, and pretty much sounded like any other 12-string.  That said, there's a sliver of possibility.

Regarding Barney having problems with playing the intro phrase,  whether it was unfamiliar instrument issues or having a bad day or whatever...

Hal Blaine was messing up his entrances and transitions all over that session, and his intro was as basic and simple as Brian repeatedly sang it for him on the talkback. "Bom.....ba-bum" and Hal kept messing it up.

And it cannot be said Hal was playing an unfamiliar instrument.  Smiley

Wouldn't you say Hal's issues were more due to a communication problem between he and Brian, whereas Barney knows what he's supposed to play but sucks at it.
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« Reply #76 on: December 05, 2018, 06:41:01 PM »

I wouldn't completely rule out a bellzouki, except I really don't think they sound all that unique.  The one time I had a chance to play one, it was unplugged, and pretty much sounded like any other 12-string.  That said, there's a sliver of possibility.

Regarding Barney having problems with playing the intro phrase,  whether it was unfamiliar instrument issues or having a bad day or whatever...

Hal Blaine was messing up his entrances and transitions all over that session, and his intro was as basic and simple as Brian repeatedly sang it for him on the talkback. "Bom.....ba-bum" and Hal kept messing it up.

And it cannot be said Hal was playing an unfamiliar instrument.  Smiley

Wouldn't you say Hal's issues were more due to a communication problem between he and Brian, whereas Barney knows what he's supposed to play but sucks at it.

Hal did keep playing the wrong pattern repeatedly, after Brian sang it to him repeatedly, and a few of the drum fills and transitions were off time or simply wrong as well. The only thing Hal needed the headphones for was to hear the timing on the countoff, but that's not the same as playing the wrong patterns multiple times. It felt just like the deal with messing up the intro, it just didn't seem like Hal to miss cues and fills as he did on that session. You can hear the tension throughout the session as well, when Brian has to keep telling him what to play.
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« Reply #77 on: December 05, 2018, 06:49:13 PM »

My opinion:

The instrument is acoustic, not electric/plugged in.

The instrument has some octave sounds.

Possible guess (I know this will be controversial):

Bellzouki unplugged, close miked. This easily could have happened (Barney was practicing, BW liked the unplugged sound and went for that, everyone forgot later and assumed it was the mandolin, etc. Ösomething like that).


I'm told Bellzoukis are relatively easy to play high up the neck, yet Barney struggles and struggles with this instrument...

If he's playing it in the way I imagine, it's pretty high up there, past where the body meets the neck (which would become more difficult on a bolt-on neck).

But this brings up an interesting point: he struggles to play it. I would think this would be relevant regardless of instrument -- he would be familiar with playing his instruments. Any chance it is not Barney after all, or is that not a possibility?

Worth noting is a Bellzouki was designed a sort of 12-string/mandolin hybrid, and was based on a boukouki, which is similar to a mandolin. In my experience, Danelectro guitars sound pretty "woody" unplugged.

In theory, it could be any of the guitarists on the session, Barney, Jerry Cole, Ray Pohlman, or Bill Pitman.

Jerry has taken credit for playing on the intro, and Barney has been credited in the third person by Brian.

Technically, we should say that the intro is played by both Barney AND Jerry, since it's a two-part piece. When Barney's name was mentioned to Brian back in '96, he immediately praised him for playing the intro to WIBN, and made special note of his "ringy-ding" guitar.


I'm glad Donny mentioned it because I was thinking the same thing. Just as pure speculation - How do we know for absolute sure it was Barney playing the intro? I'll have to dig up the Brian quotes too, I do remember him saying that years before the book. But is there a possibility it was one of the other guitarists on a 12-string instead?

