Guitar thread

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by rajflyboy, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. Jeffy

    Jeffy Hmm...

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    For the Les Paul's the biggest difference is that Epiphone uses a thin maple veneer on the cap instead of a solid maple cap. I think it's about 1 mm thick on a "mahogany" (Nato) cap. The body is also Nato/Eastern Mahogany instead of Honduran Mahogany. Some Elite models do have a maple cap though. I'm pretty sure they source their maple in Asia as well. The body is more often multi-piece as well as the neck's. Usually 3-6 pieces. The head and neck are separate pieces on an Epi. So you have 2 and sometimes 3 pieces not including the fingerboard. The other big difference is finish. Epi's use a polyurethane instead of the labor intensive nitrocellulose lacquer.

    Here's a tour of the Epiphone Qing Dao factory.

    http://www.ikebe-gakki.com/web-ikebe/epiphone_GQ-EQ-factory-tour/EQ.html
    http://www.ikebe-gakki.com/web-ikebe/epiphone_GQ-EQ-factory-tour/GQ.html

    Here's the veneer.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
  2. josjor

    josjor Long timer

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    I'm sure the materials are better. IMHO, the craftsmanship isn't. The last USA LP I had in was about a three year old and had a new MSRP of around $4k. The output jack was attached crooked, you could see tape lines on the side of the neck, and the head stock's alleged inlay (looked almost like a decal) looked to have filler around it. It played and sounded fine, but part of that $4k sticker should be outstanding fit, finish, and attention to detail.

    I could grab just about any $500.00 guitar on my wall that was made in China, Korea, or elsewhere and it had as good or better fit and finish. The $4k sticker Gibson failed to impress. Not wanting to start a war here, but it just seems to me that for $4k a guitar should be pretty damned flawless, particularly when competitors guitars that retail for 1/8 the price often are.
  3. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

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    I would echo this....Last guitar I bought I was looking at real Fenders, and then Squire...not even getting into the parts, but the way they are attached....the squire was just screwed together better....there was even a stripped head on a brand new American strat that I looked at....asked them if it was new...yes....look at this screw.

    Had the same experience when I bought my LP...looked at the Gibson, and the Epi's....bought the epi...it actually sounded better...but it was used and that puts an entire new factor in....you never know how the guy before you took care of it....calling something you bought used crap I think is quite unfair....it is used, who knows what happened to it....now fresh stuff out of the box...something different.
  4. josjor

    josjor Long timer

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    I would agree, but just to be clear, all the defects on the LP I mentioned are NOT something the owner could do (tape marks, crooked output jack, poor inlays). These were things done at the factory.

    I also think this decline in craftsmanship is a more of a recent thing.....in the last ten years or so. I just got in a '91 USA Strat that is 100% factory fresh (I've known the owner for years and he doesn't mess with things) and it's construction and finish is pretty much flawless. I've also seen LP's from decades ago that fit this description.

    To me the USA Gibson and Fender product has sort of become like Harley: "It's got our logo on it, so it must be worth several times more than similar competitors products."

    I'm a bluegrasser and Gibson's cheapest A mandolin is a perfect example. It retails for $2,500 and doesn't have any figured maple or (I don't believe) a solid top. http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Acoustic-Instruments/Mandolin/Gibson-Original/A-9/Specs.aspx

    For half that money you can get a Loar F model that is made to Lloyd Loar's original specs, has AAA solid spruce top, AAA flamed maple sides and back, nitrocellulose lacquer, etc.
    http://www.theloar.com/products/mandolins/mandolin-lm-700-vs
  5. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Bongo's Pwner

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    Pretty much what our tour guide told us.


    That being said, I didn't want to start a rag war! Epiphone construction seems to follow the cheap labor trail. I have a Japanese made Epiphone FT-133 from the 70's. Great guitar and I play it as much as my Martin. If I remember correctly Epis were made in Korea and then facilities moved to China. They are great guitars for the price and 99% of us do not need to spend $4K on a guitar. When I was younger I thought that if I bought a Strat I would sound like Clapton and if I bought a 335 I would sound like B. B. King. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.
  6. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

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    I passed on a Japanese Strat that I am kicking myself for....it is the only one I have found that I really liked....and it was perfect...except for the color....I should have bought that guitar....stupid.....stupid....stupid. From now on if I see it I will buy it.
  7. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Bongo's Pwner

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    I have a Japanese strat from the 80's. I LOVE that guitar!!!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  8. Jeffy

    Jeffy Hmm...

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    I think it really depends on the guitar you're looking at as well. The Les Paul is their top of the line guitar now. There's a lot of labor that goes into them and the price emulates this. Most of the Custom Shop guitars are overpriced and sold to people who collect the signatures and aren't players. I wish their Gibson's Custom Shop was more like Fenders A' la Carte Custom Shop.

    Gibson USA still has a lot of good deal though. The Melody Maker was always overlooked. The Junior and Special were always good deals. The old Les Paul Studio as well was under $1000. They have all been discontinued as of 2013. The low end studio was replaced by the LPJ which isn't bad. I think the SG's are a good deal overall though. A Standard is $1299 msrp with a street price around $1000. Much more reasonable then the Les Paul Standard.

