Advice on Buying a Historic

GuitarTalk

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I haven’t posted on here in a couple years. I was asked on a different forum on advice on buying a first historic LP so I thought I’d copy & paste my response. Hope this helps!

I bought the first reissue new (2014 R9, see photos below) from Long and McQuade in 2017… they made a mistake with the pricing though I think as I paid about $6000 CAD iirc and sold it on Kijiji (Canadian craigslist) for the same amount a couple months later. I would NEVER buy an R9 new again unless Im custom ordering one to my personal specs…. otherwise it’s just not worth the price-tag premium IMO (unless you’re personally into guitars that are brand new / glossy). I typically go for aged finishes with reissues as you can continue to beat them up without damaging the value of the guitar, they also feel better to me (broken in). If I had to buy one les paul as a keeper, Id recommend finding a Historic Makeovers one (disclaimer: Im not affiliated with them). People send in their Gibson CS LP’s to them, and for several thousand bucks, Historic Makeovers refinish the guitar (with period-correct dyes, reset the neck, replace the east indian rosewood fretboard with Brazilian, etc.). Gibson Custom Shop, even Murphy lab stuff, does not come close to Historic Makeovers IMO. I don’t think it’s worth sending your guitar to Historic Makeovers yourself unless you REALLY like your reissue’s wood/flame/weight and you want to makeover THAT particular guitar. With that said, buying an already finished Historic Makeover (“HM”) one used, is definitely worth it as they go for about the same as an R8/R9 goes for new (without brazilian rosewood, period correct appointments and often times the attention to details) and they’ve been holding their value surprisingly well.

This is mine (originally a 2009 R9 which was redone by Historic Makeovers in 2011 by the original owner as a “Real Deal Series” makeover). It’s pictured below and is also pictured in the first photo at the beginning of this post. It’s the only Gibson les paul that I have kept (going on 3 years now). The dyes that HM used to refinish the guitar with have actually started to fade just like they did on original bursts (under the PG/plastics, the reds are much deeper eventhough it’s “only” been about 10 years).

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Since it’s the only LP I kept, here are the other LP reissues I had that this HM replaced:

Murphy Aged - True Historic 1959 LP (2015) (this one was really nice, perfect in fact, until I fpund the HM LP above… what bothered me was the fact that the board wasn’t Brazilian Rosewood on this one…. cork sniffer stuff I know, but the way a good oily brazilian board looks and feels is unmistakeable).
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2014 R9 (the first one from L&M, didnt keep it cuz it was too heavy and the top only looked good from this angle haha)
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2018 1960 LP Reissue w/ a Brazilian Rosewood board (gloss finish, didnt keep it cuz finish felt too “plastic” like)
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2018 R8 (nothing special, fairly light weight, bought it online and unfortunately the top was kinda ugly to me when I got it in person… very weak flame in the centre 1/3rd of the guitar, almost looked like a three/four-piece top)
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2016 True Historic 1957 Reissue (7.9lb, fat neck, lightest/best of the best sounding LPs Ive ever had… but finish was too “new” / glossy and the board wasn’t brazilian again)
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2017 R9 (liked the top, but got bored of it quite quickly as I bought it almost simultaneously with the R7 above, which was superior to me)
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If I had to do it all over again to find “the one” reissue LP for myself, I’d use the following criteria:
  • must be under 8.5lb (under 8lb is a big plus as the reselling an unchambered LP of that weight is very easy)
  • must be aged/relic’d, preferably by Historic Makeovers or in house by Gibson (Murphy Lab is not worth it as a standard aged/relic’d LP is the same thing and ML had some QA issues iirc)
  • must have a dark board, if you can score one with brazilian rosewood, it’s a big plus (great resale value and feel)
  • Best years of issue IMO (from personal experience and spec-wise): 2013, 2014, avoid 2015-2016 (unless it’s a “True Historic” model, make sure it comes with the COA identifying it as such… lots of scammers selling regular R9’s from this period as “True Historics”), 2017-2019 (im sure 2020-now are fine too but may not be worth the premium for being more recent and from my research they don’t offer any “better/more period correct notable specs compared to 2013/2014…. it still seems to me a 15’ True Historic gets the job done in that department apart from the indian rosewood board), any year Historic Makeover LP (make sure the makeover commissioned used brazilian rosewood as in recent years, they started to offer a less-expensive makeover that doesn’t use brazilian rosewood for the board). Note there were a number LP’s in 2001-2003 which had a Brazilian Rosewood fretboard (google it/search for this topic on this forum), but I prefer the limited runs in 2017-2019 that used Brazilian Rosewood as the specs are more historically accurate and you get a COA that actually states that the wood is brazilian.
  • top-wise (ie colour, flame, etc) is personal preference but for resale value, I would avoid western maple (ie straight flame / “fake looking”, or quilted maple). Eastern, curly maple or just a basic plaintop would be a better option for resale purposes IMO and “historical correctness”.

