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2018 Gibson ES-335 Traditional - Ebony NGD

#1 User is offline   hi13ts 

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 12:08 AM

Hi friends, just bought a used ES-335 Traditional in Antique Ebony from GC at a steep discount. Sort of an impulse buy to a certain extent. I saw Zzounds and American Musical selling them new for $2799 and figured that was too good of a deal to entirely ignore, so I went to my local GC where a few friends worked and asked how much better they can get it. Unfortunately, all their new stock in ebony was completely sold out. After some digging around, the guys found one used at a store in Dallas. Condition was "great", as they marked it, and they took the price down even further. Seemed to be a great deal so I pulled the trigger. Four days later, it arrived at the store and I must say, it was in pretty rough shape. You'd think the store in Dallas would at least clean it up before selling it, but no. However, when I played it, for being in pretty rough and neglected shape, it played pretty well and sounded excellent. I thought "there has to be some magic in here somewhere". I took it home, polished it up, polished the frets and cleaned the board and it started coming around. I tried to reinstall my Towner Bigsby with those terrible locking studs that come with this model and it didn't work. Long story short and several string changes afterwards, this terrible locking stopbar was giving me blood pressure problems. I was taking it to my luthier the next day to get a good nut job done anyway, I figured I would get some stop bar studs then as well and that's exactly what happened. My star luthier cut the nut down and cleaned it up real nicely and got it to pretty ideal conditions. After a few tweaks, I got it playing as well as the rest of the gallery.

Now for a few reflections:

Firstly, the nut came in terrible condition. Badly cut and not polished up. It wasn't even glued onto the neck. I was for sure that the person who owned it before didn't realize it came stock with a bone nut and put an aftermarket bone in it. However, I relayed this to a friend and he said he just bought a recent production 335 and had the exact same problem. This makes me wonder if there is some strange things going on in Memphis.

Second, it's much more resonant and lighter than my 333. I know they were doing some weight-relieved center blocks around this time and I wonder if the Traditionals were one of the models that have that.

As with any new guitar, there's a bit of a break-in period for me as it still plays differently than my other ones. The rolled fingerboard is a little odd feeling for me. The MHS pickups are excellent sounding PAF-inspired pickups, but they definitely take some getting use to, especially for me being around 57 Classics and Burstbuckers all my Gibson life.

I am not a fan of the Grover tuners. I like the TonePros/modern Klusons that are on most USA models. The Grovers have a higher gear ratio and the responsiveness is not something I'm used to. I figured I'd just adapt instead of needlessly replacing it.

Overall, it's a pretty excellent sounding guitar, very acoustic, and is starting to play well. Love the thicker neck and it looks just so classy in ebony, holy moly. Love the aesthetics of the 60s block inlays as well. I walked into a trap because I was for sure going to sell my ES-333 to finance this. However, when I played them side by side, there's no clear winner as they both play and sound so different. None is better than the other. I'd say the 333 is a more shreddy sounding and playing guitar with its Burstbuckers, 57 Classic, and Ibanez-esque neck. The 335 is definitely much more old fashioned in all respects. Couldn't sell one, can't return the other. I'm happy to have this as a bit of an early Christmas gift to myself and am preparing to play it at its inaugural gig tomorrow. Will add any anecdotes that come with that. Thanks for reading.

Here are some photos: https://photos.app.g...JJUCGRkgFaej467

Something happened near the neck joint. At first I thought the original owner bumped it, but given the position and the fact that it has that on both sides of fretboard made me a little incredulous about that theory. My luthier suspects it was wood expanding and cracking the nitro.
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#2 User is offline   FZ Fan 

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 10:05 AM

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#3 User is offline   Wmachine 

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 10:22 AM

View Posthi13ts, on 09 November 2018 - 12:08 AM, said:

Hi friends, just bought a used ES-335 Traditional in Antique Ebony from GC at a steep discount. Sort of an impulse buy to a certain extent. I saw Zzounds and American Musical selling them new for $2799 and figured that was too good of a deal to entirely ignore, so I went to my local GC where a few friends worked and asked how much better they can get it. Unfortunately, all their new stock in ebony was completely sold out. After some digging around, the guys found one used at a store in Dallas. Condition was "great", as they marked it, and they took the price down even further. Seemed to be a great deal so I pulled the trigger. Four days later, it arrived at the store and I must say, it was in pretty rough shape. You'd think the store in Dallas would at least clean it up before selling it, but no. However, when I played it, for being in pretty rough and neglected shape, it played pretty well and sounded excellent. I thought "there has to be some magic in here somewhere". I took it home, polished it up, polished the frets and cleaned the board and it started coming around. I tried to reinstall my Towner Bigsby with those terrible locking studs that come with this model and it didn't work. Long story short and several string changes afterwards, this terrible locking stopbar was giving me blood pressure problems. I was taking it to my luthier the next day to get a good nut job done anyway, I figured I would get some stop bar studs then as well and that's exactly what happened. My star luthier cut the nut down and cleaned it up real nicely and got it to pretty ideal conditions. After a few tweaks, I got it playing as well as the rest of the gallery.

