Let’s talk “good wood era”

Blues_Verne

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A friend of mine is the owner of an Indian company based in Kolkatta who is a main supplier of timbers for musical instruments worlwide, especially to luthiers for classical instruments. He once showed me his huge computerized drier ovens back in 2003 - three container size driers stuffed with mainly rosewood, ebony and mahogany. For a demonstration of their efficiency he grabbed a finished plank of rosewood, had a worker get from a shelf on the wall another almost identical size plank and told me to make a tapping test. Well, there was a notable difference in tone and resonance. The piece from the shelf had a lighter, more woody tone to it ...and guess what - it was their reference sample, air dried and almost 30 years old (the factory was started in 1967). Then my friend explained that, whenever they come acrtoss a new piece that comes close to their ref, it'll go exclusively to one specific workshop in Italy.
So there ya go ...for good wood.
 

InTheEvening

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My 93' and my 20' standard are both great... I'd say the product is equal. The only time Gibson really went off the rails with their line up was 14-17.... the 14's have the stupid 12th fret inlay, 15's had the wide board and zero nut, Min-e-tune, one year they did away with fret nibs..... QC wasn't great.

2019 Gibson got it back together a lot like the early Henry J years.

I miss the days when they would blow out the previous year line up.... You would get big discounts come fall time.
Well said. I was looking up best years for LP studios before I got mine and it really just came down to which features were available or not available that particular year rather than the year itself. And those features 14-17 def were not too popular, understandably so. The new era is def great so far, I’m glad these became available when I was ready to get my first Gibson this year.

Yeah it’s been tough finding deals lately. Limited supplies and increased demand the past year def hasn’t helped. Even the used market isn’t great. I feel stupid for not getting the p90 dc junior faded models when they had them super cheap around 2019.
 

ARandall

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It would be fascinating to learn how they went about purchasing wood now and in the old days. Do they send a gibson guy out into the forest to view possible sources? How many different sources have they used over the years? How long does an average source or purchase contract last? What kind of trees? What kind of trees are left? Where in the world? Do they determine tree age or size before purchasing? Who does all this legwork? Does gibson have an arborist? Where exactly were these trees harvested in “good wood” eras? Do they have records of all this? Etc… Etc.
You can't look at a tree and know what its going to be like for the most part (although you can see something like quilt maple from looking at the bark as the patterns in the quilt are replicated in 3D on the tree). Nor is wood bought by tagging individual trees. Nor is Gibson (or any company) going to pay for somebody from their factory to stop work to jet all around the world to look at forests.
They leave that to the lumbar companies. They'll supply a sample of their product to a meeting (probably in a highrise office block) and the buying manager and the suits at Gibson would attend. Then a contract for supply is agreed upon.

Remember - Gibson is a tiny player in the wood purchasing market. I mean even now when their production is massive by comparison to the 50's.
Gibson probably has much more exclusivity with say the single supplier of Fiji Mahogany from plantation, but its not like they can suddenly choose to get stuff from elsewhere if say the weight of the blanks from the last block of forest felling is a little high. They simply have to deal with the wood that is supplied.
 

Duane_the_tub

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I briefly owned a "GWE" Historic. The mahogany used for the body had beautiful grain, tight and perfectly straight. Looked different from more modern backs, which seem to have bigger, more wavy grain. I thought perhaps that was the "good wood," because the top was really nothing special. It had nice, wide flame but no real depth or movement to it at all; it looked like the flame was just on the very surface and had been stained to pop. The color was also off, and did not look at all like any vintage Burst I had ever seen.

It played well and sounded good - not as good as the best LPs that I've owned but certainly better than others. Overall it was a nice guitar but frankly my '18 and '21 Historics are both superior.
 

Brek

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well the next les paul I buy is going to need to be from the good wood era, with plenty of mojo, it must play like butter and have tone for days, be ultra rare because they only made five that year, and has to have been recently set up by 'my tech' otherwise. fuck it, not interested.
 

