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  1. #1

    Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Ultra smooth, dark, sweet overdrive tone like on the song "bad company" or "can't get enough"...any ideas? He has a few LP/s?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GazNjp0Jt7A

    One more question, Howard Leese using a vintage Les Paul here( before he "switched"?)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYd8XQb8DOQ
    Last edited by oceantoad; 05-16-12 at 08:31 PM.

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    I though that I'd read he used a Junior and an old Esquire on the 1st album?

  3. #3

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    A favorite tone of mine on "Can't Get Enough", likely a simple formula too. Great guitar > cool amp > (don't discount the affect of open G tuning on this track) > cool old mic, not too close. Recipe for big tone IMO.
    That break in the arrangement for the big chords really drives it home for me.

    George

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member spidey's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Loved Mick's playing in the 70s Bad Co. Awesome wide slow lazy vibrato.
    Great tones too. Yes he used LPs, Juniors, Strats and all sorts with Bad Co. Seemed to remember he used MXR pedals, Marshalls sometimes Ampeg amps!

  5. #5
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    On the first Badco album, the open C tunes "Movin On" & "Can't Get Enough" were done with a '57 Esquire. Its the same guitar Mick Ralphs used on the Mott album playing "All The Way From Memphis", and one that he still tours with. In the old days it had a humbucker set into the middle position. The original bridge, plate and pickup was left untouched. I assume it was wired like a standard Tele. Junior was used for solos and thicker chords like on the song "Bad Company" and "Rock Steady". In interviews he said he used a Marshall. Live backline were Ampeg V4 stacks and SVT/V4B's for the bass rig.
    Last edited by lpnv59; 05-17-12 at 07:15 AM.
    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  6. #6

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    School me on this - I always heard he used some type of open C tuning on a lot of those hits. It soes sound like a Les Paulbridge pickup with the tone controls rolled off to about midway, give or take.

  7. #7
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by ES335TD View Post
    School me on this - I always heard he used some type of open C tuning on a lot of those hits. It soes sound like a Les Paulbridge pickup with the tone controls rolled off to about midway, give or take.
    C-C-G-C-E-G played on a Fender thru a cranked Marshall or Ampeg V4 stacks

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4sKd...eature=related
    Last edited by lpnv59; 05-17-12 at 07:09 AM.
    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  8. #8
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Fascinating...no wonder I could never get those tunes to sound quite right!

  9. #9
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Open C uses the same fingering as open G. If you tune open G with a capo at the 3rd fret, it'll sound similar. But open C is really chimey sounding with that wide open first chord.
    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  10. #10
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    I never paid that much attention to what he was using 'cause I just assumed he was always playing a Les Paul. Tunings? cool info.

    Thanks for that.

    Way underrated guitarist because he's rarely "flashy".

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member BGReed2's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Great thread, Greg. I listened to Kossoff so much during my formative years that my vibrato was very fast, but when I heard Mick's "wide, slow, lazy vibrato" (starting on his Mott stuff) it turned my head. I've been trying to slow my vibrato down ever since!

    I have also heard that he recorded at a very high volume, as well. LPNV59 nailed it.
    "Know tubes, know tone. No tubes, no tone"

  12. #12
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    That open C tuning is cool, but you have to use light strings on the inside strings to do it. He talked about it in a guitar mag a few years ago. You tune the outside "E" strings DOWN two steps to C, tune the 5th string up a step and a half to C, and tune the remaing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings up a full 2 1/2 steps. This gives you the equivalent of a third fret barre "C" chord for the middle four strings when you hit an open chord, and the outside C strings are lowered as drone strings. The inside strings have higher tension, as they are tuned up a fourth, and the outside strings are slack. He said he used a .009 set, but I think you'd have to put heavier strings on the two outside strings, as the first and 6th strings in a .009 set get way slack when tuned down two steps. I tried it once, and it sounded just like the studio guitar sounds on those songs where he used that tuning. I did end up putting an .011 on for the first string, and a .050 for the sixth (although he really didn't hit the 6th string much from what I hear on those songs, at some point you can hear that drone of the low C on the open chords, but I think he just avoided hitting the low C very often). The combo of the tight inside strings and slackened outside strings gives that cool sound that tuning has.

