Recent model 1954 R4 Historic Goldtop experience/advice

Garonious

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I've recently sold a Custom Shop Ritchie Blackmore Tribute Strat, and now have up to about AU$6,000 to spend on a Les Paul. I had originally intended purchasing an R9 Historic, locally; there's a glut of them in Australia, selling very cheaply. But I also am drawn to the early goldtops. These are rare here, and so I've been considering a 2016 R4 Historic Goldtop, from the UK. The aussie dollar is very poor relative to the US, but not too bad relative to the GBP

Are there any owners out there? Any comments about playability, tone, sustain, resonance etc, would be appreciated. Do you enjoy playing it, or prefer later year reissues? Any warnings?

Regards, Gary.

PS please tag anyone who might be relevant
 

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RAG7890

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Love my '54 GT Replica, great Guitar...............Wraptails & P90's just have something going for them.

Good luck.

If you buy this from the UK, make sure you have it listed as Made in the USA or you'll pay 5% Duty.

Shoot me a PM if you need help............I'm in Australia also.

Cheers, Rudi
 

scott1970

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I have a '17 R4 which is my absolute favorite.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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I have an R6, but it and R4s share the same P90 pickups: The sound produced by P90s absolutely top-shelf. Don't know if you have or have had a guitar with P90s but you'll love them.
 

NotScott

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I have a JB which is an R4 with wraptail and buckers. The first thing I would say is that the necks on R4s is big. If you are not into big necks, you will not like playing this. I love big necks and the neck on my JB is right about at the limit for me as far as being comfortable and easy to play.

Wraptails have a snap and an immediate response to them that I just don't hear in stop/ABR setups. I also hear a bit more high end in them. I know some fret over the intonation but it is really a non-issue. But if it really concerns you, there are several tweaked wraptails available that will compensate for this.

As for P90s, the stock Gibson P90s are actually pretty good.

It would be wise to play an R4 before you buy one. They are quite different from the rest of the R lineup. Good luck!
 

PauloQS

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I have an R6, but it and R4s share the same P90 pickups: The sound produced by P90s absolutely top-shelf. Don't know if you have or have had a guitar with P90s but you'll love them.
How is the neck on the R6s compared to the R9s? I know there is variation both within and across years of production, but I just wanted to get a sense.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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Depends on the year.

I currently have a 1996 R6, I've also had R6s from 2010 and 2018.

The older the guitar, the fatter the neck.

The '96 has a full C shape, probably just under an inch although I haven't yet put a caliper to it.
The 2010 had a slightly flattened C shape and was .94" @ 1st fret.
The 2018 had a rounded neck, .90" at 1st fret.
 

PauloQS

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That's interesting. I think my 2019 R9 has a particularly thin neck, measuring 0.86" @ 1st fret. Checking Wildwood, R9s seem to be between 0.88" and 0.90" @ 1st fret. The R6 they have are similar to the 2018 you had (0.90" and 0.92"). I might hunt one down to try it for myself. Thank you, that was really informative.
 

ARandall

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Nobody here will have played the guitar you will buy, so there will be no direct relevant experiences.

As much as you can have specs quoted at you until you're blue in the face, these do not tell you what the precise guitar will have (they are hand sanded), nor will it tell you what the neck will play like (specs are not 3D mapping). I have examples in both the super fat end and super thin end that I would never expect to play as smoothly or as easily as they do. I also have many Les Paul clones and they all play and sound different.....with no necessary rhyme or reason behind the differences.

However I do love both p90's and wraptail bridges......and in that regard the guitar you are looking at is well worth looking into.
 

PauloQS

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@ARandall I couldn't agree with you more. I confess I've gambled with Gibson USA twice and I was happy with the result. Three times to be more precise, but I'm still waiting for the result on that third one. However, at the price point of a Gibson Custom, I'm not so keen on pushing my luck and taking gables. There is a lot of manual labor that goes into them and in my experience, sometimes two guitars with similar weight and negligible differences in the neck profile measurements yield completely different experiences.

