Special: collection of examples of the sound of a Leslie speaker when used with a guitar

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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

 

Midnight Dreamer

 

Spaceman

 

Karma

 

 

The Beatles (the sound of a Leslie is all over “Abbey Road”):

Something

 

Sun King

 

Let it be

 

 

Badfinger:

No Matter What

 

 

Tommy Bolin (with Billy Cobham):

Stratus (a great example of the two Leslie speeds – first slow, then fast)

 

 

Carlos Santana:

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)

 

 

John McLaughlin

My Foolish Heart

 

 

Jimi Hendrix:

Little Wing

 

Angel

 

 

David Gilmour:

Any Colour You like (another example of switching the speeds of the rotors)

 

Brain Damage

 

 

Boz Scaggs:

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.

 

 

Eric Clapton:

Badge

 

Doing that Scrapyard Thing

 

Presence of the Lord

 

Layla

 

 

Jimmy Page:

Black Dog

 

Good Times Bad Times (an example of the “fast” setting)

 

 

Joe Walsh:

Cast Your Fate to the Wind

 

Meadows

 

 

Stevie Ray Vaughan (used the Fender Vibratone – a version of the Leslie 16 – a lot in the fast setting) :

Cold Shot

 

Couldn’t stand the Weather

 

 

 

Billy Gibbons:

Hot, Blue and Righteous

 

 

The Hollies:

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”.