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CBS or Norlin. Which gave more (quality drop) ?

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Expressively mentioning that this is based on personal experiences only, my impressions are the following:

 

Some CBS Fenders suffered from selection of inferior quality or inappropriately processed woods, assumably drying problems. There appeared neck twisting among instruments which always were set up fine and nicely tuned, and neck replacements were more due to these troubles than to fret wear.

 

Gibsons had some more problems with workmanship, partially cosmetics, partially essentials like bridge and pickup alignments. There should also be mentioned this - look here :

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/104877-neck-pick-up-muddy-sound-on-bass-strings/page__pid__1425088#entry1425088

 

Fact is: Thousands of Gibsons out there lack clarity just due to misdimensioned tone pots, and people aren't even aware of it. Replacing the 100 kOhms tone pots with 500 kOhms ones would bring these guitars to life.

 

Some people - including me! - tried replacement pickups and came to the instant conclusion that the guitar is bad. Luckily I decided to read pot measurements, swapped the tone pots, went back to the stock pickups on my 1978 SG, and it seemed a new guitar to me. It is a really great instrument from the Norlin era that was choked before by its stock tone pots only!

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Well, Norlin nearly bankrupt=destroyed Gibson! So, to me, they were worse, than CBS was,

to Fender.

 

I don't have actual "numbers"=quantity comparisons, but...Gibson's reputation, was in the

toilet, toward the end of the Norlin era. They still made some excellent guitars, though.

I own 2, from that era...'76 Les Paul Deluxe, and '80 Les Paul Custom! Both, are Great

guitars, all the way around! Never owned a CBS Fender, though...so, I can't speak to that.

All my Fender's are either Pre-CBS (Real "Leo" Fender guitars), or...built within the last

5-10 years.

 

So...???

 

CB

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Well, Norlin nearly bankrupt=destroyed Gibson! So, to me, they were worse, than CBS was,

to Fender.

 

I don't have actual "numbers"=quantity comparisons, but...Gibson's reputation, was in the

toilet, toward the end of the Norlin era. They still made some excellent guitars, though.

I own 2, from that era...'76 Les Paul Deluxe, and '80 Les Paul Custom! Both, are Great

guitars, all the way around! Never owned a CBS Fender, though...so, I can't speak to that.

All my Fender's are either Pre-CBS (Real "Leo" Fender guitars), or...built within the last

5-10 years.

 

So...???

 

CB

As for the reputation, I think the bad rap on the that time "new" Gibson pickups was due to the tone pots. Many players cut their connections to achieve an open tone. I replaced several pairs of 100 kOhms ones on my pals' guitars with 500 kOhms types.

 

I had to deal with CBS Fender necks of bandmates. They were hard to adjust, and it took years until they had stabilized. Sometimes the curvature jumped to or fro during playing, leaving the guitars severely detuned what led to awkward situations sometimes. There also were wiggling necks due to poorly routed neck seats, a problem which occurred later on many bolt-on neck PRS guitars.

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We're assuming that Norlin and CBS both had a close relationship with the design and production. That may not be true. Some things at Fender were "in the works" when CBS bought it, e.g the big headstocks on Strats, Wildwoods, Roger Rossmeisel's acoustic line, etc. As to QC and "green wood" in the 70s, someone was to blame, yeah, but was it upper-upper-upper management or was that the fault of local staff? And did Norlin design the double X bracing, shallower neck angles, choice of glue, pinless bridges, the "J-200 Artist" etc? I don't know, just asking. Did they initiate the 14 degree peghead? Nope. 1965. Wider peghead? Maybe, maybe not. I'm having a hard time believing someone high up in the Norlin chain decreeing "all Gibson headstocks must be comically wide". Things like that don't strike me as decisions made that high on the ladder.

 

Fact is, any company can come up with (a) some stupid ideas (hindsight being 20/20) and (B) have some QC issues that plague a certain period, and whoever is at the helm that week is going to get the blame. Sometimes it's justified, sometimes not.

 

I've had Gibsons and Fender from all eras and I maintain that a lemon is a lemon and a plum is a plum regardless of when it was made.

 

I think one of my favorite Fender eras is the very early 80s when they hired Dan Smith. He all but halted production, going from 300 guitars a day down to a dozen, and at least attempting to make Strats (for example) closer to the way they "used to be made". I know, I have one. As a comical aside, they also tried very hard to use up old inventory, that's why both my '83 Strat and '83 P-Bass have 1981 electronics... and the P-Bass has a 1979 serial number! Someone must have found a drawer full of old decals. Both of these instruments look and feel like they were hand made, not cranked out on a line. It's scary. But THEN they immediately redesigned the Strat to the stupid 2 knob deal with FreeFlyte POS tremolo, made Teles top-load, brought out the Elite series.... what were they thinking? Just when there was hope, someone decided to make some moves that were sure to kill Fender. Again, hindsight is 20/20.