Good luck and hope this helps!
 
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THDNUT

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picky, picky, picky little devil aren't you.

:laugh2:

That top LP is awesome looking. The second one ain't too shabby either.
 

Thundermtn

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Those giant walls of text are too much.

Use paragraphs next time. Cool guitars though.

Only problem is there's damn near zero on testing. Only spec's and tops. That's nice and all, but telling people how to pick keepers is important. Neck sizing, hanging b string test, stiff neck test, sustain, resonance etc....

If it passes all the real tests @ 9lb. 1oz. it should still be a contender. All the rest is sort of forum check-box stuff.

Edited: incorrect auto-generated words and spelling
 
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kelsodeez

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What's are the hang b string and neck stiffness test?
 

GuitarTalk

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Those giant walls of text are too much.

Use paragraphs next time. Cool guitars though.

Only problem is there's damn near zero on testing. Only spec's and tops. That's nice and all, but telling people how to pick keepers is important. Neck sizing, hang b string test, stiff neck test, sustain, resonance etc....

If it passes all the real tests @ 9lb. 1oz. it should still be a contender. All the rest is sort of forum check-box stuff.
1) Paragraphs disappear when copy and pasting on a phone, though I think the post looks fine as is.

2) Play the thing and there’s your “test”, Im saying this is my advice based on my experience. It’s objectively harder to resell a guitar over 9lb and someone getting into the market needs to know that, the rest is preference just like neck sizes and what tone sounds best to you… 99% of which comes from your pickups and strings.

Your comment also reminds me of the most important piece of advice I forgot to include: there will always be another one and you will consider selling your guitar at one point or another so be patient, consider resale value and try the guitar if you can.
 

Thundermtn

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What's are the hang b string and neck stiffness test?
Most dealers have them hung up by the neck in the show room. While it's still on the hanger gently pluck the b string, then pinch the guitar body between your thumb and index finger in the area of the input jack.

If the guitar can't be felt strongly vibrating it's not worth pulling off the hanger.

Neck stiffness.

Pluck the low e open, then immediately bend the g string up a step and a half in the area of the 9th fret without plucking it. If it has a stiff neck, it won't drop pitch on the low e.

A short stiff neck is a major component of the LP sound. Tuning stability and holding setups are a side bonus of a stiff neck, but sustain and resonance are usually increased more than in guitars with floppy necks.
 
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Thundermtn

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I have a '60 neck that will pass the stiffness test so it's not just a size qwerk.

Neck size is one of the most important aspects of choosing. Maybe the most important metric there is. If you don't like the neck you're not going to bond with the guitar.

R8 necks from '08 were usually so big that I almost immediately hung them all back up. My '16 R8 feels like I was there in the shop test fitting it. So just choosing a profile and ordering one can get someone close, but being there in person is always going to be instant feedback and you'll know if it's right for you or not.
 

