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How much of it is in our heads?

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I'm going to tread lightly here.
Things I say here this evening my be viewed as heresy.

The question is, "How much of it is in our heads?"

The specific topic is that of 'brand name' versus 'lesser brand name' or even, 'no brand name at all' guitars.

Clearly a proper American Fender Telecaster or a Nashville Gibson Les Paul is going to cost more, look nicer, and feature a variety of other desirable qualities that some lesser Epiphone or Squier or Jay Turser or Hamer or J Reynolds guitar could never hope to realize.

But when you are playing a gig, (and lets say that there are four bands on the bill for that particular Saturday afternoon sports-fest), and when your own guitar breaks a string, and you fumble for a moment, and somebody hands you a guitar that is freshly tuned-up, and you grab it gratefully and plug it in and roll into the next song, and that guitar plays and feels like freaking magic, and you play it like you are on fire,

..... can you honestly say that it matters one iota what brand it is?

We all aspire to own a proper Gibson Hummingbird made in the USA, or Martin acoustic made in Nazareth, PA.

Who wouldn't be proud to own and gig an American Fender Stratocaster or Gibson ES335 or even a proper $3,500 Gretsch White Falcon?

To own and play such a guitar is to have arrived.
When you own that Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray bass guitar, you are now a certified serious musician, and when you step on stage with that genuine Gibson Firebird III, you are one respectable rocker or blues-man.

But how much of that perceived tangible value is real, and how much of it is in our heads?

This is NOT a thread to argue that "my Aria Pro II is better than any Gibson Les Paul".
(For the record, I don't own an Aria Pro II, and I sold off my last Gibson Les Paul a few weeks ago.)

The question I pose to you, my good friends on this internet guitar web forum is, how much of the actual value of any given guitar is in the playable, gigg-able, quantifiable qualities of the guitar, and how much is in the shiny logo on the head-stock?

Please discuss politely, and don't shoot me in the face.

I'm just the curious seeker of knowledge.

ūüėź

best-guitar-strap-jpg.756052

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If a $600 Epi does it for you or be it 3k Gibson. Play what you like and can afford.

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Living on an island, most of what I acquire is from the internet. So I do rely on Brands to help feel safe about the quality level. While I do "feel" safe about Gibsons, but they don't do well in my environment. Epiphones do much better and I can expect a certain level of quality. However, I have to go through more Epiphones to find a perfect one. Its always good to play one in person, I found my G400 in a store and it played so nice I had to buy it, I didn't need it but I am so glad I got it..

All of my current guitars are Asian built, my Ibanez RG421 is Indonesian and looks identical to the RG652 that is built by Fugi Gen at 4 times the cost...

Edited by mihcmac
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What's in our heads is "This Guitar Right Here Right Now".  I love my guitars, cheapest to expensivest.  When I break a string I finish the song or set and pick up the other one that I brought in the event I break a string.

I would, however, use whatever was handed to me.  I think that is an aspiration I find appealing, to be able to play anything.  You never know what the guy recording you will want you to use, so it is good to be fairly flexible about what you are using.  Don't care what the brand is or the relative "quality" of it, unless I am putting down good money for it.  Then I think about 4 or 5 hours of good hard riding and putting it up wet, and I spend more, because I don't regret that ever.

I do take my Squier Hello Kitty out, and i do beat on it, and it does perform.  But I don't want 7 or 8 of them, like I have of the rest. 

rct

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If we are speaking of working guitars, its simple enough to me.

 

1/ If I buy a Gibson or Rickenbacker, its fit to gig.

2/ If it’s cheap, it nearly always needs replacement electrics. Sometimes even some hardware.

Once the cheap guitar is upgraded, it can be relied upon as much as the High end models. It is now of equal status in my head. I don’t much care what name is on the headstock unless posing for photos. Then I will usually grab a USA guitar.

If I have a critical gig, recording session or audition, I will grab the Korean PRS SE Custom 24. It’s cheap and I hate the look of it, but it’s the best tool for the job.

Public perception is something else. Most people don’t know or care what you use. But when I play the Les Paul out, I get players coming over wanting to speak about it at the end of the gig. I act polite & pleasant, but at that point I just want to pack up & get out of there, so I don’t play the LP out much now.

Obviously any guitar has to be ‚Äėgood‚Äô to start with. That goes for both High End and cheap guitars. Its also pointless trying to upgrade a pig. ¬†But¬†I do love finding a cheap guitar that punches above its weight.