 

Gibsons with bolt on necks blasphemy? Lots of Sonex, Challenger, Invader, etc were sold in the early 80s. Not real Gibsons in some people's eyes but it put Gibsons in the hands of people for $299. Maybe, just maybe, kept Gibson going long enough for Henry to show up.

 

In conclusion, every company does some dumb stuff. And some good stuff. I'm just not sure the name on the title should automatically be blamed. Sometimes there's a direct connection, sometimes not. We will never know the truth.

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When I was living in Chicagoland during the late 1970's I was able to purchase the NAMM show ES-175CC which I believe is the only ES-175CC that was issued in natural as they were all produced in sunburst for sale to the guitar public. Cutting to the chase I held on to that guitar for just four months as it was incredibly typical of Norlins lack of respect for the wonderful Gibsons of say the late 1950's.......seams that you could feel all over the place at the joint placements, those wonderful chrome tuners that they used back then and not to save the best for last ABSOLUTELY A DEAD GUITAR TONALLY...........AND THIS WAS THE NAMM SHOW GUITAR BACK IN 1978! That 'CC' pickup on that guitar was a real joke compared to the original Charlie Christian pickup on say a 1938 ES-150 which I have played....... jim in Maine

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CBS gave quality drop to Fender, Norlin to Gibson.

Which gave more (quality drop) ?

 

Norlin was the worst.

 

Norlin put Gibson in a nose dive toward bankruptcy and almost went out of business. It wasn't just product quality, there were also questionable management decisions. Regardless of where you lay blame - workers, local staff or management, the fact is, under the Norlin ownership of the company things got very, very bad. Those things didn't go bad over just a year or two, things were going bad over many years - and in my book that definitely lays some of the blame on the upper-upper-upper management.

 

 

.

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Yeah, SOME of the Norlin Era guitars, barely resembled the more traditional,

pre-Norlin era fare. They had plastic plates, with the tone/volume controls.

Huge, clunky paddle looking headstocks, that made even the '61 SG's headstock

look small, and narrow, by comparison! Also, in the case of the SG...the beveling

virtually disappeared, for a time. Nowadays, those particular models, may have

a "unique" or even "Kitsch" appeal, for some. For other's, like myself, they're

still "Fugly!!" [scared][biggrin]

 

CB

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I've had Gibsons and Fender from all eras and I maintain that a lemon is a lemon and a plum is a plum regardless of when it was made.

 

 

 

This! [thumbup]

 

And to this day there are plenty of both to go around.

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Yeah, SOME of the Norlin Era guitars, barely resembled the more traditional,

pre-Norlin era fare. They had plastic plates, with the tone/volume controls.

Huge, clunky paddle looking headstocks, that made even the '61 SG's headstock

look small, and narrow, by comparison! Also, in the case of the SG...the beveling

virtually disappeared, for a time. Nowadays, those particular models, may have

a "unique" or even "Kitsch" appeal, for some. For other's, like myself, they're

still "Fugly!!" [scared][biggrin]

 

CB

As for the SGs and L6-S guitars, there are some with badly aligned bridges and pickups partially to be seen in catalogues on badly revised pics showing barely off the troubles in workmanship. But the better made ones are great guitars as such.

 

I was searching many years for an L6-S until I finally found one that had spent decades in a sacristy in England. Guitar and case have an intense smell of incense. A player in Northern Germany had bought it but sold it two years later to me.

 

The 1970s SGs spelt S-G that time are great guitars. I like the lower neck set and the neck pickup close to the fretboard. I own one 1978 Standard and know two more S-Gs of that era. The only common troubles were the poorly dimensioned tone pots they put into many other guitars that time, too like Les Pauls. It took me years to find out after I had bought it used from a former bandmate in 1982. My band of that time had a record contract and nationwide TV appearance, we were playing live there, no playback, and I wanted a good guitar. I still own and play it, and keep dreaming of a reissue... :rolleyes:

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All eras have/had some Great guitars. I'm just not a big fan,

of SOME of the Norlin era LP, SG, ES-335's...especially with

the "plastic" face plates, no bevels (SG's), and ultra-wide

headstocks. But...that's just ME! [biggrin]

 

To each his/her own. [thumbup]

 

 

CB

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Gibsons weren't available when I was "buying" during the '70s.

 

I can tell anyone that some of the "patent infringement" models from Japan were incredible quality at less cash - and they were available where I lived.

 

As for Fender, they were available around me back then. I've frankly never cared for Fender 6-strings at all and never owned one regardless that I messed a bit with them in stores and played some friends' instruments. All that did was convince me that I didn't like the necks at all, nor the overall feel.

 

But...

