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SteveFord

What makes a guitar great?

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Pippy made a comment about having one great guitar as opposed to 3 just okay ones which got me thinking what makes a guitar great and how much do you have to spend?

A great guitar to me is one that feels good, sounds good and looks good. It's a guitar that makes you just want to play it because it suits you.

 

I've had quite a few guitars over the years and my favorites didn't cost all that much.

$2000 is my upper limit for a used guitar and I've had some stellar guitars for really not all that much money.

 

Of the ones I currently have I like the Martin HD-28V, a Firebird V, a Lucille and a 335 Satin as much as anything I've ever owned or tried out. They all came in under two grand, some by a considerable amount.

 

Past escapees would be an early 70s SG Standard, a 55 reissue Les Paul TV Model, a 25th Anniversary Les Paul, a Firebird VII and a GOTW Explorer with Lyre tail piece.

As soon as you pick them up you just know this will do nicely.

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SOUL and personality. I have always upped my nose at one particular brand ( I will not mention) They are well made , play pretty consistently across their entire inventory offering and are quite successful in the guitar business , but to me they all sound pretty much the same and have no soul to them, great guitars but not what I desire. I want to feel something when I pickup a guitar be it electric or acoustic, especially an acoustic guitar so for me it's old guitars with some feeling and wear.

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SOUL and personality. I have always upped my nose at one particular brand ( I will not mention) They are well made , play pretty consistently across their entire inventory offering and are quite successful in the guitar business , but to me they all sound pretty much the same and have no soul to them, great guitars but not what I desire. I want to feel something when I pickup a guitar be it electric or acoustic, especially an acoustic guitar so for me it's old guitars with some feeling and wear.

 

Semantics.

 

For you Great Guitar = SOUL and personality.

Edited by ChristopherJ

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I used to think I knew the answer to this. Uncertainty has crept in.

 

My PRS SE C24 is the best all rounder. It ticks every box, being versatile, comfortable & easy to play. It sounds beautiful etc etc. For some reason I feel much less for it than I do my Gibson ES-339 Studio, which is the least versatile or practical of all my working guitars.

 

However the 339 has never stopped growing on me in the 3 years I've been using it. There is no guitar I enjoy using more.

 

The PRS would be 1st up for a critical gig, audition or recording session.

The 339 would be my choice for a jam with friends.

 

They are both great guitars, but I cant explain why the 339 is.

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I think what makes a guitar great to one musician might mean something else to another.

 

To me a great electric guitar must have (in no particular order)

  • A balanced body (no neck dive)
  • Contoured body so it is easy to hold
  • Great tuning stability
  • Straight neck, comfortable action (for me I prefer 25.5" scale and 14" Radius)
  • Master Volume and Tone easy to reach with the right hand without having to look
  • Good sustain
  • Great sounding pickups

 

I'll think of others as soon as I click Add

 

Notes

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Pippy made a comment about having one great guitar as opposed to 3 just okay ones...

Leaving aside the 'what makes a guitar great?' question for a moment I suppose I should post a reply on the above very specific point seeing as it was my comment which started Steve thinking about this conundrum in the first place (to be pedantic I said "1 Great as opposed to 3 Good" ones) so I'll try to explain my thoughts on the matter...

 

Just suppose for a minute that you, Dear Reader, came into some money. Let's be greedy but not be too greedy - how about $7,500?

 

You sashay your way into The Shop.

You see a Les Paul Traditional in HCSB. It looks really good. You try it. It sounds really good. $2,699? You decide to buy it.

Woah! A Gibson Explorer in natural with gold hardware - just like they were in '58! It, too, plays as sweet as it looks. $1,649?? A Bargain!!!

SG Standard? Check! $1,539? Check!!!

OK - enough with the Gibsons already. What about a couple of examples of Leo's Finest?

Deluxe Strat in a rather fetching dark blue! Stunning. $800. Cheap at the price.