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in our heads?

yes, and ... no..

the imports are getting better,  no doubt about it.

 

 

 

Edited by kidblast

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I agree with Mr Evans - If the thing is decently balanced, neck straight and true, able to set and hold intonation, reliably tuntable, and the electronics don't crap out... then for gigging who cares what the corporate brand name is?

i personally find comfort in the anonymity of my beat up Aria Pro 2 and my 69 Epiphone Olympic/Wilshire hybrid thing. They are both well designed and built  instruments which don't look exactly like a Strat (Strat being default for what an electric guitar looks like to non-players) so if a player takes an interest in them I'll tell that player about them, but they are basically there to help me make the noise I enjoy making.

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Personally, in a gigging situation or at least the gig's that I play I don't think anyone in the audience would notice any difference between an Epiphone or a Gibson Custom shop Les Paul and I doubt very much if they will hear any difference in a live environment.  I don't think anyone would care either.

Having said that, if I had an Epiphone Les Paul and someone wanted to do a straight exchange, I wouldn't say no. That's Humans for you, a fickle species.      

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Where and how you plan to use your instrument matters to the equation.  For example: you're hired to play on a cruise.  You will need to fly on a plane to and from where the cruise departs.  

You have 2 options:

Martin D28

Fender "T-Bucket"

I'm bringing the Fender.  It's the more appropriate instrument for that particular gig. Bryan Adams probably agrees after this.  

321750F200000578-3487937-image-a-3_14577

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44 minutes ago, ghost_of_fl said:

Bryan Adams probably agrees after this.  

321750F200000578-3487937-image-a-3_14577

That's a crying shame!! That was Bryan Adams first real six string too. I read that he picked that up at the 5 and Dime in July of 1969. Man that really sucks!!

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In my pea brain, there's a certain pride of ownership that goes with some guitars and you won't be able to sway me with utility value.

Someday I will own a pre-1970 J200 from Kalamazoo because in my youth, that was one of the ultimate guitars. Doesn't matter that Bozeman's stuff is probably better...I have 2 J200s from Bozeman. They're not old Kalamazoos. I won't be happy until I have one. I probably won't be happy then either. But the Bucket List ya know....

Having said that, one of my favorite acoustics is a plywood 1988 3/4 or 7/8 classical from Brazil. Paid $10 for it.

I just received a Hobner archtop made in India. Cheapest made guitar on the planet and weighs nothing at all. I've owned  a few. I'm excited to dress the frets etc. They're great for grab n go and have zero snob appeal.

I have several banjos. Some nice ones. One of my favorites is a 60s Kay that went to a departments store...didn't even get a headstock decal.  I think it was $50 on ebay.

And coming full circle, I will own a 60s Jaguar or Jazzmaster. Not a reissue at 30% of the vintage price. It's gotta be the real deal. Street cred. It had to play Hanky Panky when it was on the charts.

So I'm all over the place and didn't answer your question.

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This puts me in mind of those blindfold tests Anderton's do.

A bunch of (8 or so) Strats or LPs. Play 'em first and find out what they are after. It might at least remove any brand bias. 

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15 hours ago, Big Bill said:

That's a crying shame!! That was Bryan Adams first real six string too. I read that he picked that up at the 5 and Dime in July of 1969. Man that really sucks!!

He played it 'til his fingers bled.¬†ūüė≠

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16 hours ago, Big Bill said:

That's a crying shame!! That was Bryan Adams first real six string too. I read that he picked that up at the 5 and Dime in July of 1969. Man that really sucks!!

 

Ah yes, growing up with 80's 'rock' where it was impossible to put too much reverb on a snare, too much chorus on a Strat, or too many sets of keyboards around the polite looking guy assigned to play big major chords on em....meanwhile my teenage mates and I thank Metallica and GnR and wait around for grunge to get born. #-o[laugh]

Edited by 'Scales
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It depends on how old you are.

When I started playing, cheap electric guitars were always pretty bad quality.  Japanese guitars (the only far-Eastern maker to export to the West back then) were nowhere near the quality they are now.

There were no Squiers; even a Marlin would have seemed miraculous in those days.

These days I gig using a Vintage V100PGM - a LP copy - which is astoundingly good for the money.  I will sometimes take the Gibson as there's no flash like Gibson flash, however in truth the Vintage does the gig just as well.   But.....last year my band played a small pub; I took the Vintage, put it through my old rebuilt Vox AC10 and it was a VERY good night for my playing.  At the end of the gig a young guy came up to our singer who had his Gibson/Fender amp setup and was highly complimentary and admiring of that, but he totally ignored me!

