Guitars, basses and other noisemakers

Purple Stickpin

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A few notes on the Fender viddy for those who might be wondering:

0:51: this looks to be the initial body formation of what might have ended up as a slab Precision bass. These were originally made for the UK market in the '50s, but I don't know if they were still in production in '59. In about '66 they made another run for the US market. They lack the body contours that you can see being added from 2:33-2:41. I suppose that made the bodies of higher mass, which might have added some thump to the low end, but those beasts can be very heavy.

5:10: this Stratocaster body is lovely. I've nothing to add to that.

5:33-6:00: the women appear to be doing pickup winding and other electronics-related prep, but I can't be sure.

6:23: What appears to be a tobacco sunburst Strat being held by the shirtless man would likely fetch $50,000 or more in that condition today.

6:36-6:42: Installing strap buttons (sure looks that way to me). What's odd is that, in this era, Fender had the "upper" strap button on the back of the headstock, but may also have offered the upper bout of the body option, which is what looks to be going on here.

6:44-7:10: final touches to that tobacco sunburst Strat. Shirtless dude is a jazz guy based on his voicings.
 

Otto jr

Over 100 posts
Some of those guitars are not considered vintage either way. Old does not equal vintage. A 1973
Strat is old but should not be considered vintage. To me vintage is 1964 and earlier. After the Beatles appearance on Sullivan every kid suddenly wanted to be a guitar player and all the mass production began. The Guitars made before this event are the vintage guitars.
 
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mjp

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I know the Les Paul Special that I have now - with the very thin, not-grain-filled, flat modern finish - sounds great though.
I restrung the Special yesterday (no more tailpiece overwrap), and I was playing it and playing it and thinking, damn, you know, this cheap ($499 - clearance sale, baby!) 2012 guitar feels better and plays better than any guitar I've ever picked up, including the vintage Juniors, Strats, Les Pauls, Telecasters, Steinberger, and various and sundry other axes that have passed through my clumsy fingers.

Just wanted to say that. For the permanent record.

2012 weren't exactly halcyon days for Gibson, so I'm sure there are plenty of not-so-great 2012 Gibsons out there. But this one has that certain indefinable yes-ness that you either feel or you don't when you pick up an instrument.
 

Purple Stickpin

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I know the feeling. After all these years, my favorite bass is the one I got used for $180 back in the late '90s. It's a fretless Crafted in Japan Fender Jazz and it just feels like a custom-tailored suit. Unfortunately, my favorite strings for it have been discontinued: Fender Nylon Filament (7120s). I've got a set on there and two NOS sets in the string drawer, but those will have to last me.
 
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d gray

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Do you like his playing? He’s one of my faves.

Also, i’m sure you guitar guys have played those types of classic, high end models - are they as great to play as people talk about?
 

mjp

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I never listened to enough Pink Floyd to really know anything about Gilmore's playing. I know he uses the BK Butler Tube Driver, which I also enjoy, though the one I have doesn't get a lot of use here in the house. I also had a 1969 Stratocaster, like the one they're auctioning off (though mine was white, not black). I didn't care for it. Strats aren't really my bag. I like Gibsons, mostly the low end models.

I played a Les Paul Deluxe during my punk rock days and I played Sonny's Les Paul Custom, and I have to say that a Les Paul or a Strat -- I don't know man. You pick up a guitar and you know within a few seconds whether it's going to work for you or not, and I never got the feeling that an expensive or high-end guitar was any better than any other guitar. I liked the Deluxe, it was cool, but eventually I sold it.

You can see in my last post here, and Purple Stickpin's, that the cost or quality or whatever is less important than the feel. If you love a guitar you love it, it doesn't matter what it's worth and there's no logic to it. It's all voodoo and vibes and hippie shit.