Now for a few reflections:

Firstly, the nut came in terrible condition. Badly cut and not polished up. It wasn't even glued onto the neck. I was for sure that the person who owned it before didn't realize it came stock with a bone nut and put an aftermarket bone in it. However, I relayed this to a friend and he said he just bought a recent production 335 and had the exact same problem. This makes me wonder if there is some strange things going on in Memphis.

Second, it's much more resonant and lighter than my 333. I know they were doing some weight-relieved center blocks around this time and I wonder if the Traditionals were one of the models that have that.

As with any new guitar, there's a bit of a break-in period for me as it still plays differently than my other ones. The rolled fingerboard is a little odd feeling for me. The MHS pickups are excellent sounding PAF-inspired pickups, but they definitely take some getting use to, especially for me being around 57 Classics and Burstbuckers all my Gibson life.

I am not a fan of the Grover tuners. I like the TonePros/modern Klusons that are on most USA models. The Grovers have a higher gear ratio and the responsiveness is not something I'm used to. I figured I'd just adapt instead of needlessly replacing it.

Overall, it's a pretty excellent sounding guitar, very acoustic, and is starting to play well. Love the thicker neck and it looks just so classy in ebony, holy moly. Love the aesthetics of the 60s block inlays as well. I walked into a trap because I was for sure going to sell my ES-333 to finance this. However, when I played them side by side, there's no clear winner as they both play and sound so different. None is better than the other. I'd say the 333 is a more shreddy sounding and playing guitar with its Burstbuckers, 57 Classic, and Ibanez-esque neck. The 335 is definitely much more old fashioned in all respects. Couldn't sell one, can't return the other. I'm happy to have this as a bit of an early Christmas gift to myself and am preparing to play it at its inaugural gig tomorrow. Will add any anecdotes that come with that. Thanks for reading.

Here are some photos: https://photos.app.g...JJUCGRkgFaej467

Something happened near the neck joint. At first I thought the original owner bumped it, but given the position and the fact that it has that on both sides of fretboard made me a little incredulous about that theory. My luthier suspects it was wood expanding and cracking the nitro.

An interesting read. Shows the value of being objective when evaluating a purchase, being new or used. Some "issues" are workable and are often more than worth it to work thru, rather than just throwing up your hands and "demanding better". What really counts is what you end up with, period. Sure a smooth road is preferred, but in the end it is of little importance if you stay focused and are patient.
The neck flaws look a bit disconcerting, but an okay from a (mine at least) luthier would satisfy me.
However, under your circumstances, I would still pressure GC for a further discount, threatening to return it even if you have no intention to. Just to give it a shot, I think that is justified, especially showing them those pics.
Also, I certainly do understand your 333 vs 335 dilemma. And that happens with 335s vs 335s even, with just differences is pups, wiring, and just guitar to guitar differences. It is not just an excuse to keep both. And one doesn't have to be better. I think with 335s, it more often than not just "different", not "better".

This post has been edited by Wmachine: 09 November 2018 - 10:24 AM

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#4 User is offline   Larsongs 

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 10:53 PM

If it ain't perfect return it. If it's Used there is no Gibson Factory Lifetime Warranty. Which IMO & experience is worth it's weight in Gold. There are Tons of great Brand New full Lifetime Factory Warranteed Gibson Guitars available. Especially in that Price Range. Including 335's... And many Great Alternatives..

Sounds like your Friends aren't really your Friends to me.......
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#5 User is offline   hi13ts 

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 02:43 AM

The local store is certainly aware of those cracks on the binding, as it was shipped to the store. They, of course, reminded me of the 45 day return period if I decide that it's too much to deal with. I realize it wasn't on them, but rather the Dallas store was not as forthcoming as they should have been to both of us. In regards to demanding more of a discount, I have full faith that the guys who were helping me exhausted their authority, as it was a discount on a used item compounded with this financing special they have going on. Even if there was a slight chance that if I caused enough trouble and raised enough hell, a general manager would be called to possibly give me more of discount, that amount would most certainly not be worth the time and trouble, especially for something that is cosmetic and not structurally dangerous.

