Blog Post Categories
- Dire Straits/ Mark Knopfler live pictures and videos (31)
- Guitar in general (91)
- Vintage guitars (46)
- Mark Knopfler gear (144)
- Misc (72)
- MK guitar style and licks (84)
- Recording (16)
- Understanding music (28)
- Contents (List)
- Mark Knopfler Gear Database
- User Pictures Gallery: Build your own MK guitar
- Gear on all songs for all albums – WIKI
Recent Forum Posts
- Forum: Gear
Topic: Stumped identifying speakers in 212HD 130
By: Mike D - 6 months ago
- Forum: Gear
Topic: Music Man HD130 212 maintenance
By: direstrat - 6 months ago
- Forum: Gear
Topic: Schecter one piece birdseye maple neck with serial number
By: hamerfan - 7 months ago
- Forum: Gear
Topic: unknown equipement on the musicman guitar strap
By: J.Francois - 9 months ago
- Forum: Playing style, riffs, licks, soli, chords
Topic: Lights of Taormina SlideTuning?
By: mrandel - 11 months ago
- Tokai Springy Sound - Japanese Vintage Stratocaster Copies that caused lawsuit (5)
- Enjoyed the articles covering Tokai and Squire. Check out my photo book of Tokai... Feb 19, 6:15 PM
- Gear on album Brothers in arms (15)
- Out of phase, middle position roll off one of the tone controls all the... Feb 16, 11:59 AM
- National Style-O 1932 and 1936 - Double Power (4)
- Is this guitar for sale? Feb 14, 12:27 PM
- Sensational: Sultans of Swing guitar track solo - without backing tracks - from Guitar Hero 5 (95)
- Ha Ha Ha – copied and recopied stories stolen from other neighbouring cultures. Not... Feb 12, 6:48 PM
- Tonight, at the Principal Church of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter,... Feb 07, 5:58 PM
- 8-7-12Mirela spune: Buna. Ai putea sa imi cauti si mie driverele de sunet si... Feb 07, 5:02 PM
- Johnnie:Allt rÃ¶rande detta Ã¤r givetvis "clearat" med IFK, sÃ¥ du behÃ¶ver inte oroa dig.... Feb 02, 5:01 PM
- Mark Knopfler on facebook and myspace (3)
- The Schecter Story: Schecter Guitar Research - Dream Machines - The Van Nuys Era (24)
- Easy way to cure a scratchy voice coil in a guitar speaker (2)
- Hi. Great, great, great! I had that same problem with my Music Man RD112... Feb 06, 2:31 PM
- The wrong colour of the first Mark Knopfler Signature Strats (40)
- Finally I bought a used one last week. SE00064 dakota red Jan 15, 9:59 PM
- Schecter Dream Machine red 1980 (12)
- Color is Candy Apple Red, but it has a silver undercoat like earlier Fender... Jan 15, 8:55 PM
- Suhr Custom MK-1 and Pensa Custom MK-1 (5)
- I disagree Cathleen Jan 04, 12:58 AM
- Music Man Guitar Amps (39)
- Hi i have had a m/man 210 hd one thirty fo 30 yrs. ,great... Dec 20, 12:12 PM
- Coming new products (16)
- Any news on the availability of the DM Bodies? I would love to build... Dec 19, 2:20 PM
- Guitar refinishing – nitro vs poly and how to remove a polyester finish (54)
- Keys for all Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits songs (5)
- I think Tunnle of Love is in F major. In Live version,they had finished... Dec 09, 7:11 PM
- The Gibson Chet Atkins CEC - Classical Electric Guitar with Nylon Strings (18)
- Hi Thanks for the info. I have one of each at the moment. I... Dec 07, 4:33 PM
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- MK-Guitar on Facebook
- MK-Guitar on Twitter
- My Facebook profile
- My old Dire Straits Guitar Page
- My personal homepage
- My Youtube channel
Latest updates and news
Tweets by @mk_guitar_com
Top Comment Authors
- Ingo (421)
- Jean-François (166)
- Jeff - Anthony (36)
- Erik (33)
- Fletch (29)
- J.Francois (29)
- Dermot O'Reilly (28)
- Arthur Luz (23)
- TheWizzard29 (22)
- zach (22)
- John (20)
- Knopfleberg (20)
- Philipp (19)
- Eduard (18)
- Morten (17)
- danny (14)
- Jim (14)
- thomas (13)
- Alex Mircica (12)
- Lapelcelery (12)
- Chris (11)
- Ryan T. (11)
- David (10)
- liftedcj7on44s (10)
- dave (9)
Posted in: Guitars,Mark Knopfler gear,Misc by Ingo on December 07, 2014
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.