With that said, when I was younger I gravitated towards slimmer necks, but lately necks similar to the ones on R9s have been the most comfortable for me. I always stayed away from thicker necks like the ones on R8 because of my ill founded preconceptions. However, as I'm starting to see lately, they are not worlds apart from R9s I so much enjoy as I used to believe.

I don't have a guitar with P90s at the moment, hence why I thought of an R6. I'll definitely try them before deciding if I'll pull the trigger. With that said, I'm super happy with my R9 and I technically don't need another guitar, so I'm in no particular rush. I'll just wait until one shows up in a shop near me.
 

ARandall

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If you buy secondhand in the middle price bracket for the market, then usually you only lose time in the hunt and then resale.
Trying is a twofold benefit - you get to see how the pickups and guitar combine, plus the whole neck/comfort aspect. Sometimes guitars just come together and are brilliant, other times they can be a pain to get 'just right'.
 

PauloQS

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An anecdote that corroborates with what you said is my R9. I've never heard anything quite like it, despite having tried other R9s before and later trying other 2019 R9s, which is the same year as mine. There is just this mid range on mine that sounds very pleasing to me. Interestingly I think I can partially hear some of that mid range even unplugged if I'm playing in a small room. When I plug it in and crank an amp, then than the guitar really comes to life and I can really hear how perfect that guitar is for me.

I'm sure I can find a good R6 sight unseen, however, I might also be depriving myself of finding the perfect one for both my hands and ears. Someone either here or some other forum replied to my R9 NGD thread saying something along the lines that it is a wonderful experience when you find the guitar you've always known without knowing it. Because I'm in no particular hurry, I'll only jump on an R6 if I ever find one that gives me a similar experience and familiarity I had when I played my R9 for the first time.

Finally, if I go for the R6, I'm going to try to go the used route.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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What ARandall wrote is true. It may not be authoritative, but what I've related is true as a trend. I've played a lot of R6 goldtops as well as the three I've owned, and it's generally true, trend wise, that of the guitars I've played, the older ones have rounder, fatter necks.

Checking Wildwood,
2003 R4, .95" @ 1st fret

2017 R4, ."890 1st Fret
 

PauloQS

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Oh, I believe you. That's a similar trend I found with some of the R9s I've played. Granted, I didn't actually measured the necks with a caliper, but that was definitely my general impression.

I've also heard some people who work at vintage and rare guitar shops say that the necks on 1950s weren't as thick as some of the necks on RIs. Conversely, I've seen the same people say that 1960s LPs, even the later ones, didn't have as thin of a neck as some of the R0s (I'm aware that there were years where R0s had up to 3 different neck profile versions ranging from an necks in the R9 ballpark all the way to pencil thin) I haven't actually played a 1950s and 1960 LP so I have to take their word for it.

This is merely a speculation, but maybe Gibson have reevaluated the neck profiles over the years.
 

Garonious

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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies, all very helpful!

Rudi (where in Aus?): thanks for the tip, I’ll certainly look into that!

I definitely don’t like really thin necks. I’ve owned 2 LPs, the former a 2006 Standard, 60s neck, it was quite comfortable, but about as thin as I’d want one.

I’m quite happy to learn and adjust to the nuances of an unfamiliar guitar. I see it as part of the experience. I had a 1979 Black-on-Black Strat, which was hard work to play, and took at least a year to get comfortable with. It had a few subtle tonal traits, which I particularly loved, and I miss it.
The Ritchie Blackmore Tribute Strat was simply perfect to play. So natural, and easy, excellent intonation (you could form a clear harmonic above every fret). It had exceptional balance between each of the three PUPs. It didn’t have some of the tonalities of the ’79, which I always associated with the age, and well used state of the (semi)vintage Strat.

As has been stated, not been able to try the guitar is a concern, but if it is of a high standard, and the P90s are sweet, I’m quite happy to adjust to an unfamiliar neck. I’m convinced change forces increased concentration and alertness that improves the ear and feel of the player.

Just checked the store, looks as though I has been sold!
Well, that answers that, bumma

Thanks again, Gary
 

ARandall

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Rudi is in Melbourne.

He probably knows a lot of the tricks to get stuff into Aus cheaper (or as cheap as you can)
 


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