MiscMK guitar style and licks

Sensational: Sultans of Swing guitar track solo – without backing tracks – from Guitar Hero 5

I reported about the vocals only and karaoke tracks of Sultans of Swing in the last post. If you read all the comments there you will already have heard the latest news: a guitar-only track is also available. They all seem to be from the Guitar Hero 5 game.

It seems the makers of the game had access to the multitrack recording of Sultans. The guitar track does not only include the lead guitar but also the rhathm guitars, switching between both which means you hear the rhythm guitars whenenever the lead guitar is not playing. When it is, you hear only the lead guitar. I guess this was done with a gate using a sidechain input. A gate is a device that can shut down another track while the input signal is above a specified level.

It is really amazing to hear the guitar alone, after knowing the song for over 30 years. There are many details which you simply couldn’t hear in the mix – lot’s of “noises” like scratche and dead notes, some low level tones etc. Also you can clearly hear the chorus effect, probably from the Roland Jazz Chorus, and there seems something like a compressor or rather limiter that even introduces some distortion.

As it seems you cannot buy these tracks but they are part of a game software, and as it is only one instrument and not a full composition – I guess it does not inflict with copyrights when I put in a sound clip here:

 

86 thoughts on “Sensational: Sultans of Swing guitar track solo – without backing tracks – from Guitar Hero 5

  1. Ingo do you have the link to download the track? Because aparently the link in the other post’s comments is not available anymore.

    Great blog by the way, greetings from Brazil 🙂

  2. This is just one of the best presents this x-mas…. What a fantastic thing to really hear that guitar……and WHAT a surprise that it’s the Jazz chorus, and not the Vibrolux (that Vibrolux has always been on my mind, since it sounds SO different an other recordings)Anyway, so it seems, when we hear this clip.

    I would also love to have the audio clip to study some more, where can it be found?

    Thanks again

    Allan

  3. As I said in the last post, this recording tend to proove that Mark used only the middle pickup, and not 1+2, as he did live, or on the single pathway version.
    From many years, all Mk guitar freaks have wondered if it was 1+2 or only 2, even you Ingo (the Mk guitar master 🙂 ),you were not sure (I remember one of your posts on Mknews forum some years ago where you said this).
    But now, 30 years after, I think we all can say it for sure. At least, I can’t hear any out of phase sound there. If someone can, tell me where 🙂
    Well I will try to ply sultans on middle pickup now, because I’ve never done that before 🙂 sultans has always been the iconic 1+2 sound…. and it is not !!!

  4. Hmmmmm…I’m not convinced at all about the middle pick up, I think a middle pickup is much more bright in it’s sound. My best guess is that a very “trebly” jazz chorus + the position 2 on a strat could very well produce this sound. I had a friend who had a go on a Jazz chorus, and his opinion was that it sounded Shit with a strat, but ok with a Les paul. That could also indicate the pos. 2 darker sound to fit the JC?

    I know this is not a fair judgement, but I had a go on my line6 guitar port, with a jazz chorus + chorus and pos. 2 on my Suhr strat, and I must admit it’s not far from the truth.

    IF it is the middle pick up, I strongly suggest that the tone control could have been turned down a few nots.

    I am also in th eopinion that Knopfler himself knows exactly what was going on in that studio , but prefer to keep it to him self (fair enough in one sence)

  5. OK, I agree about the fact that a middle pickup is much brighter than the 1+2, but the 1+2 is “nasal” sound, and I can’t hear nasal sound here.

    About tone control, the tone control of the guitar could indeed have been turned down, but it also could habe been on the amp : we don’t know the EQ used on the amp, and maybe, it can make the sound a little darker, if you turn down a litle the trebble knob on the amp.

    Another hint is that the demo version is also on middle pickup, and the only live version betwween july 77 and feb-march 78 we know is Leeds. I can’t check it now, but if its also middle pickup, then we must listen to Chester.
    The single pathway version is 1+2, and I think that it was the first time he used his setup.

    How are you sure that it is the rosewood strat ? It could also be the mapple one.

