Help me decide which direction to go on a new guitar

glimmertwins

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I know this is going to sound like I'm trolling but believe me my intentions are pure.

I'm looking to buy one really good Gibson. A little background - I have owned a number of vintage guitars over the years - not insanely expensive vintage, but player grade versions of less popular models(61 Jazzmaster, 65 Jaguar, 65 Casino, 50s ES-150, 50s Junior and a Special, 60s Guild Starfire, 60 Mustang, various Gibson Acoustics, 64 Gretsch 6120, 70s tele, to name a few) I have also owned a number of the higher end Gibsons(chambered R4, ES-330, Rich Robinson 335, Historic SG, etc). What I haven't played are any of the high end refinished Gibson stuff out there like Historic Makeovers(although my danocaster tele is my favorite fender guitar of all time so far).

Anyway, the dilemma is this - I'm considering selling a number of my higher end Gibsons and just getting one guitar in the $5-7k range to rule them all. I like the way the higher end Gibson's sound, but there is that "feel" you get with a lot of the vintage guitars(you feel the vibrations of the guitar just as much as you hear them) and I have yet to stumble upon a higher end Gibson that has that - I suspect because of all the plasticizers in the finish because I DO get that with all the danocasters I have played. So far I haven't fallen in love with any Humbucker guitar I have played, I tend to favor single coils like P90s, etc. I'm not ruling out humbuckers because I have heard some great tones from hums but I have yet to play a guitar that had one and also the "magic". In the range I'm looking to spend, I think I have 3 options if I want a great Gibson:

- buy player grade or les desired vintage guitar like a Special, Junior, or maybe a late 60s/early 70s Les Paul or an earlier 60s ES-330 until I find "the one"
- buy a high end replica/makeover type guitar...until I find "the one"
- save up a little bit more and get maybe a player grade early 50s goldtop....until I find "the one"

The thing that has set me on this quest is the ES-150 of mine - it has a BEAUTIFUL woody tone to it - I love it. You can play such simple things with it and it just sounds magical. I didn't know I could get that tone in a guitar until I took it in on a trade for my 60s 6120....now I'm wondering if I can find another guitar with that type of magic in it. My 50s special had original P-90s but they were very dark sounding(both neck and treble) and I sold it. Now I'm coming to appreciate how unique they sounded so maybe I should look for another Special - hopefully one a little less dark sounding. My dream guitar is a 50s goldtop with bigsby but sadly those are a little out of my price range.

The great unknown is the Historic Makeover type guitar - they LOOK amazing, and I'm sure they sound great too...but do they have that "thing" that you get with old wood - feeling the vibrations in the guitar and such? I know my danocasters(I have had 3) all did so I know it's not impossible with "new" wood but I have yet to "feel" it with new wood Gibsons.

Any guidance or advice you guys might have would be appreciated. I'm sure many of you have been here where I am. Thanks in advance for all your help/suggestions.
 

sikoniko

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I wish I had some sage advice for you. I often look at the handful of guitars I have and wonder if I could ever be happy with just one... the answer is no... so I wonder how others are able to be. It must have been easier pre-internet when you couldn't have so much access to look at so many awesome looking guitars that are tempting.

I have a HM. I have vintage guitars. I have a CS MB Strat. I like them all. But I don't really have two of the same anything. I have at one time had a rainbow of CS strats. They were great to look at, but I couldn't possibly play them all all the time.

There is one guitar I want that is still in a 'reasonable' price range - a '58 single cut jr. But I wouldn't get rid of all of my other guitars to have just that one. I also wouldn't be happy with just a fender or just a gibson.

My analogy is that they are like screw drivers. You can use a flat head screw driver in a philips head screw sometimes, but it isn't the right tool for the job. so you need a flat head and you need a philips head.

good luck on your quest brave knight. probably the best thing you could do is go to the guitar show in the fall, try out a bunch, and leave with the one you like the best.
 

Liam

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If I had to keep just one, it would be a toss up between my best Junior ('55), my Special ('57), and my very high end r*****a of a '59 Standard. Having said that, I would most likely keep tossing the coin until the Junior won - it's one of those guitars that seems like it ought not to be flexible for different styles of music, but I have used it for most things between rock, jazz and blues. I think you need to play a few more 50s Specials and Juniors and see if you can bond with any of them.

Liam
 

dwagar

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My 3 LPs fit what you are looking for. In vintage, I bought player grade because that was what I could afford.

'01 R9 that had an early Historic Makeovers package, no refinish, but included the braz board, truss rod with no condom, new inlays etc. HM took a really good R9 and turned it into a great R9.

'57 Special - I found one from a forum member that needed a headstock repair and refinish. The nicest neck I've ever owned.

'53 GT - needed a top repair from where someone had routed a slot to put a bridge in and a refinish. I love this guitar.

