Had a chance to play a burst last week

modavis99

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I had an extra hour in Chicago last week and before flying back to NJ I was able to stop by Chicago Music Exchange to say hello to my salesman Matt - I've bought a few Les Pauls from Matt and I wanted to introduce myself and check out CME in the process.

After introductions and talking about guitars and Gibson etc. Matt asked me if I wanted to try a burst, a genuine 1960 Les Paul with original pickups. Of course I jumped at that. I almost exclusively play Les Pauls but I have never played a burst. Matt just handed it to me to play, just like he would hand me any old guitar. I was like, "Do you need me to remove my jacket" (no) or "aren't you worried about me holding it" (no), "Will it fall apart in my hands" (no), etc. I guess once you hit a certain age and are wearing a jacket, you occasionally get the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, we went to a small room with a closed door and a few amps. I plugged into a smallish Friedman head with two channels and a 1x12 open-back speaker cab. This is where doing a tone report is tricky. I normally play through a closed-back 2x12. An open-back 1x12 sounds different than I am used to, it is more open sounding and mid-heavy.

I played the burst for about 20 minutes. I didn't take detailed notes while playing but a few things struck me. First, the frets were in good shape (Matt did not think the guitar had been refretted), which surprised me for a 60-year old instrument. Second, and related, the guitar was set up fantastically -- low action with only some small open-string buzzing on the low E string. Not that I'd advise it, but for those of you with $285,000 to spare the guitar is gig-ready.

Finally, I want to talk about tone and feel. I did not have my Les Pauls with me, but I compared the 1960 burst to a '59 RI and a '60 RI that CME had in stock. The burst played and sounded different than the reissues, and I do not think this is a Placebo effect. For tone, it could just be that all guitars sound different. But the reissues sounded different -- worse to my ears. The burst was more open sounding and the notes had more "bloom" at medium gain settings. I think some of this might be due to pickups (IME I tend not to like Gibson pickups and the burst had its original PAFs), some might be due to differences in old-growth vs. new wood, or wood changing with age and play, and perhaps some of the difference might be due to differences in thickness and formula for lacquer and glue.

I mention lacquer and glue because the burst felt different than the reissues and I'm not sure why. The reissues felt well made etc. but had a stiffness for lack of a better word that the burst did not have. The burst moved with my playing more when I played it than the reissues. I don't know if it was more responsive, just different. Anyway, this could be a glue/lacquer thing or maybe it's old wood, or who knows what.

It is possible this is all in my head but I was really hoping the reissues would be just as good or better than the burst. I was hoping the burst thing was just internet myth. I can't say definitively that's the case based on my experience. I still wonder how my guitars would have stacked up against the burst with my amp in my practice space.

Anyway, pics are below.



 

bossaddict

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That's a great-looking '60 burst. Thanks for sharing your experience.
 

lpfan1980

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Thats on my bucket list-as good as they can make the traditionals they are new guitars pretending to be vintage the real ones Are vintage and has 49 years of playing time so its most likely broken in.
 

judson

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i like that report....thanks for that
 

VictorB

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Great post!

Out of curiosity, what was it’s weight like?
 

Blue Blood

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Definitely a fan of older mahogany.
Thanks for sharing your story
 

BSeneca

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Thanks for sharing. Glad you were fortunate enough to play one. I have played three and own a 1952 Goldtop and a 58 Junior. They are different, but don’t kick your reissues out of bed as they are great too. Out of the three NONE were worth $200 plus thousand. One was really special one was very nice and one was flat. But still a great experience. Congratulations
 

ESchmidt

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Thank you for sharing, I always like hearing things like this. I hope one day to play a burst again (only played a '58 once while in a similar situation to yours).
 

decoy205

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Great post! Love hearing about burst experience. The old guitars just have that something special. That’s always my issue with trying out guitars in a store too I never have An amp I’d like to hear it through so you lose some perspective. From the pics it looks like a really nice burst.
 

XpensiveWino

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Original finish I take it? I ask, as the only burst experience I have is with a re-fin. It didn't feel like I was riding a unicorn. I wanna feel that.
 

mrdannyboy

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Very Cool, thanks for living vicariously for many of us on here. I enjoyed the brief. Cheers
 

jenton70

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I played that same burst recently. Nice but wasn't set up well when I played it. It sounded a little "woodier" than the reissues I guess. Nice bloom on the notes for sure. I agree with that. Great neck. I really enjoyed it but didn't find it to be leaps and bounds above current reissues if I'm honest about it. Of course given the choice between the two.....:)
 




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