    I disagree about the fact that Mark knows exactly what was going in the studio. I have several examples of him telling things in terviews whiche were note accurate, and not confirmed by others interviews from engineers.
    Hea has even made mistakes about guitars he used ! (I have an interview where he said that Trawlerman was the ’54, and of course it is not)

    Don’t blame him ! He can’t remember all these setups form all these years.

  6. I Remember somewhere that somebody strongly suggested this to be the bridge + neck pick up together? Could that be it?

  7. I don’t think so, by 1979, he hadn’t the Schecter Strat yet and only Schecters were able to have both neck and bridge p-ups enabled, isn’t it?

  8. I agree, but it would only take a 30 minutes to re-wire it. As I said, it’s not my suggesteion, it was somewhere on the net where some guy was very insisting on this? I think now after listening many many times to this that IF it is to be the middle pick, then thethe tone control must have been turned down a few notches. Well, I guess we would never know, eh?
    One thing that I always have thought about is, that I have never heard knopfler live, nailing that old famous SOS tone again? Only thing closest (but still not there)in my opinion is the Rockpalast show, and there he uses the 1+2 pos. On the old grey whisle, the sound is very much more trebly and also distorted in a nasty harsh Fender way compared to the studio version. Well, it is strange isn’t?

  9. Just a small ps. to all my “babling” here… anothe rthing I hab´ve discovered playing this with my band is, it seems very important to have a good volume (headroom in the mix) and play hit the strings a bit softer, that keeps it away from the trebly sound.

  10. Ok I dont think Anyone has covered this. Or i atleast have not found anything about it. On the Strat itself what should the tone settings be turned too? It seems to me that If I put the P/U in the 2nd position and give the last little tone knob just a slight turn up that it seems to get close to the sound.

    Now I dont have a crazy AMP that has alot of functions.
    I have my bass about 1/4 way up
    I have my middle just a bit past 1/4 way up
    And I have my Treble set to about 3/4 of the way up.

    Can anyone give me any more insight? Also the Knopfler strat that you can buy today comes with 3 texas special pickups. Are these the same pickups mark used when he made the studio recording of this song or is it not known?

  11. I can’t see why it couldn’t be the middle pickup.

    Indeed, the middle pickup of a strat make a bright sound, but don’t forget the several sound treatments after the pickup :
    – the guitar tone control
    – maybe some effects between the guitar and the amp
    – the amp EQ
    – the desk EQ
    – maybe some effects in the mix
    – and it could also be the rosewood strat which has a fatter sound than the mapple one

    so the “original” tone of a middle pickup can be altered by many factors, and of course it can’t be exactly the same as you think in your head, or by playing on your guitar, with your amp, and of course your fingers.

    What makes me think that it is the middle pick up is :

    – As I don’t hear nasal – out of phase sound, it can’t be 1+2. It’s obviously not neck PU, not bridge, and not neck+middle; so what can it be else ?
    – Mark did use the middle PU in july 77 (demo version), so he could have played it in the same way in feb-march 78 in the studio.

    I have heard again Leeds (31-01-78) and Chester (19-04-78) and I must confess that I can’t say clearly what PU it is. Leeds sounds between neck and middle, and Chester between middle and 1+2. what is sure is that the single version (20-04-78) is 1+2, and after this date he has always used 1+2 (like on Old great whistle test on 15-05-78), with exceptions: neck PU for the solos in autumn 78 (Chorus, Rotterdam) and neck+midle on the pensa during the OES tour.

    To me, the sound of Sultans in studio has always been the middle PU. I had never have doubt about that. I’m maybe wrong but I can’t see what other PU it could be.

  12. @liftedcj7on44s

    The Texas Specials on this recording? No, surely not, in 1978 these did not exist. At that time the Fender product range was one Stratocaster model (simply called ‘Fender Stratocaster’) and one kind of pick-up.

    However, the first replacement part manufacturers like Schecter or Mighty Mite started business, and you already had Japanese copies.

    For these reasons chances are >90% that itwas a stock Fender pick-up.