I know how he felt.  When I was younger, I was the same.  For many people, what they see being used is as important as what they hear.  Flash has always been a big part of rock n'roll.

Edited by jdgm
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When I was a kid, I had a POS trumpet that wouldn't tune up to pitch.  My parents were too cheap to buy me a decent one and I played that thing from like fourth grade until I gave it up in about ninth grade.  Every note I played was flat unless I pursed my lips just right.  I was taught that I didn't deserve anything.

So I buy Gibson and Fender guitars.  The good ones.  No cheapo instruments for this guy.  I don't need much in life, but what I buy is top quality. 

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23 minutes ago, badbluesplayer said:

I was taught that I didn't deserve anything.

 

I wish I had a dollar for every time a parent said, "I just want something for my kid to learn on. Doesn't have to be anything special, just something for him/her to beat on until they get good at it."

I felt like replying, "well then their first pair of shoes can be complete pieces of _____ until the learn how to walk! They don't need to fit or even match. Just a cheap pair of shoes until they learn how to walk. And then when you buy them a bicycle, make sure you get them one with bent handlebars and loose spokes, and leaky tires......just something until the learn how to ride."

Back when I was in charge of repairing 900+ violins, violas, cellos and basses, I made sure they were easy to play. If the kid is going to walk away from this instrument, it's not going to be because it hurt their fingers.

And I can relate to the trumpet story. When I was 6 I got my brother's hand me down Kay acoustic. It was impossible to play. High action and medium gauge Black Diamonds. Give that to six year old! We've all read stories about famous players who started off with a Stella with strings made out of screen door wire. Makes for a good story, and good on them for overcoming it. In the same breath, makes me wonder how many potentially great players gave up (as kids) because their instrument was trash.

Somewhere along the line we established a standard that great players started off with cigar box guitars with one string made from the intestines of a cat they killed by biting their throat at the age of three, and we're supposed to feel guilty if we didn't.

I say if you can afford it and it makes you happy, then you don't need to justify anything. 

I have motorcycle torment at the moment and excessive guilt. I have a 2000 Sportster wit 8400 miles. I ride it about 50 miles a year. I have the chance to get a blue and white 1974  FLH (like an Electra Glide sorta) with 8800 original miles. I want it. But I feel guilty because I don't ride much. I mentioned it to my wife this morning and got a look that said, "but you don't even ride the one you already have!"

I need to listen to my own advice. But I won't.

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On 8/24/2020 at 3:11 PM, Big Bill said:

That's a crying shame!! That was Bryan Adams first real six string too. I read that he picked that up at the 5 and Dime in July of 1969. Man that really sucks!!

The graffiti probably say you big capitalistic dog rock star.

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Probably a lot of it is in our heads.  A good player can make any cheap off brand guitar sound pretty good if they have a decent amp to play it through.  But like many, my parents grew up during the depression, and they had nothing, so learned to pinch pennies and buy the cheapest that would do for all things.  I got tired of that so when I started working at about 14 during the summers I would save up to buy good stuff, or the best I could afford when my patience ran out.  So most of my guitars have been pretty much top of the line.  I never considered my ability to play all that great, so I wanted to have the advantage of a top quality instrument to sound as good as I could.  I did settle for Mexican Strats several times over the more expensive US made ones, as I could not hear or feel much difference between them.

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The more "affordable" Guitars today are vastly superior to the low end stuff back in the late 60s early 70s.  (yea, I'm that old)  

just as an example Some of the Squire line up are pretty impressive.  My buddy had a classic vibe tele, bound body, rosewood neck, all stock.  It played great and it sounded like a "tele"   There was nothing you could complain about..

He picked it up of Ebay for a song ($200??)   Sure, maybe the pickups were a bit anemic, and some of the hardware a bit sub par,, but Geeze,, $200 !  I plugged it in to my Marshall during our rehearsal, played it for about 45 minutes.  Compared to my mid 90s USA Standard Tele, which I had with me,  sure you could tell which one was the USA made one IF you were an experienced player.   The pickups were better, it stayed in tune better, the neck/frets just felt more refined.. but I've been playing for 50+ years,,,  if I couldn't tell the difference, I'd have been concerned I was loosing it

But if you were a beginner or intermediate?  I doubt it.