That being said, if anyone wants to gift me a 1958, 59 or 60 Les Paul, I'll accept it.
 

d gray

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yeah i figured alchemy and all that. i'd imagine a specific series or model could vary from guitar to guitar too.

tools of the trade are interesting in art. i'd imagine for classical musicians high end instruments are a must - it sure makes
a difference as far as art supplies are concerned (for me).
 

mjp

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Carol has shown me the difference between a $10 tube of oil paint and a $100 tube. You're right though, two different instruments, same model, made in the same factory on the same day can be very different. But the tube of paint is going to be pretty consistent every time.

I don't know about the classical instrument thing. There is obviously a big difference between a million dollar violin and a thousand dollar violin, but I wonder how many of us could really hear it (or appreciate it) if we're not classical musicians ourselves?

In the guitar world there's a law of diminishing returns, so there isn't that much difference between a $12,000 custom shop Les Paul and an "everyday" $3,000 Les Paul you can pull off the rack at your local Guitar Center. And a $300,000 1959 Les Paul does not sound or feel or perform 100 times better than that new, off the rack Les Paul. I don't know anything about classical music instruments, but I have to imagine that there's a law of diminishing returns there too.

Of course if someone says to you, "Look at this, it's a two million dollar violin, listen to how beautiful it sounds," and then they play it, you're going to think, damn, that does sound good! Same thing with a 1959 Les Paul. But I'm pretty sure no one here can listen to a record they've never heard before and say, "That's a Stradivarius," or, "That's a '59 Burst."





But again, if anyone wants to gift me a 1958, 59 or 60 Les Paul...
 

Otto jr

Over 100 posts
There's a few songs where I can tell that the guitar is a '59 Burst. I'm not sure if its because I already knew or if I can just tell.

Tea for One -- Led Zep



It Sure Got cold After the Rain Fell -- ZZ Top



Jumping at Shadows -- old Fleetwood Mac w/ Peter Green

 

mjp

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It would be an interesting test, trying to identify the guitar on songs that you don't know or haven't heard. And a blind test like that would really be the only way to prove or disprove that there is some kind of sonic fingerprint that certain notorious or famous guitar vintages have.

But personally, I don't know. If you had raw recordings of just two Les Paul Standards playing unaccompanied and relatively cleanly through a relatively "flat" amp, maybe. Maybe. But once you bring in the rest of the band, distortion, compression, different kinds of amps -- I don't know, man.
 

Otto jr

Over 100 posts
Another odd thing, whenever I hear Warren Haynes I hear a modern day Les Paul. Again, is it because I knew he plays those? I don't know. I think I mentioned it way downstream in this thread that I was involved with a Stradivarius demo where violin players were tested to see if they could pick out the Strads. As I recall they failed to do so.

Back to Gilmour, I see he's not selling his beloved '56 LP gold top. I always thought that was his favorite but I think now its confirmed.
 
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mjp

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"Here's my Les Paul, it's been refinished, all the hardware and electronics are different, the neck has been reshaped..."

It sounds kind of extreme, but in the 70s I think everyone changed things on their guitars. I don't think I had a guitar that I didn't change until I got my second old Les Paul Junior, and consciously decided to keep it stock. Before that I changed every guitar that ever came into my hands. I even put Shallers or Grovers or whatever on my first 1950s Junior.

That's probably why the stock, untouched examples of the older instruments so often come from under a bed on a farm somewhere, or from people who thought they wanted to play the guitar, but wound up never playing much.
 

d gray

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are the re worked ones hugely less valuable?
 

mjp

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For an everyday guitar, minor changes don't really impact resale value. But any change decreases the potential market for the guitar, because the buyer has to also like the change you've made. And most buyers, even if they don't mind a change, will always try to get a reduced price for a modified guitar. "I can't pay what you're asking, those aren't the original strap buttons!"

For vintage though, every change, no matter how small, affects price. You start from the top price for a completely stock, untouched instrument and then take away value for every change or repair.

Refinishing a vintage guitar can cut its value in half. But before they were considered "vintage," and before all that vintage wear and tear became a desirable thing, no one gave refinishing much thought and it was done pretty commonly.

