Guitars, basses and other noisemakers

mjp

Founding member
I put a set of 13s on it...
Now I know I'm not man enough.

Even without the original parts that must have set you back > $1500. There's a solid market for those U.S. made Guilds. The aesthetics of the Guilds never clicked with me. Most of these guitars are pretty similar, they all use a handful of the same shapes. But some brands hit those shapes and some miss. To me. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And yes, it matters to me what they look like. I can make them all sound equally bad, so I have to dig the lines.
 
It had been languishing in a very nice, but primarily acoustic guitar shop in the bastion of liberty that is Lexington, MA. Asking price was $1,800. Scored for $1,400. The bad news is my offer was accepted straight away. I should have said $1,200 and haggled.

It's funny about aesthetics - I'm primarily a Fender/Rickenbacker type, and Gibsons never have really done it for me. I would consider the Guild to be far more like a Gibson than a Fender, but yes, there are some subtle differences.

DSC02046.JPG
 

mjp

Founding member
If someone is primarily a bass player, it's no surprise they wouldn't spend a lot of time in the Gibson pond. The only semi-decent bass Gibson ever made was the Thunderbird.

It's a good thing we don't all have the same taste, or we'd never get to see gems like these...

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And of course...

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what is the little knob next to the pickguard for?
That's a stock item - a Master volume. Part of the mods included removing that from the current wiring setup. You can control volume and tone for each pickup with the four knobs near the input jack. This fifth knob was a way of changing overall volume without changing the blend of the pickups. Not a critical feature in my book. As is typical, I'm giving some thought to bringing this axe back to stock (OK; close to stock - the P90s are staying), but I'm not very confident of finding a '67 Bigsby for less than a kidney and an arm.

Regarding Thunderbirds, the problem with them is that if you look at them funny, the headstock falls off. I played a Ripper years ago that was pretty nice, but I didn't like the nearly flat radius of the board. Of course, the Guild is similar, so I suppose I'm getting more tolerant with age. No, that can't be.
 
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mjp

Founding member
That (almost) flat fingerboard radius is often what separates Gibson and Fender players. I learned how to play on a Spanish guitar that had an absolutely flat fingerboard, so aside from looks, I gravitated to Gibson because the Fender fingerboards just feel overly rounded to me.

I tried Fenders - I played a 69 Strat in the late 70s and an 80s Tele in the 80s. I ended up giving away the Tele (well, more of a loan that never came back) and sort of kinda smashed the Strat. Not because I didn't dig it (though I really didn't) but because it was out of tune.

The Strat wasn't a great loss at the time, since it was only a 10 year old guitar. I think I paid $700 for it. Now, of course it's probably a $10,000 guitar. But I would have never kept it this long, so it's not like I could have ever "cashed in" on it.

I still like the way Telecasters look. One day maybe I'll make one at Jordan's place with a neck with a nice flat fingerboard and a couple of P90s...
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
that would be an amazing guitar - you should do it! especially since you can do the assembly and wiring yourself, so you won't have to pay a tech a bunch of money to do it for you like i did.

you could also have them add a forearm contour to the body, the lack of which is the main thing i don't like about fender telecasters. the body is too thick and has too hard of an edge, which means you have to twist your wrist at a really awkward angle - especially if you're palm muting. i don't know how the guy in nofx does it - i know their music probably isn't too popular around these parts, but to palm mute that fast on a vintage tele requires some crazy skills.


(as a side note, i've always thought it was interesting how little gain NOFX plays with compared to other punk bands. i mean, they were popular during the age when it seems like every band had a les paul (or worse, a PRS) through a mesa dual rectifier, and here are these guys with barely overdriven boogie mark 2s and mark 4s who rock 100x harder.
 

mjp

Founding member
I'm used to the hard edge after playing Juniors for so long. Half the time playing reggae you're palm muting, so I guess I just took it for granted. Or got used to it. But if we're designing, then what the hell, yeah, shave that edge off!

I never played with a lot of gain when I was in punk bands. Then again, we didn't really have much choice where preamp/gain was concerned anyway, because most 60s/early 70s amps didn't generally have that option. That's why everyone lost their shit over Randall Smith's little hot-rodded Princetons (which grew into the Mesa Boogies) in the 70s...it was a new era of volume control while retaining overdriven tone in a small amp.

I really wanted one of those original Boogies (despite the idiotic name and chair-seat-wicker speaker grille), but a 1x12 would have cost twice what I paid for a 50w Marshall 2x12, and the Marshall wasn't exactly cheap. I think I paid $1200 for it in 79, and a Mesa Boogie was closer to $2,000.