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:
Posted in: Mark Knopfler gear,Misc by Ingo on December 04, 2014
Listening to Sultans of Swing in 1979 was one of the reasons I started to learn the guitar. From this time on I wanted to get that magic guitar sound. One major component for a guitar sound is the right string gauge. I guess you all have heard about using heavier strings to get a fuller sound. On the other hand thinner strings are easier to play, and they give you a different kind of attack which can be nice as well.
For most of the big guitarists we know which brand and gauge they played during the different stages in their career. Of course we know a lot about Mark Knopfler’s strings, too, but unfortunately there is almost no information about his strings during the time of the original Dire Straits setup. And the guitar sounds of the first two albums are still the holy grail for many of us. Check this blog post for the earliest info we have, including the possibility that Mark played 008 strings.
I personally change string gauge periodically. After playing thin strings for some time I start to miss something and sooner or later I change to heavier strings, and with heavier strings the same is true so that I go back for thinner strings again.
This is why I recorded a video today in which I play the first Sultans solo with heavier and thinner strings for a side by side comparision.
I used a 1983 Japanese Squier Strat on which I installed the Sultans pickguard with the VFS-1 pickups. It seems Mark played a DiMarzio FS-1 (13k!) in the middle position of one of his two Strats in early 1978, combined with a normal Fender pickup at the bridge. With the ‘Sultans’ pickguard I can switch each of the three VFS-1 pickups individually to the DiMarzio or Fender sound. This is great as with a DiMarzio in the middle I would get new sounds but at the same time would lose not only the normal middle pickup sound but also certain flavours of the traditional bridge & middle sound. The same is true for a DiMarzio in the neck position – this is where Mark’s DiMarzio went to in October 1978. With the Sultans pickguard I have all these combinations, all normal Strat sounds plus any DiMarzio/DiMarzio or DiMarzio/Fender combination. 26 different sounds!
I put new Fender ‘regular’ nickel strings (010 -013-017-026-036-046) on the guitar and recorded the solo over the backing track. Then I changed the three unwound strings to 009-011-015 and recorded it again (with some subtle volume and EQ adjustments to match the differences). I left the bass strings so that I do not have to adjust the trussrod on the guitar and do a complete new setup. I did not try with 08 strings (008-011-014) as these should be similar to the 009s. If the 009s sound clearly better, I thought to examine the difference between a 008 and a 009 and a 014 vs. a 015 later.
I recorded the guitar straight through a treble booster into the mixing desk. You normally need a trebly amp setup (e.g. a vintage Fender or a Jazz Chorus) with a lot of reverb for this sound, plus a little bit of chorus. I added these ingredients in the recording software, just for convenience. Of course I cannot get the original sound 100% this way, as it requires a tube amp, some good microphones, a great recording room, a 1961 Strat, and more, but I was hoping to get something close enough to judge the strings.
So which string gauge sounds closer to the original sound? – I must admit I am lost a bit here. I first recorded with the 010 strings and felt that something was missing. With the 009 strings I felt it was better during recording. However, when I listen to what I recorded later I am not sure anymore…
Maybe you should judge for yourself. You can let us all know which you think is better with the poll below, or use the comment option below this blog post to share your thoughts.
Posted in: Guitars,Mark Knopfler gear by Ingo on September 30, 2013
Mark Knopfler’s guitar sound on the first two Dire Straits albums is firmly associated to the 1 & 2 position (bridge & middle) of the 5-way switch. This position causes a special, nasal “out of phase” sound. The term out of phase is technically incorrect as both pickups are still in phase but – similar to a true out of phase wiring – certain frequencies are cancelled or at least decreased and others boosted so that the resulting sound of both pickups together is totally different from the sound of a single pickup.