  13. @Jean-Francois:

    two more things to consider:
    a) The DiMarzio FS-1 that was in one of his Strats sounds less nasal when played together with another pick-up because it has a totally different impedance.

    b) we don’t know what that black volume poti did, maybe it was a blender (adds graduallly one pick-up to the others, or something else)
    Or it was just a black knob, but I wonder why the poti itself was replaced (on both guitar as it seems BTW), and why he put a ‘volume’ knob on the second poti. Just some food for thoughts…

  14. On a vintage strat set with 3 way switch, keep in mind on the bridge – middle position when you turn down the tone knob can’t change the sound. It stays as it was on 10.

  15. Well, just another thought, I guess that the middle pickup on a vintage strat is not reversev wound (I’m guessing here)If that’s the case, would the tone on pos. 1+2 sound different compared to a reversed middle pick?
    regardig to the black poti, I always thought that it was only the plastic knop that was changed and not the poti itself, because the original white one just fel of in combat? are you sure it was the poti itself Ingo?

  16. This is not true, there is no tone poti for the bridge alone but the poti for the middle PU works normal for the bridge & middle position, too.

  17. @ Ingo :
    Are you sure that he already had the FS1 at that time ?
    As I said in the FS-1 article, he sang in Amsterdam on WWE : “I got a pick-up, for the red guitar, I saw you”.
    Of course, he had it before Amsterdam (nov 79) because we can hear it on Chorus (oct 78), but if he sang that, maybe the guitar didn’t have the PU when he bought it and he replaced it later, and maybe it was after the studio sessions. Of course, it’s just speculations, but as we don’t hear so much neck position before mid-78,….

    In the case of the strat had already the FS-1 in feb-78, and if it has less nasal sound, do you guess that Sultans could be neck + middle ?

    What are you thinking with the black knob ? Could it be other PU combination, like neck +bridge ?

    I love this kind of discussion :):):):

    @ Jeff :
    I’ve never played on a 3 way switch strat. When you’re on middle +bridge, why the tone control of the middle PU doesn’t work ?
    Because, on a 5 way switch, it works.

    All in all, it would confirm what I say : if you can’t roll down the tone on the position 1+2, it has to be middle PU only if someones hear the tone down.

  18. I think he had the DiMarzio in that Strat from right when he got the guitar, but I have no proof for that.

    The poti has been exchanged, on some pics the black knob is missing and you can see that the poti has a white round plastic axis and not the split metal axis like a Fender poti. He had to use a different knob because the standard knob does not fit on the poti anymore.

  19. Ok my favorite lick in this whole song has to be from 3:43-3:45.
    Can someone explain to me how he gets that note at exactly 3:45 to sound the way it does? He also does it at 4:02. It sounds as if the string is howling or something. Is this just the combination of the bends and the sound of the Chorus????

  20. Ok i pretty much answered that last question myself. Here is what I have assumed to believe. I am not 100% sure about this but I beleive as others. This song was played on the Middle Pickup. What makes this song sound like its being played on the 1+2 Pickup is the Roland Jazz Chorus. I firmly Beleive it was the Roland Jazz Chorus that gave Knopfler the exact tone we have all came to love.

  21. It’s FANTASTIC !!! 🙂
    Now we can listen to this legendary guitar track.
    It doesn’t matter which pickup he used, since there are other factors involved in the other equipment.
    I think his touch on the strings is the most important thing!!!
    He could have used different settings, the result would have been always STUNNING !
    Cheers from Italy
    Angelo

  22. Man man man. Can someone please make this into a file we can download??

    I love this. i am going through the roughest time in my life(wife split and took my son) Anyway this song has always made me feel better. Now that this is here It makes me feel even that much more better. I dont even listen to the actual song anymore I listen to this over and over.

    I dont know what It is but the first solo starting at 3:32 to the end of it is simply beautiful. I think its better than the 2nd solo.

  23. I wonder what makes you think it’s a Jazz Chorus? Was Mark known for owning one? The chorus intensity obviously varies a lot on that track, it’s faded in for the famous riffing bits and turned down to very subtle or even non-existent on the solo-bits. To me it sounds like riding an FX-sent on the desk (either at recording or mixing stage as both was common back then).

    The chorus sounds a lot like Roland for sure so that would lead me to think it was a Dimension D on the Aux-bus of the desk. Those were quite popular back then and still are today. The amp could still be a Fender in this case. This track has that certain sparkle in the highs that is unique to old Fender amps. A Jazz Chorus certainly doesn’t have that sparkle. It is actually a dull amp and the only sparkle is the chorus.

