Sultans of Swing Sound – Comparing pickup position and 009 vs. 008 strings

Posted on Posted in Guitars, Mark Knopfler gear, Misc

A few days ago I wrote a blog post in which I compared the first Sultans of Swing solo played with 010 strings and with 009 strings. With today’s blog post I want to have a closer look at some details of that sound: I recorded a video to compare lots of different pickup combinations, and to compare 009 to 008 strings. I used the same Japanese Strat copy with the Sultans pickguard with VFS-1 pickups. This way I could emulate sounds that Mark might have created with both Fender pickups or with his DiMarzio FS-1. I recorded the guitar directly into the desk, using the same setup as the last time. Maybe I should have used an amp and mics to get a more authentic sound, this way Mark’s version always sounds much better (well, his would still sound better if I had used an amp anyway 🙁 ). If you have questions about the setup and effects and such, refer to the last blog post.

I compared a few licks with Mark’s original, using the guitar track that came available with the Guitar Hero game. I must say that after listening to so many pickup versions, it is not easy to judge which one is best. Depending on the speakers or the listening situation, sometimes this one sounds best, and then again another one. Please don’t forget that

I setup a poll again so that you can judge for yourself, and also see what others say. I only included the combinations that seem to be most likely, if you prefer something not mentioned here, let us know using the comments for this blog post.

Which pickup combination sounds closest to the original?

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As most of you voted for the thinner strings last time, I decided to go more into the details here.  A the end of the video I am also comparing 009 and 008 strings. Remember, we have a hint that Mark used 008 strings. As both sets share a 011 b-string, I contrasted some single tones on the g-string and on the high e-string. I was surprised to hear how those ultra-thin strings sound, but listen for yourself. I also made a poll for the strings:

Which strings sound more like the original - 009 or 008?

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2 thoughts on “Sultans of Swing Sound – Comparing pickup position and 009 vs. 008 strings

  1. Great work Ingo!! The confusing thing is that the sound can be very sweet and screamy at the same time. I can get such a sound with a normal middle pickup and an APEX exciter. Alternatively, the FS1 in the middle paired with a Fender neck PU comes very close. The position with Fender (bridge) and FS1 (middle) sounds incredibly close to “In the Gallery” which hints at a possibility of Mark having the FS1 in the middle for multiple songs. What do you personally think?

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