For what it's worth, I didn't have an amp with a preamp control until I got that Marshall. I was playing through Ampegs and occasionally a Sunn before that. So maybe it's just a question of old habits and preferences. Those Sunns were fucking loud, eh. Loudest things I ever heard.
 
The Strat wasn't a great loss at the time, since it was only a 10 year old guitar. I think I paid $700 for it. Now, of course it's probably a $10,000 guitar.
Maybe not $10,000, but it's ridiculous how high prices of certain Fenders (and many other guitars) have gone.
that would be an amazing guitar - you should do it! especially since you can do the assembly and wiring yourself, so you won't have to pay a tech a bunch of money to do it for you like i did.
You must have missed this post of mine:
Mind you, don't leave me alone with a soldering iron or I'll have a melted pile of rubbish on my hands.
The problem I see is that the replacement tailpiece is screwed through the top and into the center block. The Bigsby wouldn't cover that area and I'm wondering how terrible the two screw holes would look (I'm leaning toward very). I suppose some plugging and refin could be done, but then the money starts flying around. I'm also having trouble figuring out which Bigsy came stock. Some research indicates that it's "similar to the B-70." But the B-70 has four mounting holes and the cover that was added when the Bigsby was removed has three.

One option that is becoming more of an apparent reality is for me to realize that it is an amazing guitar as it stands right now (it really does play well and the wear on the neck is fantastic), so just play the crap out of it.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
oh, i was referring to MJP's prospective warmoth telecaster. personally, i leave all modifications to guitar techs - i'm good with a bike(cycle) or a book... not anything with wood or electronics.
 
Ooops. I probably should have been able to figure that out. Meanwhile, my fingers are sore from playing rounds all day (flats on the archtop).
 

mjp

Founding member
I'm also having trouble figuring out which Bigsy came stock. Some research indicates that it's "similar to the B-70." But the B-70 has four mounting holes and the cover that was added when the Bigsby was removed has three.
Looks like a B-70 has three holes, and a B-7 has four.

bigsby-b7-b70.jpg


It also looks like there were two different Bigsbys on the Starfire in the 60s. This one:

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Which you can buy for $260.

And there was this one, which from what I can tell is correct for the 67:

Untitled-1.jpg


I would plug the stop tailpiece holes though, even if you don't refinish over them. But it's probably more of a cosmetic thing than structural.
 
Thanks, mjp - I've been suffering from sensory overload on this. You're right on the B-7 vs the B-70 and the latter Bigsby on the Cherry body is the correct piece, but I can't be sure what model it is. Regarding holes, actually, I was referring to the number screw holes I need. The way my body is drilled, it's something like this:

x...................x
..........X.........
...........x.........

The large X represents the strap knob. So I haven't found a Bigsby on their website that matches all I'm seeing. The first example you posted (likely used up until '67) might do the trick (but that's a vintage model that appears to be no longer made - of course and it doesn't have the second bar closer to the bridge from where the string ball ends are housed).
 
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jordan

lothario speedwagon
as tremolos go, are bigsbys even that good, or is it more the iconic look and feel of them? i can't believe they wouldn't murder the strings. floyd rose for me! i dive bomb like crazy!!! (i had a guitar with a knock-off flyod rose when i was in high school and that thing was such a piece of shit it put me off tremolos forever.)
 

mjp

Founding member
Well I don't go for tremolos myself, so it's not something I'd do. But if the goal is to make the thing stock, then I suppose it has to go on there. The Floyd Rose coincided with the dawn of the super strat and Sunset Strip hair metal, and for my money those days are best forgotten.

Tremolo isn't really the correct term for WHAMMY BARS anyway (technically they should be called vibratos), but I think it was Fender who started calling them tremolos and it just stuck.
 
Yes, it was Leo Fender himself who coined the misnomer. I've pretty much decided to leave my Starfire V as-is for now, anyway. I've never had a whammy bar and I get the feeling that I'd spend most of my time flipping the handle out of the way.
 

mjp

Founding member
That's where the Fender whammy bar is superior: you can just unscrew it and stick it in a drawer somewhere. ;)

Which reminds me that we do have a Strat here that I'd forgotten about (because it's stashed away in a gig bag and not hanging out in the open). First thing I did when we got it is remove the vibrato arm and tighten the screws in the spring mount all the way down to the wood so the bridge can't move. When I had the '69 I completely removed the springs and used a small hardwood block wedged in the back to hold the bridge still.
 
