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THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
the resonator" Durham recalls. "He used to bring the microphone right up to the F hole of the guitar, so that between that and the resonator it was almost like having an electric instrument
MA year or two later, after the people that made the resonator had gone out of business, I found somebody else who was manufacturing an electrically amplified instrument. I joined Count Basie's band in the summer of 1937 and stayed with him a Me oyer a year. Toward the end of that time I made two sessions with the Kansas City Five and Six, just a few guys out of the Basie band, with Freddie Greene playing rhythm guitar and myself on electric.
"A lot of people thought that was a screwy idea, having an amplified guitar, and the ballroom managers were always afraid you d blow out their lights. There was DC current all over the place so I often had trouble finding electrical outlets while I was touring with Basie.
Touring with the band I ran into Charlie Christian in Oklahoma City. He was playing piano when I first saw him, but 1 never in my life heard a guy learn to play guitar faster than he did. It was around the latter part of 1937, and 111 never forget that old beat up five-dollar wooden guitar that he took to the jam session where I heard him play. I told Charlie the way to sound like an instrument, staccato, was to use all down strokes. Most of the guys at that time played alternating up and down strokes across the strings. The down strokes gave a sharper tone like a saxophone, but when you come back up, while the strings are bouncing back, it gives you a more legato effect.
"I don't think Christian had ever seen a guitar with an amplifier until he met me. It was a year before they got on the market generally, and then he got one for himself.
"I influenced Floyd Smith to get an electric guitar, too. His mother didn't want him to buy an instrument, but one day 1 went downtown with him and talked him into getting one. 1 taught him how to tune it. The next time I saw him he was with Andy Kirk."
Both Floyd Smith and Durham experimented with two types of amplified instruments-electric Spanish and electrical steel guitars. Playing the latter, a somewhat strange device capable of