    One note: I just saw a recent Bad Company reunion show on TV the other night from a couple of years ago, and he didn't use the C tuning at all. I could see he did what a lot of guys do, he played it in regular tuning, doing the chordal licks on just the 2-3-4 strings, to make playing the solo part easier, and they had a second guitar player playing full chords to fill out the sound.

    Al

  13. #13
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    ZW, Its been a couple of years. But I remember when Mick was showing me and Johnny A his old Esquire backstage. It had the 5th & 6th string tuned in unison. I could be remembering it wrong though. But it was a gas checking out the same guitar I saw him using on the last Mott tour in '73. I think the 1st Bad Company album was already in the can and he was fulfilling his tour committment.

    BTW, Mick told me he lurks around here alot....So everybody wave. He is one of the nicest people.

    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  14. #14
    All Access/Backstage Pass Mark Kane's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Hey Billy, thanks for sharing, cool stuff!!
    "Buried Alive in the Blues"

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member spidey's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by lpnv59 View Post
    ZW, Its been a couple of years. But I remember when Mick was showing me and Johnny A his old Esquire backstage. It had the 5th & 6th string tuned in unison. I could be remembering it wrong though. But it was a gas checking out the same guitar I saw him using on the last Mott tour in '73. I think the 1st Bad Company album was already in the can and he was fulfilling his tour committment.

    BTW, Mick told me he lurks around here alot....So everybody wave. He is one of the nicest people.

    Cool stuff lpnv59! Hi Mick if you're reading!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hopefully coming to see you in Leicester with your blues band.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member lpflametop's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Howard Leese was using this guitar..99 R9
    If you watch the whole show you might see a flicker of the flame...the lighting was kinda dark...
    http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/sh...oward+Leese+R9

  17. #17
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by lpnv59 View Post
    ZW, Its been a couple of years. But I remember when Mick was showing me and Johnny A his old Esquire backstage. It had the 5th & 6th string tuned in unison. I could be remembering it wrong though. But it was a gas checking out the same guitar I saw him using on the last Mott tour in '73. I think the 1st Bad Company album was already in the can and he was fulfilling his tour committment.

    BTW, Mick told me he lurks around here alot....So everybody wave. He is one of the nicest people.

    I got that info from an article in a guitar mag, where MR described how to tune for that C tuning. And, as I said, there are certain places in those studio tunes that used the C tuning that you can hear the low C droning when he hit a full open chord, and it sounds kind of sloppy in pitch, as a detuned string would. However, you could tune the bottom 2 strings to the same pitch and it wouldn't make much difference, since he tended to avoid hitting the bottom string most of the time (similar to the way most people use open G, avoiding the lower D string most of the time, which is why Keith Richards just took that string off on his G tuning guitars, and played it as a 5-string). Personally, I liked the low C when you hit an open C chord, it just made the chord sound huge with the difference between the tight inside four strings and the slack outside two. Maybe Mick even changed the way he did it over time, as the slackened low C can go out of tune if you hit it too hard (which is why I put a heavier string there).

    Either way, it's a cool tuning, when I set up my Tele with it, I played around with it for some hours, making up my own riffs, and played it at a jam where it sounded really nice. I believe he was inspired by an old folk acoustic C tuning, Page used a similar tuning at times on acoustic.

    Al

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member Tex Ecco's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    I had the pleasure to meet Mick in 2004 when he played with Ian Hunter's Rant Band at a tiny village hall near Shrewsbury here in the UK.

    We arrived mid afternoon to have a picnic on the lawn behind the hall.
    It was a nice sunny day and when the band arrived they came out and had a glass of wine with us...such great people, no overblown egos.

    Anyhow we went backstage after the gig and chatted about Mick's Les Pauls. He was mainly using R8's at that time, and never moved from the bridge pick up. He said how much he liked how the Burstbucker #3 sounded. He said he was always modifying his guitars, changing pickups and pots, but he was sticking with the BB3, for now at least. The colour of those R8's were something else....he had about 3 of them in a guitar rack just off stage, they all looked stunning.