Now, in regards to it being perfect. I have seldom played a guitar that I would consider perfect. Actually, I don't think I ever played one that was through and through perfect, even the higher-end and vintage ones. I'm completely indifferent about cosmetic blemishes, so when I say this, I speak more on playability, sound, and structure. It seems to me that perhaps some players buy guitars with a mentality of buying something like a computer or TV. There's an expectation of consistent delivery and perfect presentation. A guitar, however, given the fact that it's made out of a temperamental material and that the ones we talk about here have some hand work involved, shouldn't be held to that same mentality. The closest I can liken it to is buying a car. Obviously there's an expectation of standard of performance and structural integrity that is attached to the make and model, but it requires maintenance and tweaking to get to an ideal level.

Every guitar I own has something about it that makes it near impossible for me to sell or trade-in. It definitely did not start out perfect, and perhaps objectively, it still isn't perfect. I do a lot of work on my guitars and they have all come to a place where it's definitely part of my team, each with their own idiosyncrasies. The more time I have a guitar, the more I learn about its nuances and the more I adapt to its personality, and I get the feeling that it adapts to mine. I know it sounds absurd given that it's an inanimate object, but every guitar has a personality or character.

So far, after its inaugural gig, I can say that this 335 is one of the best sounding guitars I've owned. It's extremely responsive and nuanced. Playability-wise, I'm still learning and adapting with it. Some of my guitars like heavier gauge strings, some lighter. I might try something like that next time I change the strings. Perhaps set the action a little differently, lower the tension bar, etc. My point is that each guitar is different and reacts differently to what you put on it and what you do to it. I can't imagine returning it just because it's not "perfect" in the way that it doesn't play like my others or that there's a cosmetic blemish.
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#6 User is offline   SteveFord 

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 06:15 AM

Sounds like you found the one you want.
A skilled technician can take care of the finish for you.
My Lucille had the nitro melted down to the bare wood where some previous clodhopper left it on a stand forever and now you'd never know it, the repair is perfect.
The poodle bites, the poodle chews it
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#7 User is offline   hi13ts 

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 11:51 AM

I agree. I'm sure my tech could patch it up real easily, but cosmetic flaws or imperfections don't bother me much. My Les Paul was in a similar situation as your Lucille was. It was a year-old model that was hanging on the hook of the guitar shop for a long time. The black plastic bonded to the headstock and is something that can't be easily wiped off. However, it's sort of become a part of the guitar for me. That being said, I'm a proponent of the whole relic thing, so contrary to what's sensible, I kind of like dings and scratches (as long as it's not threatening the structural integrity of the instrument). I understand why other people would want a more pristine look, though, especially if they're buying high dollar items like Gibson guitars.
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#8 User is offline   Larsongs 

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 10:14 PM

Your original Thread made it sound like you were less than happy with it.

I've bought & sold lots of Guitars over the years. There are no shortage of good ones. I have returned many Guitars & Amps looking for the right one.. If I don't get it I keep looking. When I finally get the right one, I'm happy. Especially knowing if there's a problem down the road the Lifetime Factory Warranty will take care of it. As it has done for me in the past.

I was just trying to give you some insight.

If you don't need it or want it, no problem...

Hope you're happy with your Purchase..

Lars
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#9 User is offline   Wmachine 

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 11:11 AM

View Posthi13ts, on 11 November 2018 - 02:43 AM, said:

The local store is certainly aware of those cracks on the binding, as it was shipped to the store. They, of course, reminded me of the 45 day return period if I decide that it's too much to deal with. I realize it wasn't on them, but rather the Dallas store was not as forthcoming as they should have been to both of us. In regards to demanding more of a discount, I have full faith that the guys who were helping me exhausted their authority, as it was a discount on a used item compounded with this financing special they have going on. Even if there was a slight chance that if I caused enough trouble and raised enough hell, a general manager would be called to possibly give me more of discount, that amount would most certainly not be worth the time and trouble, especially for something that is cosmetic and not structurally dangerous.

Now, in regards to it being perfect. I have seldom played a guitar that I would consider perfect. Actually, I don't think I ever played one that was through and through perfect, even the higher-end and vintage ones. I'm completely indifferent about cosmetic blemishes, so when I say this, I speak more on playability, sound, and structure. It seems to me that perhaps some players buy guitars with a mentality of buying something like a computer or TV. There's an expectation of consistent delivery and perfect presentation. A guitar, however, given the fact that it's made out of a temperamental material and that the ones we talk about here have some hand work involved, shouldn't be held to that same mentality. The closest I can liken it to is buying a car. Obviously there's an expectation of standard of performance and structural integrity that is attached to the make and model, but it requires maintenance and tweaking to get to an ideal level.