And for the same price-tag why not throw in a Baja Tele?

 

For under $7,500 you have bought excellent examples of arguably some of the most iconic guitars ever made; a Les Paul, an Explorer, an SG, a Strat and a Telecaster.

Well Done You!

 

But just before you reach the service counter you spy another Les Paul. There is something intangible about it that makes it seem slightly different from the Trad. somehow...

The tag tells you that it is an example of Gibson's 'Collector's Choice' series (#39, say?) and it costs the same as the other 5 guitars combined. You try it out and it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best-playing, sweetest sounding guitar you have ever played in your life. You realise that THIS is why some people bang-on interminably about finding 'THE' guitar. You finally get it. You finally understand. Sadly, you put it down. Then you pick it up again.....

 

What should you do? What would you do?......

Because I know what I would do. No contest. Not even for a slpit-second.

 

Price doesn't have to come in to it, of course, but merely for the purposes of illustrating my point better I chose to do so......msp_smile.gif......

 

Pip.

Edited by pippy

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I guess you'd have to really like Les Pauls to buy that particular one.

Luckily, they feel too tiny for me although I always end up buying one or two which then seldom get played!

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SOUL and personality. I have always upped my nose at one particular brand ( I will not mention) They are well made , play pretty consistently across their entire inventory offering and are quite successful in the guitar business , but to me they all sound pretty much the same and have no soul to them, great guitars but not what I desire. I want to feel something when I pickup a guitar be it electric or acoustic, especially an acoustic guitar so for me it's old guitars with some feeling and wear.

 

Gimme an I.. gimme a B... Gimme a "but that's just me".

 

My Tribute was a bit of a revelation. It's kind of unlocked blues guitar playing for me. Suddenly I find myself playing better without any extra effort I can point to. That's a "great-guitar" quality in my book.

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Leaving aside the 'what makes a guitar great?' question for a moment I suppose I should post a reply on the above very specific point seeing as it was my comment which started Steve thinking about this conundrum in the first place (to be pedantic I said "1 Great as opposed to 3 Good" ones) so I'll try to explain my thoughts on the matter...

 

Just suppose for a minute that you, Dear Reader, came into some money. Let's be greedy but not be too greedy - how about $7,500?

 

You sashay your way into The Shop.

You see a Les Paul Traditional in HCSB. It looks really good. You try it. It sounds really good. $2,699? You decide to buy it.

Woah! A Gibson Explorer in natural with gold hardware - just like they were in '58! It, too, plays as sweet as it looks. $1,649?? A Bargain!!!

SG Standard? Check! $1,539? Check!!!

OK - enough with the Gibsons already. What about a couple of examples of Leo's Finest?

Deluxe Strat in a rather fetching dark blue! Stunning. $800. Cheap at the price.

And for the same price-tag why not throw in a Baja Tele?

 

For under $7,500 you have bought excellent examples of arguably some of the most iconic guitars ever made; a Les Paul, an Explorer, an SG, a Strat and a Telecaster.

Well Done You!

 

But just before you reach the service counter you spy another Les Paul. There is something intangible about it that makes it seem slightly different from the Trad. somehow...

The tag tells you that it is an example of Gibson's 'Collector's Choice' series (#39, say?) and it costs the same as the other 5 guitars combined. You try it out and it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best-playing, sweetest sounding guitar you have ever played in your life. You realise that THIS is why some people bang-on interminably about finding 'THE' guitar. You finally get it. You finally understand. Sadly, you put it down. Then you pick it up again.....

 

What should you do? What would you do?......

Because I know what I would do. No contest. Not even for a slpit-second.

 

Price doesn't have to come in to it, of course, but merely for the purposes of illustrating my point better I chose to do so......msp_smile.gif......

 

Pip.

 

And I can all so easily imagine myself doing ALL of that!

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Its weight and its wood.

The parts used and the build quality.