 

We picked up a Precision around '75 or 6 that was as good a bass as any I've had my hands on, both in playability for what it was as well as a great sound through a mid 60s Bassman head and cab. Still have the head and cab.

 

I'd tend to agree that a guitar from about anywhere or of any style that feels and sounds especially good for the player, and doesn't have significant problems with the woods used, is an instrument to treasure.

 

Also... I think there was a bunch of real hubris on the part of both Fender and Gibson management in those years.

 

Some folks can complain about HenryJ, but I think some experimentation by order of a guitar hobby guy, at the very top or at least high enough to have some influence, probably is one of the better things I could imagine for a guitar company. Even "failure in the stores" by such a thing can bring good feedback to the company and the craftsmen and designers involved. The trick is not to do such stuff in such a way that the firm's economic survival is compromised.

 

I still cannot believe the overall quality of guitars in stores today at various price points compared to what I saw in the '60s...

 

m

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I don't really know the history of either era of the brands as the first Gibson I've owned is a '12 LP and my first Fender is a "13 strat, but who knows what would be of either of these companies today had they not taken ownership then. Would they even exist? Who knows but I am glad they do because today they both seem to make pretty fine guitars. I look at it like Harley Davidson motorcycles during the AMF years. They have a horrible reputation of poor quality during those years but when AMF bought them they were on the verge of dying anyway, and without their intervention we may have lost a great American brand.

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Never owned a Gibson or Fender guitar built during those eras. However I did buy a Twin Reverb during the CBS era at Fender and it was rock solid. Played it out at gigs for over 20 years, and it never failed me. Always gave reliable tone and volume and during that time I replaced the tubes once. It basically outlasted me as I just got old and developed back problems and didn't want to carry it around anymore.

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I too, have a (later) CBS era (1980) Twin Reverb. It's the rare 135 Watt,

Master Volume version. Some claim, it isn't the same quality, tone

wise, as the Pre-CBS Blackface version (Which I also owned, back then),

but...aside from the added wattage, and Master Volume, that allows

some tube distortion, at any volume...IF (and only IF) you want it,

it sounds pretty amazing, to Me! Replaced a faulty "stand-by" switch,

(under warranty) that went bad, right after I bought it, new. Haven't

had any other trouble with it, in the 33 years, since! So, it's been

a very reliable, and great sounding Twin, regardless. [thumbup][biggrin]

 

CB

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I too, have a (later) CBS era (1980) Twin Reverb. It's the rare 135 Watt,

Master Volume version. Some claim, it isn't the same quality, tone

wise, as the Pre-CBS Blackface version (Which I also owned, back then),

but...aside from the added wattage, and Master Volume, that allows

some tube distortion, at any volume...IF (and only IF) you want it,

it sounds pretty amazing, to Me! Replaced a faulty "stand-by" switch,

(under warranty) that went bad, right after I bought it, new. Haven't

had any other trouble with it, in the 33 years, since! So, it's been

a very reliable, and great sounding Twin, regardless. [thumbup][biggrin]

 

CB

 

I bought mine new in about '74 or '75 and it too had the master volume, reverb and tremelo. I always just used a little grit and reverb with my Gold Top LP (no effects) and sometime for a bigger show used an extension cab and without trying to boast, my tone was the envy of a lot of guys that heard me. Don't think it was near 135 watts through more in the 85 to 100 range. Also loved the tilt back legs that I am really surprised other amp manufacturers didn't copy (although maybe Fender owned a patent on those?). Anyway ammortized over about 25 or 30 years before I traded it no doubt the best $300 I ever spent on equipment.

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Yep, "Twin Reverb's" are great amps, in any form! [thumbup]

My only problem these days, is that it's too loud at it's

"sweet spot," for nearly any place "I" play (mostly small

bar/clubs), anymore. But, for outdoor gigs, or larger halls,

it does come in handy. Although, anymore...my Blues Jr. or

HR Deluxe covers pretty much anything. Just mic it! [biggrin]

 

It's hard to believe, we used to use Twins, Vox Super Beatle's,

or even Marshall Stacks, in a bar! LOL "Young, and Dumb!" :rolleyes:[biggrin]

 

CB

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My AIMS Dual Twelve is a 120-watter designed specifically to compete with the Twin in the mid '70s.

 

I stupidly swapped my '65 DR for it.

 

The big machine never really got past the equivalent of about "2" even in a big saloon. The other guitar guy had a twin and I don't recall the bass player's amp, but it was big.

 

The amp had a swing-out "tilt leg" that went from the open back and worked quite well.

 

It's a marvelous amp, IMHO better than the Twins I saw in that era. But at roughly 90 pounds, even with factory wheels built on, it's currently an end table well protected by a heavy vinyl cover.

