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Rich W

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Everything posted by Rich W

  1. I think the "blame the re-seller" (e.g., Guitar Center) for product quality is a pretty lame response. It does not absolve the manufacturer of blame for building and shipping some problematic guitars. Certain re-sellers may have more of these questionable guitars for whatever reason, but this wouldn't be an issue if the quality of the product leaving the factory was uniformly good.
  2. Bill Nash is a well respected builder of professional quality relic Strats. His guitars have been praised by a number of reviewers like Tone Quest Report, he knows his stuff, and I agree with him about Gibson QC. Here's a quote from Bill Nash's website about a number of different guitar companies like Gretsch, Fender, Hamer, and Rickenbacker; and how their products compare to what they were making in the 1950s "Gibson falls in a mid point as they certainly have been bought and sold many times and moved factories etc, but the end product in most cases has come full circle and in my opinion they make guitars as good if not better than they did in the 50s. This of course depends on model as there are certainly examples of questionable guitars in their line. My only complaint is that the guitars generally need a complete fret dressing and some other mods when they come out of the factory."
  3. Who makes ES-339 cases besides Gibson?
  4. + 1 for Virtuoso ... I've tried a number of Gibson cleaners and polishes ... they won't get that stubborn haziness off nitro, but Virtuoso cleaner + polish does; and it also does a nice job on metal
  5. Sounds like Gibson is letting a lot of stuff out the door that never would have been sold before ... I always thought that there was greater pride in workmanship at Gibson than at Epiphone, but maybe not so much anymore.
  6. I’m also disappointed in the quality of the newer cases. My 339 came in one. It’s not a good sign when they don’t even take the time to properly vacuum out handfuls of saw dust. They’re not even in the same ball park as the older cases. I understand that Gibson is struggling and cost cutting like crazy, but I wish customers could at least have the option of upgrading from this Epiphone-quality case to one of the good ones they used to sell.
  7. 57s are particularly good in semi-hollows.
  8. I’ve got reasonably good, thick callouses on my fretting fingers. But I bend and slide a lot, and they’re constantly getting “grooved” and messed up with little edges that catch on strings. Also, sometimes when I play for a couple of hours, they soften up and make playing “sticky.” I try to keep my callouses flat and smooth with an emery board, and this helps a bit. Do you have any suggestions for maintaining them and keeping them hard and flat and dry?
  9. The recent thread about making the transition from a Les Paul to a Strat is interesting. And it inspired me to dig through my book and magazine collection to see what some of the pros have said about it. Jeff Beck: In the late 1960s, he was playing a burst in the studio but began to substitute a ‘54 Strat, in part, because it’s “a hardier touring instrument, and easier to repair.” (p. 91, Beck bio, Crazy Fingers). “The Strat’s a good stage guitar. Technically, it’s a b*tch to play, but it slices through the atmosphere with its highs.” (Nov 1975, Guitar Player). “I don’t really use Les Pauls. You wind up sounding like someone else with a Les Paul. I think I can sound more like me with a Strat.” (Oct 1980, Guitar Player). David Gilmour (Nov 1984, Guitar Player): “I love Les Pauls, and what people can do with them, but I can’t really get on with them that well. I use a Strat because I’m comfy with it. The sound and feeling I like best just happens to come from Fender.” Tony Iommi (Oct 1974, Guitar Player): Likes a Gibson neck and fretboard more than a Fender. Easier to bend notes. Robin Trower (April 1974, Guitar Player): “I always felt there was something missing on Les Pauls. They had a good fat sound, but they never had that ‘musical’ sound. When I played a Strat, I realized that it had that strident chord.” Frank Zappa (Jan 1977, Guitar Player): “I use Fenders and Gibsons for things they’re good for. The Strat has a drier sound. More of an acute, exact sound. And Gibsons have more of a sweat-hog type sound.” Richie Blackmore: “I prefer the sound of a Strat because they have more of an attack-y sound. A Strat is harder to play than a Gibson. I don’t know why. I think it’s because you can’t race across the Strat’s fretboard so fast. With a Gibson you tend to run away with yourself. It’s so easy to zoom up and down the neck that you end up just playing scales or chord shapes rather than really working for an original sound. Overall, playing a Fender is an art in itself, because they’re always going out of tune.” (July 1973, Guitar Player). “The transition was really hard. I found great difficulty in using a Strat the first two years. With a Gibson, you just race up and down, but with a Strat, you have to make every note sing or it just won’t work.” (Sept 1978, Guitar Player). Eric Clapton (July 1985, Guitar Player): When asked whether the Gibson is still his ‘blues’ guitar: “In some respects, yeah. When I get up there onstage, I often go through a great deal of indecision, even while I’m playing. If I’ve got the black Strat on and I’m in the middle of a blues, I’m kind of going, ‘Aw, I wish I had the Les Paul.’ Then again, if I were playing the Les Paul, the sound would be great, but I’d going ‘Man, I wish I had the Strat neck.’ I’m always caught in the middle of those two guitars. I’ve always liked the Freddie King / BB King rich tone. At the same time, I like the manic Buddy Guy / Otis Rush Strat tone. You can get somewhere in the middle, and that’s usually what I end up doing, trying to find a happy medium. But it’s bloody anguish.”
