Chasing The Elusive And Exclusive “Lindsey” Sound
“Wanna join a Fleetwood Mac tribute band endorsed by Mick Fleetwood?”
The words seemed unreal. My mind needed extra time to calculate. 40 years of Fleetwood Mac + Lindsey Buckingham fandom and now this? It was a totally surreal moment.
The next thoughts quickly flooding in were wholly dedicated to what needed to be done equipment-wise, playing-wise, vocally; each one a tall order. Since I’d been following LB and FM all these decades I had a pretty good idea about what would be needed but upon rolling up my sleeves, I quickly discovered the ‘devils in the details’.
Lindsey’s live guitar sounds are split between his electric and acoustic work. On the electric side he’s been playing a Turner Model 1 since about 1979 when Rick Turner brought a prototype to an FM rehearsal. At that point in time, Lindsey was looking for something that had both Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster qualities (both fat and bell-like tones simultaneously) and the Turner Model 1’s ultra unique design hit the nail on the head and has been used ever since. It has become an iconic part of any FM or LB show and is a huge part of LB’s live tone.
I phoned Rick with the news, and he graciously agreed to build me one to the exact 1979 prototype specs. It completely delivers and has ‘the sound’! Thanks Rick! Lindsey’s used various effects in the past but none to great depths – he likes to keep his sounds pure and simple. In the past, he’d taken the guts from his old Ampex 4-track analog tape recorder and had them modified into a stomp box he could use on stage.
Saturating tape decks became a known thing mostly thanks to The Beatles. But the Ampex 4-track guts created the most wicked fuzz tone I’ve ever heard bar none (it can be heard on the Tusk tour videos of Sisters Of The Moon, The Chain, and other songs from that tour). However, it broke eventually and he moved on. Today, he uses Boss products; the SD-1 for overdrive and DD3 for delay, and it all goes through vintage Mesa Boogie Trem-O-Verb amplifiers with 6L6 tubes.
The acoustic side is more complex. Lindsey uses Taylor 814ce steel strings (made between about 2006 and 2012) with a Fishman pickup system, Rick Tuner Renaissance acoustics, and a modified Gibson Chet Atkins nylon string guitar to perform songs like Never Going Back Again, Landslide, Big Love, Go Insane, Say Goodbye and others. Those are routed though separate acoustic guitar amps on stage. It’s a large touring rig overall and one that is a challenge to emulate.
Vocally, what can you say? Lindsey’s voice is instantly recognizable and has a wonderful tenor tone. One can see he puts his all into every note which is apparent when listening to tracks or viewing live performances. This is all to say he’s created an extensive labyrinth of sonic dynamics over the years of touring and recording that is wholly his own; a musical visionary, a renaissance man, an artist’s artist. To say it’s an honor to attempt these efforts is an understatement. And, is an ongoing journey as one would imagine, always ‘peeling the onion’, always discovering new elements he’s so adeptly hidden within the music he creates in the studio and on stage.
So the sonic quest continues onward on all fronts, and what could be a better thing to do?
For a deeper dive, see these links:
Happy Reading – Christopher Zerbe (Lindsey in Fleetwood Mask)