Guitars, basses and other noisemakers (1 Viewer)

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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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...
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

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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


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.
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
It's funny how a logo can put you off something. I could never get behind anything Peavy because of that logo. And when I was a kid those were mainly used by country music players.

But logos, yeah, Joe Strummer used Music Man amps, but he said that he didn't like "the picture of the guys wearing flares" on the front.


It's really more of a wide-legged trouser or Palazzo pant, but I get his point.
I totally get the label thing. I hate to admit it, but in my younger days, and up til recently, I was a label snob. If it wasn't Fender, Gibson, Martin, I was not interested.

But now, older and wiser, I know I've missed a lot of non-big name cool/quality gear.

Re Peavey amp:
Back in the day, the fact that it was solid state would have trumped its name. TUBE ONLY was my mantra. Again, now older and wiser, I realize it's all in the fingers (mostly). When I debuted the amp at a jam, everyone was impressed by the little amp's tone, and how my fingers coaxed it out.... that is, I sounded the same as I do on my tube amps (maybe a touch less dynamics due to no tube sag.)

Its look: I personally like the amp's look. I suppose because it reminds me of my youth, where these things were everywhere. Would I have bought one new? No way, baby, it was Fender tube all the way.

The thing is built like a tank, and its Made in USA. These things are sleepers, as other gear forums agree. They're so cheap. I don't need more amps, but now I want to collect them...and trade'em with my friends.

Side note: I had a 70s Music Man HD130. A beastly, bulging amp. (2) 12"s, 130 w. I wasn't man enough for it. Let it go after a couple years.
I'm not talking so much about brand snobbery as much as aesthetics (but I have brand snobbery too). The Peavy logo is just ugly to me, so I wouldn't want to stand in front of it. I would never know if it was decent gear because I wouldn't have ever tried it. It's not logical, it's just a weird aesthetic brain tick. When I was young, I bought almost exclusively Panasonic electronics because I liked they way they were designed. Not for any logical, rational reason.

It's not hard to make a decent logo though. Or an unoffensive one. I don't imagine millions of dollars or months of market research went into the Fender, Marshall, or Gibson logos (or the AMERICAN STYLE IPA?). They were probably sketched on napkins.
I should have seen that, but I'm reading the new posts in reverse chronological order (is that reverse chronological, oldest first? I don't know) and I've been in bed for 36 hours with some kind of roller coaster body temperature disease, so I plead incompetence. I just plead incompetence in general.
Now I see what you mean, mjp. I was conflating logo aesthetics with brand snobbery. I totally agree with you. You've got to feel good brandishing or standing in front of your gear.

I wish I could put sentimentality away. That's why that Peavey logo looks good to me now. It's horsey, and jaggedy. I didn't love it then, but darn it, I do now....

New topic re Les Paul Juniors: One of my wife's best childhood girlfriend's dad has a '50s LPJr and Gibson amp of same year. Been under his bed for decades. He's had it since he was a kid (he's in his 70s now).
Over the years, during the infrequent instances I'd see him, I'd ask about it. I think if I had $5K, he'd sell both. Morbidly, I'm waiting for my wife's friend to just give them to me. But I suspect the other siblings wouldn't sanction that at all...

Another thing I agree with: LPJrs or Specials are Rock 'n' Roll machines!
You'd have to see the condition. Sometimes being under a bed for 50 years is good for a guitar, sometimes it's not. For some reason those old Gibson amps don't have much value. No one really wants them. It's always cool to see a guitar/amp pair that started life together though.
You know it. That bedridden LPJr could need a hell of a lot of set-up work. Not that that is unsurmountable...but in my fantasies, it's in supreme playable condition right out of the case.

I'll try to get a pic and post it.

I forgot to mention: he took like one or 2 lessons, then quit. To my knowledge, no one has used it since. Something sad about an unplayed, lonely classic guitar...
Some interesting stuff, but overall kind of a weird auction. That Ray Davies Flying V will probably get the highest bids. But buying something like that at an auction...with the 25% or whatever tacked on...ouch.
I could watch/listen to Joe all day. One of my guitar player friends and I get inspired and occasionally try to tackle the Hotel California solo played by Walsh and Felder. We usually don't get too far and move on to other things...disgusted with ourselves for quitting yet again...

I just picked up a Les Paul Studio in white with gold hardware/ebony board for a song on C-list.

To me, ebony boards on white LPs are a must.
I thought this was a decent shoot out...

