Special: collection of examples of the sound of a Leslie speaker when used with a guitar
Of course, the Leslie speaker was designed in the first place to work with a Hammond organ – and it does indeed work miracles there!! However, guitarists are always being curious and always seek new sounds, and so it was not too long before the Leslie got used with the guitar as well.
In the “choral” setting (slow speed of the motors powering the rotating horn and woofer drum), the Leslie provides the guitar with a subtle, highly complex chorus effect that (on record) depends much on how the Leslie is miked up . It can be a beautiful and somewhat eerie sound. With the guitar naturally having a much more lively sound than an electronic (or electromechanical) organ, the Leslie’s chorus effect can sometimes be almost too subtle to be clearly heard, but to those who know it (and love it) it is extremely special. On the downside, the always moving and shifting sound can deprive the guitar of a certain directness and make it “melt” too much into the background (if other sounds are present).
The “tremolo” setting (fast speed of the rotors) generates a very lively, distinct vibrato (the term “tremolo” could not be more off here!)
Below are some sound snippets exemplifying the sound of a Leslie connected to a guitar (most of these examples are with the rotors on “slow” – but you can easily identify the “fast” setting because it is so idiosyncratic! ):
Neal Schon used a Leslie A LOT in the early days of Journey (the album “Next” is practically in its entirety one big demo for how guitar sounds played through a Leslie on “Slow”) :
You’re on your own:
Look into the Future
The Beatles (the sound of a Leslie is all over “Abbey Road”):
Let it be
No Matter What
Tommy Bolin (with Billy Cobham):
Stratus (a great example of the two Leslie speeds – first slow, then fast)
Samba Pa Ti (you may contest this but that special chorus-y sound can only be a Leslie, in my opinion)
Just in Time to see the Sun
Song of the Wind (actually, that’s the part where Neal Schon solos but both he and Carlos – who plays the second solo – seem to be using the same rig – the sound EXTREMELY similar to the point where I could not have told them apart had I not seen them play the tune live and witnessed how they share the song)
My Foolish Heart
Any Colour You like (another example of switching the speeds of the rotors)
Baby’s calling me Home (a particularly nice example for both rotor-speeds and the acceleration/deceleration effect)
Peter Frampton (very apt at using the Leslie with the two rotor-speeds and acceleration/deceleration):
Lines on my Face
Do You Feel like We do
A most charming demo of the Leslie by Peter F., and additional info can be found here on youtube; check in particular the intro and from 42:50. The whole video is very informative and worth viewing, actually.
Doing that Scrapyard Thing
Presence of the Lord
Good Times Bad Times (an example of the “fast” setting)
Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Stevie Ray Vaughan (used the Fender Vibratone – a version of the Leslie 16 – a lot in the fast setting) :
Couldn’t stand the Weather
Hot, Blue and Righteous
The Air that I Breathe
By the way: if you think that – for some of these examples – I am wrong (i.e. there is no Leslie involved), drop me a line (at dr.tATgitec-forum-eng.de)! I’d be very interested to discuss the “Leslie question”.