Big Joe Williams: 9-string blues

By Miche Archetto:

Big Joe Williams created this almost-electric guitar from an acoustic. He added not only a rudimentary pick-up, but also 3 more strings, doubling 1st, 2nd and 4th string. According to wikipedia:
His guitar was usually tuned to Open G, like such: (D2 G2 D3D3 G3 B3B3 D4D4), with a capo placed on the second fret to set the tuning to the key of A. During the 1920s and 1930s, Williams had gradually added these extra strings in order to keep other guitar players from being able to play his guitar. In his later years, he would also occasionally use a 12-string guitar with all strings tuned in unison to Open G. Williams sometimes tuned a six-string guitar to an interesting modification of Open G. In this modified tuning, the bass D string (D2) was replaced with a .08 gauge string and tuned to G4. The resulting tuning was (G4 G2 D3 G3 B3 D4), with the G4 string being used as a melody string. This tuning was used exclusively for slide playing.
Joseph Lee Williams (October 16, 1903 – December 17, 1982),[2] billed throughout his career as Big Joe Williams, was an American Delta blues guitarist, singer and songwriter,[1] notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar. Performing over four decades, he recorded such songs as “Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and “Peach Orchard Mama” for a variety of record labels, including Bluebird, Delmark, Okeh, Prestige and Vocalion.[3] Williams was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on October 4, 1992.[4]
Blues historian Barry Lee Pearson (Sounds Good to Me: The Bluesman’s Story, Virginia Piedmont Blues) attempted to document the gritty intensity of the Williams persona in this description:
“When I saw him playing at Mike Bloomfield’s “blues night” at the Fickle Pickle, Williams was playing an electric nine-string guitar through a small ramshackle amp with a pie plate nailed to it and a beer can dangling against that. When he played, everything rattled but Big Joe himself. The total effect of this incredible apparatus produced the most buzzing, sizzling, African-sounding music I have ever heard”.
Here are the first and second part of a longer youtube video about Big Joe-

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