  24. You are right, we cannot be sure that it is a Jazz Chorus. There has always been a rumour that one was used for Sultans, but nothing confirmed. What we know is that Rhett Davies (engineer of the album) “was in love with Roland Chorus” (said Mark in an interview) but of course this can be a Fender with an outboard chorus.

    I don’t agree that the Jazz Chorus is dull, I remember it pretty much to sound like this. If it was a Jazz Chorus, I am sure it belonged to the studio (Basing Street) and not to Mark.

  25. Dull might be a bit hard a word, but it is a more mellow amp. In the 80s our keyboarder had one for his Rhodes and we liked it just because it was rounder and mellower sounding than a Fender. That was actually the point of the Jazz Chorus, giving a full and warm sound that would even work with a distortion pedal what most of the transistor amps didn’t.

    If the producer was into “Roland Chorus” I’d bet it was a Dimension D then. That was a highly popular device that was overused from the day it came out (1977 if I’m not mistaken). It was by the way one of the secret weapons on vocals in the late 70s and early 80s. The chorus on that track is clearly ridden which would be close to impossible to do with an inbuilt chorus in an amp. And though the chorus of the JC 120 was good, it was not that outstanding that you’d go through the hazzle of having a roadie sitting by the amp and turning a knob during tracking. If somebody wanted that sound, one would use Dim D at mixing stage.

    Regarding the compressor: I hear that too on this recording and it’s most likely the Orange Squeezer. It was also very popular back then, espacially with Strats and clean sounds. When I started playing in the early 80s everybody considered it impossible to play clean without a compressor. We didn’t have Orange Squeezers though, as they weren’t readily available. We used Ibanez and Boss pedals. I have currently a DIY-built of the Orange Squeezer circuit that I use occasionally and it can introduce distortion just like we hear it on Sultans.

    As far as the pickup question goes, one has to consider that the sound of “in between” depends a lot on the pickups. We are now used to matched pickup sets that are made to have that “typical” in-between-sound. That wasn’t the case back then. If Marks guitar had original Fender pickups, they would have been from the early 60s and would vary a lot between each other. A hot middle PU combined with a weaker bridge PU can sound a lot different from what we consider the “out-of-phase” sound.

    But since Marks guitar seems to be tempered with a lot (with the possibility it even wasn’t a Fender at all), heaven knows what pickups would have been in it when he bought it. So we can never be sure about it without inspecting and playin the actual guitar. Having said that, it still sounds bridge and middle to me 😉 I have a maple-neck/alder-body partsocaster which would likely be the configuration of Marks strat and the middle pickup doesn’t even sound close to the original. The in-between does however. But I have played some strats where the middle pickup does indeed sound a bit like Sultans.

  26. I guess no one will ever truly know what was exactly used. Maybe knopfler cloned himself and put a millisecond delay between him and his clone to do this song???

    You know what? Its still the best song ever!!!!

  27. Ok he does this a couple of times during the main chorus of the song. It is most notable at the 5:44 mark. It sounds like he is playing 2 strings there and it sounds really cool. Any ideas?

  28. hello, nice article but i really desperate try to find the sound of mark on the album live at the BBC because his guitar has some kind of light distortion on it and it sounds really nice. Has anyone any idea what that could be ( a compressor or something? )
    thankss

  29. @Danny
    I am sure that this is a silver-face Fender Twin Reverb through a Marshall cabinet, effects are the Morley and the green MXR delay (the longer delays are from a space echo at the desk) . I don’t think there is much compression (rather no at all)

  30. Jean – Francois, on a 3 way switch the tone control knob of the middle pickup (when the middle pickup is not rw/rp) when you select middle+bridge is not working. Is different than with the 5 way switch that can work. Mark of course had then and still have a 3 way switch on his ’61 strat. As you said it will be the middle alone for sos tone, you must have a super warm tone to duplicate this tone. Tubes, cables, speaker, etc… Merry Christmas!!

  31. @Jeff
    Not true, the middle PU poti works with bride&middle PUs, too, no matter whether 3-switch or 5-switch, this makes no difference

  32. On my time machine ’56 stock strat the tone doesn’t work when the switch is on midldle+bridge. Only when the middle pickup is alone selected works.

