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Class 5 / Hot Rod / Other Suggestions


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I am going to be picking up a new Electric soon and I'm debating between the Customs, Dark Fire, or possibly a Supreme.


I love the Class 5's, but they'd be a reach "price-wise" unless I got a great deal (and could still find one at this point).


Same deal with the Hot Rod but I have no idea what it's supposed to sound like.


I love the look and intent of the Dark Fire - I love the tech. What I don't love is hearing about the potential issues with craftsmanship on the sides and back of the guitar and of course how many moving parts and electronics are involved. I have a post in the Dark Fire forum for some feedback and hope to hear back.


I have a Fender "CyberTwin" amp to run the guitar on and if I could find something that just sounds too good to be true (and provided the Dark Fire can not get as "clean" or pure as a Custom/Standard/Supreme like I've read in a few places), I'd probably consider another Custom or Supreme as people have said it's a guitar that will last a lifetime.



Pumped to get a new guitar and just want the right one. I like a wide range of music (from Tool, to Pearl Jam, to the Beatles...etc) and the tonal possibilities from the Dark Fire seem hard to beat. Also I have to admit that I could use the tuning possibilities that the guitar affords.

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here's my two cents, for what its worth....


1) Custom is a rock solid choice. make it a Historic Custom and you're really rockin'.

2) Class 5 = stupid and for what? if you can afford a class 5, buy an R9. used R9s can be had for $3000-3500.

3) If the Hot Rod is the guitar i am thinking of, its an R8 with a silly finish/flames.buy a regular R8, new or used.

4) Absolutely pass on the Darkfire or any other fad. lots and lots and lots of problems with the Darkfires.

5) i personally would pass on the Supreme. the way the control panel is setup is really awkward. and i'm not a fan of chambered guitars. ymmv. another thing is the flamed back...i would beat mine to hell...


i would buy a Historic if it were me....and R8 or R9, used or new as budget allowed. but like i said, the Custom is an excellent choice. the 490/498 pickups are a good balance between vintage type and more modern output.

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Kind of depends on:

1. What do you have now?

2. What sound characteristic would either compliment your arsenal, increase your versatility, or... replace what you play now and take it up a notch?


For me, those sorts of thoughts should be way above looks or bells and whistles. But.. of course they aren't entirely!

For many folks it becomes a search for "the right tool for the job", chasing a particular sort of sound. But there's a very wide range in the artists you cite, so an extraordinarily versatile guitar might be just the ticket. For that, I'm a big fan of the small-bodied semi-hollows: the CS-336, CS-356, ES-339, etc. My CS-356 will give me anything from an LP's rock roar to an ES's singing blues woodiness to an almost Tele-like chime and sparkle...

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My collection is not much of one right now --- I have a years old Epiphone Les paul that is collecting dust and an Ibanez Exotic (Koa) Acoustic that I really like.


I'm into everything from Pearl Jam/Alice in Chains to Tool to the Beatles...etc so a versitle sounding axe is important.


Also I'm not able to do much in terms of tuning the guitar so the self tuning of the Dark Fire would lead me to think that I could experiement more with different tunings and that sort of thing.


Sorry to be a noob, but when looking at the Customs, how can I tell if it's an R7, R8, R9?


Class 5 because I love the quilted top and figured it would sound amazing.


Hot Rod is more of a novelty but I could probably get one for around $3,500.


Dark Fire - sorta of a novelty as well but it seems to pack a lot of functionality. I'm not sure how they are doing production runs and whether a "new" one would be less likely to have problems...obviously that would really suck but I figure given the amount of moving parts...etc, it's bound to at some point.


Is the Dark Fire made in the Custom Shop? I'm guessing not.

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No need to apologize for being a Noob.

We're all here to learn, every one of us.


Everything from Pearl Jam/Alice in Chains to Tool to the Beatles?

That actually describes most guitar players.


Don't get too hung up on trying to do everything with one guitar.

Get a damned good Les Paul, skip all the trendy newfangled gadgets and wizardry.

Don't pay too much for purdy unless you really see the guitar as a work of art too.

(Nothing wrong with that, my wife likes it when I buy pretty guitars....)