How it sounds, how it plays.

 

These are what makes a guitar great.

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Great Guitar does not equal Expensive Guitar!

 

It just sucks when a great guitar is also an expensive guitar.

I guess... I spent £200.00 on a guitar worth £400.00 when the shop mis-sold me it and didn't know what they had; its rare, old, and sounds amazing.

My Early 50's Catania Carmelo Parlour Guitar.

However, it sounds amazing, feels great, and is a really nice to play, one of my nicest guitars.

I have nice guitars though, but this Catania Carmelo is nice.

Can do this with ease;

Edited by LWAG

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Well, after reading Pippy's response, I have a $3,455.00 Gibson I love, and I have a $400.00 Gretsch Semi hollow. plus a few more cheaper ones and a Custom Epiphone that sounds fabulous for $900.00. The one I play that sounds great, Looks the best and feels good? The Gretsch weather its plugged in or not. I can here it just fine unplugged at night when Deb is trying to sleep. She once told me I could get any guitar I wanted, price means nothing at Dietz music. I spent hours on hours playing lots of different guitars. Every Gibson they had and they had a Gibson Lucille up on the wall. Man did I ever want that one. Took it down and tried it. Shocked it wasn't what I was after. I tried it on different amps and going through its functions. It was well over $3,000.00 so I tried to convince myself this was my Dream guitar. I wanted one badly. then I went back to that Red Stream lined Gretsch and couldn't believe I loved it more but out of every guitar they had in the store that Gretsch now sits on my guitar rack. For $400.00.msp_thumbup.gif I play it about every day.

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The player...

 

 

:D

 

Everything else is just individual taste and experience. Which changes as you gain more experience.

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...I have a $3,455.00 Gibson I love, and I have a $400.00 Gretsch Semi hollow....The one I play that sounds great, Looks the best and feels good? The Gretsch whether its plugged in or not. I can here it just fine unplugged at night when Deb is trying to sleep....I went back to that Red Stream lined Gretsch and couldn't believe I loved it more but out of every guitar they had in the store that Gretsch now sits on my guitar rack. For $400.00.msp_thumbup.gif I play it about every day.

That is Absolutely Wonderful, Retired!

Thank you. I am genuinely very happy to have read that post; it's rounded out my evening perfectly!

 

msp_thumbup.gif

 

Pip.

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I guess you'd have to really like Les Pauls to buy that particular one...

It works equally well for any guitar you could possibly name, Steve.

 

Pip.

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The player...

 

 

 

Well, I'll have to sit down with all my guitars then and explain to them that they are doomed to lives of mediocrity.

 

 

 

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I agree Rabs, I have several and what I would consider a half dozen great ones...but that is just my opinion, maybe those guitars would be average to someone else..just one mans opinion

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....one great guitar as opposed to 3 just okay ones....

 

My "collection" has sort of been converting the latter into the former, but I had more than 3 to "convert," so I've ended up with more than one great guitar! msp_thumbup.gif

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The high end Gibson models have a certain feel to them but looking back, the two guitars which I have really fond memories of were only $400 each.

That would be the early 70s SG Standard and the 55/77 Reissue Les Paul TV Special.

Short on bling but they played and sounded great. Those two I wish I had back.

 

I did see my old SG at a guitar show a few years back and nearly fell over, I'd know that particular guitar anywhere. Seller wanted two grand so keep on walking, don't look back...

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I think that most guitars can be made into great guitars. I just took a MIM Strat, put on an EMG Kirk Hemmet loaded pick guard, set it up and it now is a great guitar for me.

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Well, I'll have to sit down with all my guitars then and explain to them that they are doomed to lives of mediocrity.

 

Yeah, me too...Maybe we should form a support group...

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the one that feels right and helps you find the tone you're looking for. or the one that gets you laid .

 

This says everything I was going to try to say, but with a lot less verbage...I owe you one, Karloff... [thumbup]

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