I think you'd be happy with any one them, I am. My favorite, though, is the '53GT, but even finding a players grade one that needs some work may be beyond what you want to budget. I think a players grade Special would fit your budget, and IMO I'd rather have it than the HM. But really, they are all great guitars.
 

jaik

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My 50s special had original P-90s but they were very dark sounding(both neck and treble) and I sold it. Now I'm coming to appreciate how unique they sounded so maybe I should look for another Special - hopefully one a little less dark sounding. My dream guitar is a 50s goldtop with bigsby but sadly those are a little out of my price range.
That's the nature of Specials from every one I've played & the one I have. They tend to be darker guitars. Completely different beasts from a Gold Top or even a Jr. Its a great sound, but a different timbre. If a Gold Top is your target IMO you can get closer to a narrow range of Gold Top tones with a good Jr, I don't know why that is, but it is. I've played some terrible 50s juniors, but the good ones sound great.
Most late 60s Les Pauls are killer instruments and will get you even closer to the 50s Gold Top sound, enough so to satisfy most. But prices are above your stated range generally.

The only semi-recent Les Paul that I've played that I thought was worth a damn was a particular Collectors Choice gold top that CME had in last year, that just did the thing, it had the neck right, and it sounded surprisingly good. But those are buckers... unless you convert it :hmm::laugh2:
 

tonemonster58

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FWIW Based on your thoughts I would highly suggest a 50's ES225TD. It covers all your bases and they play and sound heavenly. Truly a fine guitar that is quite versatile. Good ones can be had around $5k. Once you experience the sound pressure coming out of the f holes against your arm you'll wish all your guitars had that tactile feedback...
 

glimmertwins

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FWIW Based on your thoughts I would highly suggest a 50's ES225TD. It covers all your bases and they play and sound heavenly. Truly a fine guitar that is quite versatile. Good ones can be had around $5k. Once you experience the sound pressure coming out of the f holes against your arm you'll wish all your guitars had that tactile feedback...
THIS is something that never occurred to me. I'm going to look into them more, because it seems to check all the boxes for me. Wish it had a little more fret access, but then again neither does the 330. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

glimmertwins

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That's the nature of Specials from every one I've played & the one I have. They tend to be darker guitars. Completely different beasts from a Gold Top or even a Jr. Its a great sound, but a different timbre. If a Gold Top is your target IMO you can get closer to a narrow range of Gold Top tones with a good Jr, I don't know why that is, but it is. I've played some terrible 50s juniors, but the good ones sound great.
Most late 60s Les Pauls are killer instruments and will get you even closer to the 50s Gold Top sound, enough so to satisfy most. But prices are above your stated range generally.
Ya, I would love to get my hands on a late 60s version - especially the ones that still have the small headstock but they seem to cost nearly what a 52 would.... Ya, I have also noticed inconsistency among vintage juniors which is a shame because they are very comfortable guitars to play...
 

glimmertwins

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My 3 LPs fit what you are looking for. In vintage, I bought player grade because that was what I could afford.

'01 R9 that had an early Historic Makeovers package, no refinish, but included the braz board, truss rod with no condom, new inlays etc. HM took a really good R9 and turned it into a great R9.

'57 Special - I found one from a forum member that needed a headstock repair and refinish. The nicest neck I've ever owned.

'53 GT - needed a top repair from where someone had routed a slot to put a bridge in and a refinish. I love this guitar.

I think you'd be happy with any one them, I am. My favorite, though, is the '53GT, but even finding a players grade one that needs some work may be beyond what you want to budget. I think a players grade Special would fit your budget, and IMO I'd rather have it than the HM. But really, they are all great guitars.
...I saw a neck refin 52 go for just north of $7k on ebay the other day and started thinking maybe I should hold on looking for a player 52/53. I just don't know if I can wait 6 months to a year to find one in budget, with the right concession that make it a player grade, and be able to quickly jump on it. Good to hear about the HM guitar - confirms what I suspect - that they can be great guitars but maybe still missing the old dry wood feel.
 

Dano48

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Heresy or......?
I am a firm believer that some guitars just have it. Regardless of age. Aside from several guitars that I really like playing I have a '77 Les Paul Recording that is just majic. It has a buttery neck feel and wonderful tone. And the surprising thing is, this guitar was near mint when I acquired it. It's like it just plays by itself and I am just baggage to plug it in and hold it up.

Just sayin'. Maybe you don't have to be rich. Just lucky.
 

RAG7890

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While I like Mahogany I think you need Maple on top of Mahogany to get the best overall, most versatile outcome tone wise.

:cheers2:
 

tonemonster58

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While I like Mahogany I think you need Maple on top of Mahogany to get the best overall, most versatile outcome tone wise.

:cheers2:
:wow: I find that a surprising comment. A good Special can easily keep up with their Maple topped siblings.
 

RAG7890

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:wow: I find that a surprising comment. A good Special can easily keep up with their Maple topped siblings.
Nothing against a Special, I just think that a Maple Capped Guitar probably brings more to the Table. Maybe I'm wrong. :)

If it didn't, I would think everyone would be playing Specials & no one would want a Maple Capped Vintage Les Paul.............but that isn't the case.

A friend has a '57 TH in full Hog. While I have only heard it acoustically, it sounded awesome & I really like it but it is different.

:cheers2:
 

L96A1

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Just bought a 60 special and get somebody to carry it back.:naughty:
 

Herb Utsmelz

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I have seen the top of the mountain and it is good. For me, at that top of the mountain resides a 95% original '59 Junior. And nothing else.
 

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