Monday, 15 October 2012

The Continuing Story Of The Mystery Spanish Guitarist

Blogging through the Beatles catalogue sometimes requires research to really get inside the songs and answer the weird questions that come up. What is that phasing effect on the drums in From Me To You? How many different versions of Get Back are there? What is that horrible ukelele sound on For You Blue? And so on.

Who was the real Bungalow Bill?

Answered nicely by the excellent Beatles Bible site.

Who played 'spanish' guitar on the intro of Bungalow Bill?

More tricky.
  • It is a separate piece of tape spliced into the track (just like Lennon's yorkshire “aye-up!” which segues into the next track)
  • It's obviously a good player (very fast and technical, though with a slight fluff in the middle). Probably too technical even for Harrison. 
  • It's also clearly played with a pick, which would mean it's unlikely to be a classical or flamenco record taken either from the Abbey Road archives (Blackbird/Being For The Benefit...) or a live radio broadcast (I Am The Walrus). 
Beatles Bible (again) states it's a preset on the Mellotron keyboard which sounds far fetched, as it's hard to imagine what use such a sample would be to any working musician. The mellotron (played by Chris Thomas) appears twice on Bungalow Bill (on mandolin and trombone settings) so it would be an easy assumption to make.

But having done some research I can confidently say it is a mellotron! Here's a video with the same 'sample' in action (the mellotron was not a really synthesizer but a tape loop trigger)...

and Paul McCartney does an excellent (if schmaltzy) demonstration of how such ultra specific samples may have been used in a live context. And of course he plays the intro to Strawberry Fields Forever. But then you'd expect him to.

Moral of the story? Always trust Beatles Bible. And never underestimate the weirdness of a keyboard manufacturer.

If you build it, they will strum.

Next time we'll look at the actual song.


  1. "Horrible ukulele sound"? Shame on you.

    The ukulele is the king of all instruments.

  2. Ah Geordie - I WOULD feel ashamed if it were really a ukelele! (You need to follow the For You Blue link)

  3. I'm surprised that the boys never used a ukulele (as far as I know) in their tunes, as it was George's favourite instrument.

  4. I can only think of one example and that's Lennon playing one on All Together Now. I think George got seriously into them post-Beatles. There's one pic of Lennon with a uke but as it has the band's names on it looks like it was possibly a toy sent in by a fan.