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DuaLeaD

Historic Reissue vs True Vintage

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I know this post is a longshot, but has anyone ever been able to do a side-by-side comparison (Tone, Construction, Aesthetics, Playablilty) of a real vintage Gibson vs a high-end Custom Shop Historic Reissue? How close are they? I know from my 1965 Firebird VII Historic Reissue, which is my first (of hopefully many to come) Custom Shop guitars, that you are getting serious quality. Honestly, I would prefer a historic reissue due to advancements made by the Gibson master luthiers. Could you argue that you are actually getting a better guitar than what the original 1950s/1960s lines could have ever been? Logically, you would have to think that since those guitars were made by hand back in the day, you could pick from a batch of 30 and only have one may been that EPIC axe that everyone lusts after and there would have also been a few lemons just like any other manufacturer. I suppose one could also argue that vintage guitars sound better as they have had many decades for their wood to cure. Maybe that is another debate in itself. Am I wrong?

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I know this post is a longshot, but has anyone ever been able to do a side-by-side comparison (Tone, Construction, Aesthetics, Playablilty) of a real vintage Gibson vs a high-end Custom Shop Historic Reissue? How close are they? I know from my 1965 Firebird VII Historic Reissue, which is my first (of hopefully many to come) Custom Shop guitars, that you are getting serious quality. Honestly, I would prefer a historic reissue due to advancements made by the Gibson master luthiers. Could you argue that you are actually getting a better guitar than what the original 1950s/1960s lines could have ever been? Logically, you would have to think that since those guitars were made by hand back in the day, you could pick from a batch of 30 and only have one may been that EPIC axe that everyone lusts after and there would have also been a few lemons just like any other manufacturer. I suppose one could also argue that vintage guitars sound better as they have had many decades for their wood to cure. Maybe that is another debate in itself. Am I wrong?

I'll bite. I just picked up my second re-issue. It is an LP R8 in Iced Tea flavor. I also have a Historic 1959 ES-335 Dot made in Nashville. I honestly don't know how a guitar could be any better than these are. Great looks, feel, playability, tone, etc. I have had quite a few guitars over the last couple of decades and these are cream of the crop in every respect. I can also say the same about my Custom 1951 Nocaster Relic. A Re-issue from Fender. I have put everything else up for sale except one beater Strat I drag around on the road.

 

But to answer your question, no, I have never been able to compare them side be side. Probably never will. But, that's ok.

 

Cheers,

Woolly

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Guest Farnsbarns

Gotta love opening a 7+ month old thread to say "no, I haven't". [lol]

 

There are a couple of people on here who can answer this. Pippy and Axe come to mind and I'm sure there are others.

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Good question and as I have never played either - I'd like to hear an opinion from those that have.

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I can very clearly remember playing some original '59 L.P.'s when I lived in Chicagoland back in the late 70's before the Japanese and later the Chinese starting buying everything up. In short some were very cool and frankly some were lousy IMHO. What I do remember is that nothing cost more than $1200 if you could believe that...............jim in Maine

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Gotta love opening a 7+ month old thread to say "no, I haven't". [lol]

 

There are a couple of people on here who can answer this. Pippy and Axe come to mind and I'm sure there are others.

Oh we all new some of you professional posters would set us straight.

 

Thanks!!!

 

Woolly,

Out.

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The price difference is so large that if you had that kind of money to spend you would do better to spend a few days inTokyo.there are more historics there in a smaller area than anyplace else on the planet. Go to the Ochaomizu and Shibuya and play 20 or 30 historics until you find your magic one.

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I can sort of come close. In the mid 1970's I bought a '68 Les Paul Custom, played it for maybe 5 years, and stupidly sold it. I now own a 2002 re issue of the '54 Les Paul Custom.

 

Obviously, I can't do an A-B side by side because my '68 is long gone...but I remember a lot about it because I was very impressed with it.