And I also remember Carole Kaye saying there were two 12-strings there, and I also wondered about the "ringy-ding guitar" description...the piece is a shuffle, is there anywhere else audible on the sessions or track where a mandolin-type instrument could be strumming chords like a rhythm guitar part doing the "ringy-dink-a-ringy-dink" alongside the archtop acoustic? I don't recall them, but other ears may spot them if there are any. And I remember years ago when the track was new to me thinking that a mandolin was joining in when the song hits the ritardando/slowdown section "you know it seems the more we talk about it...", when the accordions are bellows-shaking like mad, and it creates the sound of a tremolo-picked mandolin the type which you'd picture in the Godfather soundtrack. I thought it was an mandolin tremolo-picked in that cluster of instruments back then.

Just free-wheeling comments and observations I'm throwing out to consider.
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"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #78 on: December 05, 2018, 07:12:24 PM »

Here are the relevant Brian quotes:

In the premier issue of "Break Away with Brian Wilson" (Summer 1996), which was the BW fan club newsletter, there was an "Ask Brian" corner. Someone wrote and asked, "What is the instrument that starts 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'?" Brian's reply was, "It's two guitars - one played high up on the neck and the other one played regular."

In issue No. 4 (Fall 1997), he wrote little notes to many of the musicians who played on "Pet Sounds". For Barney Kessel, he wrote, "Thank you for your happy guitar on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'. It brought a kind of ring-a-ding sound. It gives people a boost, a real good boost." Barney was still alive at the time. Based on this, I would be inclined to credit Barney with the dominate guitar part in the intro...whatever kind of guitar it may have been!

From the box set book, Brian on musicians -
Barney Kessel: "Wow, he was dynamite. Just a really amazing guitar player; that guy was dynamite. He played the introduction on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'. Whew! Jazz guitar, any kind of guitar you want, he could play."


And yes, I used to think it was mandolins playing that slow part, until I read that it was the accordions doing a full-bellows shake.
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« Reply #79 on: December 05, 2018, 07:25:21 PM »

Oh, and Hal's problems with the drum entrance we're due to misunderstanding what Brian wanted, whereas Barney's problems were clearly instrument-related. Smiley
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« Reply #80 on: December 05, 2018, 08:02:27 PM »

Here are the relevant Brian quotes:

In the premier issue of "Break Away with Brian Wilson" (Summer 1996), which was the BW fan club newsletter, there was an "Ask Brian" corner. Someone wrote and asked, "What is the instrument that starts 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'?" Brian's reply was, "It's two guitars - one played high up on the neck and the other one played regular."

In issue No. 4 (Fall 1997), he wrote little notes to many of the musicians who played on "Pet Sounds". For Barney Kessel, he wrote, "Thank you for your happy guitar on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'. It brought a kind of ring-a-ding sound. It gives people a boost, a real good boost." Barney was still alive at the time. Based on this, I would be inclined to credit Barney with the dominate guitar part in the intro...whatever kind of guitar it may have been!

From the box set book, Brian on musicians -
Barney Kessel: "Wow, he was dynamite. Just a really amazing guitar player; that guy was dynamite. He played the introduction on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice'. Whew! Jazz guitar, any kind of guitar you want, he could play."


And yes, I used to think it was mandolins playing that slow part, until I read that it was the accordions doing a full-bellows shake.

Yes, there was one of the contradictions when Brian says it was two guitars.


Oh, and Hal's problems with the drum entrance we're due to misunderstanding what Brian wanted, whereas Barney's problems were clearly instrument-related. Smiley


A misunderstanding? I guess Brian didn't sing it to him enough times to get "bum...da dum" happening in the intro? And how about the other sections where Hal misses cues? It's out of character because a lot of the band seemed to be on point hitting the different transitions, the tympani needed a clarification to lessen the fills then was OK, but Hal missed a few you wouldn't normally expect since he was usually rock-solid.

Maybe he was using a hybrid drum on this one.  LOL
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« Reply #81 on: December 05, 2018, 08:06:23 PM »


Yes, there was one of the contradictions when Brian says it was two guitars.