 

I'll add that the experience with that band, a country outfit and I think we sounded half decent, and buying that big amp and swapping three guitars before I had one "suitable" really taught me a lot about how stupid I could be, along with most pickers I knew. "We" tend to buy stuff justified in our minds by criteria that have nothing to do with playability or practicality, but largely just our ego.

 

m

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Either that, or because they just looked "Cool!" (And, sounded great, too!)

In one band I was in, back then (late 60's) we used 3 Vox Super Beatle amps,

(rountinely...and 6 (2 each) if it was a large venue), in a little bar, about

20X40 ft. In bars, we played with the front of the speaker cabinets facing the wall! LOL

When we took delivery of all those (6) Vox Amps, Altec Lancing "Voice of the Theater

PA, etc. (I.E. More Vox Amps, than The Beatles used, a Shea Stadium!), [blush][scared][biggrin]

my Mom (who had co-signed the loan, for all that gear) came up to see us, the

first time we played a gig with it, lasted about 2 songs, and had to get up and

leave. This was in a fairly large "Civic Autitorium" type venue. When I woke

up, the next day, I asked her how come she left, so soon?! She looked at me,

straight in the eye, and said: "Charlie, I HAD to leave...I couldn't breath,

and the bass made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack!" It was my

first actual experience, from a (brutally honest) audience member, regarding the

"Cone of Sound," and it's actual effect. On stage, even "wide open" an amp doesn't

(often) sound all that loud. But, out front a ways, where the sound cone "peaks"

in volume, it's often quite uncomfortable! Especially, back then, when we ALL tended

to overdrive the amps (for that "sweet tone"), which meant running them wide open

mostly. This was before any widespread use, of "master volume" or "gain" channels.

Add a nice overdrive/fuzz pedal, and...well, you can imagine! [tongue][biggrin]

 

CB

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CB...

 

I think that "we" were infected with the disease of youth that became epidemic soon after my first rock/jazz band in '63 in high school.

 

Availability of lots of noise via amplification made us feel we were doing something marvelous that we couldn't do at home and barely could do with the car radios of the day. LOUD!!!!!!!

 

The problem was, and remains for many of us, that we simply don't handle "sound" well as a band. As individuals we think so much about our own "gear" that we don't think about the band - and the band doesn't think about the audience.

 

Oddly enough the rock and country bands that I've seem continue with lasting power, either the group more or less as a whole or the musicians themselves, are those who are obviously making sound checks work before the gig, then adjusting it during a gig depending on the venue.

 

I don't think that's my grouchy old advanced age speaking, 'cuz I've seen 60-year-old adolescents cranking the amps and I've seen some maturing 16-year-old semi-professionals working hard with a focus on the audience. And... Hey, I was in my mid 30s and still wanting that power in an amp and "right look" for the guitar regardless that it was helping me play or not.

 

m

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CB...

 

I think that "we" were infected with the disease of youth that became epidemic soon after my first rock/jazz band in '63 in high school.

 

Availability of lots of noise via amplification made us feel we were doing something marvelous that we couldn't do at home and barely could do with the car radios of the day. LOUD!!!!!!!

 

The problem was, and remains for many of us, that we simply don't handle "sound" well as a band. As individuals we think so much about our own "gear" that we don't think about the band - and the band doesn't think about the audience.

 

Oddly enough the rock and country bands that I've seem continue with lasting power, either the group more or less as a whole or the musicians themselves, are those who are obviously making sound checks work before the gig, then adjusting it during a gig depending on the venue.

 

I don't think that's my grouchy old advanced age speaking, 'cuz I've seen 60-year-old adolescents cranking the amps and I've seen some maturing 16-year-old semi-professionals working hard with a focus on the audience. And... Hey, I was in my mid 30s and still wanting that power in an amp and "right look" for the guitar regardless that it was helping me play or not.

 

m

 

Definitely! The last band I was in, before my 30 year "hiatus," used Marshall Stacks, in bars! [scared] Or,

at least, a 1/2 Stack, and/or Twin Reverb "Cranked!" Loud, was king...and it was actually "expected"

by the patrons...oddly enough. Again "Young and Dumb!!" :rolleyes: We did, however, USE "dynamics" in our playing,

it wasn't just one continous "roar," like I hear (way too often) these days. The good/great bands...local, regional,

or "Rock Stars" all used Dynamics, quiet effectively, back then, as well as nowadays.

 

As you know, the much larger and/or more efficient PA's, allow for the use of much smaller amps, now,

without any real loss of "tone!" And, those much smaller amps, are a LOT easier, to haul around!

Maybe if I was 16-24 again, I'd opt for the "stacks," still???? (Although, I doubt it) But, at my age,

I don't miss hauling all that gear around. Much prefer to "plug and play" the Blues Jr., or HR Deluxe! [biggrin]

 

CB

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