 

Overall quality - I think the re-issue/Historic is as good, maybe a shade better. Build is absolutely beautiful for both, maybe a bit better on the re- issue...the OLD Gibsons used far more hand work, thus more individual differences from unit to unit. Newer Gibsons are more consistent, at least IMO.

Playability - The re-issue has modern frets. The '68 had "fretless wonder" frets. Depends on how much you bend, but I call them different but equal.

 

Sound - totally different pickups- The '68 had humbuckers, and all original factory electronics. It sounded CREAMY with a little back off of the tone pot. The 2002/54 has a P 90 and a staple/ Alnico...again, I love the sound, but have to call them different but equal.

 

Deciding factor for me is I cold AFFORD to buy the re-issue. The original 1968, which set me back all of $400 in 1976, is too expensive for me...It was a great guitar, but IMO, not worth the asking price these days...

 

Please note I am NOT a collector, nor a fan of collectors. I remember when these were just old guitars, and priced accordingly, and I have no interest in that game.

 

mark

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There is no doubt in my mind that what you get from the Custom shop is head and shoulder better than the production guitars they replicate from 50+ Years ago in terms of playability. Now of course there will be exceptions, but I stand by that as a general statement.

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Guest Farnsbarns

There is no doubt in my mind that what you get from the Custom shop is head and shoulder better than the production guitars they replicate from 50+ Years ago in terms of playability. Now of course there will be exceptions, but I stand by that as a general statement.

 

I agree. I think that a 59 LP is desirable because it's a 59 LP and not because it's a great guitar necessarily. I would buy one if I could though!

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This post is old. But I'm new and can shed some light on this concerning the Historic VOS SG, which I own. One of my local shops has an early to mid sixties SG Les Paul. The nut, and binding on treble side have been replaced. Aside from that it's stock. They lyre Vibrola is definitely made from a different material. The vintage SG trem bar is harder to move and not as musically pleasing effect when engaged. The historic Vibrola appears and plays much more refined. The body nearly exact as mine sans the color, historic appears tinted orange where as the vintage SG is deep red almost purple type tint.. The neck is the biggest difference between the two. Near the neck joint they start out nearly identical shape and thickness. As you go towards the 7th fret and down to first there is an extreme taper on the vintage model, where the historic reissue is more rounded and not as extreme of a taper which I actually prefer. For $5,000 they can keep the vintage SG. The historic in almost every way shape and form blows it out of the water. Sound wise the vintage SG had a little more air to the sound, where the historic has a very stiff dry sound, which especially for leads I prefer. It will come down to taste, vibe and mojo. Get a VOS and you're there with a thicker neck slightly different tint and a lot more reliable/stable machine. I would not trust the original sixties SG on the road, esp with the thinner neck. Hope this gives some insight.

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Ok I am a wife if the man who plays but I listen to the sounds. I know these girls like the backs of my hands. We have yes we a VOS 59 re-issue Grace she sounds really nice but we also have a 1968 Custom Black Beauty name Black Bettie now this lady the sound is exceptional full tone mellow. We also have a 1960 anniversary and a Black Beauty 3 pick up. Also a Firebird and a Explorer and a Custom Fender and a Real Texas tar which do not have my respect. Now I don't like Gibson as a company had a deal made to make us a Custom Explorer and paid them and they broke the deal and did not make it for $12,000.00. So I am not happy with them. There guitars are worthy but there business ethics aren't good. We also have 3 Taylors. No not a collector a real guitar player. The 1968 is by far the best sounding lady in the house and then a 8 14th Taylor then 1959 VOX re-issue. These are my girls and I know sounds.

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Ok, this thread is really old! But I have a little to add:

 

The average current Gibson compares much more favorably to the ones produced by Norlin, although occasionally Norlin screwed up and made an exceptional guitar.