  33. Then your switch is defective or works differently than the classic 3-way switch. If it is defective, probably bending those latches a bit should be enough.

  34. Great, great and…great! Good job, Ingo! As a Knopfler-influenced player for over 30 years, I couldn’t believe that there was so much information lost in time, forgotten or simply waiting somebody like you to discover it and share it with us. I appreciate very much your posts.

    Is there any way to download the tracks? Thanks a lot again!

  35. My friends I’m very sorry for what I said for the 3way switch. The tone works as Ingo said. That’s because on my 3way is a bit hard to keep it in place where the tone works when the br+mid pickups are combined. If you keep it a hair up or down the switch will not work even the tone is out of phase. Forgive me friends. (Please Ingo delete my post for that).

  36. It’s a dream come true to hear that guitar track from my favorite song.
    Is it possible to download this track somewhere ? I’d like to store it in my mp3 player.
    For the chorus effect, I’m not sure it’s a chorus, maybe an Artificial Double Track ?
    I think that the pick-up’s choice will always be a mystery.

  37. “It’s FANTASTIC !!! 🙂
    Now we can listen to this legendary guitar track.
    It doesn’t matter which pickup he used, since there are other factors involved in the other equipment.
    I think his touch on the strings is the most important thing!!!
    He could have used different settings, the result would have been always STUNNING !
    Cheers from Italy
    Angelo”

    @Angelo:
    Man Man Man!
    If it doesn´t matther which pickups you used, why a texas special pick has quite a lot different sound as ah vintage noisless pickup??
    Could you tell us please, why Sultans of Swing sounds really horrible with ah Gibson Les Paul with the same strings of MK (D´addario Exl-120)??
    Man wake up 70% of a guitar sound comes of the pickups
    the strings are not so important as the wood of the guitar parts, the bridge, the neck and the pickups
    And when i would try to play this song with ah Gibson Les Paul, I can have hundreds of Effekts when I want the sound of Sultans of Swing.
    And to the Pick Up setting of MK:
    In Germany and Austria you can get ah Magazin called Guitar&Bass.
    I wanted the sound of Sultans of Swing, so I asked my guitar technican and he showed me ah post of the magazine where there was the pick up selection of MKs guitar which he used during the recording.
    And he didn´t used the middle or the bridge and middle pickup!
    he used all the three pickups in ah parralel selection.
    I have this circuit in my guitar, and with ah simple orange squeezer and this PU selection i have almoust the sound of sultans of swing.
    yours Nico
    P.S.: @Ingo:
    Your blog is phantastic and your covers and informations too 😉

  38. Nico,

    I don’t want to put “Gitarre & Bass” down in any way, actually I know some of the guys there personally and I’m sure Ingo knows them as well. But as far as Mark Knopfler goes, Ingo certainly is the better informed source.

    The song was recorded way before Mark got his Schecter – which allowed for such a pickup-configuration. With his red strat the best he could have had back then was a 5-way-switch. And it would be very unlikely that he had a 5-way wired to have all three pickups inparallel at one setting. I’m not even sure if such a wiring is possible at all with a CTS-5-way. Let alone if he was using a 3-way, which is what Fender uses until the late 70s… Then it would be impossible to do.

    You have to remember this was all way before the 3rd-party and parts industry came alive. There wasn’t much choice. You could swap the 3-way in your strat and put a 5-way in, but that was pretty much about it. Leo once said in an interview, that he wanted more pickup-configurations in the strat right from the beginning. He just couldn’t find a suitable switch on the market. So he used a 3-way which was all that he could get from his suppliers.