Getting back to Gold Tops for just a bit, Henry McCullough used a Gold Top to record his iconic solo on McCartney's My Love (which, by the way, is really a jazz ballad played in the rock idiom; no mean feat to pull that off). Apparently, McCartney had composed a solo for that bit (as was typical) and they were doing multiple takes with a fairly large orchestra, so they needed to get things right in as few takes as possible. Somehow, the solo wasn't working for McCullough, so he asked McCartney if he could wing it on the final take. McCartney was his usual reluctant to release control self, but agreed. McCullough admits he had no idea what he was going to do and it just came out. McCartney's response apparently was "fucking great."

What makes that solo for me is the slide to F# on the secondary Dominant D7. The tune is in Bb Major and that note just sticks out - not like a sore thumb, but like a ray of sunshine that never looked quite like that before. In completely unrelated useless information, it is apparently also McCullough who can be heard saying "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time" near the end of Pink Floyd's Money.
 

mjp

Founding member
Speaking of Les Pauls, the Les Paul world is losing its mind today over (supposed) changes to the 2015 models.

All the furor is based on that article in the second link and the (now deleted) Amazon page the information comes from. No one seems to have picked up on the fact that the text from that page sounds like it was written by someone not at Gibson (and not a native English speaker).

The only "official" word I've seen from Gibson is a response to an email that said, in effect, "Calm down, the 2015 model specs haven't been finalized yet."

But even if the pictures are just prototypes, it looks like we're in for a year of fugly Gibsons.

gibson2015-1.jpg

Most of the shock and horror centers around the new "Les Paul's 100th birthday" (wait, I thought he was dead?) logo and brass zero fret nut.

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I don't really care about the logo (it actually grew on me after seeing a thousand pictures of it today), but a brass zero fret nut? Egads. Not that I'm buying a new Les Paul next year or anything.
 

mjp

Founding member
That's what they are calling it anyway - or what this preliminary leak is calling it.

I'm not sure why some people like a zero fret anyway, since it serves absolutely no purpose.
 
Back in the days when only techs worked on instruments, a poorly-cut nut could result in high action at the first few frets where string tension is high. A zero fret alleviates that to some degree and in these cases, the nut serves as string guides and not witness points. The witness points are effected at the zero fret.
 

mjp

Founding member
I had to look up "witness point," but I suppose it makes sense in that context. Kind of. But not really.

Unless the guitar is designed or built in a way that nut placement is sloppy or random and the scale is measured from that zero fret. But then how could you accurately tune the thing? It also seems unhelpful in the case of a high nut, since the string still has to be depressed just as far for that first fret as if there were no zero fret.

Unless you're saying the zero fret is in contact with the strings. I've never played a guitar with a zero fret so I don't know. The whole thing sounds like some sort of Euro-communist plot hatched by Czechoslovakians who couldn't measure properly.
 
Unless you're saying the zero fret is in contact with the strings.
Yes, the strings contact the zero fret at all times. The witness points are what determine string length and serve as the point at which the break angles are established. Each string has two: one is at the bridge saddle and the other is normally at the nut. But in the case of a zero fret, the zero fret is located where the nut normally would be and the nut is located a bit further from the bridge. The zero fret creates the second witness point.

This website shows a somewhat exaggerated case of how the zero fret reduces action at the first couple of positions: http://api.ning.com/files/ChyO68Py6...*kDpv7SWifXNpMr5S1TpuzzME0ni7IN/nutraiser.jpg
 

mjp

Founding member
I see.

Well in that case the brass Gibson nut could have what is effectively a zero fret if there is a raised ridge on the fingerboard side of the nut that the strings rest on. I guess a closer look at it would tell. But I still can't find any further details about any of those changes. If that's how it works though, and the nut height is adjustable on either side (they call it an adjustable zero fret nut), that seems like a much improved nut.

The nut has always been the toughest part of setting up a guitar. That Vixen that I bought recently was slotted too deeply in a couple spots, and I had to build them up with the super glue/baking soda hack. An adjustable nut would make that kind of messy fix obsolete.
 
The zero fret helps by avoiding that deep slot problem, but of course, it's not at all adjustable. It's also a trade-off if you want low action in the higher positions. Because the strings are so low in the lowest positions, you need to put some height on the bridge to avoid buzz at the first few frets.

Also, some people like zero frets because they cause open strings to have the same timbre as fretted notes because, well, they are.
 
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mjp

Founding member
Never been a fan of Rickenbacker guitars, but Courtney Love really makes them sound awesome, as this video that isolates her guitar playing and singing proves.

 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Sows ears and silk purses come to mind, but how to erase that video; nevermind.
So, hey Jimi, where you going with that Rickenbacker in your hand?:wb: - a rubbish joke, but difficult to separate a lot of classic sixties tracks from it including The Beatles and The Who to name just two.
 
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