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Thread: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

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    Registered User Benjamin T's Avatar
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    Default Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    On the Square album, I've been listening to for a while, I am pretty sure that the on the non-acoustic tunes, Jethro has got to be playing an electric solid body mandolin. Can anyone confirm this? I read a few other threads where folks say, no that is him on guitar, which I guess could be true, but the voicings in the heads and solos just don't sound like guitar chords. Any one else with me on this? Also, it doesn't seem like an acoustic electric either tone wise. Could this be on the Fender mandocaster? Did he have a solid body Gibson in addition to the electric red and the electrified Gibson/ Washburn F5s?
    Raphael Ciani Galiano circa 1920
    Gibson F-5G FB 2003
    John D'Angelico 1933
    Vivitone Acoustic #338 circa 1933
    Gibson F4 1915 Blacktop
    Shutt/ Harmony Viol Mandolin circa 1930

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    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    I can't say one way or another what Homer was playing on this album, but he definitely played a Fender electric mandolin.

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Actually that’s Jethro holding the mandocaster. Homer had Stratocaster #0001, according to one account.
    Play it like you mean it

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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    I’ve been told, by Don Stiernberg, that the electric Jethro on It Ain't Necessarily Square is Jethro on guitar. I would say that Don is pretty credible.

    There is some of Jethro playing the Fender on this album: the only tune I remember for sure is The Wanderer.

    Last edited by lowtone2; Jul-20-2020 at 6:52pm.

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    I’ve been told, by Don Stiernberg, that the electric Jethro on this album is Jethro on guitar. I would say that don is pretty credible.

    There is some of Jethro playing the Fender on this album:

    I certainly wouldn't disagree with Don S. but on 'It ain't necessarily Square' I think Jethro is playing lead guitar on Satin Doll.

    btw, I have that album of Country All Stars, its great. A reasonably young(er) George Barnes, a pretty fair player himself
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Jethro definitely played some lead guitar, and is credited as such on the track listing of at least one of his recordings, that being The Puritan Sessions. The liner notes say that 5 of those were overdubs he did later. The liner notes for the CD reissue of Playin It Straight/It Ain't Necessarily Square credit him simply with Mandolin & Guitar, but also call out Homer as "Rythm Guitar", implying that Jethro was playing lead.

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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Jethro didn't play electric mandolin on It Ain't Necessarily Square, all I'm sayin...

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    On "It Ain't Necessarily Square" Jethro plays electric guitar, pretty sure a hollow body Gibson of some kind, ES175 or such like. On those tunes he's playing a lot of single note lines, so when you factor in his touch and concept I can see where one might think it's some kind of electric mandolin, but it's electric jazz guitar.

    A similar approach was taken on the predecessor LP Playing It Straight, except the few guitar tunes there were played on acoustic guitar, a flat top Martin or Gibson.

    Electric mandolin-wise did have and use various ones at various points in his long and fantastic career. The Fender as mentioned on "Jazz From the Hills" above for sure, and he also had a Gibson EM200 (solid-body two point 8-string brass bridge-top P-90) i think there's a picture of that supplied by Tony Williamson in the Jethro 100th birthday tribute article(s) here on the Cafe. I'd have to scour the records to see if it got recorded anywhere, probably a track or two somewhere. He also had an acoustic two point with F-holes that had a pickup cut into the top.

    when you listen to "Live at Vanderbilt" you're hearing an F5 "Custom", where custom indicates a Johnny Smith(floating)pickup installed by Gibson and a super long tailpiece, actually two tailpieces welded together with "Custom" or Custom Made for Jethro" or some such engraved on the tailpiece cover. As you'll hear on 'Jitterbug Waltz' and "Turkish March/Cumana" it's a cool sound...8 strings, mandolinistic...with a little extra heft from the humbucker. I think he used that on a track or two of the Jethro Burns LP on Flying Fish, possibly the Live Flying Fish album also.

    there were contact pickups in the Washburns and Epiphones he used later in his career for touring.

    one time we were talking about my use of the Tiny Moore Model Roberts 5-string electric. He said "if I ever want that sound, I just play guitar..." Other pertinent Jethro guitar quotes include "I showed Chet (Atkins) his first hot lick on guitar" and "If I'd have spent as much time on guitar as I did on mandolin, I might have been pretty good.." when he and Chet roomed together at the YMCA in Cincinnati, they would pass time by memorizing Oscar Moore solos of the Nat King Cole Trio records.
    Jethro was also crazy about Barney Kessel, Joe Pass, Howard Roberts, Wes Montgomery, and Johnny Smith, and of course the jazz guitar guys on their records-George Barnes and Hank Garland.

    As the years went on his focus seemed to come back to his famous(also his favorite, heard on Straight and Square) red A5 Florentine for recording which he never put a pickup on, and whatever touring mandolin with a pickup in it and a roadworthy case he would fly with. He played acoustic guitar around the house for fun and teaching, a Martin D35 among others.

    On early recordings of the Delmore brothers, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Slim Whitman, and others you can Jethro playing "lead guitar", some acoustic, some electric.

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Funny I just picked up ( downloaded.... streamed ....transubstantiatied.... )"It Ain't Necessarily Square" yesterday, can't seem to find "Playing it Straight" though out there in internet land.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    Funny I just picked up ( downloaded.... streamed ....transubstantiatied.... )"It Ain't Necessarily Square" yesterday, can't seem to find "Playing it Straight" though out there in internet land.
    You can listen to it here:


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    Registered User Nathan Kellstadt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    I've always really enjoyed this clip. Seems worth adding to the conversation.


    Dear sir, I am terribly sorry, but I fear I must inform you that what you are playing is most certainly not any part of anything.

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Jethro got some of his guitar style, especially those chord voices you hear on "Straight" and "Square", from Roy Lanham of the Whippoorwills fame. . There are some big stretches in those chords, and Jethro had the hands for it. You can hear Roy and Jethro, often together, playing on those Delmore Brothers "Boogie" recordings.

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    Default Re: Homer and Jethro's It Ain't Necessarily Square

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Kellstadt View Post
    I've always really enjoyed this clip. Seems worth adding to the conversation.


    Wow, amazing. Thanks for sharing. He played the heck out of that Mossman flat top guitar!
    " Give me some words I can dance to and a melody that rhymes" - Steve Goodman

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