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I watched the WoS being setup once and there were 3 tall/huge McIntosh tube amplifiers positioned center stage.
Two were close together (same cabinet I think) and the other was maybe 4'-5' away.
Not a clue as to what they were powering.
I attended the concert that weekend, but stayed way back because I forgot my earplugs.
This was @ the Iowa State Fairgrounds around 72-74.
I used to know the model #, but no longer remember it.
My reference is late 60`-70`s. I helped with their sound at about 100 concerts during this period. In the beginning Jerry was very picky about his equipment guitars were custom made except the one from Gram Nash. During the late 70`s that seemed to have changed somewhat, on more than one occasion on stage he would plug into someone else`s amp knowing or not knowing we never asked. What was done in the 80`s i do not know.
@rh67 how was working with (or more like ‘under’) Owsley? Assuming you got to. Was he as bossy as they say? I have a funny theory that the Dead had that lil bit of extra magic in ‘72 because Bear (RIP) was in prison, so his abrasive vibe wasn’t swirling around. Probably a silly theory but I always think of Bobby and Phil yelling at Bear from the stage to stop f-ing with the monitors and the arguments he had with Steve and ramrod, etc.
Owsley Stanley or Bear as he was called was not always around. I was young at the time and he liked me mainly because i was his back up ears in the studio as he was deaf in one ear and i would double and third check his work at his request. I do know he was very demanding of the band which lead to many conflicts. To be honest this Janet Furman i really do not remember.
Another bob, please chill.
I want to relate a story- I moved to Berkeley in September, 1978 and moved into 2525 Benvenue Ave., next door to where Patty Hearst was kidnapped.
The second day in my apartment I went to a mayoral fundraiser at People’s Park, about 200 yards from my apartment. Jerry Garcia was playing there, with the fundraiser a kilo of marijuana held up in a big bag. Lots of Berkeley cops-they and Jerry seemed to get along great.
Berkeley was a great place for audio- got to know John Curl, a wonderful guy, who had much todo with the Dead’s sound system.
I've owned a couple Twin Reverb Fender amps [both silverface] and sold one of them to Jimmy Herring; a Jerry Garcia rig expert. As I remember, Jimmy wanted my 71' twin for the 2 JBL 120F's. He tried to just buy the speakers but I insisted on the unit as it was. He told me Garcia used other amplification to power his twin reverb cabs - but it might have been vice-versa?!? [used Twin to power other speakers?]. Having owned a couple, I don't think Fender Twin Reverb has a preout feature on it - though one very well may be fashioned by a tech?!? But whatever the exact details, Garcia used Fender Twin amps, JBL speakers, McIntosh, and some others; I think he or Lesh initially used an MC50 but changed to better and more powerful models as they came available through the years. Others may have been used, but MC2300's were the McIntosh model used in the wall of sound. Lots of touring bands in 70's/80's used the MC2300; George Jones comes to mind.
It’s not that I want to sound like Jerry, I have no illusion of anything like that. Nor do I have the skills. I was just curious of what amp is was behind him that he would adjust from time to time. I’m gonna buy that book that was suggested earlier in this thread when I get back to SF called Grateful Dead Gear.
But I must say, John Mayer sounds very good with Dead & Co. and he takes me back to the good ole days sometimes.
@He’s my pride and joy. I was so sad after the real Jerry died in ‘95 that it took me about 20 years until I was ready to listen to the bands many live shows on the RELISTEN app and on YouTube. My Grateful Dead years were ‘87-‘93 and I had the pleasure of seeing 21 live shows. I wish I had made it to more. I know 21 isn’t many in the GD community but I was a starving student at the time. I did have the pleasure of seeing their Halloween show in London in 1990 when some friends had an extra ticket and asked me to join them at the last minute... and I had just gotten my first passport for a work opportunity on the Marshall Islands that fell thru. What a long strange trip it’s been :)
Great post! SOmeone should make a full length documentary about the Wall of Sound, legendary as it is. In the meantime, found and thought i would share this:
@doug714 - I'm absolutely with you - 1977 was their best year. I've been a fan for nearly 40 years, and was introduced to their music in my mid-teens. Great to know there's still broad and deep interest in the treasure they created over the years...Thanks again for prompting this overall dialog with your post, and I do hope you're able to create the guitar sound you're looking for!
