Big Joe Williams – Nine String Guitar Blues

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Big Joe Williams – Nine String Guitar Blues
Delmark DD 627
Digital Download – MP3 Format

Recorded July 13th and 20th, 1961; with Ransom Knowling on bass for six tracks.

“Any description of his guitar is inadequate. It must be thoroughly examined to be believed. It is a big flat-top Sovereign acoustic, amplified as an afterthought. Masking tape holds the body together and keeps the pick-up from falling out. An extra set of pegs is attached to the top of the head, and the holes are drilled in the bridge to accommodate the three extra strings. These double the first, second and fourth strings. The guitar is tuned in G (open tuning): d-g-d-d-g-b-b-d-d. Joe plays with the first, sometimes the second fret capoed.

big joe williams holding his nine-string guitar

Big Joe Williams with his nine-string guitar

The extra three strings are there not without reason. Joe aims at power; his voice needs complimenting by accompaniment of equal force. The nine-string guitar fills that purpose quite well. When his voice rings, his guitar doesn’t just follow – it rings too.”

– John Simmons, from the original liner notes on Nine String Guitar Blues.