Well, I don't really see it as a contradiction - two guitars play the intro piece, right?  The dominant one we've been discussing, which Brian credits to Barney Keseel, and then presumably Jerry Cole's electric 12-string playing the supporting role.
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« Reply #82 on: December 05, 2018, 08:11:50 PM »


Yes, there was one of the contradictions when Brian says it was two guitars.


Well, I don't really see it as a contradiction - two guitars play the intro piece, right?  The dominant one we've been discussing, which Brian credits to Barney Keseel, and then presumably Jerry Cole's electric 12-string playing the supporting role.

But do you think Brian would not know the difference between seeing Barney playing a mandolin style instrument and a guitar, and would say as much when asked as he was asked and replied to the question? If we're speculating that Brian asked Barney to detune, restring, and alter in some way this mandolin to play the intro, Brian would surely know the difference between a mandolin and a guitar if he could ask Barney such a thing on a session. And, one is about 3/4's smaller than the other lol.
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ďSome people think you have to knock somebody down in order to build yourself up, I donít look at it that way. To the mentality that likes to disparage other people, I say perhaps you should get a life. Itís just wrong thinking in my opinion and I donít mind saying that.Ē - Mike Love

"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #83 on: December 05, 2018, 09:37:53 PM »


Yes, there was one of the contradictions when Brian says it was two guitars.


Well, I don't really see it as a contradiction - two guitars play the intro piece, right?  The dominant one we've been discussing, which Brian credits to Barney Keseel, and then presumably Jerry Cole's electric 12-string playing the supporting role.

But do you think Brian would not know the difference between seeing Barney playing a mandolin style instrument and a guitar, and would say as much when asked as he was asked and replied to the question? If we're speculating that Brian asked Barney to detune, restring, and alter in some way this mandolin to play the intro, Brian would surely know the difference between a mandolin and a guitar if he could ask Barney such a thing on a session. And, one is about 3/4's smaller than the other lol.

Yeah, but would he remember or feel like explaining all that 30 years later?  He had parts written for two guitars, and one of them was played by a Mando-guitar hybrid strung and tuned like a guitar, so in those short little quotes, it was easier just to say "two guitars" and "guitar with a ring-a-ding sound".
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« Reply #84 on: December 06, 2018, 05:29:09 AM »


A misunderstanding? I guess Brian didn't sing it to him enough times to get "bum...da dum" happening in the intro? And how about the other sections where Hal misses cues? It's out of character because a lot of the band seemed to be on point hitting the different transitions, the tympani needed a clarification to lessen the fills then was OK, but Hal missed a few you wouldn't normally expect since he was usually rock-solid.

Maybe he was using a hybrid drum on this one.  LOL

I'm starting to think you're putting us on....

You really don't see a difference between having difficulty translating Brian's yelling "ka pow" and even burping what he wanted, and trying to play something that you understand how to play but it's hard?  It's not like Hal's dropping his sticks or whiffing when he aims for the snare drum.
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« Reply #85 on: December 06, 2018, 05:30:33 AM »


Yes, there was one of the contradictions when Brian says it was two guitars.


Well, I don't really see it as a contradiction - two guitars play the intro piece, right?  The dominant one we've been discussing, which Brian credits to Barney Keseel, and then presumably Jerry Cole's electric 12-string playing the supporting role.

But do you think Brian would not know the difference between seeing Barney playing a mandolin style instrument and a guitar, and would say as much when asked as he was asked and replied to the question? If we're speculating that Brian asked Barney to detune, restring, and alter in some way this mandolin to play the intro, Brian would surely know the difference between a mandolin and a guitar if he could ask Barney such a thing on a session. And, one is about 3/4's smaller than the other lol.

Yeah, but would he remember or feel like explaining all that 30 years later?  He had parts written for two guitars, and one of them was played by a Mando-guitar hybrid strung and tuned like a guitar, so in those short little quotes, it was easier just to say "two guitars" and "guitar with a ring-a-ding sound".

I mean, we've been calling it a mando-guitar all this time.  It really is more guitar than mandolin if we think about the sort of essential qualities of both instruments.
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« Reply #86 on: December 06, 2018, 08:40:07 AM »


Yes, there was one of the contradictions when Brian says it was two guitars.