    That night he was playing through an old mic'd up Holland valve amp. His tone was exquisite. He played the Esquire on a couple of numbers and that sounded great too.

    Here's a few pics of that nite....wish I had taken more !




  19. #19

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Wasn't Good Lovin Gone Bad done in an open tuning as well?

  20. #20
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by Dishimyuh View Post
    Wasn't Good Lovin Gone Bad done in an open tuning as well?
    GLGB is standard tuning. "Honey Child" was the open C and sounds like its possibly could've been recorded with the Esquire. "Feel Like Making Love" & "Simple Man" were standard with a low drop D.
    Last edited by lpnv59; 05-20-12 at 12:29 PM.
    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  21. #21
    Les Paul Forum Member Luke Gibson's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Our band plays Can't Get Enough & Movin' On, I use the open C tuning and it's a blast, it just nails the tone and vibe (the strings are pretty tight & it's tuff to play lead) I can hardly wait for them to come up in the set. I've always played Good Lovin' Gone Bad is in standard tuning but for some reason it's never got the sound that Mick gets on the album, almost seems like something else is going on....?

    On the off chance Mick is lurking and reads this, buddy you are a true influence and inspiration, you ROCK!!
    Lost in the middle of a Brazillian rosewood
    fingerboard......

    http://s97.photobucket.com/home/LukeGibson69

  22. #22
    Les Paul Forum Member Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    I love Mick! In recent years I've taken to figuring out a bunch of his Mott the Hoople riffs and solos. He's got one of my favourite vibratos of all time and the man knows tone.

  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member BGReed2's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Ditto, Jim. I have found myself listening more to guys from my past that I didn't pay much attention to at the time. Mick, Mick Ronson is another.
    "Know tubes, know tone. No tubes, no tone"

  24. #24

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by lpnv59 View Post
    ZW, Its been a couple of years. But I remember when Mick was showing me and Johnny A his old Esquire backstage. It had the 5th & 6th string tuned in unison. I could be remembering it wrong though. But it was a gas checking out the same guitar I saw him using on the last Mott tour in '73. I think the 1st Bad Company album was already in the can and he was fulfilling his tour committment.

    BTW, Mick told me he lurks around here alot....So everybody wave. He is one of the nicest people.

    WOW!!! how freakin' cool!!! and yeah, the open "C" tuning is right on the mark, as is the Esquire for the rhythm tracks/LP Jr. for solos. and if reading. Mick... BIG fan!!! ;-)

  25. #25

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by oceantoad View Post
    Ultra smooth, dark, sweet overdrive tone like on the song "bad company" or "can't get enough"...any ideas? He has a few LP/s?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GazNjp0Jt7A
    Wasn't there a bad accident with Bad Company back in the day involving lightning?

  26. #26

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by lpnv59 View Post
    GLGB is standard tuning. "Honey Child" was the open C and sounds like its possibly could've been recorded with the Esquire. "Feel Like Making Love" & "Simple Man" were standard with a low drop D.
    Thanks Billy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Gibson View Post
    I've always played Good Lovin' Gone Bad is in standard tuning but for some reason it's never got the sound that Mick gets on the album, almost seems like something else is going on....
    I'm like you, it just doesn't sound right.

  27. #27
    Les Paul Forum Member blauserk's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone



    Do you recall if he replaced the steel saddles with brass saddles? I tuned my stock '57 Esquire to open C and plugged it into my Plexi and even EQing it heavily, it was brighter than the recorded tone. One of the later pix in this thread looks like it has brass saddles:


  28. #28
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    I think brass. Looks like it in the pic.
    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  29. #29
    Les Paul Forum Member Luke Gibson's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by blauserk View Post


    Do you recall if he replaced the steel saddles with brass saddles? I tuned my stock '57 Esquire to open C and plugged it into my Plexi and even EQing it heavily, it was brighter than the recorded tone. One of the later pix in this thread looks like it has brass saddles:

    I can't answer the question regarding the saddles but I can say with my guitar tuned to C it seems to be overall brighter sounding. I'm assuming it's due to the higher tension of the strings....?
    Lost in the middle of a Brazillian rosewood
    fingerboard......

    http://s97.photobucket.com/home/LukeGibson69

  30. #30

    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by BGReed2 View Post
    Ditto, Jim. I have found myself listening more to guys from my past that I didn't pay much attention to at the time. Mick, Mick Ronson is another.
    Myself included here... I find that there's just no one that has come up in the wake of these guys that could be considered carriers of the flame, so to speak. I find that with the Blues, Jazz, & Country guys as well. I've been going back and digging out bands/guitarists that were on the scene back then, and in hindsight were great, but I didn't listen to as much as my regulars.

