The more I listened to it, the more I decided I didn't like the guitar sound I had. It was crap




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Back in the studio - George and the sitar


The group's time off had given them a chance to formulate fresh ideas and write new songs for the next LP and single, which were due out before the end of the year, in time for Christmas sales. On October 12th they re-grouped at Abbey Road, and work immediately commenced on what would become Rubber Soul. That day's session started with the taping of a new piece, 'Run For Your Life', followed by early takes of 'Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)', another new Beatle song destined for classic status.

The recording of the primarily acoustic 'Norwegian Wood' marks the introduction of yet another new Beatle instrument, the sitar. Harrison explained his introduction to the exotic stringed instrument during the filming of Help!. "We were waiting to shoot the scene in the restaurant when the guy gets thrown in the soup, and there were a few Indian musicians playing in the background. I remember picking up the sitar and trying to hold it and thinking, 'This is a funny sound.' It was an incidental thing, but somewhere down the line I began to hear Ravi Shankar's name. The third time I heard it, I thought, 'This is an odd coincidence.' And then I talked with David Crosby of The Byrds and he mentioned the name." 15

In another interview, Harrison continued the story. "I went out and bought a [Ravi Shankar] record and that was it ... it felt very familiar to me to listen to that music. And so it was around that time that I bought a ... cheap sitar in the shop called India Craft in London. And it was lying around, I hadn't really figured out what to do with it. When we were working on 'Norwegian Wood' it just needed something. It was quite spontaneous, from what I remember. I just picked up the sitar and kind of found the notes and I just kind of played it. We miked it up and put it on and it just seemed to hit the spot." 16




On-stage in Sheffield, England, on December 8th 1965, George plays his second Rickenbacker 360-12 guitar. It has a capo fitted at the seventh fret for George to play 'if I Needed Someone'.
Harrison's interest in Indian music brought new sounds to The Beatles, but also provided an entirely fresh musical outlook for the 1960s. As with the Rickenbacker 12-string, Harrison's use of a new instrument prompted widespread imitation among other pop musicians, especially when the electric sitar was developed a few years later. The Beatles themselves would turn to the sitar for an individual sound texture on some of their future recordings.

The Rubber Soul sessions marked the group's first serious efforts to go beyond the normal pop album as they explored a consciously wide range of musical styles. Studio experimentation was developed too.

Discussing the track 'In My Life', producer George Martin explained how the group were becoming bored with conventional ideas. Even the hallowed guitar solo was under threat. "It was quite common practice for us to do a track and leave a hole in the middle for the solo," said Martin. "Sometimes George would pick up his guitar and fool around and do a solo, and we would often try to get other sounds. On in My Life' we left the hole as usual, and The Beatles went out and had their cup of tea or something.






I PLAYED IT ON PIANO AT EXACTLY HALF NORMAL SPEED, AND DOWN AN OCTAVE ... WHEN YOU BRING THE TAPE BACK TO NORMAL SPEED, IT SOUNDS PRETTY BRILLIANT.
George Martin, multi-talented Beatles producer and collaborator, who wasn't averse to cheating now and then - as in the 'harpsichord' solo for 'In My Lite'

"While they were away, I thought it would be rather nice to have a harpsichord-like solo ... I did it with what I call a 'wound up' piano, which was at double speed -partly because you get a harpsichord sound by shortening the attack of everything, but also because I couldn't play it at real speed anyway. So I played it on piano at exactly half normal speed, and down an octave. Of course, when you bring the tape back to normal speed again, it sounds pretty brilliant. It's a means of tricking everybody into thinking you can do something really well." 17

The plentiful instruments and equipment at the Rubber Soul sessions accentuated this continuing search by the group for new sounds. Photographs reveal Abbey Road's studio 2 littered with instruments. At least 12 guitars were present during the sessions: Lennon's Rickenbacker 325 and the new classical guitar he'd acquired while on tour in Spain; both Gibson J-160Es; McCartney's '63 Hofner bass; the Framus Hootenanny 12-string acoustic; and both sonic blue Fender Strats. McCartney had his Epiphone Casino electric and Texan acoustic, as well as his new left-handed Rickenbacker 4001S bass, while Harrison also had to hand his new Rickenbacker 360-12. Starr used his 22-inch-bass Ludwig set.

A guitar soon gone from the sessions was Harrison's second Gretsch Country Gentleman (the one with dual "flip-up" mutes). Brian O'Hara, lead guitarist and singer of Liverpool band The Fourmost, says Harrison gave him the guitar. "We were friends with The Beatles before they really made it," O'Hara explains today, "and Brian Epstein also managed our group, so we did a lot of shows together.

"We were doing a season in London at The Palladium for nine months, and at night when we finished we'd sometimes go down to Abbey Road and pop in if the lads were recording. We'd just go in and watch them or listen to them until late into the night. On one of those occasions I got a Gretsch Country Gent from George Harrison, which he didn't use - everyone was giving them dozens of guitars by now. I mentioned that the Gent seemed nice, and he said, 'Well, you can have it,' and just like that he handed it over in the studio. God knows what happened to that guitar later. I haven't got a clue. I think I traded it in on another one somewhere along the way." 18

Here then is news of another tantalising out-there-somewhere Beatles guitar, of untold value both historically and monetarily ... but with no means of identifying itself.

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