In search for the best les paul

Discussion in 'Historics & Reissues' started by Niilopi, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    hell, if theres a whack of Les Pauls hanging on the wall, I give em each a strum as they hang , as I walk down the isle.
    One or 2 may sound more pleasing & get me back for a 2nd or 3rd strum.
    Hell I may even pick the appealing ones off the hanger , play a bit, maybe even plug into an amp if it felt good, maybe spend some time getting a set up, or do my own if they let me:)
    Always been that first unplugged all open string strum though,
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
  2. thinkgreen

    thinkgreen Senior Member

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    Couldn' agree more. And it can be a fantastic way of getting a bargan. I got a good deal on my r8 as it had been hanging there for a year and the shop needed the space. And it' a fantastic guitar. had friends that have asked me to give the first refusal if I ever sold it. So yes there will always be a diamond in the rough
     
  3. alnico59

    alnico59 Premium Member

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    Some guitars are magical. But those are hard to find right off the rack or truck. Most need a few tweaks to be pushed over the edge. I'm talking guitars that when you pick them up - they play themselves. The best way to describe it is your hands are out in front of your brain. At least this has been my personal experience. And I'm super picky!
     
  4. mfolet

    mfolet Senior Member

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    This is why I set it up with my pocket kit .The guitar has to be set up right to get a fair assessment.
     
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  5. asapmaz

    asapmaz Senior Member

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    If I walk up to a rack of 10 historic LP's, I start with the prettiest one. But, I buy the most resonant one. Every time. No question.
     
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  6. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    I know where you're coming from. I was in a similar boat. It's why I went Custom Shop, and for me personally, it was the right move.

    Sure have picked quite the topic :) Sorry for the long answer, but with all the bashing going on this thread, I'm hoping sharing my own experience will encourage you to keep hunting for the LP that speaks to you.

    We're all looking for different things. I think most people who've already responded would agree with that. But the other thing is that we all hear different things. We're trying to hear it through different rigs, at different volumes, in different environments. You can take two Les Pauls, put them both through two different rigs, and get different satisfaction. That's one reason why you'll get different advice from people in this thread.

    It doesn't mean they're right and everyone else must be wrong (no matter how strongly they insist that's the case). We're all looking for different things.

    Me personally, I like a guitar that sounds good to my ear acoustically. I play with very little dirt, and I find that the guitar's acoustic properties do carry over when plugged into my rig. I believe people who say these problems can be fixed with some tech work. I've just never had success down that route myself.

    A counter example - the Guthrie Goven signature Charvels. I've played several of them, and every single one of those was acoustically dead to my ear. But plug them into the right amp, dial in enough dirt, and they all sounded fantastic. Some guitars need that to come alive. But that doesn't mean they're a good choice for everyone, or that we're somehow wrong or stupid for choosing other guitars.

    I like to say that you can tell a good Les Paul from a bad one, because all the bad ones sound the same. That's not to say they sound bad, just that the good ones have their own distinctive voice. It's down to you as to whether or not that distinctive voice is exactly what works for you - and that's the only opinion that matters. You're the one buying it, and you're the one who'll decide whether it sits next to your amp every day, or whether it'll lie unused in its case.

    In my own experience (which isn't much as some; we don't have a lot of Custom Shop instruments on the shop wall here in the UK at any one time), most Custom Shop LPs have their own voice. I believe part of it is that they're almost always using vintage-voiced, low-output pups. These rely much more on the guitar's own character, instead of overpowering it like the higher-output pups do.

    Since I got my Custom Shop guitars (stock R9, stock R0 and a 2015 Custom with the pups replaced by something very special), I don't play my USA LPs at all. On their own, the USA LPs sound really good. They're all hand-picked to begin with, and then upgraded with great pickups and harnesses. I'd happily gig any of them. But next to the Custom Shop LPs or my PRS 594, there's a big difference.

    Are there USA LPs that sound as good or even better? Quite possibly. Mine don't, and I haven't personally played any that are. I do plan on picking up a 2005 Standard Faded when I can to see how close that comes.

    But if I absolutely had to get another keeper LP right now, I'd be shopping Custom Shop first.

    PS:

    If you really want to get into obsessing about tone and the difference wood selection can make, go see Paul Reed Smith talk about it, and go play some PRS Private Stock and Wood Library guitars side by side. That was the first time I heard for myself why folks on here chase Brazilian rosewood, for example. It's a great education just to explore his world a little bit.
     
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  7. freebyrd 69

    freebyrd 69 Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    And yet most players will tell you that Brazilian makes no difference in tone. No discernible difference. Because it doesn’t.
     
  8. jamman

    jamman Premium Member

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    Happy Turkey to Everybody ,,,,

    1st. , IMO , if you don't test a guitar plugged in , I believe you're shorting yourself on a possible great guitar . But that's only an opinion . Do what's best for you . Don't plug it and play at a low volume at home ? Why not ? only playing loud tells you about the guitar ? I think not ....

