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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Any one happen to know the gear used by the Astronauts and Chantays?

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Really into both of their sounds; the ghostly Chantays, and the drippier Astronauts... And I'm wondering if any one happens to know the amps, and the pickups used in their guitars. So if you have any information, please come forward!

Last edited: Feb 27, 2013 10:43:29

The Astronauts. From the picture on the back of the "Surfing With" album (recording dated May '63) Lead is played on a stock Jazzmaster. Two rhythm players on stock Jaguars, and the bass is a Fender Jazz. The amps look to me like blonde Showman 12" tone ring cabs for each player. I think a good average date for the gear is c.1962. I see two, (and perhaps three) brown tolex reverb tanks, which given the date, must be pretty new.

That album is widely considered by many the best recorded surf album. RCA had a famous echo chamber which could be a reason so many find the sound and drip so deep and hard to capture today.

The Chantays...I know that Pipeline was not recorded on Fender instruments (I think that's accurate). Later they got all sunburst Stratocasters with factory custom black pickguards.

Follow this link to the chantays on Lawrence Welk show in '63. It's just the guitars though.
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j09C8clJaXo

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And of course, they aren't plugged in Wink

I believe some of the Chantays stuff was (re-)recorded at the Downey studios which had some idiosyncratic features described in Dalley's book here and there, and in Ace liner notes for the Rumblers and other Downey reissues.

A factor in the Astronauts sound is surely the use of three guitars, and I'm not convinced there aren't sometimes multiple bass tracks as well. There is definitely more to the sound quality than just the gear visible in pictures and some palm muting. I guess it's that echo chamber.

Keep in mind that the Astronauts most likely were recorded using those fabulous RCA ribbon mics. Not to mention that their records were produced in the best recording studio west of the Mississippi River.

Their early recording engineer went on to record the Jefferson Airplane, Linda Rhondstat and a host of others.

The single 12 tone ring cab is the mac daddy of them all for absolutely amazing tone mic'd at close range. Probably had D-131 JBL's in them at that point in time.

Don't forget that the Astronauts could play their butts off either.

For my money, Pipline is the best surf/instro record ever made. Although Baja and several of the A-nauts tracks sound simply amazing, the moody expression and Brian Carmen's glissando are absolute perfection that has never been duplicated or taken to a higher place. For kids that weren't old enough to have drivers licenses, they did THE right thing at THE right time. Damn, what a great sounding record.

ed

Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I sill like big blonde amps?

eddiekatcher wrote:

Keep in mind that the Astronauts most likely were recorded using those fabulous RCA ribbon mics. Not to mention that their records were produced in the best recording studio west of the Mississippi River.

Ed, that's only half right. It applies to the stuff they recorded for their debut LP, but not to many of the best-known later tracks, such as Surf Party, which were apparently recorded inside a Colorado club in a make-shift environment. I wrote about that here in more detail: http://surfguitar101.com/forums/topic/8745/

websurfer wrote:

The Chantays...I know that Pipeline was not recorded on Fender instruments (I think that's accurate). Later they got all sunburst Stratocasters with factory custom black pickguards.

I'm pretty sure those were tortoiseshell pickguards, not black.

Here's the pre-Fender Chantays (with young Jim Frias on sax!), sporting the instruments probably used to record Pipeline (I can't really tell what they are, though):

image

Here they are proudly sporting their matching Fenders! Notice how glum they look above with the non-Fenders, and how intensely happy they are below with the Fenders! Smile

image

Never read anything about the amps they used, but I'm fairly sure it was the regular Showman/Bandmaster-type stuff....