The Class 5/Supreme stuff is stunning to behold, but you're putting tons of money into bling.


The semi-hollows are hard to beat for versatility.

I have a ES-335 that will do everything my Les Pauls will do - and more.

Unless you're really needing the big time crunch from lotsa gain, you'll find much more versatility there.

Check out Dave Grohl/Foo Fighters, that's all done on 335's and Les Pauls and I'd say it rocks.

The above testimony about the carved-body semi-hollows like the 336/356 and 339 is valid - great guitars.


If you're not able to do much in terms of tuning the guitar, then buy a good tuner like the Boss TU-2.

I've told people for years that's the best $100 I ever spent - out of $50,000.

It's a chromatic tuner, it doesn't care what sort of scale you wanna use. It's accurate no matter what.

You'll never be out of tune or off pitch again - ever.



Custom is a Custom, fancy headstock inlays and binding all around.

It's a Standard in a tuxedo, damned nice guitars.


An R2, R4, R6, R7, R8, R9, R0 all have very distinct features.

They are modeled after the most common features of their respective years.

1952 - Worthless as a player with the neck angle and goofy trapeze bridge, collector's piece only.

1954 - Goldtop with P-90's, the first year the Les Paul really kicked ***.

1956 - Goldtop with P-90's and the two piece bridge and tailpiece known as the Tune-O-Matic still used today.

1957 - Black, first year with humbucker pickups, sometimes three of 'em, and maybe a Bigsby tailpiece.

1958 - Cherry burst, plain top, cheaper than the R9 and R0.

1959 - $$$$. First year of jumbo frets on what is considered the ideal neck profile. See Holy Grail.

1960 - My personal favorite, same jumbo frets on the '60 Slim Taper neck. Knobs have chrome centers in the top.


Get one of the above if you can afford it. They are the best made and the bodies are not chambered or relieved.

Stay away from the VOS because of the purposely grungy finish, get a glossy one with sparkling hardware.

(Trust me on this....)



Class 5 with the quilted top probably would sound amazing, if that's what you like then spend the $$$$$.


Hot Rod is more of a novelty. Enough said. Stay away from trendy sh!t.


Dark Fire = Trouble with a capital $$$$.

Stay away from it.

In five years, it will be worth a whole lot of nothing. Would you buy a 5 year old laptop computer?

Look around all the guitar forums and you'll see an obvious divide - Dark Fire owners and guitar players.



If you want electronic doo-dads and gee-whiz gadgetry, then buy effects pedals and processors.

I don't like extra crap on my guitar and I hate modeling amps.

In your guitar and amp, spend money on solid, proven simplicity.

Whatever you want to put in between them is your business.




Here's my idea of the basic Rock 'n Roll starter kit - nothing fancy;




Guitars - Fender American Standard Strat and a Les Paul Classic Plus.


Amps - Fender Hot Rod DeVille 2x12, 60 watts.

Fender Blues Jr. 1x12, 15 watts.

Marshall JCM 800 4x12, 100 watts of pure tube Heaven or Hell - depending on your perception.


The pedals you see are the Fender footswitch, an A/B/Y splitter between the amps and the TU-2 tuner.



This will cover 85% of the Rock 'n Roll on the face of this planet.



Of course, everybody here has an idea of what's right, wrong and perfect for you.

Listen to 'em all and decide what will work at your house.


Good luck in your search, I've been chasing tone for nearly 40 years.....



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Thanks for the super informative post.


I never got the whole "VOS" let's buy a NEW guitar that has the beep kicked out of it.


I guess I'm a fan of novelty (how else to explain strong pulls to Dark Fire and Hot Rod)...though I don't want that to be at the expense of playability...etc.


You really think the Dark Fire will not sound good and/or break down quickly? I'd tried to do some research but there's not toooo much to be found on it (very few in depth reviews other than features/fluff).


Unfortunately I think the shop I'm going to tomorrow only has 1 other Custom in shop so I won't be able to check too many of them out, but we'll see.


I was noticing some of the "new" Customs coming out of the shop do not have the fancy headstock - I'd imagine it is just for cost savings? Seems a shame to bring the Customs so close and keep the headstock boring.