Dilver

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Historics are like hot women… everyone is turned on by something different, you’re lucky if you get to experience lots of them, even once you find “the one” you start to notice little things that bug you, you never stop looking and want to see more of them even if you can’t have them
 

Clint

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OP I think you put way too much stock in finishes. You say you had a goldtop that was the lightest/best of the best sounding LPs you ever had....then ditched it because the finish was too "new" and didn't have a braz rw board.
Sounds little like crazy talk to me ....or just shilling for HM.
I've owned an HM RDS. It was pretty nice but honestly did not sound all that great.
 

kelsodeez

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OP I think you put way too much stock in finishes. You say you had a goldtop that was the lightest/best of the best sounding LPs you ever had....then ditched it because the finish was too "new" and didn't have a braz rw board.
Sounds little like crazy talk to me ....or just shilling for HM.
I've owned an HM RDS. It was pretty nice but honestly did not sound all that great.
Players vs collectors.

I own one R9. It took a while to find but it's what I want to use for every show, band practice, studio session and anywhere else I can play it.

It's my unequivocal number one.

Every mod to it, every consideration I took when buying it was based on how functional it is when playing. I don't care about what country the wood came from.

I could give two shits who painted it. I care about the function in my hands and in my ears, and that's all.

I don't think that the op is wrong in his quest for what he wants. It's just a different avenue of enjoying your instrument.

Honestly, dudes like the op are the reason why a poor gigging/teaching musician, like myself, owns an r9 at all. Trickle down economics at work, my dude.
 

Duane_the_tub

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Yup. My #1 is a mess, spec-wise. The dreaded condom (helps prevented unplanned pregnancies that result in unwanted Specials and Studios). The inlays with rounded corners (gasp!). That's where all the tone leaks out, right @Jim Klein ?

Seriously though, whatever makes you happy. I'm sure other guys are psyched to have some of those rejects, and the OP clearly loves his HM.
 

ONEHERO

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Yeah, that Murphy Aged DarkBurst…which was affectionately called “pumpkin burst”:laugh2:

Too bad it got modded so much since :slap:
 

GuitarTalk

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Players vs collectors.

I own one R9. It took a while to find but it's what I want to use for every show, band practice, studio session and anywhere else I can play it.

It's my unequivocal number one.

Every mod to it, every consideration I took when buying it was based on how functional it is when playing. I don't care about what country the wood came from.

I could give two shits who painted it. I care about the function in my hands and in my ears, and that's all.

I don't think that the op is wrong in his quest for what he wants. It's just a different avenue of enjoying your instrument.

Honestly, dudes like the op are the reason why a poor gigging/teaching musician, like myself, owns an r9 at all. Trickle down economics at work, my dude.

A $250 Yamaha will do for that, you don’t need an R9… believe it or not, there are much more functional and tonally diverse guitars that got invented in the last 60 years.

And no need for prejudice, Im obsessed with tone as well but to get inspired, I like the feeing of a guitar and knowing that it’s more than just a guitar. It’s kinda like playing poker with a $1 buy-in is a lot of fun when you’re a kid but as you get older, to feel a gambler’s high you have to up the ante as you move up tax brackets (yes, I may need help).

Im recording my first album as we speak and all I need for any sound that I find appealing is one of these 3 (see below) and tweed Gibson GA-20. No pedals, just pure vintage tone (effects, if needed are added/touched up directly in DAW). Could this tone be achieved at a fraction of the cost? Yes. Would the guitar making the tone inspire me to pick it up and write music as easily? I don’t know. It’s Christmas morning for me every morning when I wake up and have to choose one of these to play, it’s the first thing I think of. If my circumstances were different, I’d probably find the same appeal in that $250 Yamaha, just like I did when it was my first guitar as a kid. Im not saying this to seem snobby, it’s just how Im wired… snobby/cork sniffer/whatever you wanna call it, I am who I am and so are my guitars.

L to R: 1953 Telecaster “Blackguard”, 1960 Stratocaster (original blonde over ash body), the HM in the original post.

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