Ivan
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Last edited: Feb 21, 2013 07:58:02

Although it's probably a staged pic, here's The Astronauts recording at RCA. Most fans tend to agree that this is the best produced Surf record of the 60's. It's the room, the mics, the gear and the great playing, plus the producers and song writers including sax session ace Steve "Shutdown Douglas, Lee Hazelwood, and Gary Usher that made their two surf albums so great. Interesting that The Astronauts only wrote one song "KUK" on these two albums. The rest were mostly Hazelwoood and Douglas.

image

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Too bad I can't find the Astronauts albums on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Surfin-With-Competition-Coupe-1/dp/B000001AVI/

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Thanks B. There is also a Bear Family comp of all 8 of their RCA releases. However by the third album there were really no more instros. However, Rich Fifield's tone on the later disks (Jazzmaster, light strings and Fender Super Reverb Amp) kicked major league butt. Rich was the one who turned me on to light strings with a plain third. In '65 he was using a Mustang with a banjo first and the others moved down one position.

There is also the Rarities Comp disk. Some cool stuff on that too.

ed

Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I sill like big blonde amps?

Just a reminder for those that might be reading this and not have it....I know that many of us agree that the Japanese comp Movin', which compiles 22 Astronauts instrumentals, is still the best single-disc collection available.

image

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IvanP wrote:

I'm pretty sure those were tortoiseshell pickguards, not black.

image

I got that little tid-bit of info from the caption under that very pic as reproduced in Tom Wheeler's "American Guitars":

"The Chantays of "Pipeline" fame show off their Strats (with dark pickguards, unusual for the time) on a 1963 visit to Fender."

I guess I'm the one who's assuming dark means "black".

Last edited: Feb 21, 2013 11:24:35

websurfer wrote:

I got that little tid-bit of info from the caption under that very pic as reproduced in Tom Wheeler's "American Guitars":

"The Chantays of "Pipeline" fame show off their Strats (with dark pickguards, unusual for the time) on a 1963 visit to Fender."

But tortoiseshell pickguards were most certainly not unusual for the time. Obviously Jazzmasters had them since '59 or something, Jaguars since '62, and they were even not that uncommon on Strats during the first wave, the most famous examples being:

image

image

(That's Paul Johnson & the Galaxies.)

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

"Here they are proudly sporting their matching Fenders! Notice how glum they look above with the non-Fenders, and how intensely happy they are below with the Fenders!"
Free guitars! who wouldn't smile Big Grin
Looking at the picture with non Fenders (Dano bass, and what looks like Airline or Kay guitars. I note something under the reverb tanks, foam pad??

http://www.reverbnation.com/thegreasemonkeyz

IvanP wrote:

But tortoiseshell pickguards were most certainly not unusual for the time. Obviously Jazzmasters had them since '59 or something, Jaguars since '62, and they were even not that uncommon on Strats during the first wave, the most famous examples being:

Exactly...and presuming Wheeler is also aware of that, made the fact that he pointed out the pickguards for special mention as "unusual and dark" led me to believe this was a custom feature of some kind. In any case, not a great description on his part.

In the past, I have watched the Welk appearance to see if I can see this feature. During the beginning intro, the the pickguards on the two Strats do look much darker on the high contrast B&W broadcast in comparison to the Precision bass, (which I believe is tort) and which looks much lighter and washed out.

It would be nice if someone could just ask Bob Spickard!

Cool take me back to my teenage years!! the astronauts were my favorite band back then, then DD then the chantays. i had a few of those original records--lost 'em during one of our many moves for the USMC. still got the memories however!!! thannks for the visit to retroland!!!! great bands and the astronauts were so freakin' cool!!!!! Guitar Guitar Thumbs Up SG101! SG101! Rock Monkey Groovy Agree

Enjoying the surf,sun and sand!!

JONPAUL wrote:

Just a reminder for those that might be reading this and not have it....I know that many of us agree that the Japanese comp Movin', which compiles 22 Astronauts instrumentals, is still the best single-disc collection available.

image

Word!!

Jeff(bigtikidude)

This thread made me so happy. Funny how one can be so deeply affected by nostalgia to a time before he (I) was born. Smile

Last edited: Feb 25, 2013 17:08:05

The Pipeline guitars are a Paul Barth (of Magnatone and Rickenbacker fame) with a single bridge pick-up and, I believe, a Harmony with a single neck pick-up.

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