Guitar Shootout: Gibson, Fender, and Rickenbacker. Guitars are as follows:
-1995 Gibson Les Paul Studio - 490R & 498T
-1992 Gibson Les Paul Standard - 490R & 498T
-2000 Gibson SG '61 Reissue - '57 classic & '57 classic
-1999 Fender American Standard Telecaster - Stock pickups
-1990 Rickenbacker 620/6 - Stock high gain single coils
-1999 Rickenbacker 360/6 - high gain & toaster

I dabbled in the boutique pedal arena, but turns out, the audience doesn't care/can't differentiate from a $250 (insert pedal type) or a $75 (insert pedal type) back to Boss...

Danelectro, Joyo, and Behringer put out cheap pedal lines, sometimes in plastic cases and packaged in blister-packs like they were meant to be sold at WalMart. There are a lot of YouTube videos showing that you can't really hear any difference between them and "boutique" pedals. Which isn't surprising since a circuit is a circuit (for the most part). You might hear differences when you're recording, but in a live band situation, those differences don't matter at all.

I wouldn't say BOSS is cheap though. Some of them may be inexpensive, but they will survive life on the road, which you can't say about a pedal in a plastic enclosure. I have 40-year-old BOSS pedals that still work perfectly. I'll take a BOSS over almost anything else any day. As long as they make the same noise.

And don't forget that 99% of "boutique" pedals are based on old BOSS circuits. There's that.

The only time "a circuit is a circuit" doesn't hold true is when you're talking about pedals that use certain components that either vary wildly in their values and effects (like germanium transistors) or change when the manufacturing changes (like inductors in wah pedals). But when people say an old BOSS whatever is better because it uses a different IC chip, I don't know about that. It's debatable. The new BOSS Waza pedals sound almost exactly like the vintage pedals they're based on, and all of those chips have changed.

Wah pedals though man, those things are all over the map. Those inductors are such an important part of the sound in that simple circuit that there are very noticeable differences in vintage and modern wahs. I have an old Cry Baby form the 60s that I keep repairing and maintaining because no modern wah pedal can make the same noise.
I enjoyed your write up, and totally agree with everything.

I forgot to say comparing boutique and mass produced pedals in your bedroom--yes, I could hear differences, but live, not enough to justify.

IC chips--I get a kick from reading arguments on the guitar forums, for example, about original TS-808 JRC4558 chips being "better" than reissue screamers with TA75558P chips. There are other factors that influence sound more than chipsets (but I'm not discounting this part of the design). Of course, musicians have created the mystique (like we do with other facets). I believe the original engineers just grabbed whatever parts they had on the shelf that would satisfy the design.

Behringer pedals, from what I gather, have some exact clones of older Boss pedals, like the FZ-2, which is pretty pricey on the used market.

My 4-pedal travel board is all Boss, and I seem to play it/enjoy it more than my large 8-pedal board (which still contains 2 Boss pedals).

I think Boss is a pretty cool brand, and like you said, is one of the originals. The enclosure hasn't changed in 43 years. A design icon.

I like that you are keeping your old Cry Baby serviced and seeing action.

Have you ever built pedals from scratch? I dipped my toe in those waters (built 2 fuzz pedals from using perf board and Vero board, all handwired--rather than a PCB kit). It was exciting/fascinating to learn about circuits, but I found I was tinkering more and playing a lot less. And the music is what's important.

So I replaced exploring guitar electronics with learning more theory and more practicing.
Have you ever built pedals from scratch?
A few. One I use, a clone of a Sola Sound Tone Bender Professional MKII fuzz, with three old Philips OC76 germanium transistors. It sounds great, but the sound of the germanium transistors changes depending on the room temperature. So it's unpredictable, which is good, I suppose, for an unhinged kind of over the top fuzz like that.

The other is an octave thing, based on one of those old square Dan Armstrong boxes I think. They were called Orange Squeezer, Lemon Peeler, fruity names like that. It doesn't work so well and I can't figure out what's wrong with it. But it makes a lot of weird noise when it's on, so maybe it's better than it was supposed to be. (Google says it's a Green Ringer.)

I have the parts for a Slow Gear but I haven't put them together.
A Slow Gear, eh? Those things are pretty rare/expensive. You should totally build that!

Here are 2 pics of my AxisFace fuzz I built. The idea is to choose 2 silicon trannies close in HfE to a germanium.



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