 

 

 

Edited by kidblast

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3 hours ago, ksdaddy said:

 

I wish I had a dollar for every time a parent said, "I just want something for my kid to learn on. Doesn't have to be anything special, just something for him/her to beat on until they get good at it."

I felt like replying, "well then their first pair of shoes can be complete pieces of _____ until the learn how to walk! They don't need to fit or even match. Just a cheap pair of shoes until they learn how to walk. And then when you buy them a bicycle, make sure you get them one with bent handlebars and loose spokes, and leaky tires......just something until the learn how to ride."

Back when I was in charge of repairing 900+ violins, violas, cellos and basses, I made sure they were easy to play. If the kid is going to walk away from this instrument, it's not going to be because it hurt their fingers.

And I can relate to the trumpet story. When I was 6 I got my brother's hand me down Kay acoustic. It was impossible to play. High action and medium gauge Black Diamonds. Give that to six year old! We've all read stories about famous players who started off with a Stella with strings made out of screen door wire. Makes for a good story, and good on them for overcoming it. In the same breath, makes me wonder how many potentially great players gave up (as kids) because their instrument was trash.

Somewhere along the line we established a standard that great players started off with cigar box guitars with one string made from the intestines of a cat they killed by biting their throat at the age of three, and we're supposed to feel guilty if we didn't.

I say if you can afford it and it makes you happy, then you don't need to justify anything. 

I have motorcycle torment at the moment and excessive guilt. I have a 2000 Sportster wit 8400 miles. I ride it about 50 miles a year. I have the chance to get a blue and white 1974  FLH (like an Electra Glide sorta) with 8800 original miles. I want it. But I feel guilty because I don't ride much. I mentioned it to my wife this morning and got a look that said, "but you don't even ride the one you already have!"

I need to listen to my own advice. But I won't.

Get it. Good Lord get it KS.  nice Shovels are getting harder to come by.  plus the '74's , the oil runs/lines in the cases & rockers  were redesigned and more efficient.  I'm still hunting around for a good deal on a '74 FLH.  plus going from the Sporty to the Electraglide, you'll be in heaven ... 

Edited by Karloff

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Christmas of 62 my mom got me a Silvertone acoustic, probably with S&H Green Stamps or from Sears. I sat with it at the piano until I was satisfied I had it tuned correctly, I don't think I stopped playing for several days, even sleeping with it. I do remember being depressed that had to stop for a few days because my fingers were shredded. I started visiting a Music Store close by and eventually brought home a Teisco Del Rey electric 6 string. During one of my many visits to the store I saw this ominous Teisco Bass and after scraping enough funds together, including my lunch money, I brought it home. But while exiting the store some school  friends saw me carrying it and said hey do you play bass? 2 days later I played my first paying gig for a frat party, in 64..

I built my first bass amp out of 2 old HiFi's with 12" speakers, realizing this wasn't going to cut it my dad rented me a Rickenbacker bass amp for this gig. I ended up buying a ST George bass amp for the following jobs.

Edited by mihcmac
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46 minutes ago, mihcmac said:

Christmas of 62 my mom got me a Silvertone acoustic, probably with S&H Green Stamps or from Sears. I sat with it at the piano until I was satisfied I had it tuned correctly, I don't think I stopped playing for several days, even sleeping with it. I do remember being depressed that had to stop for a few days because my fingers were shredded. I started visiting a Music Store close by and eventually brought home a Teisco Del Rey electric 6 string. During one of my many visits to the store I saw this ominous Teisco Bass and after scraping enough funds together, including my lunch money, I brought it home. But while exiting the store some school  friends saw me carrying it and said hey do you play bass? 2 days later I played my first paying gig for a frat party, in 64..

I built my first bass amp out of 2 old HiFi's with 12" speakers, realizing this wasn't going to cut it my dad rented me a Rickenbacker bass amp for this gig. I ended up buying a ST George bass amp for the following jobs.

Ah yes,Mothers and their S&H green stamps,would've been some sad birthdays and Christmas's without Mothers and S&H stamps. Good memories, Thanks for bringing that up.

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9 minutes ago, Mr. Gibson said:

Ah yes,Mothers and their S&H green stamps,would've been some sad birthdays and Christmas's without Mothers and S&H stamps. Good memories, Thanks for bringing that up.

S&H was a tradition for finding some special things in the catalog. She may have regretted finding me a guitar because when I acquired my electric, my room got moved to the other end of the house.

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