    Did anyone else experience listening to the Stones, Cream, Hendrix, Zeppelin, but NOT being able to get into to the originators like Muddy, The Wolf, Jimmy Reed, etc... then only being able to listen to THOSE guys, but NOT the Rock guys, and finally coming full circle being able to listen to, and appreciate both?

  31. #31
    Les Paul Forum Member Tex Ecco's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by lpnv59 View Post
    I think brass. Looks like it in the pic.
    I can confirm they are brass saddles...

  32. #32
    Les Paul Forum Member Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by soulbrojcs View Post
    Myself included here... I find that there's just no one that has come up in the wake of these guys that could be considered carriers of the flame, so to speak. I find that with the Blues, Jazz, & Country guys as well. I've been going back and digging out bands/guitarists that were on the scene back then, and in hindsight were great, but I didn't listen to as much as my regulars.

    Did anyone else experience listening to the Stones, Cream, Hendrix, Zeppelin, but NOT being able to get into to the originators like Muddy, The Wolf, Jimmy Reed, etc... then only being able to listen to THOSE guys, but NOT the Rock guys, and finally coming full circle being able to listen to, and appreciate both?
    I can relate completely! I've come full circle as well. Hunting down some Magic Sam as we speak.

    Hey, have you heard Vintage Trouble yet? New band that at times sounds like Otis Redding singing for Free. Well worth a listen! (The 2nd half of Run Outta You will make you think Free for sure...even with the Octavia.)

  33. #33
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Mick Ralphs is one of the best rock guitarists period!

    In the late 70's i saw Bad Co. in KC at the Kemper Arena a few times....the last time Bad Co. played there (Desolation Angels tour), the roof collapsed a few days later.....

  34. #34
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by Dishimyuh View Post
    Wasn't Good Lovin Gone Bad done in an open tuning as well?
    "GLGB" is just standard tuning in the key of A. The first two measures of the opening riff is done over a 5th string A pedal note, then going to first position G and D chords. Most or all of the chords in the song are in the first position (open chords on the first three frets). Pretty simple, not any special tuning IMO.

    Al

  35. #35
    All Access/Backstage Pass lpnv59's Avatar
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by zombiwoof View Post
    "GLGB" is just standard tuning in the key of A. The first two measures of the opening riff is done over a 5th string A pedal note, then going to first position G and D chords. Most or all of the chords in the song are in the first position (open chords on the first three frets). Pretty simple, not any special tuning IMO.

    Al
    This is correct but there is a little more to it. There is a a single note [ E-F#-G ] climb up to the 1st position G which is arpegiated into the D chord. The D chord is also somewhat arpegiated as well striking the open root/5 notes on the down stroke, then high root/5 using the 2nd string and climbing down with a slurred and slightly bent up single C note on the 5th string before repeating the riff.
    "It's a Marshall bubby. It gets loud." Ace Frehley

  36. #36
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Mick Ralphs Bad Company tone

    Quote Originally Posted by lpnv59 View Post
    This is correct but there is a little more to it. There is a a single note [ E-F#-G ] climb up to the 1st position G which is arpegiated into the D chord. The D chord is also somewhat arpegiated as well striking the open root/5 notes on the down stroke, then high root/5 using the 2nd string and climbing down with a slurred and slightly bent up single C note on the 5th string before repeating the riff.
    Yes, I know about how to play the various parts, I was just saying that it is basically in regular tuning, and not a special tuning like the C tuning being discussed. I wasn't trying to give a complete lesson on playing the song!. There is also that descending pattern (A-G-D/Fsharp-Dm/F as I recall) leading to the A-G-D ending of the chorus. All of this is playable in regular tuning.

    Al

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