Analysis Paralysis: I Can't Decide Which R8 to Keep

pgfitzgerald

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This is very typical of me. I'm a very analytical and detail oriented guy. I over analyze everything. I have this need to understand the how and why. Skip to the end for the TL;DR.

I purchased an R8. Then I saw another one from the same vendor that I had previously missed. I liked its top a lot, so I ordered it as well. The deal was I had to keep one and send one back. I couldn't send both back. No problem. Except now I can't decide!

Before making any comparisons, I restrung them and did my best to get them setup as closely as possible to one another. I initially thought the first one had more clarity and the second one had better low end definition (both acoustically and plugged in). So I decided I'd rather have the clarity and settled on the first one. But then my curiosity got the best of me and I spent some more time trying to figure out what made each tick.

The low strings on the first one don't quite have the same sparkle as the high strings, which I think is what lead me to feel that it had more clarity. The low strings ring clearer on the second one than they do on the first, which I think is what lead me to feel that it had more low end definition.

Other similarities and differences: The top on the first one is more understated with straight subtle horizontal flame and straight vertical grain. The top on the second has more pronounced horizontal flame, wavy vertical grain, and mineral streaks. The first's fingerboard is slightly darker than the second. All else, including craftsmanship, seems to be pretty equal.

TL;DR: Basically, the first one has slightly better high end and the second has slightly better low end. Both sound really good, but overdriven leads sound slightly more amazing on the first and chunky rhythms and power chords sound slightly more amazing on the second.

I can't keep both. One has to go back. I can't decide! I'd like your opinions. Thanks!
 
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Jayleb

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I'd keep the second...
For one you chose it because you preferred the look of it (so I gather?!) And secondly I'd prefer the low end as, imo, you can't beat good clear rhythm and power chords as you say. That's just my shout!
P.s. post some pics ;-D
 

pgfitzgerald

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Edited... pics are back. I don't want to make the decision based on the tops. I like both tops, albeit for different reasons. The sonic characteristics are what's tripping me up. :)
 

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Blues_Verne

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Definatly the second! Wow! To get more bottom end on that one, install tone pros.
 

bridger

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Second. The colors have more contrast and the mineral streaks are cool lookin'. There is a myriad of aftermarket pickup choices... Especially if they both feel good in hand & one is not a boat anchor.
 

pgfitzgerald

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Second. The colors have more contrast and the mineral streaks are cool lookin'. There is a myriad of aftermarket pickup choices... Especially if they both feel good in hand & one is not a boat anchor.
The photos are deceptive. They must have been taken with different lighting and/or exposure, and may have been post-processed. The contrast you see in the second photo is exagerrated.

In reality, the overall color and contrast of the two is somewhere between what's represented in the two photos and both guitars appear very similar to one another. The only real difference in color or contrast is due to the slightly darker wavy grain and the mineral streaks on the second.

I'm very happy with the Custombuckers. They sound very much like the SD antiquities I have in another guitar. I have no immediate plans to replace the pickups.

The sonic characteristics I'm referring to are present acoustically as well, so I'm assuming it's due to the differences in the wood itself (or perhaps the nut and/or bridge, etc.).
 

mudface

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I like a tight round bottom end that is natural (also how I like women), to the guitar. If you try to artificially produce it,... it just becomes muddy. The sound is fuller and robust if it’s natural. If the second can achieve this,... that is what I would select. The top ain’t bad either but my rather plain R8 has this quality of nice low end too,.. and a rather crisp clear high end... making it rather balanced. My R8.

29257B99-F574-487A-916F-C8CE78873AB6.jpeg
 
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mudface

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This my other R8,... actually a 2014 Collectors Choice #28,.... it also shares the same balance as my plain R8 but with a highly figured top. Slightly hotter Custombuckers too,... making the tone and volume controls that much more useful.
4D58552B-5FCC-463D-9C59-BA89E3499228.jpeg


Both are keepers,... regardless of their tops.
 
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Tim Plains

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Choose based on looks/neck if you can't based on sound, otherwise invite a friend over and ask for their opinion.
 

pgfitzgerald

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This my other R8,... actually a 2014 Collectors Choice #28,.... it also shares the same balance as my plain R8 but with a highly figured top. Slightly hotter Custombuckers too,... making the tone and volume controls that much more useful.
A balanced tone is important to me too. My Traditional is excellent in that regard. Both these R8s are pretty balanced.

The second R8 has a pleasant bell like quality on the low strings. They ring clean and clear. Very similar to my Traditional. That comes through the amp as well.

The first R8 is good, but lacks the bell like quality. I might change the strings on the first again just to see.

Any difference in the high end is more difficult to distinguish. But I’d say the first just barely wins. It has slightly more clarity on the high strings than the second. The only thing that (barely) stands out is the high E string doesn’t cut through quite as well on the second.

Overall, I’m leaning toward the second.

Do other folks do this sort of critical listening and analysis, or am I crazy? LOL
 

mudface

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A balanced tone is important to me too. My Traditional is excellent in that regard. Both these R8s are pretty balanced.

The second R8 has a pleasant bell like quality on the low strings. They ring clean and clear. Very similar to my Traditional. That comes through the amp as well.

The first R8 is good, but lacks the bell like quality. I might change the strings on the first again just to see.

Any difference in the high end is more difficult to distinguish. But I’d say the first just barely wins. It has slightly more clarity on the high strings than the second. The only thing that (barely) stands out is the high E string doesn’t cut through quite as well on the second.

Overall, I’m leaning toward the second.

Do other folks do this sort of critical listening and analysis, or am I crazy? LOL
I do,.... chime and natural harmonics that bloom out of chords is what I look for. If the highs can ring loud and clear through the low notes of a chord the better clarity the notes will have during single note runs like in solos.
 

GT1

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Best thing you can do is...
.... Sell a kidney and keep them both!
 

CerebralGasket

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Guess the only thing to do is to flip a coin.

I would prefer the one with the clear low end. Solid chunky rhythm is the glue that holds everything together IMO.
 
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StubbyJ

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Can you record them in a mix. Mix tones are vastly "different" than at home. Which feels better in your hands/plays better and/or allows for more confidence?
 




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