Gear on album Dire Straits

Contributors: Jean-François Convert, Ingo Raven

Guitars

There is hardly information available that tells us anything about the gear on the famous first Dire Straits album.

Amps and effects on this album

It seems likely that the brown Fender Vibrolux – an amp that originally belonged to Dire Straits’ bass player John Illsley – was used on this album. Mark Knopfler used this amp on stage before and after recording the album in February 1978. Other amps that are commonly suggested here are a Roland Jazz Chorus and a Fender Twin Reverb. It was myself who set this into the world with my first Dire Straits Guitar Page. My source was an article in the Guitar Player magazine from around 1988. The writer of this article was Andy Brauer who runs a gear rental service in Hollywood. He wrote a column about legendary guitar sounds, and named these three amps together with the Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer compressor and a Fender maple-neck Strat as the gear used on this album.

Much later I had a short email conversation with Andy and asked him about his source for this info. He replied that these were the amps which Mark Knopfler rent from him for some rehearsal sessions for the recording of Randy Newman’s Land of Dream album, so not really a direct confirmation that this was used on the first album. However, maybe Mark told him that he wanted this gear in case they wanted to recreate some of those early Dire Straits sounds, or confirmed in some other way that these amps relate to the album, I don’t know.

Fact is that Mark Knopfler started to play a Fender Twin Reverb on stage about summer 1978. Also Rhett Davies, the engineer of the album, is known for loving the sound of Roland chorus devices, so it seems likely that they had a Jazz Chorus down at the Basing Street studios.

The echo on e.g. Down to the Waterline might have been added in the mix and was probably not a guitar device (Mark was asked about this in an interview and replied that it was probably something brought in by  Rhett Davies). Except reverb (most studios used plate reverbs back then) there are hardly any dominant effects. Of course Mark Knopfler used a volume pedal on some songs, probably a Morley.

Track 1 – Down to the waterline

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – left channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961  Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470bridge + middle
standard compression/limiter, reverb
no info available

Guitar two – rhythm- right channel

David Knopfler [100%], strummedprobably Fender stratocaster (bare wood finsih, later refinished black)standardPhaser, reverb
no info available

Related blog posts:

Dire Straits Down to the Waterline explained: licks – chords – solo – no tabs

The Foghorn Chord in Down to the Waterline

Down to the Waterline on 1961 Fender Stratocaster Sonic Blue

The bridge section between Expresso Love and Down to the Waterline on the Making Movies tour

 

 

Track 2 – Water of love

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – slide solo – left channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyle, bottle neckNational steel guitar [~100%],1928 Tricone  or 1937 Style-Oopen tuning, most likely open G (d,g,d,g,b,d), capo’ed 7th fret (live: open A, capo’ed 5th fret)reverb

Guitar two –  solo licks – center

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleacoustic guitar, no info availableprobably standard tuningreverb

Guitar three –  strummed chords – right channel

David Knopfler [>90 % ]acoustic guitar, no info availableprobably standard tuningreverb

Related blog posts:

Dire Straits Water of Love guitar tutorial

 

 

Track 3 – Setting me up

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – center channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~50%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470 or Fender Telecaster Thinline [~50%]bridge ??compression/limiter, reverbno info available

Guitar two – riff – right channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Telecaster Thinline [~100%],bridgeopen A tuningreverbno info available

Guitar three –  strummed chords – left channel

David Knopfler [~100 % ]possibly Fender stratocaster (bare wood finsih, later refinished black)probably standard tuningreverbno info available

Related blog posts:

What tuning is Setting me up by Dire Straits, and what guitar?