Every guitar I own has something about it that makes it near impossible for me to sell or trade-in. It definitely did not start out perfect, and perhaps objectively, it still isn't perfect. I do a lot of work on my guitars and they have all come to a place where it's definitely part of my team, each with their own idiosyncrasies. The more time I have a guitar, the more I learn about its nuances and the more I adapt to its personality, and I get the feeling that it adapts to mine. I know it sounds absurd given that it's an inanimate object, but every guitar has a personality or character.

So far, after its inaugural gig, I can say that this 335 is one of the best sounding guitars I've owned. It's extremely responsive and nuanced. Playability-wise, I'm still learning and adapting with it. Some of my guitars like heavier gauge strings, some lighter. I might try something like that next time I change the strings. Perhaps set the action a little differently, lower the tension bar, etc. My point is that each guitar is different and reacts differently to what you put on it and what you do to it. I can't imagine returning it just because it's not "perfect" in the way that it doesn't play like my others or that there's a cosmetic blemish.


I totally agree with your "take" on what makes a good guitar. Seems that far too may forum jockeys are much more obsessed with cosmetics than how good the guitar really is. When the usual "my new guitar has (cosmetics) wrong with it, should I keep it or return it" thread comes up, my first question is always, "Is it a good one?" Seems that most either don't know what that means or don't care. Always a huge contingency that says "Send it back, demand better quality for your money, yada yada".
And others don't believe there is such a thing as "a good one". Too bad for all of those that don't get it. Because there are differences, and there are ones that have nuances there to be discovered and understood. And a "good one" doesn't act any differently with a nick, scratch, or finish blem. That's why good ones are still good ones when they are used and show it.
So one can miss out by returning a blemished new one without even trying it out. Your objective is the same as mine: getting a good one.
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#10 User is offline   Larsongs 

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 12:44 AM

View PostWmachine, on 12 November 2018 - 11:11 AM, said:

I totally agree with your "take" on what makes a good guitar. Seems that far too may forum jockeys are much more obsessed with cosmetics than how good the guitar really is. When the usual "my new guitar has (cosmetics) wrong with it, should I keep it or return it" thread comes up, my first question is always, "Is it a good one?" Seems that most either don't know what that means or don't care. Always a huge contingency that says "Send it back, demand better quality for your money, yada yada".
And others don't believe there is such a thing as "a good one". Too bad for all of those that don't get it. Because there are differences, and there are ones that have nuances there to be discovered and understood. And a "good one" doesn't act any differently with a nick, scratch, or finish blem. That's why good ones are still good ones when they are used and show it.
So one can miss out by returning a blemished new one without even trying it out. Your objective is the same as mine: getting a good one.


There are also those who know there are 10 jillion Guitars out there. It's not that hard to find a really good one that has no flaws & you don't have to settle. That includes really Great brand new Guitars that come with Factory Lifetime Warranties too....
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#11 User is offline   Wmachine 

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 06:58 AM

View PostLarsongs, on 14 November 2018 - 12:44 AM, said:

There are also those who know there are 10 jillion Guitars out there. It's not that hard to find a really good one that has no flaws & you don't have to settle. That includes really Great brand new Guitars that come with Factory Lifetime Warranties too....

Of course. Though I'm not really in agreement that it is "not too hard to find a really good one". I guess it depends on what is "not too hard" is for someone. But when you add "flawless" to the "good one" requirement, that makes it a lot more difficult. I just can't get that excited about (cosmetic) flaws, and it becomes flawed with ownership anyway. And that being the case, I just can't see spending my time and energy with that additional difficulty of adding "flawless" to "a good one".
It is not that flaws are totally ignored, they're just not that important.

I've got nothing against anyone who wants and pursues a flawless guitar. If that is what's important to someone, then have at it. I just don't understand it, when "is it a good one?" doesn't even come under consideration. Seems bass-ackward to me. And more incredible to me are those that don't even believe there is such a thing as "a good one".