Here's the amp I have and plan on running whichever I ultimately decide on:



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Sounds like there might be some confusion in nomenclature between the "Les Paul Custom" model (described above: has an ebony fretboard, a bound neck and headstock with the split-parallelogram headstock ornament among other differences from a "Standard") and the Les Pauls that come from the Custom Shop, which includes all the Historic Reissue line (commonly known as the R7, R8, R9 etc).

One of you is using "Custom" somewhat genericially to refer to all Custom Shop guitars, while the other is using it specifically: the LP Custom model.

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Yeah, Gibson has blurred all the lines with their new website.

It's almost like buying a car now - if you don't know what you want, the salesman will sell you what HE wants.


The reissues will not have the fancy inlays, they are recreations of the Standard Les Paul from various years.


The Les Paul Custom from day one had all the fancy tuxedo stuff.



The Cyber Twin is a great toy.

Might be just what you're after.

If you ever start playing gigs it will work okay.


If you REALLY want to nail those old tones, you need to get the old-style tube amps.

There is no substitute, there is no shortcut, and they are very expensive.


If close enough is good enough, then the modeling stuff and solid state gadgets are fine.


Do you have a good independent guitar shop in your area?

Avoid Guitar Center if you can.

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I actually bought the Cyber Twin back in 2001 or something and have had it for a while (though haven't played w/ it enough b/c my electric sucked).


Unfortunately Daddy's dropped the Gibson line and there's a small independent (i think) place called EarCraft but they suck (messed up my Acoustic with a bad setup/straightening) and don't carry Gibson.


Best Buy nearby actually has a professional music shop but Standards are the best they have.


Guitar Center probably will be my only choice locally for a high end Gibson -- not sure what else might be near NH or Maine.

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Well, shop around all you can for an indie dealer. Even a small one might have a jewel hanging in the store.


If you're not well-versed in all the tricks and traps of buying a used car, stay out of Guitar Center.

You can find nice stuff for a good price in their stores - sometimes - but they'll screw you if they can.


The most important advice I can give you before you buy from them;

Write down the serial number FIRST THING.

When you're just about to close the deal, tell them you want to think about it.

Get them to write all their price numbers down (they'll resist, I'm sure) and then leave.

Go think it over somewhere else.

Go back when you're ready to buy - they're a little less likely to fxck you around if they know you'll walk out.

Trust me on this one - they're paid on commission...



DON'T use their store credit.

They will destroy your credit and you'll pay 3 times what the guitar cost originally.


DON'T pay more than 70% of the MSRP or List price - including tax.

With the serial number off the guitar you like, call Gibson Customer Service at 800-444-2766.

They'll tell you what the List really is, GC has a habit of marking their stuff up before they give you a 'discount.'


DON'T accept a single blemish or flaw on your guitar - not even with any 'discount' they might offer.

If it's not absolutely perfect as a new guitar should be, walk away.

They allow all their stuff to get played, even if it's behind the counter or behind glass.


DON'T pay a fxckin penny for the case the guitar came in.

GC will want you to buy it because it's sold 'separately' despite the fact it was shipped from the factory in it.

This also gives them a chance to lose all your case candy and warranty cards.


DON'T assume you'll even get the correct case.

Check inside for the factory inspection sheet and make sure the serials match.

Make damned sure the warranty card is inside, otherwise you have no warranty from Gibson at all.


DON'T pay money or even agree to an extra warranty if it's 'free' because it's not.

A new Gibson comes with a lifetime warranty, and if it fxcks up don't take it back to them anyway.

Use an Authorized Repair Station for anything concerning a Gibson warranty.


DON'T think for a second anybody there is your friend - no matter how 'cool' he may be.

Your money is his paycheck, if you don't buy he could lose his job. Sympathy for them is given by fools.



I'm not exaggerating one bit, in fact there are probably a few things I forgot to mention.

Be sure to wear your athletic supporter and protective cup inside your iron clad underwear - and good luck!

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I'm in corporate sales so I'll be doing the ball busting. Bottom line is on Wednesday I can pay cash where ever I choose, so it's on them to get me to buy....TODAY!


Gosh Dark Fire is just callling me....and I don't know what more they got in stock but we'll see how it goes lol. It's a good problem to have anyway you cut it.