In one of his two red Fender Strats Mark had a DiMarzio FS-1 pickup (confirmed in a Guitar Player interview from early 1979).
This DiMarzio pickup can be heard in the neck position on countless bootleg live recordings of the original Dire Straits setup. It has a louder, warmer and fatter sound which on stage Mark played on songs like Single Handed Sailor, Once Upon a Time in the West (only live versions), Follow me Home (live), or sometimes on Wild West End (live). He also liked to switch to the hotter FS-1 sound just for the solo, e.g. on Sultans of Swing (live in late 1978), or Where Do You Think You’re Going.
The FS-1 in the Middle Position
Both the stock vintage Fender pickups and the DiMarzio FS-1 have staggered pole pieces (the stagger on the FS-1 is a bit different), for this reason they are hard to distinguish on pictures. However, the pole pieces of the FS-1 – then in 1978 being rather new compared to his 1961 Fender pickups – are shinier than the old corroded Fender pickups.
I recently was watching a picture (below) of Mark’s maple neck Strat from early 1978 (backstage at the Marquee club). The guitar had the pickguard that came of his 1961 rosewood Strat (the one that often had a black volume knob), the pickguard normally with the DiMarzio. I clearly had the impression that there is a stock Fender pickup (with corroded, slightly bevelled pole pieces) in the neck position. Instead, the middle pickup looks much newer and might be the FS-1.
The picture quality is too bad to be a real proof but at least it is a hint. When thinking about it I realized that on all the live recordings with this pickguard from that time (Chester, Birmingham, London BBC, Revolver TV, Greenwich rehearsals) there is not one single example where Mark plays the neck pickup (!). All 1978 concerts on which he plays the neck pickup (in fact astonishingly often) are after October 1978 (Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris Chorus TV) , just after his 1961 was refinished to red. So I assume the DiMarzio moved into the neck position at the break when the 1961 Strat was refinished.
OK, no neck pickup on the summer 1978 gigs. So the next question was, can we hear the middle pickup alone on any recording from that period? If it was the FS-1, the sound should be fatter than normally. If not, it might have been a stock Fender pickup in the middle, and the FS-1 was purchased in late 1978.
A song that normally was played with the middle pickup (compare e.g. the Rockpalast video from 1979) was What’s the Matter with you, Baby. And in fact, there is an ultra-fat middle pickup sound on this song on the recording from Birmimgham, Barbarellas club ( July 4, 1978).
The only other existing recording with this song from this period is the one from London (“Live at the BBC” CD). On this concert the guitar sound is extremely bright. What’s the Matter with you, Baby was also played but does not seem as fat as on the Barbarellas gig. But when a/b compared with the other songs it becomes clear that it is the middle pickup and that there also is less treble but more distortion than on the the other songs. Likewise, you can compare Water of Love from these recordings with What’s the Matter with you, Baby to find that the sound is fatter on the second – generally, a stock Fender Strat pickup is about as loud and bright as the neck Telecaster pickup on Water of Love, or even brighter (the metal cap on the Tele reduces treble), not so here.
Another song that seem to feature the middle pickup is Lions. Mark sometimes played the intro or middle solo with the middle position (sometimes even the bridge position. There is a video of Lions live at the BBC Whistle test, and the sound is also astonishingly fat and warm here.
The DiMarzio FS-1 and the in-between (1 & 2) Position
While the DiMarzio alone sounds totally different from a Fender pickup, it also changes the in-between sound (bridge & middle, 1 & 2 ) significantly. The interesting thing here is that the 1 & 2 sound will not become fatter and warmer, but sharper and less nasal. This is because the high frequencies do not cancel themselves to that typical nasal Strat tone as they do with two identical pickups. Instead, the 6k ohms Strat pickup and the 13k DiMarzio blend differently. The sound is more like the sum of both: the warm midrange from the middle pickup plus clear treble from the bridge pickup. I see this as the formula for Sultans of Swing on the first CD. The sound on this song is noticably different from most others of the first album. I assume he plays the 1961 Strat (he calls it his Sultans Strat…) on Sultans, and possibly the maple neck with its original pickguard (probably with three Fender vintage pickups) on most other songs ( This makes sense as he favoured this guitar on the previous tour with the Talking Heads directly before recording the first album).
