NGD 2021 R4 ('54 Goldtop VOS) and 2020 USA LP Special

jamesandrew

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IMG_1289.jpeg


Hi all! So I just acquired these two Les Pauls after trying a lot of different models. I previously had a LP Studio that I sold to a friend, and after playing Fenders for the past few years I've been longing to own a LP again. Initially I set out to find a Standard 50s or 60s since they've had great reviews, but along the way I discovered and ended up loving the P90/wraparound combo in Les Pauls!

Here's the 2021 R4:
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As soon as I picked up the R4 in the store it immediately struck me as one of the nicest guitars I have ever played. The weight (a little over 8.5 lbs, not too heavy and not too light), the feel on the neck and fretboard, the acoustic resonance, the sound from the P90s... everything was perfect! But then I noticed the bridge. Isn't the wraparound inferior to a bridge where you can intonate each string individually? It must be, since the majority of LPs have an ABR/TOM bridge and the wraparounds are mostly found on cheaper/beginner models. Right?

Thus, I set out to try an R6 instead, since this model has nearly the exact same specs as the R4 but utilizes a no-wire ABR-1 bridge. I had to drive a little ways but I was able to find and play a couple of R6s, but to my great disappointment neither of them enthralled me like the R4 did. They didn't feel or sound that similar to the R4 and I simply didn't connect with them the way I did with the R4.

Feeling disheartened, and a little frustrated, I then embarked on a quest to find "the one" LP among as many R7s, R8s, and R9s as I could find within a reasonable length drive of me. I became really committed to the search, and was analyzing my finances and preparing myself mentally to drop the motherlode on a holy grail R9 if I had to (I originally budgeted to buy a Standard 50s or 60s guitar, but the game changed as soon as I picked up the R4). With the exception of a couple of duds, they were all fantastic guitars! Some of the R8s I tried had the colloquial baseball bat necks, to which I attributed a similarly hefty tone. The shorter frets and slimmer necks on the R9s made for a very fast and effortless playing experience.

I spent a week or so deliberating over which guitar I would pull the trigger on, but my initial experience with the R4 kept dominating my mind so I went back to my local shop to try it again. There it was! The magic. Even now, equipped with the experience of playing all the other guitars, this R4 just felt right and was unquestionably my favorite.

So what about the wraparound bridge? I put my hand up to the twelfth fret and played a full bar chord, wincing in anticipation of the slightly out of tune notes that were about to sink my love for this guitar. To my surprise, the chord rang out beautifully! I played some other chords and mixed some open strings with notes above the 12th fret. Everything sounded fine! The intonation is as good or better than my old LP Studio or any Fender that I've owned (mostly Strats), all of which had adjustable bridges. I instantly bought the guitar.

As a bonus, I also picked up a 2020 USA LP Special that I had tried earlier and had a similarly positive experience with but hesitated because of the bridge. When I played it again in the store I realized the intonation was pretty bang on, just like the R4. It's not as posh or refined as the reissues, but it plays great and has an inspiring mojo about it! I couldn't resist buying it in addition to the R4. I find the P90s in the Special sound a little gnarlier and angrier. It's nice and light, but it sounds like a monster. And I think it looks badass!

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Thanks for reading!
 
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JMP

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Ho Lee Shite! You go shopping for a new Standard and come home with those two beasts? You sir DO NOT mess around and I commended you. Amazing guitars that will serve you well for a very very long time.


I look forward to hearing more from you as you get more play time in.

I’m partial to goldtops and that R4 is stunning.
 

ARandall

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Its good you've found out for yourself just how misguided the phrase 'a wraptail must be inferior to an abr' was.....the pricepoint argument was particularly cringy.

It is true to say that you have a greater chance of accurate intonation with extreme string gauges and setups. But the typical angle of a modern Wrap setup combined with aftermarket options for slight compensated models means almost everyone can get a great setup......the same an an abr really. And lets face it, intonation on fretted instruments is an exercise in compromise no matter how much bridge end compensation you have.

Of course abr's (and nashvilles too) have many flaws. So its not like they are in any way even close to a gold standard setup. In fact generally speaking if you count the flaws, the wrap is probably the lowest in terms of 'fundamental issues'.
 

endial

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Wonderful.

Great story, confirming what many of us already know about wraptails*, in the manner of a true and unbiased quest.

Spectacular choices. Beautiful guitars.

I hereby would advise against trying out any Juniors until your next paycheck.



*(-And P-90's!)
 
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