Slick Willy

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Your username checks out lol
I like to have a laugh! But on a serious note, I have a 2019 Gibson Les Paul standard. It is a far better guitar than the early 70’s Les Paul’s I’ve had. I have owned 3 90’s studio’s which where great guitars. I just wanted more a so called higher end guitar. Chasing that so called perfect tone. I gave up. I purchased a used Orville by Gibson. It was an awesome guitar. It was to me the perfect guitar. I lost my job during the recession and had to sell of a lot of my stuff. But things do get better and I went through several guitars. I landed on my 2019 standard. I feel is one of the best Gibsons I have ever owned. But that’s just my opinion.
 

Brek

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Not many could tell the difference.

interesting, The one time I went to a classical concert were the lead had a strad, it was very different in tone to any violin i had heard previously, even recorded ones. It sounded dark and resonant and surprisingly loud.
 

catstrat

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Ive got a '90 Custom, 2 x '97 Standards and a '97 ES335. All are honestly fantastic instruments.

I don't know what that means, but there it is.
 

Alaska Mike

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I certainly understand the current standard of kiln drying wood (vs air drying) as it relates to production and inventory, but I don't think I would say it's superior to air dried wood when it comes to tone and stability. It's a more of a determination of what "good enough" means.
 

LeftyF2003

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I have a '90 Les Paul '59 reissue and I am a big fan of the top:

Les_Paul_Christmas_crop.jpg


That said, I don't think there's any magical wood past the great looking top. Nice mahogany, but not made of unicord feathers. It weighs in at a respectable 9.5 lbs so it's not the lightest one I've played, but it's a great sounding guitar (short neck tenon notwithstanding). If you want a more accurate 50s spec you need to check out the newer Historics.

My two cents

PS - I found out that they only made 50 '59 reissues in '90 (trying to verify that as we speak), and I imagine not many in lefty. If there's any reason these have gotten expensive (if you can find one) it's that. This one just sold for $6,500.00 US and it's a righty:

1990 Les Paul '59 reissue
 
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agy.040

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Before you behead me for starting this thread, hear me out, I mean good.

After extensive research, I thought we could try to debunk many of the myths around it.

I’ve seen sellers use this term for so long, I can’t really say when I first heard it.

Supposedly it refers to a specific era of, well, good wood Gibsons. Usually ’89-’94, but this varies a lot from seller to seller, which was the first red flag to me.

A combination of events generated this fuss.

But let’s make it clear from the start: this is a huge misconception.

There never was a special batch of old growth/special wood or anything like that.
 That’s preposterous. So let me present you my case.

Part of it was endorsed by an ancient thread on The Gear Page, where an ex-Gibson employee presented many insider details about his time with the company. According to him, QC was one of the main focus in the beginning of the Henry Juszkiewicz era. Production numbers were lowered to meet QC standards and there are infamous pics of them destroying many guitars that didn’t pass. This of course also happened during a frantic and somewhat unorganized time, as it was the first time the company was growing in a while.

The Classics were introduced in 1990. They had very plain tops, but with many desirable features. The first Classics were supposed to be True Historics before the Custom Shop was established. 
I recently learned this in another AMA thread with a current Gibson employee.

The early 90s are known to be a time Gibson was heavily using flame enhancing techniques.

It’s no wonder some of those tops jump like PRSs. Also the Studios came with ebony fingerboards for a few of those years.

Almost all 90s Gibson owners hold their instruments in the highest of esteems.

But let’s not forget that every Gibson era has a following. Whenever you see an ad like that, it wrongly refers to some of those qualities a 90s Gibson can present. Nothing to do with an immaculate batch of wood or Santa’s helpers in the factory or anything like that.

I hope this can serve as a reference for future less educated buyers, because this information is all over the place and it’s often impossible to get a straight comment about it.

Hello there,

it is so easy. Don't buy a new guitar, old wood is what you'll get when buying used guitars, no matter how old it was when assembled...Here are the two best of my nineties, and the total superior 1980- 82 Fernandes japanese edition one LPC !
 

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hisasahisasaki

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My 1994 Les Paul Studio Lite has a very good quality ebony fingerboard. My 2001 Martin D-28 fingerboard looks inferior to that.
As far as I know, it was the 1970s japanese guitars that used such materials for relatively low-priced guitars.
 

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