  10. Quality (and finish & construction): A US Fender-made strat that is not a master built probably won't match the quality of your LP custom. A lot of people feel that the best strats are now made by others like Suhr and Anderson. Ron Kirn will custom-make a great strat a decent price. And Nash relic strats, which are more affordable than Suhrs and Andersons, have a great reputation. FMIC post-CBS is not what it used to be. Tone: Both sound great. Strat noise can be reduced with shielding and (I haven't tried it) a single-coil noise reduction system that Suhr sells. Also haven't tried it, but Electroharmonix has a pedal that is supposed to cut single-coil noise but be completely transparent tone-wise. Pedals: Jason Lollar has said that you can get the best of out of your pedals with single coils. Probably a lot of disagreement about this in the humbucker camp, but this is another thing to consider and experiment with if you have a pedal board. Durability: Hands down for strats. Buddy Guy is often quoted as saying that he chose a strat, in part, because they are not nearly as fragile as set-neck guitars. And less likely to get damaged by United Airlines when traveling. Hendrix didn't bash up Gibsons. For that kind of theatrics he broke up his bolt-on neck strats, and then his tech patched them up for the next show. Modifiablity: Hands down for strats. If you don't like the neck and want something chunkier, no problem. If you want to hot rod your wiring, I think it's easier with strats because you can pop off the pick guard and have everything there to take to the work bench. Playability: Some like Jeff Beck say that longer scale guitars are more of a battle to play (but ultimately worth it for him). Others like the solid feel of a Les Paul. For playing sitting down, strats are more comfortable for most people. And playability will depend on your style. Do you bend strings a lot? Do you usually play closer to the nut or higher up? High fret access is better on strats and the longer scale works in your favor because you have more room between frets. Maybe you can't get a feel for this until you A/B a strat and your LP custom for an extended period of time. Always and interesting topic!
  11. +1 ... always takes awhile to adjust sounds like your LP is a good fit for you and, as Joni Mitchell sang, "don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone" it's a shame that you can't have two guitars ... it's always nice to have a backup if you can wrangle it ... not just for playing out, but also for guests, and for having something to play while the other one is in the shop
  12. I agree Larry. My guitars hang on the wall in different rooms where I can see them. I protect them from dust by putting clear plastic covers on them. Maybe it’s a psychological trick but, when they’re in full view, I play them a lot more and every day. And, while I have my favorites, displaying them also helps me to make sure I don’t “neglect” any of them for long periods the way I used to when they were all stored in their cases. I would use the cases if I was focused on keeping my guitars is pristine as possible. But, for me, pristine takes a back seat to playing the heck out them every day and trying to wear them out.
  13. I spent several days choosing between nine 339s in two different stores here in Vancouver. I was surprised that there was such variability in tone, and particularly when unplugged. None of the 339s I played were perfect. Some, for example, had bridges that were loose, or tilted toward the neck, or had saddles notched incorrectly. The heads of the guitar departments in both stores admitted that the quality of the Gibsons they’ve been seeing lately has gone down. I decided to buy the 339 with the best tone, and then replace the problematic bridge and sloppy tuning keys with TonePros. The person who installed the pickups also didn’t take the time to line them up straight before screwing them, but there’s not much I can about that. I knew about Gibson quality issues beforehand and expected that I would have to do some upgrades. So I’m not disappointed. Based on this experience, however, I would not recommend buying a 339 (or any semi-hollow) sight-unseen. There’s too much variability in tone ... some sound dead and some really sing out when strummed acoustically.
  14. Another reason why you might not want to do the conversion is that even if the tech can just barely get the proper intonation with the strings reversed, sooner or later you'll probably need to re-adjust intonation, and then you might be out of luck. A number things may necessitate a future intonation adjustment including changing action or string gauge or even string type (e.g., round core strings). Seems risky.