  39. “Man Man Man! If it doesn´t matther which pickups you used, why a texas special pick has quite a lot different sound as ah vintage noisless pickup?? Could you tell us please, why Sultans of Swing sounds really horrible with ah Gibson Les Paul with the same strings of MK (D´addario Exl-120)?? Man wake up 70% of a guitar sound comes of the pickups the strings are not so important as the wood of the guitar parts, the bridge, the neck and the pickups. And when i would try to play this song with ah Gibson Les Paul, I can have hundreds of Effekts when I want the sound of Sultans of Swing. And to the Pick Up setting of MK: In Germany and Austria you can get ah Magazin called Guitar&Bass. I wanted the sound of Sultans of Swing, so I asked my guitar technican and he showed me ah post of the magazine where there was the pick up selection of MKs guitar which he used during the recording. And he didn´t used the middle or the bridge and middle pickup! he used all the three pickups in ah parralel selection. I have this circuit in my guitar, and with ah simple orange squeezer and this PU selection i have almoust the sound of sultans of swing. yours Nico”

    @ Nico:
    I think you misunderstood the spirit of my comment.
    It is obvious that different pickups/guitars/etc. have different tone and it gives a different inspiration to the guitarist.
    But the answer to your question is that SOS can be played GOOD on a Strat or Les Paul or whatever guitar you want to use.
    Don’t pay attention to the strings, I am talking about the way Mark picks the strings, not the gauge of the strings.
    It’s cool to talk about gear, I love it very much, but in my opinion we will never know for sure every detail of the equipment used by Mark in SOS studio version.
    If he had used ANOTHER guitar, you all would be now trying to find info about ANOTHER guitar or pickups, forgetting the MAIN THING: the way of playing.
    If SOS sounds horrible on a LES PAUL, it’s not a matter of guitar/pickups/etc. used, it depends on THE GUITARIST.
    Simple.
    If you play 3 pickups in parallel, ok nice, but it doesn’t matter, if you play GOOD with central or “in-between” pickups on a strat it is ok too.
    If the concept is not clear yet, well consider GOING HOME – WILD THEME instrumental: MK usually played it with Schecter (clean fender style tone) and it was FANTASTIC.
    Then in Montserrat he played it with GIBSON LES PAUL (!!!!!!) and how was it? FANTASTIC AS WELL.
    Maybe someone like you would have never thought to use the “horrible clean sound of a LP” in that song.
    So the spirit of my comment was: even if it’s very nice to investigate on exact equipment used by MK in the past, don’t forget that he would have used completely different gear with SAME EXCELLENT RESULTS.
    Cheers from Italy
    Angelo

  40. @Rainer
    That configuration is only possible with ah 5way mega switch or with a 3way swith, but with the 3 way switch you have to use the second tone poti to connect or disconnect the middle pickup
    Listen to me:
    I didn´t believe it to that MK used all three PUs, but since i have it in my strat i know it, because with the simple orange squeezer it sounds almost exactly like the studio version
    thanks Ingo we know that there is a chorus too in the guitar effect
    and this selection has a great sound for a rythm too

    @Angelo
    Sry abou this missunderstanding, but my english is not so well^^

    Yes, but it is ah different situation, when you play a song live or in studio
    you can play it with ah les paul and the right effects an settings too, but i think it is impossible that you can get the studio SOS sound with a LP, because a Strat is exatly the opposite of ah LP
    a LP is in clear sound much brighter than ah strat
    live you can play what you want when you experiment with sounds
    but if you want the sound of the studio, you have to use ah strat and nothing else
    and to the finger picking:
    you keep right, that the most sound comes of the finger picking, but if we honest:
    when somebody want to cover the solos of MK with a pick, he is an idiot^^

    Sorry, for the missunderstanding 🙂
    Cheers from Austria
    Nico

  41. Sorry i forgot something to say:
    @Rainer
    It is really really easy to built this configuration:

    You take a normal 3 Way Switch, on the first position you put the bridge pickup, on the second you put the bridge and the neck Pu and at the third position you pu only the neck
    So, you can connect or disconnect the middle pickup with the second tone knob on every position

  42. Guys. Play this song on the middle pickup, Set the bottom tone knob too around 2. Guess What?? Theres you’re Tone.
    Add the orange squeezer and the chorus and i personally believe this to be what the studio recording was.

    Another note. On the neck and middle with the top tone knob turned to 2 and the bottom tone knob turned to 4 it is also close, But it is very very bright.

    As far as middle and bridge?? It sounds waay too nasly for that to be it!! I have been playing with nothing but the tone settings on my strat and the middle pickup with the bottom tone knob turned to 2 and the top tone knob turned all the way down nails the tone for me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.