 

The 1950s Gibsons I have are all exceptional, and have steadily improved over the 30 some years I have owned them. The Norlin era guitars from Gibson are not as good on an average, the quality varies quite a bit between each guitar, even of the same exact model. So you can find a great Norlin or a dud Norlin, and there seems to have been an increase in the duds and "2nds" sold during the Norlin years.

 

The newer Gibsons tend to be a bit chunkier, heavier finishes, and some have finish problems due to the formulation of Nitro-cellulose lacquer being changed to meet EPA regulations. In addition, lets face it, there is less high quality wood out there that has been aged to perfection, and a lot more people buying electric guitars since the 1950s. Demand has gone up and depleted the reserves of the highest quality woods. This means the woods you get today are not what they used to be compared to back when good wood was easily available. Today there are huge restrictions on the kind of woods that can be imported to the USA, and some woods are no longer available (Philippine mahogany), or cannot be imported as they are "protected endangered species" for which you can thank all the burnt out hippies who now have become politicians and activists.

 

Gibson has over the past 20 years has done quite a bit to undue the changes done by Norlin to the humbucker pickups and re-establish their good reputation.

 

The acoustic guitars no longer have as many hand operations, especially the planning, and carving of the tops and tap tuning. Today,they select an average optimum thickness for the tops and they all get made the same way on automated routing and planning machines. This has been true since the late 1950s. In addition, many other labor intensive steps have been eliminated, like the binding nibs on the neck binding, the use of hide glue for all glue joints, cyanoacrylate and aliphatic resin(Tite-Bond)glues are substituted and are either more brittle or rubbery, and very difficult to re-pair should the glue fail. So, although each of these issue is small by itself, the cumulative effect is drastic, especially when you compare todays instruments to the ones that are pre-Norlin. So todays Gibsons are more consistant than the Norlin years, but the oldies are hard to beat and are only getting better. The age of a good oldie gives it the edge on any newly made guitar.

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Ok, this thread is really old! But I have a little to add:

 

The average current Gibson compares much more favorably to the ones produced by Norlin, although occasionally Norlin screwed up and made an exceptional guitar.

 

The 1950s Gibsons I have are all exceptional, and have steadily improved over the 30 some years I have owned them. The Norlin era guitars from Gibson are not as good on an average, the quality varies quite a bit between each guitar, even of the same exact model. So you can find a great Norlin or a dud Norlin, and there seems to have been an increase in the duds and "2nds" sold during the Norlin years.

 

The newer Gibsons tend to be a bit chunkier, heavier finishes, and some have finish problems due to the formulation of Nitro-cellulose lacquer being changed to meet EPA regulations. In addition, lets face it, there is less high quality wood out there that has been aged to perfection, and a lot more people buying electric guitars since the 1950s. Demand has gone up and depleted the reserves of the highest quality woods. This means the woods you get today are not what they used to be compared to back when good wood was easily available. Today there are huge restrictions on the kind of woods that can be imported to the USA, and some woods are no longer available (Philippine mahogany), or cannot be imported as they are "protected endangered species" for which you can thank all the burnt out hippies who now have become politicians and activists.

 

Gibson has over the past 20 years has done quite a bit to undue the changes made by Norlin to the humbucker pickups and re-establish their good reputation.

 

The acoustic guitars no longer have as many hand operations, especially the planning, and carving of the tops and tap tuning. Today,they select an average optimum thickness for the tops and they all get made the same way on automated routing and planning machines. This has been true since the late 1950s. In addition, many other labor intensive steps have been eliminated, like the binding nibs on the neck binding. Instead of the use of hide glue for all glue joints, cyanoacrylate and aliphatic resin(Tite-Bond)glues are substituted and are either more brittle or rubbery, and very difficult to re-pair should the glue fail. So, although each of these issue is small by itself, the cumulative effect is drastic, especially when you compare todays instruments to the ones that are pre-Norlin. So todays Gibsons are more consistant than the Norlin years, but the oldies are hard to beat and are only getting better. The age of a good oldie gives it the edge on any newly made guitar.

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