  15. I agree about potential intonation problems if you re-string a 339 as a leftie. My 339 ABR saddles are up as far as they can go, so it wouldn't work for me. The conversion might work with a Nashville or other bridge with more saddle adjustment capability ... but definitely do not buy sight-unseen, and instead look closely at the bridge of any 339 you're thinking about (e.g., treble E saddle should have lots of room to move forward).
  16. I use Pyramid Nickel Classics on one ... they're round core and amazing for jazzy bluesy tone ... and Gibson Vintage Re-Issues on another. D'Addarios are harder to bend than Pyramids, and don't sound as nice to my ears. I'm sold on nickel. And round core strings ... except for DR Pure Blues which, for me anyway, almost always require big saddle adjustments on my ABRs to get them to intonate. I don't know why I have so much trouble with DR Pure Blues, relative to other rounds core strings like Pyramids, Snake Oils, and Blues Sliders. Maybe, for round cores at least, you get what you pay for.
  17. I think Stormy Mondays are superior to BurstBucker Pros. Bare Knuckles pups are among the best. If you want to get Gibson pups, '57 Classics might be a better choice for a 335 than Burstbuckers.
  18. This has turned into an interesting thread. And it looks like I’m in the minority here. Spending two or three thousand dollars each for a collection of nice guitars like Les Pauls, and then playing them with a sub $1000 amp seems backwards to me. Dave Hunter, frequent contributor of articles to Gibson.com and author of several great gear books, has a good take on this, I think. He says in his tube amp book that most people spend quite a bit more on their guitars than on their amps. But that a budget guitar played through a more expensive amp almost always sounds much better than an expensive guitar played through a budget amp. Spending a couple of thousand or more on an amp might seem excessive. But if you have the money to buy a collection of nice guitars worth several times that amount, does it make sense to cut corners on the amp purchase, given that the amp's greater role in the signal chain? I think if you can scrape up the dough to get a good amp with tone that you love, it’s well worth it, and you’ll probably keep it forever.
  19. I like my 339, and I'm a fan of it's '57 Classic pups. It's playability is not as good as my older Les Paul, but it's so much "lighter" ... I choose it a lot because I play standing up. I haven't played a 359, but I suspect that Gibson takes a bit more time than they do with 339s to finish and set up 359s before pushing them out the door. With the 339, you're not getting the quality of, say, a Collings I-35; but it's a good guitar, and a great deal for the price I think.
  20. +1 for the Carr Mercury if bedroom and night playing is an important to you Tone on the 1/2 watt setting, to my ears, is still nice ... and the 8 watt setting is pretty loud. Steve Carr gigs with his Mercury. The Mercury is also versatile enough, with it's 3 boost settings, to give you a nice blackface Fender clean tone for your Eric Johnson strat; and some dirt too. If volume isn't a big concern, then it might make sense to get something else. But for apartment dwellers and nighttime players, it's among the best boutique amps in this price range, I think, and used ones are occasionally available for about $1500.
  21. Go ahead and blame Obama if you want. But let’s keep things in perspective. In particular, what about the many disasters the previous president was responsible for? Like plunging your country into a depression and bringing the world economy to near ruin, for starters. The guitar wood issue is trivial in comparison to some of damage that the Bush - Cheney regime is responsible for. And there are now a lot fewer ordinary folks who can afford nice new guitars like Les Pauls, thanks to those imbeciles.
  22. I also get the hazy, opaqueness on my Les Paul and 339 nitro finishes in the places where my arm and fingers are in constant contact. I agree with RAINBOWDEMON427 ... the Gibson Pump Polish and Luthier’s Choice products do nothing. Nitro safe, but not effective for removing that hazing. The combination of Virtuoso Cleaner and Polish, however, does the job. And does it well. In my experience, it’s the best nitro-safe product for this. Also, Virtuoso Cleaner works better than anything I’ve tried, including Gibson’s Luthier’s Choice Metal Cleaner, for restoring shine to tarnished nickel and gold finish.
  23. Temperature and humidity changes can affect tuning from one day to the next, but what about single strings that go out of tune more than the others? I’m assuming that these temperature/humidity changes have a general effect on all of the strings together. But is it plausible that these changes could also affect mostly the G string ... or does this sound more like a tuning machine / nut issue?
  24. I never thought I would find a guitar that would displace my Les Paul as my #1 but, since getting it 2 months ago, I play my 339 every day and love its tone. It’s the one I always pick up now, and my Lester rarely gets played. I’ve have some fit-and-finish issues with my 339 hardware that I’m still in the process of repairing but, warts and all, I like it a lot.
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