I remember reading a story about a Clapton tech sending a neck to Fender for a refret or something back in the 80s, and they refinished it - which they probably did to every neck they refretted - and Clapton was...unhappy about that. Understandably.
 

d gray

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yeah, like antiques, refinishing and repairing/changing anything crushes the value.

so a beat up all original is worth more than a new looking but refinished guitar.

does refinishing affect the sound? i guess clapton thought - or knew - that the guitar would also feel different with
a refinish.
 

Purple Stickpin

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When Lennon stripped his Epiphone Casino in 1967/68 he stated at some point that this really "opened up the sound," or something to that effect. I can see how stripping a finish on a hollow body like that could have a marked effect, but if one then refinished it, the difference in sound should pretty small. On something like McCartney's solid body Rick 4001S, the refin would have just about zero impact on tone.

But the Clapton example sounds like a neck feel issue to me. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing as important as how the neck feels. If Clapton had 20 years of heavy play wear on that neck, it was thus shaped and worn by his hand. I doubt he was concerned about value; he was thinking of that guitar as a player.

I have a 1967 Guild Starfire V that has 50 years of neck wear right down to the bare wood from frets 2-8 and it feels fantastic. It's not worth much compare to most collectibles, but as a player, it's priceless.
 

mjp

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does refinishing affect the sound?
Well...that depends on a lot of factors. Including superstition, misinformation, voodoo, and varying levels of metal illness.

There's a lot of disagreement about finishes on electric guitars. Some scientifically-minded people maintain that the sound of an electric guitar comes from the metal strings reacting with the pickup magnets, which is technically true. But then the other 99.9% of musicians believe that the wood (and the finish on the wood) is very important.

Without going too far down the rabbit hole, I can hear/feel/VIBE the difference between a guitar with a thick polyurethane finish and one with a thinner finish or a nitrocellulose finish. But that's only with the thickest of poly finishes. I have a six or seven year old Gibson with a terribly thin, extremely shitty nitrocellulose finish on it, and I love it. It sounds great.

LPSwear.jpg


The picture is really blown out and terrible, but it's the only way I can show you how bad the finish is. That's wear, those two spots. Usually a guitar would have to be 50 years old to show wear like that. But the finish is so thin, it's just kind of disappearing.

That's nothing more than a manufacturing flaw, but I like (love) the guitar as it is, so I never sent it back or complained when it started to wear away.

All of which is to say that a thin finish (or removing the finish) does indeed "open up" the sound of the guitar. As far as I'm concerned.

But -- I think it only "opens it up" when you play the thing unplugged. Once you plug it into an amp, I don't know. Seems like once you're plugged in all bets are off and it sounds the same as a guitar with a thick finish on it. Or a lawnmower. I don't know, it's all feel and sound and vibes. Hence the voodoo aspect of it all.
 

Otto jr

Over 100 posts
are the re worked ones hugely less valuable?
As they say in the vintage guitar world: The longer the tale, the harder the sale.

As soon as you have to start explaining anomalies to a buyer the price begins to drop. Refin means deduct 50%. Neck repair 50%. Any wood added or removed take off 50%. and most people use that as a rule: they will not buy anything refined or with wood added or removed. Changed parts on an otherwise good vintage Les Paul deduct $1.00 and value of the missing part, which could be upwards of $10k for cream pickup surrounds, original pick guard or PAF pickups. Believe it or not, the cream plastic pickup surrounds on a sunburst are worth more than a pristine set of PAF pickups.
 
I started playing guitar at 9, but it only lasted for a year. I then decided I wanted to try drums. After a year of that, I realized I was tired of lugging the snare drum on and off the bus. Picked guitar back up at 15, and never stopped.

Just snagged this little solid state 1980 Peavey Backstage. Rated 30w (prob more like 18w) , 10" speaker. Perfect for local, low key jams (sans drums) with my homemade travel pedalboard. $45 bucks at GC. But now it's starting to have volume issues, i.e., intermittently getting louder then softer. Either a dirty pot or bad caps. Not sure yet.

Peavey bkstg.jpg
 
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