Let’s talk “good wood era”

Shadow13

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I don't really care about the inlay at the 12th...actually kind of like it, makes her different. But my 2014 Traditional plays just as good as the 70's I jammed on when I Was a kid. Thing is now I actually can enjoy the guitar more than I could back then. You know young dumb kid.
 

TheWhigs

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I love all of my "babies" - they range from the late 70's to 2021. Maybe some are "better" than others but all 6 of my "babies" get the same affection from me. :)
 

Jorbissian

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Thanks. I was never a big fan of heritage cherry but this one caught my attention.
It's truly beautiful !
A friend of mine bought one new (his dad paid for it) very similar around 1975, non pancake great playing & sounding axe.
A few years later he swapped it for another LP, I said he was mad then, I say the same to him now.
We were 16 years old then, now we're 62, he's had "hundreds" of guitars since but never another LP, because he could never find one as good as his first LPC.
I have recently purchased a 1992 Gibson LP Studio witch strangely has two "custom" stamps in the neck pup cavity,
oh yeah, he says he can't wait to play it when we here in Melbourne come out of the Worlds Longest Lockdown !
 

vivanchenko

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According to former Gibson employees Gibson used mahogany from Guatemala in the early and mid 90s. Starting from the late 90s Gibson switched to Fiji grown mahogany. Pre Fiji era Gibsons have much greater value for me, because the mahogany they were made of is pretty much the original spec. The original Les Pauls were made of mahogany grown in a number of Central American countries, including Guatemala.

Same species of wood grown in different parts of the world can be as different as different species of wood. I had a strat body made of alder grown in Europe and it sounded distinctly different compared to any Fender strat I ever touched. That strat was a true eye opener for me.

Guitars made of Fiji mahogany (pretty much all les pauls produced since late 90s) tend to be very sweet, and I love how they feel and play. There is one "but" though. They don't sound and feel the same as guitars made from Central American mahogany. The key difference is that the latter ones are noticeably brighter.
 
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goodguy

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I’ve just read through both of those links, but couldn’t find any information about Gibson using old growth Honduran Mahogany for RIs in 2007. It doesn’t mean it’s old growth just because it was unregulated.

Is yours a M2M or something? Care to share more about that?

"Old Growth" (aka natural grown) vs "Plantation Grown" (harvested at young age & replanted). Articles points out how they opened up a natural growth forest which hasn't been allowed before. New growth trees in a "natural" forest have to compete for sunlight through the canopy with old trees & grow very little they get an opportunity for sunlight (old tress get cut or die)..then it's (for young trees) a race to the sunlight and they grow very quickly. Harvesters would not cut short saplings down, they would cut the biggest most profitable trees first (thats where the big money mentioned in the articles is)... Also, old growth is heavier (denser) unless taken from the very top of the tree. Any tree they were targeting when they opened up this very old "natural" forest was likely over 70-100 years old... Honduran Mahogany can get 200+ years old.
When we say "old growth" I think we mean older trees would be the first to be harvested from a natural grown forest because they are the biggest and most profitable assuming no restriction of cutting certain size trees (as opposed to the young harvesting at plantations). Also, the fact that governments got in a uproar and shut the program down shortly thereafter indicates there was some realization they were removing part of the established ecosystem (old timbers) as no one would care if they were removing young relatively worthless trees. Of course, this is all conjecture without exact documentation & proof - but I would say there is definitely something to it and a big reason for the brewhaha at the time.
I worked in both the Fair Trade coffee industry for Starbucks corporate and in the conflict minerals regulatory space for Congo and I think I have a decent understanding of how these countries and regulations/tendencies have worked in other industries. There are all sorts of regulations/tagging programs in place to ensure things are done on the up and up. Gibson got raided for their efforts if you recall.
Another point: IMO Gibson would not have paid such a premium and invested the time and money (even to get Henry on the board of the Rainforest Alliance) if they weren't trying to get what they considered to be premium holy grail wood. Remember the raid? They paid a big price for trying to get the best wood available.
 