I'd have to say the the 1976 - 1978 years were a great run for the band. That's when I started following them. The Ithaca show at Cornell in 1977 was one of those talked about for years shows. I was pretty young then and a cadre among the much older Dead Heads touring used to always opine to me about the good old days when Pigpen with the band.
chorus, Curl could have been there but you have to remember that there was at least 50 people that worked to put that sound system together and the only people at that time were the Dead that everyone knew, no one but them at that time had a reputation and everyone else were just faces.
I built and designed speakers and lent my ear in the recording studio.
The amp was correctly called in post #2 - an MC2300. McIntosh amps comprised the Wall of Sound, not Phase Linear. (48) MC2300 and a handful of MC-3500s were used. Numerous drawings, photos, threads, and videos (including the one referenced just above), and even the Grateful Dead movie show the amps. McIntosh even developed a bit of a marketing campaign around the fact that both Woodstock and the Grateful Dead chose McIntosh amplification and an even opened a Gradeful Dead exhibit at the R&R HOF - https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/brand/news/Grateful-Dead-Exhibit-at-Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame
Reportedly, Jerry played through one channel of the MC2300 only while on stage. The particular MC2300 he was seen most often with has a sticker on it of a guy playing the guitar. This was known as the Bud Man amp. Just google "bud man mc2300" for many pictures of Jerry's setup.
Also reportedly, the MC2300(s) that Jerry played through were modified. Some claim that Alembic removed the McIntosh sentry monitor circuit entirely. Others claim that not to be true. Rear panels had banana jacks added to them to facilitate quicker connections to the speakers.
At some point, after McIntosh introduced the MC2500 in 1980, Jerry did try one of these. There are a handful of photos of him playing on stage with an MC2500 and not the Bud Man MC2300. This didn't last long however. Try as I may, I've been unable to determine why.
I met Bear in the 1990s, after running an ad on the Grateful Dead's website looking to purchase the McIntosh amps used in the WOS. What an eclectic personality. I sure wish I would have had the foresight to archive that convo . . .
I have a bunch of these amps . . . 2300s, 2500s, and 2600s even. The hype is real. Have fun.
@acefqctory, have you listened to much from 1972? Barring personal opinions —and I don’t want to turn this great thread into a debate— but it’s hard to deny there is something special and something unlike any other year happening in ‘72. A telepathic locomotive of shared melody morphing on another level, imo...
I just thought I add this in case any newbies or unfamiliar-yet-interested parties are reading.
The early 70`s (wall of sound years) produced the best live recordings not because i was part of that it just takes one listen.
Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation out there, people claiming this and that and some giving themselves credit for certain things. But who is left to dispute them? and the ones left do not care or have short memories. I just know that at the end of the Wall of sound i was given about 30 PL amps that i slowly sold over the years the last one just a couple of years ago. Some of the amps had printing and not script on the face plates which indicate some of the first.
Agree about the early ‘70’s. 1970 and ‘71 have some darn clear sounding recordings. I so wish it didn’t take the crew almost 6 months after Bear went to jail to get it together and start recording without him or we’d have more from ‘71. And yep, ‘73 and ‘74 are distinct. Clear, bold and up close sounding.
There are certainly better sources than others for some shows and limited with others but far from all poor sounding. If one isn’t used to audience or raw soundboards then stick to the officially mastered multitrack release. We’re not talking Chesky here, but darn good for what they are... All ya need for the Dead is a linear balanced system with good organic flow and the music will do its magic regardless of recording quality (to an extent).
rh67 - there was definitely a time the band used Phase Linear amplifiers, unfortunately it’s simply not well documented. I for one would love to see some pics just out of curiosity.
Really, there isn’t much to “claim” when there are literally thousands of photos to support just a google query away. AudioKarma must have ten threads devoted to the Dead’s setups and in at least one of those threads is a gentleman who also spent time with the band.
FWIW, neither he or Bear had much good to say about the McIntosh power amps.