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Thx heh - it's a decent gig.


So I got the Dark Fire down to $2,850 and they had a 68 or 69' Custom Shop Flame Top that I got them down to about $3,400 (Triburst). I need to wait until Wed. so I have a few days to decide what to do. The Custom is definitely some hundred over what I was looking to spend.


They didn't have the recharge plug for the Dark Fire (said he got it from another store and thought he had it all but didn't) so after messing around with it a bit I wasn't able to tune it out of some weird "E" tuning. The MCK knob seems like something that could have some problems (pull out, push in lightly to trigger tuning, push down hard to lock it in). The quick tuning was awesome though and given what it would take to tune guitars down to all those different keys (without changing strings for lower ones...etc) it packed a lot of punch.


I wasn't crazy with the finish on this one - more of a ripples piece rather than the striped ones I see on the marketing press and the plain back and sides were weird...keep in mind i kept jumping back and forth to the Custom and so that might have made me a bit critical.


Anyway, he's going to call around to see about the rest of the Dark Fire stock but I think the serial number on the one in store was about 275 which leads me to think it probably didn't get the update they've been doing on the later runs (but guessing).

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Besides the "flash show" on the Hot Rod, do you think it would be a good sounding guitar (on par with guitars in it's price range)? I could prob get one for around $3,500 and understand it had a rounded 58' style neck which the guy said he liked --- has anyone tried playing to see if it's comfortable?

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So there's a Hot Rod at another store about an hour away. I'm debating whether to go try it out.


I'm not sure how I feel about it having a Rosewood Fingerboard versus Ebony. In playing the Dark Fire versus the Custom, I definitely noticed the Custom was much smoother/silkier feeling.


In terms of looks, I might prefer the lighter shade of wood but I understand Ebony to be denser and a higher quality wood? Anyone able to confirm?

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Besides the "flash show" on the Hot Rod' date=' do you think it would be a good sounding guitar (on par with guitars in it's price range)? I could prob get one for around $3,500 and understand it had a rounded 58' style neck which the guy said he liked --- has anyone tried playing to see if it's comfortable?[/quote']



if its got a neck like a 58 reissue, it will be thick....much thicker than the 50s neck on the USA LPs. that said, i find the thicker necks comfortable, but ymmv.

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In terms of looks' date=' I might prefer the lighter shade of wood but I understand Ebony to be denser and a higher quality wood? Anyone able to confirm?[/quote']


ebony is denser and is generally considered higher quality. its all about preference though....all the famous Bursts had rosewood and they seem to be held in high esteem.

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Opinions are all over the map when it comes to the tonal effect of fretboard wood: in the Fender world, Maple Vs. Rosewood discussions tend to be very circular with some folks generalizing that maple can be brighter and snappier while rosewood may lend a softer and warmer tone to a guitar. Rosewood vs. Ebony discussions run along similar lines, with ebony (which is more dense, hard and supposedly brittle than rosewood) sometimes believed to lend a brighter sound to a guitar. Then... there's "feel" under your fingertips: ebony can feel smoother with it's tighter grain than most rosewood which tends to be, well, grainier.


But... add some finger callouses and some big block inlays (instead of dots) to the equation, subtract the fact that you can't generally swap necks back and forth on a set-neck guitar to prove your theory, and the waters can get muddied quickly.


I think fretboard wood is a relatively small preference-thing rather than an established "XX wood is better or higher quality" sort of thing. Preferences are real, of course, but for me it's a small part -- or at least only one part -- of the many elements that go into the sound and feel of a particular guitar. Everything (neck size, tone woods, lacquer, electronics, strings, setup, cords, amps, the room you're in, your ears... you name it) contributes to the sound you hear. Shop with your ears, not your eyes.


And don't forget: every individual example sounds a little different from the next. Play as many guitars as you can, and try to find the one YOU like.

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I ended up picking up the 68 Les Paul Custom Flame Top (Tri-burst). I'll try to post some picks in the next few days. Bang for the buck, it was just too good to pass up and really it bought itself by how nicely it played (again since it was teh same one I was considering last weekend at the Maine store though it was priced $400 more up there).

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