Well, I don't really see it as a contradiction - two guitars play the intro piece, right?  The dominant one we've been discussing, which Brian credits to Barney Keseel, and then presumably Jerry Cole's electric 12-string playing the supporting role.

But do you think Brian would not know the difference between seeing Barney playing a mandolin style instrument and a guitar, and would say as much when asked as he was asked and replied to the question? If we're speculating that Brian asked Barney to detune, restring, and alter in some way this mandolin to play the intro, Brian would surely know the difference between a mandolin and a guitar if he could ask Barney such a thing on a session. And, one is about 3/4's smaller than the other lol.

Yeah, but would he remember or feel like explaining all that 30 years later?  He had parts written for two guitars, and one of them was played by a Mando-guitar hybrid strung and tuned like a guitar, so in those short little quotes, it was easier just to say "two guitars" and "guitar with a ring-a-ding sound".

I'm just suggesting for the discussion that if we want to speculate to the point of assuming Brian instructed Barney to make modifications to an instrument that looks nothing like a guitar, and looks everything like a mandolin, he'd know the difference between the two (which obviously he does since the mandolin shows up elsewhere on the same album IIRC) enough to state as much when asked about it. He said two guitars, one played high up the neck and the other regular, and that would be exactly how the intro would have been done with two 12-string guitars if that's what happened.

I'm just putting it on the table that there is a slight possibility Barney (or whoever else) may have been playing a Danelectro Bellzouki, which as we know from various studio photos was used in the studios at this exact time by various guitarists.

It's not enough hard evidence to dismiss anything and say Brian may have directed Barney to alter his mandolin instrument to play this part, yet dismiss how when asked about it Brian instead described what would have been "two guitars" with one played high up the neck and the other played regular.

And I also wonder at this point if a photo circa 1966 showing Barney holding a Danelectro Bellzouki in the studio had instead been included in the PS Sessions package, whether the speculation would have gone the way of saying that's what Barney played on the intro.

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ďSome people think you have to knock somebody down in order to build yourself up, I donít look at it that way. To the mentality that likes to disparage other people, I say perhaps you should get a life. Itís just wrong thinking in my opinion and I donít mind saying that.Ē - Mike Love

"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #87 on: December 06, 2018, 08:44:24 AM »


A misunderstanding? I guess Brian didn't sing it to him enough times to get "bum...da dum" happening in the intro? And how about the other sections where Hal misses cues? It's out of character because a lot of the band seemed to be on point hitting the different transitions, the tympani needed a clarification to lessen the fills then was OK, but Hal missed a few you wouldn't normally expect since he was usually rock-solid.

Maybe he was using a hybrid drum on this one.  LOL

I'm starting to think you're putting us on....

You really don't see a difference between having difficulty translating Brian's yelling "ka pow" and even burping what he wanted, and trying to play something that you understand how to play but it's hard?  It's not like Hal's dropping his sticks or whiffing when he aims for the snare drum.

No put-on at all, just running a lot of scenarios through the process to try ruling out those which are less likely - Part of the usual process of debating and discussing in terms of research and trying to make conclusive statements when looking at history in general and trying to come to a solid conclusion, or at least a solid hypothesis after ruling out the chaff.

In this case, to my ears after hearing hours of Hal Blaine working in the studio with a myriad of artists via session tapes over the years, it felt like Hal was missing more cues and parts than he usually did, and the parts he was missing were really not that complex compared to other sessions where he'd nail it in one take. That's my opinion.
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ďSome people think you have to knock somebody down in order to build yourself up, I donít look at it that way. To the mentality that likes to disparage other people, I say perhaps you should get a life. Itís just wrong thinking in my opinion and I donít mind saying that.Ē - Mike Love

"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #88 on: December 06, 2018, 09:41:18 AM »

Guitarfool, at the top of this thread, you wrote:  "However, for the film the choice was made to use another instrument, a 12-string Danelectro electric hybrid called a Bellzouki, for aesthetic reasons in that it looked more futuristic, and at the time of filming a mandolin as shown in the photo was not available to use. Again, this was firsthand information."  I read this as you're saying someone involved with the film told you that they believed that a Mando-guitar was used on the actual session - care to expand on that?  Did they say how they came to this understanding?