    OP , it's hit or miss with guitars , and no, one sure fire way to know without doing a complete testing ...
    Agree with Mike , that a quick , simple, set up - in store should be considered , if you like and are considering buying it .
    I've found many guitars , that have been hanging in store for months , need NEW STRINGS , Ask for a set to be put on , if you're really interested in buying it .... With old corroded Strings , How good do you think it might sound or play ????

    Some USA Standards can be great ... the 2005 Faded run can be 1 of them ... I have 1 I'll never sell . Not a CS feeling guitar as it's made to different spec's , But ... it checks all the boxes non the less . IMO worth looking at . When I bought mine , I took Hours picking and re-testing and comparing everyone in the store (most have been 10 or so) until I picked THE 1 ..... The pups in these are very Nice too ... Still have my original set and I still put them back in at times . They scream .... Just needed an upgraded harness ,since they came with 300K pots and crappy caps .... No problem ,,, easy fix .


    Test , Test ,Test .

    BTW . My "best" overall LP ? a 2003 MM Stinger R0 .. and not because it has BRW . IMO , the best made LP I've ever had in hand(the woods picked and how it was built) A few newer 1's are close 2nds. But this #1 has yet to be bettered .
     
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  9. DanD

    DanD Senior Member

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    A good waxy Braz or Mad board sure does feel better. I agree as to the tonal benefits. I hear no difference but I sure do feel the difference while playing. ;)

    I'd choose a good Mad board over a stump wood Braz every time.
     
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  10. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Let's not hijack the thread over this. You believe one thing, and I don't because I've personally experienced something different. Can we leave it at that, and let the OP make his own decision if he ever gets the opportunity?
     
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  11. Who

    Who Who is not here. Please leave a message.... Premium Member

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    Thats not what pickups do. They aren't little microphones.

    The pickups are tiny electrical generators. They don't "pickup" sound. At all. Nor do they send an audio signal. They just make an electrical signal. The pickups can't "hear" the "resonance" of your woods. Want proof? String up your guitar with nylon strings. Plug in and rock-out.


    I'm not saying the material choice in the build of a guitar don't affect how the strings vibrate. I'm just saying the pickups can't "hear" any of the wood vibration or air-movement that's happening as you listen acoustically.

    Judging an electric guitar based on how it "sounds" acoustically is like judging a set of headphones by listening to them while they are being worn by someone else, who is standing 15 feet away.
     
  12. jamman

    jamman Premium Member

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    I've had pups that were /had some Microphonic Qualities . And yes, they acted like they were almost full out microphones .

    Funny thing about "Stump Wood" as some call it . How much "stump " of the tree do you think was left ? You might be surprised ... Had a Long talk with Mark from MGL the other day about this ....
    If you think you can here the difference between a board cut form an upper part of the tree vs, a lower part ... Please post Video's , backing the claim . I'd love to hear that ..... :wave:
     
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  13. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    Yes, sure, some pickups are microphonic to a greater or lesser degree (eg. the unpotted OX4s in my R9). But the voltage induced in the coil by internal vibration of pickup components is very small compared to that induced by string vibration - or the pickup would squeal and be completely unusable. Also, if you listen carefully to what you are getting from a microphonic pickup it's high frequency. They 'hear' taps and clicks the best - high energy, high frequency vibration. Pickup microphonics are a very long way from full frequency response vocal mics :).

    So yes, you can hear it if you tap the body, pickup rings or even the pickup itself, but no, the pickups don't 'hear' the body or even the strings vibrating to a sufficient extent that it is significant in the amplified tone.
     
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  14. freebyrd 69

    freebyrd 69 Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Fair enough for sure, but the OP has to realize that unless the exact guitar was used, and only the board was replaced, from whatever to Braz, then saying a braz board makes a discernible difference in tone is not a fair statement.
     
  15. Pythonman

    Pythonman Senior Member

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    After playing a real 59 Burst next to an R9 all I can say is it's the wood! Paradoxically, unplugged the R9 probably sounded a little stronger and louder and "vibrated" better. The 59 Burst in that context just sounded blah, flat, old as hell. It didn't sound like much to get excited about. Plugged in the R9 sounded pretty average for a great Historic. Plugged into the same Friedman amp the real 59 with non original PAFs had loads of sustain, unbelievable bloom and a rich harmonic content that was only hinted at or maybe only implied in the newer Historic. It was no contest between the two instruments as far as I was concerned.
     
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  16. grayd8

    grayd8 Senior Member

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    Most of the time the one that sounds the best acoustically tends to have a harsh upper end plugged in. I put zero stock in it.

