The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

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Black Headstock
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The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby Black Headstock » Sat May 22, 2010 2:43 pm

Listening to the B52's (1980) "Wild Planet" album, and remembered how the whole original B52's sound foundation was Ricky Wilson's Mosrite with his (distinctive) open tunings.

Look on the back of the first B52's album and there is Ricky's blue Mosrite in full glory (either a Ventures II or a Mark V) with his standard string set-up, playing only four strings; (third and fourth string missing).

He also often played with five strings; (no third or G).

Here are some of his open tuning string (song specific) configurations:
(X: represents no string)

Strobe Light: DADXBB
Rock Lobster: CFXXFF
52 Girls: EADXBB
Private Idaho: EBDXBB
Party Out of Bounds: BADXG#C#
Dance This Mess Around: CFXXFF

Wilson is reported to have once stated "I just tune the strings till I hear something I like, and then something comes out...No, I don't write anything down I have no idea how the tunings go."

Wilson died in 1985, and in my opinion the genuine sound of the B52's passed with him and his wicked cool tunings and Mosrite vibe.

I remember playing "52 Girls", "Give Me Back My Man", and "Private Idaho" in my college punk/new wave band in 1982, with my 1971 Mosrite VI; I did "the tunings" and Man, there was that sound! (The kids went wild; bounce, bounce, bounce!)

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby ZacJM » Sun May 23, 2010 8:46 am

Black Headstock wrote:Wilson died in 1985, and in my opinion the genuine sound of the B52's passed with him


Totally agree with that. Stuff like Love Shack and other later hits are good but they sound nothing like what they did when he was around. Even their renditions of the old hits are not the same ;(

Thanks for posting those tunings! I've been trying to play Private Idaho and have had so much trouble trying to fathom how he might be able to play it like he does. That helps out alot!
http://www.youtube.com/zacmoritz

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby Black Headstock » Sun May 23, 2010 10:40 am

Yeah, it's the first two albums, and that's the beginning and end.

Back here in Boston, we once had a great music venue called The Channel (closed in 1989-90). Here in the 1980's my friends and band members from Lowell, MA would go and see The Ramones, Talking Heads, etc. I remember The B52's were playing, this was after "Whammy" album (1983); we all went down to do it up; and all I wanted to see was Wilson playing the Mosrite. And maybe see how he was doing "the Tunings". (I was probably the only college kid in the Merrimack Valley, MA playing a Mosrite around 1983).

Now I know Wilson died in 1985, but all I remember was that we were all disappointed in the show that night; no Ricky Wilson, no Mosrite; Keith Strickland (B52's drummer) playing a Telecaster and Stratocaster; and I think took out a Mosrite (not Ricky's blue one) for one or two songs. I know this was not after 1985 and I think it was more like 1984. All I know was the "Man" wasn't there, the Mosrite wasn't there, and the B52's experience had changed.

Gotta find that old first B52's album, and look at that back cover, and that cool four-stringed blue Mosrite.

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby ZacJM » Sun May 23, 2010 11:03 am

He was an amazing guitarist, this whole time it looks like he just strumming but you can hear so much more in than that;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7t7cGwN7_0

such a shame he died, imagine their music had he stayed, their style really changed after he left.
http://www.youtube.com/zacmoritz

Main instruments:
Wilson Bros. VM-100 Bogle Model
Reissue Epiphone Willshire
Marshall Mosfet 100 Reverb amp
Green Russian Fuzz Box
Cordovox Super V
Golden Cup Chromatic B-System

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby 101Volts » Sun May 23, 2010 11:15 am

Thanks a lot, I'm a B-52's fan myself and wouldn't be here without Ricky having influenced me. I agree, Their first two albums are the most unique. I think they would have ended up making music similar to Cosmic Thing even if Ricky hadn't passed away though judging from Bouncing Off The Satellites. By the way, I think Ricky played a Fender (Maybe a Telecaster) for the studio recording of Strobe Light.

Edit: Nobody seems to talk about the last two minutes of Rock Lobster. Why not? Ricky's guitar parts for that part of the song (As well as the vocals Kate and Cindy do) Are amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDZy6-fM ... re=related

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1970s Blues Bender Body 1 - "Funnily Routed Body"
1970s Blues Bender Body 2
1976 Brass Rail Deluxe #10
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2013 Fender Pawn Shop Bass VI

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby jtr654 » Sun May 23, 2010 12:47 pm

That guitar they flash on is that a Guild Thunderbird ?

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby Black Headstock » Tue May 25, 2010 1:48 pm

Hey Guys,

Check out the real thing (no lip-sync/guitar sync) of Wilson playing the blue Mosrite at the Downtown Cafe in Atlanta 1978 (a month before release of first album).

You gotta see him play live to appreciate his distinctive technique. (He wasn't good at faking it in music vids).

I'm not real good at setting the links; (one of you guys could do it if you like better than me), but go to YouTube; search (the B52's live); you will see the obvious rough balck & white thumbnails listed; these very cool early B52's clips are posted by kmills74 and giantsno1.

Songs posted are: Rock Lobster, 52 Girls (Kate playing white Gibson SG), Dance This Mess Around, and Planet Claire.

You start seeing Wilson clearly playing the blue Mosrite about 1:40 into Rock Lobster and it gets better.

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby 101Volts » Tue May 25, 2010 8:39 pm

Oh yeah, I've seen those videos. Here's a link to the Rock Lobster performance.



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1966 Ventures II German Carve B670 (Over B641; Misprint)
1970s Blues Bender Body 1 - "Funnily Routed Body"
1970s Blues Bender Body 2
1976 Brass Rail Deluxe #10
1990s/Early 2000s Riff: ES-335 Copy
2013 Fender Pawn Shop Bass VI

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby brutus » Tue May 25, 2010 8:59 pm

I was just listening to Whammy today (on my orignal cassette tape) what a great album! I think it gets overlooked too often. I also have a L.P. called "Party MIx" from 81' "Lava" is killer on that record.

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Re: The B52's Ricky Wilson's Mosrite Tunings

Postby ZacJM » Wed May 26, 2010 8:37 am

My mom has this old cassette that had their first two albums on one tape. Does anyone know if they put this into cd as well? I tried finding it on amazon yesterday and couldn't find both albums together on one cd.
http://www.youtube.com/zacmoritz

Main instruments:
Wilson Bros. VM-100 Bogle Model
Reissue Epiphone Willshire
Marshall Mosfet 100 Reverb amp
Green Russian Fuzz Box
Cordovox Super V
Golden Cup Chromatic B-System


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