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THE BEATLES IN THE USA: Since first putting on the mop top wigs in 1979, the Bootleg Beatles have played to thousands all over the world, supported Oasis at Knebworth and Rod Stewart at Wembley Stadium, and established themselves as the best Beatles tribute band out there.
And with good reason – the Bootlegs’ stage show recreates every key Beatles era from top to toe, with unnerving musical accuracy and an incredible attention to detail.
We caught up with Andre Barreau, the Bootleg Beatles’ very own George Harrison and a successful musician in his own right (he played guitar on the Robbie Williams smash Angels no less), to find out how he recreates the sounds and style of the quiet Beatle…
What sort of gear do you use for the sounds of The Beatles’ formative years, and how are you recreating George’s early tones?
There’s two things really. There’s obviously the guitars he was playing on the first two albums, before the 12-string Rickenbacker. That’s going to be a Gretsch sound, which is either the Duo Jet on the first LP, which is solid body, or the Country Gent which he went to a little bit after. That’s in combination with an AC30, and in combination with how The Beatles created their own dynamic within the group. How you hit it is a big part of that early Beatles sound, because it’s very much four of them playing at the same time.
Do you play with a combination of picks and fingers?
I think that using heavier strings and a heavier plectrum – not a rock solid thing, but a heavier plectrum – really helps to make licks jump out. Like in She Loves You for example, there’s a couple of key licks that jump out.
In the recording that’s partly due to compression, but it’s also playing back behind the vocal and then having enough volume in the guitar to launch out with it without having to press a pedal necessarily – he wouldn’t have had a pedal.
So heavier strings – I don’t actually use flat wound strings because I just find them too dead. Some people choose to do that, which is what The Beatles would have used, I don’t but I definitely do use heavier strings in that earlier period. I think if you’re playing with light strings, though it’s easy to make the bends, you just don’t get the sound I think.
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