Cover version of Setting me up by Albert Lee

Albert Lee – a recent live version of Setting me up

 

 

Track 4 – Six blade knife

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – left channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470bridge + middlestandardreverbno info available

Guitar two – rhythm – right channel

David Knopfler [~100 % ]possibly Fender stratocaster (bare wood finsih, later refinished black)standardreverbno info available

Related blog posts:

Cover version of Dire Straits Six Blade Knife

Two interesting live clips of Dire Straits Six Blade Knife

 

 

Track 5 – Southbound again

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – center

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470bridge + middlestandardcompression/limiter, reverbno info available

Guitar two – riff – left/right channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470bridge + middlestandard or open Gcompression/limiter, reverbno info available

Guitar three  – rhythm – right channel

David Knopfler [~100 % ]possibly Fender stratocaster (bare wood finsih, later refinished black)standardno info available

Guitar four – chords – center

overdubbed G and D chords

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyle or pick ?
Fender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster # 80470compression/limiter, reverbno info available

Related blog posts:

Southbound Again riff

Rehearsing Southbound Again

Track 6 – Sultans of swing

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – center

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470middle + neck (FS1) ?
standardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar two – rhythm -left channel

Mark Knopfler [100%],
MK fingerstyle
Fender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470middle
standardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar three – rhythm -right channel

David Knopfler[~100 % ]possibly Fender stratocaster (barewood finsih, later refinished black)standardno info available

Related blog posts:

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

Alternate Sultans of Swing solo take from first album session – unheard before – exclusively on mk-guitar.com

Sultans of Swing: Studio version vocals alone, karaoke track, plus the last seconds – unheard before

Trying to recreate that Sultans of Swing sound – The gear I used on the Puresolo competition.

Rasgueado and other flamenco techniques in Sultans of Swing

Sultans of Swing – backing track for long live version available

The Circle of Fifths: What is it for? – plus: example analysis of Knopfler songs

 

 

Track 7 – In the gallery

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – center

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470middle + bridge
standardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar two – rhythm –  left channel

Mark Knopfler [100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%], probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470standardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar three – rhythm – right channel

David Knopfler[~100 % ]possibly Fender stratocaster (barewood finsih, later refinished black)standardno info available

Organ

(during chorus only)

Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler or Muff Winwood (?)

Related blog posts:

Which key is In the Gallery on the first Dire Straits CD? Am or Bbm?

Video snippet of Dire Straits – In the Gallery – Pinkpop Festival 1979

Jamming over “Dire Straits – In the Gallery” groove loop

Mark Knopfler licks using the b5 note

Mark Knopfler licks using the Memphis scale

 

 

Track 8 – Wild west end

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – center

Mark Knopfler[100%],MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%],probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470middle+bridgestandardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar two – rhythm – left channel

Mark Knopfler[~100%], MK fingerstyleNational steel guitar [~100%],1928 Tricone  or 1937 Style-O

Guitar three – strummed chords – right channel

David Knopfler[~100 % ]acoustic guitar, no info available

Piano

few notes at the start and just after “Chinatown”

Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler or Muff Winwood (?)

Related blog posts:

Dire Straits – Wild West End – Cover by Ingo Raven

Version without backing tracks of my Wild West End video

 

 

Track 9 – Lions

MusicianGuitarPick-upTuningEffectsAmp

Guitar one – lead – center

Mark Knopfler[100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%],probably 1961 Stratocaster #68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470
middlestandardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar two – lead/rhythm -right channel

Mark Knopfler[100%], MK fingerstyleFender Stratocaster [~100%],probably 1961 Stratocaster # 68354 or 1961/62 Stratocaster #80470middle+ bridgestandardcompression/limiter,reverbno info available

Guitar three rhythm – left channel

David Knopfler[~100 % ]Possibly Fender stratocaster (barewood finsih, later refinished black)standardno info available

Related blog posts:

Mark Knopfler licks around the 7/9 chord

Audio sample from Hamburg 78 (speed corrected)

 

 

Links

One thought on “Gear on album Dire Straits

  1. My first guitar teacher saw Dire Straits at a university gig in 1978 (Nottingham University I think he said). He told me Mark’s rig was the two early sixties strats, black tele custom, resonator. Amps and pedals were a fender vibrolux and possibly a twin. Only pedals were an morley volume, mxr compressor and a green mxr analogue delay (only used on the intro to down to the waterline) not on a pedalboard and running off batteries. To this day he said it was one of the best gigs he’s seen. I’ve seen quite a few pub band guitarists with more gear on stage than he had. Its the magician not the wand folks 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.