Vintage Special or vintage Special conversion?

R'nien

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I am looking into getting a vintage Les Paul and I am considering a 59 conversion. For a little less money I can get an original Special. I know it depends on who did the work and what parts it has on it because PAFs are expensive as well as other hardware. Lets say the work was perfect and non-original parts on the conversion and the special has some playwear but original. I know this scenario can have a lot of factors that make people say "it depends" but overall, which would you choose?
 

smk506

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I’d go with an original special over a conversion. Conversions used to be bad ass gold tops, now they’re just… conversions.

Just my opinion of course, if you end up with the conversation I’ll ooh and aah with the rest of us. :thumb:
 

fernieite

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I guess it boils down to whether you prefer P90s or Pafs, or the look and feel of a particular Special or conversion...

For guitars, I always recommend having one in hand rather than buying off the internet.
Even with identical models, there are differences in looks, feel and sound.

The question then is: Which one Speaks to you and is likely to be a keeper?
 

none2low

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Personally, I'd go with the all-original Special over a special/standard conversion. IMO a good set of 50's P90's will get you pretty close to a set of PAF's.

Now if it was a choice between a Goldtop conversion and an original Special I might make a different decision, but a Special/Standard conversion is always going to be a bit of a bastard child. Which may or may not matter to you.
 

Airplane

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I was thinking about a conversion for years but out of nowhere i got the chance to buy a 55 Jr. I‘m blown away. Playability and resonance is insane. Conversions are nice but the are not real. I would buy a wraptail special and a nice reissue with vintage parts and stop the LP/burst madness for good.

a conversion is simply not real and can be hard to sell and may not even be better than a reissue. the value of a original vintage guitar can go nowhere but up.
 

truckermde

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Original vintage Special all day long, for me.

Partly because I really dig Specials, and also because I appreciate the concept of preserving history.

I also appreciate the concept of doing whatever the heck I feel like with my own stuff, so there's that... :thumb:

I'll bet it's gonna be bitchin' whichever way you go...

:cheers2:
 

Liam

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Good question! Of course the reality is that you need all of them, which has led me to having a '57 Special, several 50s Juniors, Historic R6 and R9, and very, very nicely made replica '55 and '59 Standards. Doesn't get me to a position of being able to compare exactly what you are proposing, but at least some of the way there.

50's Specials tend to be pretty light compared to the maple cap guitars. That's good if you like to be playing a feather-weight, but it does seem to mean they don't have as much high end shimmer. The P90 in the neck can also be pretty dark, and over powers the bridge pickup unless it's shimmed up a little. (I do this on GT's and Specials, others live with the very nicely thinned out sound of a low bridge pickup by rolling the neck volume control off a bit). Mid-50s Juniors are just killer too, and while the prices have risen, I still think of them as underrated for what they are. Every bit as characterful and awesome as a black guard Telecaster or Esquire for an absolute fraction of the cost.

I agree entirely with Airplane that 50s wrap-tail Juniors and Specials are in general insanely resonant, light, playable, and things of absolute joy in every way. However, of all my guitars, the one with the most genuine play wear, the one I tend to pick out if I need to play and don't have time to think about which one I'm going to use, the one that feels like it's kind of part of me, is the '59 replica. I never thought any guitar would compete with my '55 Junior in that way, but it took about a week for it to stage a complete takeover, and that must have been more than 10 years ago.

So my heart is saying unmolested (or not too molested ;) ) 50's LP Special (or Junior :D ), and my head is saying a really good conversion might be more practical. Airplane is saying scratch the "vintage" itch in the best way you can, and grab a good reissue to help forget the "Sunburst madness". I think he makes a really good point.

Liam
 

dwagar

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My choice would always be an as close to all original 50's single cut Special.
 

sikoniko

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I don't understand any conversion with a replaced maple cap. If the idea is to bring a guitar as close to late '50s PAF spec's by using an old Les Paul, to me, having a new maple cap takes away from that, not equal to it.
 

R'nien

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All great points. I ended up going for the conversion. I traveled five hours away from my home (actually seven hours, major snow storm and saw 10 accidents) to check out this guitar. I've owned a 56' and 59' junior, a 60' special, eight Historics and I have a beautiful 2001 R8 flametop that I kept. That's my keeper. So I have expectations. I told my daughter, who took the trip with me, that if this guitar did not absolutely amaze me from the beginning, I'd be ok to walk.

We met the seller and he took us into his office building, Amps and cases everywhere. I didn't know where to look first. He opened the case to the conversion and the guitar looked out of place. Inside this new black Gibson case with white fluffy lining was what looked like an old vintage 50's Les Paul. My brain was confused, I thought that is a new case but look at that Les Paul. It was sweet, it looked that part. But how did she play? I picked it up and looked it over. Great weight (I'll get the exact weight when I get home) and the neck felt great. I sat down with the guitar and started playing it unplugged. It had such a snap to it that I had that feeling when you just know it's a great guitar. The first thought in my head was, "this may replaced my 2001". Eventually I plugged it into an old brown face Fender combo. The guitar did not disappoint. I decided that it would be coming home with me.

He had a lot more guitars and amps to look at so that's what I did. After looking at what was hanging on the wall I asked him if he was hiding anything and brought out a few things. He brought out a 1963 LP that was so beautiful it gave me that feeling that the conversion did and the neck also felt great. He also had a 1982 Gibson Moderne that was near mint. It had the original large case too. It was cool to see. Then he open up a Epiphone case and what did I see? A 1965 Junior that had been played like crazy. I've always heard that if a guitar looks like that, there's a reason it looks like that. I picked that one up also.

So yeah, I got the 1955 Special conversion and a 1965 Junior. I'll be home tonight and play them. Hopefully the weather is better on the drive home. I'll get some pictures up soon also. Thanks for helping me with your viewpoints. The next few days are going to be fun.
 

none2low

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Congrats!! Have a safe trip back and really looking forward to seeing the pics. They say when you know, you know.
 

R'nien

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55 1.jpg
55 2.jpg
55 3.jpg
 

none2low

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Ok, wow!! That is stunning. Easy to see why you made the decision you did. Short of it having been a total dog I'd have a very hard time walking away from that.

Congrats again! Enjoy it, and play it in good health.
 

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