    I had heard not to put much stock in it from Mark Bishop, Kim Lafleur and others but it didn’t really stick until I played an original 56 junior one day that sounded like a dog acoustically and heavenly plugged in.
     
  17. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    And now we know why:

    1/ Energy input into the system = picked string.

    2/ Energy losses from the string are:

    - directly to the atmosphere
    - through forced vibration: via the nut (or fret, if a note is fretted) and the bridge to the guitar body

    3/ Energy loss from the system is increased because the entire surface of the body vibrates and sheds energy into the atmosphere and the body has a much greater surface area than the string alone.

    4/ The increased rate of energy loss from the string reduces the amplitude and duration of its vibration.

    5/ This reduces the voltage induced in the pickup(s) which diminishes the loudness and sustain of the amplified signal.

    Therefore:

    The more (less) susceptible to forced vibration the body is, the more (less) rapidly it will rob energy from the strings and so reduce the loudness and sustain of the amplified signal.

    This means that less acoustically resonant guitars are louder and more sustaining through an amp than more acoustically resonant guitars.

    Here endeth the lesson :p
     
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  18. Andy California

    Andy California Senior Member

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    It's all good and well, but you will never know if those that you rejected based on that one initial strum while on the wall, where actually bad or killer when plugged in and played properly. You rejected them without giving them any chance, so you can't say that they were bad for actual playing -- as opposed to simply being strummed while hanging on the wall, with no setup prior to doing that.
     
  19. landguitar

    landguitar Double Platinum Supporter

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    Soooo, some interesting comments on how folks pick and choose guitars. All based on personal experience and preference. I have found that how a guitar "plays" acoustically directly translates into how it "sounds" to me. I play with "dirt" using mostly my Fargen DBC-25 as the purveyor of crunch and I know how that translates from how the guitars "play". Not all of it is the vibration of the strings, some is the actual "playability", which is partially related to the neck, bridge and nut and the frets. If a guitar plays badly to me on the showroom floor, can that be fixed by tweaking the setup? Sometimes, but in so many cases setup optimization hasn't changed the way the guitar "feels" to me. Maybe it needs a new nut, maybe a fret or 2 is still not right/level, maybe the bridge needs new saddles, could be any one or all of those. I just know that if it doesn't feel right to me when I first play it, that's not likely to change. And acoustically I can hear/see if the intonation is part of that issue - that can be easily fixed depending on the guitar neck, which I also visually check.
    Then I see how it plays "clean", then with some amp distortion to see how all of that translates into the amplified tone - does the guitar "bloom" and have character amplified? Is it different than other LP's I have? If it sounds just like one I already have, I keep moving - unless something else like the top is distinct!

    But if you are searching for your first or second LP, then one that "feels" great to you, and sounds great plugged in, is the one you want! If when you play it you find yourself working on new licks, or playing new chord progressions, being creative, if it inspires you - then that is very likely a keeper! This is an art, with some science in building and using the tool!
     
  20. alnico59

    alnico59 Premium Member

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    On "strumming guitars hanging on the wall" What if the strings are shot and dull sounding?

    For me, I usually know what I'm looking for when I'm shopping for a guitar. Usually I have it down to the finish choices and obviously the exact model. I'm not gonna buy a guitar I can't stand looking at, no matter how nice it plays.

    Neck feel is a huge thing for me. Along with the overall weight and balance of the guitar. If I can get pass that I check to see where the relief and action is set. If all that checks out and is close enough - I start to play it. I'm not afraid to turn the thumb wheels to get the string action where I like it. Most music stores don't care as it's not going to hurt anything. If I get the vibe they might care then I ask for the guitar to be set up and give them an idea on where I would like it to play. When spending 2k+ I don't feel this request is out of order.

    If I buy online or have an "in hand inspection" I ask for the neck measurements 1st - 12th. I also ask if the neck is straight and if the truss rod is working as it should. Most neck issues I've encountered were due to a "frozen" truss rod. But even that can usually be resolved. If I get the guitar and the truss rod can not be freed then the guitar goes back. For me the guitar is ever changing and not stuck in time. So if changes can not be made then it's a no go and I deem the guitar as faulty. Truss rods are meant for adjustments. Guitars are made from wood and eventually will need to be adjusted. Nobody can argue that.

    As far as tone goes, that's always a gamble unless heard in person. But I can live with chasing tone vs chasing a bad neck that can't be properly adjusted.

    The problem I'm seeing is less and less opportunity to play the type of guitars I want before buying. Let's say I'm seeking a Murphy painted or an R9 within a certain span of years like '99-'01 or '13-'14 for example. Where do I get the chance to line those bad boys up and try them? Actually as every day passes, with less and less Historic models hanging, playing ANY Historic before buying is getting harder and harder.

    But yeah, given a choice I prefer to play before I buy.
     
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