Also, I wish we had the scale length for that neck, but I don't see it on the auction page...


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« Reply #89 on: December 06, 2018, 10:51:29 AM »

Guitarfool, at the top of this thread, you wrote:  "However, for the film the choice was made to use another instrument, a 12-string Danelectro electric hybrid called a Bellzouki, for aesthetic reasons in that it looked more futuristic, and at the time of filming a mandolin as shown in the photo was not available to use. Again, this was firsthand information."  I read this as you're saying someone involved with the film told you that they believed that a Mando-guitar was used on the actual session - care to expand on that?  Did they say how they came to this understanding?

Also, I wish we had the scale length for that neck, but I don't see it on the auction page...




Scale would be helpful.  The Gold Tone Mando-Guitars range from about 14 to about 17.5, depending on the model (and which tailpiece it has).  If Barney's neck was closer to 17.5, it's really not that much shorter than, say, a Rick 325, which is like, 20.5.

If you look at my own journey of understanding--which is all here on this board, you'll see that for a long time I assumed/went-with it being a Fender XII.  The reason being it seemed like the simplest explanation.  I never thought the photo of Barney holding the mando-guitar was any evidence for it being on WIBN or even on a Beach Boys track.

But the more I listened to the session, the more I couldn't rectify the fact that the instrument doesn't sound like a 12-string guitar. 

Then GF came along with the info from Love and Mercy, and it caused me to rethink things.  If it doesn't sound like a standard guitar, maybe it just isn't a standard guitar?  I never thought it was anything like a standard mandolin, because you can hear the octave courses so obviously, even without listening to the session.  This got me thinking about something like the Vox Mandoguitar--but there are issues with that, both chronologically and organologically, again, because the open g-string moment.

But then this auction happened, and it was really GF Craig's argument that, to be advertised as being played on the session, they'd really have to have done their due diligence that convinced me that this is it.  Combined with the long oral tradition, e.g., that one reference to Kessel's son saying his dad had played a mandolin on WIBN, among other off-handed, anecdotal mentions, it really is the simplest answer.

I'm not saying it is the answer.  Just that it deserves more than a "no way."
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« Reply #90 on: December 06, 2018, 11:10:33 AM »


Combined with the long oral tradition, e.g., that one reference to Kessel's son saying his dad had played a mandolin on WIBN, among other off-handed, anecdotal mentions, it really is the simplest answer.


That, plus the instrument in question is identified as the Gibson Mando-guitar in "I Am Brian Wilson". Not conclusive, but more weight in its favor.
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« Reply #91 on: December 06, 2018, 11:18:44 AM »


Combined with the long oral tradition, e.g., that one reference to Kessel's son saying his dad had played a mandolin on WIBN, among other off-handed, anecdotal mentions, it really is the simplest answer.


That, plus the instrument in question is identified as the Gibson Mando-guitar in "I Am Brian Wilson". Not conclusive, but more weight in its favor.


I'd forgotten about that!

Yeah, to wit, at page 178:

"On the intro I had Barney Kessel playing this really great guitar he had, a one-of-a-kind twelve-string mando-guitar built by Gibson.  It sounded like nothing else.  He played right into the board."

Brian's memoirs have traditionally needed to be read skeptically when it comes to details, but it can't be swept aside with zero consideration.
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« Reply #92 on: December 07, 2018, 11:41:42 AM »


Combined with the long oral tradition, e.g., that one reference to Kessel's son saying his dad had played a mandolin on WIBN, among other off-handed, anecdotal mentions, it really is the simplest answer.