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gkelm

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I always thought the good wood years we’re back when Brazilian rosewood and Honduran mahogany were typically used.
 

vivanchenko

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I always thought the good wood years we’re back when Brazilian rosewood and Honduran mahogany were typically used.
That's the great wood era. Honduran mahogany refers mostly to species, not location. The original Les Pauls were made of Honduran mahogany which grew naturally all over Central and South America.

I would say that the good wood era is the early to mid 90's - naturally grown in Central America Honduran mahogany and Indian rosewood.

That said, I believe that the Honduran mahogany grown in Fiji is also very, very good. I love the sound of the modern Les Pauls. The only "problem" with them is that they don't sound quite like the originals, and they never will even if you get lucky and find the original PAFs. If one is looking for nice, sweet tone then mahogany from Fiji is the way to go. If you want to replicate the original Les Paul tone and feel (a crazy idea) - look elsewhere.
 

mjross

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Good wood years are always what ever years YOU are playing. Hell, we all know that!
 

Brek

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My additional thought on this subject is: what do people mean by 'Good Wood', I bet there as many opinions on that as there are good wood periods. Do they mean the flame tops? The mahogany for the body? The age of the wood, air dried? kiln dried? deep fried? (sorry for that one).

I am starting to think that wood just needs the right properties, and that possibly, it actually makes no difference what species of mahog is used, as long as it has whatever qualities are needed for it be a tone wood.

I like lightweight, some prefer more weight. does a straighter grain exhibit more or less musical properties?

I understand the drive some have for the minutia, If you say clone, then it needs to use all the original materials.

I have realised during the thought process in typing this that actually want I want is simply this, a well made guitar, where an experienced luthier has taken the time to select the right woods from their stash and married them to the fretboard material and cap to produce a specific tone.

Which means, as much as i like the whole Gibson mythology I have realised pretty much rules them out.

My next guitar will be a luthier built one. probably loosely based on a single cut, but with some me specific features.
 

Classicplayer

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A number of comments made on guitar forums over time, indicate that there were 50's Les Pauls made from Honduran mahogany and rosewood from Brazil that fell short in the tone department. Those older Les Pauls were not 100% toneful guitars. Those older guitars were more of a “hand-crafted“ instrument and less machined or computer-controlled processes. I don't have the personal luxury to “shop” a number of Les Pauls before I purchase one and I'm sure (after playing for over 7 decades) that my ears cannot distinguish between what decade or era, my Les Paul's wood is from. As long as the guitar has the tone I'm listening for, acoustically and plugged in, has been put together well and appears to be up to quality control standards and plays comfortably, I tend to put the discussion of ”good” wood vs. “not so good” wood out of the equation.

Classicplayer
 

vivanchenko

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When I am thinking about a "good wood era" I am thinking about the time periods when Gibson sourced wood which was close to the original spec.

This doesn't guaranty that all guitars made of this wood will be good. There is another contributing parameter which you can't spec or predict and that is resonance. Each chunk of wood from the same batch or tree will resonate differently. Some will resonate better, some not so much. Weight is irrelevant for this.

It is impossible to make a good guitar of wood which is not resonant. The only sure way to know which chunk of wood will resonate well with the 6 strings is to make a guitar out of it. In other words, there always will be duds in each batch of wood regardless of what species it is or where you source it from.

The only sure way to keep such duds away from guitar stores is to sort them out during testing. Of cause, Gibson doesn't do this. This would probably double the cost and they would be hopelessly broke long time ago if they did. If Gibson skips this important step, I have to be sure that I don't. I always test my guitars before I buy them.
 
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Classicplayer

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In addition to wood chosen for the slab bodies comes the type of mahogany Gibson selected for its neck blanks. Not only resonance is a factor, is rigidity and strength. While playing a prospective Les Paul for purchas, I have struck an open power or cowboy chord and reached up with my fretting hand and grabbed hold of the headstock as the chord fades. How much vibration can you feel in your hand? Can you grab the headstock and push up to where the resounding chord goes flat, and by what degree? These also are a factor in the overall guitar's tone.

Classicplayer
 

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