Personally, I think one of the main reasons that "good ones" take a back seat to "flaws" (on forums at least) is that anyone can see a flaw. Defining and identifying a "good one" is a lot more difficult especially with little experience.
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#12 User is offline   Larsongs 

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 08:42 AM

View PostWmachine, on 14 November 2018 - 06:58 AM, said:

Of course. Though I'm not really in agreement that it is "not too hard to find a really good one". I guess it depends on what is "not too hard" is for someone. But when you add "flawless" to the "good one" requirement, that makes it a lot more difficult. I just can't get that excited about (cosmetic) flaws, and it becomes flawed with ownership anyway. And that being the case, I just can't see spending my time and energy with that additional difficulty of adding "flawless" to "a good one".
It is not that flaws are totally ignored, they're just not that important.

I've got nothing against anyone who wants and pursues a flawless guitar. If that is what's important to someone, then have at it. I just don't understand it, when "is it a good one?" doesn't even come under consideration. Seems bass-ackward to me. And more incredible to me are those that don't even believe there is such a thing as "a good one".

Personally, I think one of the main reasons that "good ones" take a back seat to "flaws" (on forums at least) is that anyone can see a flaw. Defining and identifying a "good one" is a lot more difficult especially with little experience.


I agree, if it isn't a really good Guitar it isn't worth buying.... Flawed or Flawless..... I have several really good Guitars that I play a lot that are 20 years old or older that are still pretty much flawless... While I love playing them & I play everyday I try to be a good caretaker.... For me, in a way, they're like my Cars & I treat them the same...

This post has been edited by Larsongs: 14 November 2018 - 08:44 AM

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#13 User is offline   Wmachine 

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 09:24 AM

View PostLarsongs, on 14 November 2018 - 08:42 AM, said:

I agree, if it isn't a really good Guitar it isn't worth buying.... Flawed or Flawless..... I have several really good Guitars that I play a lot that are 20 years old or older that are still pretty much flawless... While I love playing them & I play everyday I try to be a good caretaker.... For me, in a way, they're like my Cars & I treat them the same...

So totally agree there. Caretakers indeed, yes my cars too. Glad to hear someone else express that caretaker POV.
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#14 User is offline   AngelDeVille 

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 12:27 PM

I can honestly say Iím not a fan of 335ís, until now...

She looks beautiful, the color is gorgeous, the Bigsby is exactly as I would add to it.

The binding cracks at the frets donít bother me at all, I would probably not have noticed them. I have some guitars with them and some without, but off the top of my head I canít recall which do.
Sent via two tin cans connected by a string and a jailbroken Atari 2600...
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#15 User is offline   hi13ts 

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 02:07 AM

View PostLarsongs, on 11 November 2018 - 10:14 PM, said:

Your original Thread made it sound like you were less than happy with it.

I've bought & sold lots of Guitars over the years. There are no shortage of good ones. I have returned many Guitars & Amps looking for the right one.. If I don't get it I keep looking. When I finally get the right one, I'm happy. Especially knowing if there's a problem down the road the Lifetime Factory Warranty will take care of it. As it has done for me in the past.

I was just trying to give you some insight.

If you don't need it or want it, no problem...

Hope you're happy with your Purchase..

Lars


Thank you, Lars. It was not my intention for my initial post to be negative. I was more or less detailing what I found and the work I did to it as opposed to blindly saying "I got a new guitar and it's so good" off of the high that one normally gets when buying a new guitar. As per what you've been saying, if I were truly unhappy with it, I think I would've had the hunch to send it back within the first few days. I think I've gotten to a point where I can feel whether or a guitar or amp is not jiving with me pretty quickly. That unfortunately happened recently with the new Origins from Marshall, but that's another story for another forum. I did, however, stick around with a '78 Custom that I was wholly unhappy with for about two years, so maybe I'm not so keen after all.

Blessed to be having these discussions at all. The fact that we have the opportunity to choose to own these instruments is pretty amazing.
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#16 User is offline   Larsongs 

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 09:17 AM

View Posthi13ts, on 15 November 2018 - 02:07 AM, said:

Thank you, Lars. It was not my intention for my initial post to be negative. I was more or less detailing what I found and the work I did to it as opposed to blindly saying "I got a new guitar and it's so good" off of the high that one normally gets when buying a new guitar. As per what you've been saying, if I were truly unhappy with it, I think I would've had the hunch to send it back within the first few days. I think I've gotten to a point where I can feel whether or a guitar or amp is not jiving with me pretty quickly. That unfortunately happened recently with the new Origins from Marshall, but that's another story for another forum. I did, however, stick around with a '78 Custom that I was wholly unhappy with for about two years, so maybe I'm not so keen after all.

Blessed to be having these discussions at all. The fact that we have the opportunity to choose to own these instruments is pretty amazing.



Cheers! I'll drink to that!
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