That, plus the instrument in question is identified as the Gibson Mando-guitar in "I Am Brian Wilson". Not conclusive, but more weight in its favor.


I'd forgotten about that!

Yeah, to wit, at page 178:

"On the intro I had Barney Kessel playing this really great guitar he had, a one-of-a-kind twelve-string mando-guitar built by Gibson.  It sounded like nothing else.  He played right into the board."

Brian's memoirs have traditionally needed to be read skeptically when it comes to details, but it can't be swept aside with zero consideration.

Yes, and even in that statement from the book there is another contradiction: "He played right into the board". Barney's mando-guitar is purely acoustic, with no signs of having been "electrified" at some point. Could there have been a D'Armond or similar pickup attached as I speculated earlier? Yes - I think. But I'm not sure of their configurations or how they might be attached temporarily versus drilled into the instrument and mounted. That part of it, I have to check further.

But again, weigh even Brian's quote in the book as a contradiction between what was just sold as *the* WIBN mando-guitar which was purely acoustic in design, versus plugging something direct into the board, which an electric instrument like the Bellzouki would do.

And note the photo dating from the mid-60's of Barney holding the mando-guitar shows it mic'ed up and being played as it is - purely acoustic.

It just adds further to the doubts in my mind.
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"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #93 on: December 07, 2018, 02:07:41 PM »

I have to admit that I think it's the Mando-guitar, but probably mic'd rather than direct.
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« Reply #94 on: December 07, 2018, 02:15:38 PM »

I have to admit that I think it's the Mando-guitar, but probably mic'd rather than direct.

Mic-ed in the booth?
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« Reply #95 on: December 07, 2018, 02:35:39 PM »

Also, is anybody actually a member at the auction site?  It would REALLY REALLY behoove us to see the photo of Barney holding the instrument with the background not blacked out.  I mean, I just wanna see it, but on the off chance there are, say two accordion players back there, there you go.
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« Reply #96 on: December 07, 2018, 03:04:30 PM »

I have to admit that I think it's the Mando-guitar, but probably mic'd rather than direct.

Mic-ed in the booth?

Not likely the control booth, but rather an iso booth or adjacent room. 
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« Reply #97 on: December 07, 2018, 03:22:01 PM »

I am a member - I'm not sure if they have a non-altered version available for the public due to usage rights and all that. I'm assuming the blacked-out version is what they received in order to list for the auction but could be wrong. Did you want me to drop them a line? Might be a longshot since the auction already happened weeks ago.

Can you post the direct link where you found it, or was it just in the general listing?
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ďSome people think you have to knock somebody down in order to build yourself up, I donít look at it that way. To the mentality that likes to disparage other people, I say perhaps you should get a life. Itís just wrong thinking in my opinion and I donít mind saying that.Ē - Mike Love

"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #98 on: December 07, 2018, 03:25:54 PM »

Also, consider if Barney were mic'ed up for the session you'd hear more than just the live feed going into the echo chamber, which is what we hear most on those session tapes. You literally don't hear anything but the strings, and if it were close-mic'ed it would be reasonable to assume the mic would pick up more noise and various sounds.

The description given for a long time of this session was that the guitars were plugged in direct and were in the control room cutting the tracks due to the limited space at Gold Star on the studio floor. That's the scenario replicated in the L&M film for what it's worth.
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ďSome people think you have to knock somebody down in order to build yourself up, I donít look at it that way. To the mentality that likes to disparage other people, I say perhaps you should get a life. Itís just wrong thinking in my opinion and I donít mind saying that.Ē - Mike Love

"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #99 on: December 07, 2018, 03:28:07 PM »

I am a member - I'm not sure if they have a non-altered version available for the public due to usage rights and all that. I'm assuming the blacked-out version is what they received in order to list for the auction but could be wrong. Did you want me to drop them a line? Might be a longshot since the auction already happened weeks ago.

Can you post the direct link where you found it, or was it just in the general listing?

I found a way to contact them without signing up and did so.  We'll see if they respond.
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