On all 1978 pictures and videos after the recording of the album, we see him with the maple neck Strat which then has the 1961 pickguard of the rosewood Strat (with the DiMarzio), until in October 1978 he plays the rosewood 1961 Strat, with its own 1961 pickguard again, and the DiMarzio now in the neck position.
The 1 & 2 sound of Sultans of Swing (first album) and on all live recordings (e.g. Live at the BBC) after the album and before October 1978 feature the DiMarzio FS-1 in the middle position.
After October 1978, the DiMarzio moved to the neck position and the 1 & 2 sound became “normal” then (compare e.g. the Rotterdam 1978 bootleg).
I myself already found out that the sound of the DiMarzio in the neck position plus the Fender in the middle (3 & 4 position) is similar to the Sultans sound so that I used this for the Puresolo competition some time ago. With the DiMarzio in the middle and a stock Fender at the bridge, it sounds even more original to me.
(Youtube video demo / sound demo to come)
The VFS-1 as the ideal pickup for the early Dire Straits tone
With what was said before, it seems difficult to obtain all the different sounds of the first two albums and the live gigs from this era, as these require different pickup setups:
** three Fender vintage pickups (all that was played with the original pickguard of the maple neck Strat, e.g. many songs of the first album, the January 1978 tour with the Live at Leeds or at the Roundhouse bootlegs, the early 1979 concerts like Rockpalast,…)
** a DiMarzio FS- 1 in the middle (1961 pickguard before October 1978, e.g. Sultans of Swing (album), Live at the BBC, Live at the BBC Whistle Test,..)
** the DiMarzio FS-1 in the neck position (1961 pickguard from October 1978 on, e.g. Single Handed Sailor (Communique), the late 1978 concerts and all other live recordings from March 1979 on)
What we ideally need is a pickup that can be switched from vintage sound to DiMarzio sound, to put this one in the middle and the neck position. Then we can get all sounds mentioned before. Dreaming? No, this pickup already exists – the VFS-1, which I designed myself exactly for this purpose (this Youtube video compares it to a vintage pickup and to the DiMarzio pickup.
The VFS-1 is a tapped pickup (two different sounds switchable) made to my specs exclusively for me by Germany’s high-quality pickup guru Harry Haeussel. I have been offering it with the loaded Schecter-style pickguards for some time now, as it is also ideal to get the Alchemy sounds without loosing the option for fatter sounds and the 26 sound combinations of the three mini switches on a Schecter vintage pickguard. I also recommended it for the neck position to get the DiMarzio sound or the vintage sound for early Dire Straits tones. But now, with the DiMarzio FS-1 in the middle and its effect on the 1 & 2 sound, it really becomes the ultimate sound tool.
Without the three mini switches (with up, off, down positions each) the two sounds of a VFS-1 can be switched with e.g. a push/pull poti. Note that you can wire the push/pull switch as you want to make the fat or the thinner sound the “default” sound with the poti pushed in. Pulling it will enable the other sound then.
Buy the FS-1 or the VFS-1 directly here
I am official DiMarzio dealer and offer the FS-1 brandnew at the hottest price. So if you read about it here and feel the urge to get one, you can support this site by buying it here instead of somewhere else.
"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Posted in: Easy stuff for beginners,Guitar in general,MK guitar style and licks by Ingo on February 15, 2012
I added a backing track for the long live version of Sultans of Swing to our online shop. Check it out and listen to sound samples here. It is 12:05 min long and includes the piano solo but is without saxophone. I hope to make a youtube cover over this backing track within the near future."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Alternate Sultans of Swing solo take from first album session – unheard before – exclusively on mk-guitar.com
Posted in: Misc,MK guitar style and licks by Ingo on January 15, 2011
Here you will find an alternate take of the Sultans of Swing first solo from the recording session for the first album at Basing Street Studios in February 1978. Unfortunately the quality is more than poor, you might guess where it is coming from…
It is not so much different, but it is for sure not the take that was released. This can maybe heard best between 0:15 and 0:22 where the phrasing and some notes are different, similar to some live versions or to the version from Pathway Studios.
And that’s the neck pick-up, I’d think the FS-1, isn’t it?
"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop :)
Older Posts »