    Epiphone also makes some really good guitars. I kinda wish they didn't make Gibson clones. They have had a long history and their own guitars that are as good as anyone else's guitars. The Elite models like the Casino and I think ES335 Dot aren't made in China but rather Japan. They are made at the same place the Gretsch Pro's are made, Terada of Japan. They're supposed to be top notch. I want to get a Gretsch Pro Jet
  9. KungPaoDog

    KungPaoDog Been here awhile

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    Thanks for those links.:clap

    I've got a red Epihone Dot that I really like. I think it was around $400 out the door with a bag. I'm not good enough to warrant a $2500 guitar, and the Dot plays very nicely. I did do the set up myself, and someday I'll file the nut down a little more, but I feel that it is a great value. Way more valuable to me than a $3000 335.

    Now, there were two other Dots in the store that I would not have purchased. One had a pretty pronounced twist/warpage in the neck. The employee looked at it and pretty much said "I dunno. Our $75 set up might fix it, or else it would have to go back under warranty. But you have to buy it first.":huh

    The other one didn't feel right, I think the neck felt thicker, or the action was just really high, or there was maybe a warp in the neck that I could feel but not see? So my anecdote corroborates the notion that low end guitars can be good but need to be carefully selected.

    I'd be pissed as hell if I spent $4000 on a guitar and it wasn't immaculate. I'm mainly a bass player, and I think I'm pretty good at it, but unless it was my livelihood, I'd have a hard time dropping that kind of money on a guitar of any flavor. I've played some expensive basses that felt lousy to me and didn't sound that great. Hell, my favorite tone I own right now is from a Rogue 6 string bass I got for $130 on CL:lol3 Despite the fact that it has too many strings, it sounds nice. I even had a few people at a Blues Jam ask "what is that? It sounds great!"
  10. BHW

    BHW Long timer

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    I think I saw this on the Strat-Talk forums?



    I passed on a well used MIJ Strat several years ago. It had that well used look I like, without the belt sander relic'ing we see so much of today. I still regret not buying it, especially seeing what they sell for now.


    ON the topic of Asian vs American vs Mexican, etc.....I thought this video was interesting. Blindfold test of Squire/Mexican/American/Custom Shop

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCEdT2d43jU
  11. Jeffy

    Jeffy Hmm...

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    The Squier Classic Vibe's have a lot of good buzz around them. The Classic Custom is supposed to be really nice and a really good buy.
  12. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Bongo's Pwner

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    Y'all keep this Epiphone v. Gibson thing going. I'll be traveling around Europe from August to February and I will be looking to buy a new guitar when I return. Mainly looking at semi-hollow bodied and Les Pauls. If I was making a ton of money I'd buy the Gibson, BUT I'm not really good enough and I can't write them off my taxes.

    I deal a lot with Sweetwater and they claim to have a 55 point set up before they ship a guitar. I've never bought a guitar mail order, but this would seem like the way to go.

    I'll be listening to the discussion! :ear
  13. Jeffy

    Jeffy Hmm...

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    Well, the Gibson has a few new lines now. It used to be the Junior, Special, Studio, Traditional, Standard, Supreme. Now it's LPJ, Tribute, Studio, Traditional, Standard, Supreme. There are 50's, 60's, 70's, 'Future' and Signature T sub-models in Tribute. It's kind of confusing with all of the different models not including Exclusives.

    Speaking of, Guitar Center has the Traditional Pro II which is a plain-top Traditional with a 57 classic and some more modern burstbucker pickup in it. it also has a 10db boost circuit, locking Grovers machine heads and I think coil-splitting. It's kind of a homogenization of the Standard and the Traditional but at a cheaper price because of the top.

    The Tribute's and Studio's are pretty good value for a working guitarist. They are a less-frills guitar that a Studio guitarist might use. They have no binding except for the Signature T. If you don't care about a Cherry Sunburst or colors derived from it, Ice Tea, Honey, etc... then I'd go for a Tribute or Studio. I haven't seen a LPJ yet but I really like that Chocolate color. These have satin finish which is a lot thinner and is designed to wear over time. Much more so then a gloss top.

    I'd probably go for a Tribute 60's Ebony with the Burstbucker 1 & 2. The Gold has a $200 up-charge on Sweetwater for some reason. They want $999 for the other colors though. Then you can haggle them down 10-20% on top of that. If not then go elsewhere. The big box stores know that Guitar Center/ Musicians Friend will give 10-20%. The offer usually excludes Gibsons BUT if you call they can override that and often do. So check Sam Ash, Music123, Guitar Center, Musician's friend, American Musical Supply, Sweetwater, etc...

    On the flip side, the only Epiphone that I'd consider is a Tribute Plus. These are different then other Epipihones in that they use Gibson pickups. Most Epiphone owners end up changing the electronics to Gibsons or aftermarket which make a big improvement. I forget if all of the electronics are Gibson spec, I think it is though. The Tribute Plus is about $599 but 10-20% that's maybe $480 or so.

    If you're not set on a Les Paul then I'd check out the SG's. They were the Les Paul's replacement and called the Les Paul for a while. Supposedly during 1958-60 only around 1700 guitars were made. In 1961 Gibson sold 6000 SG's and continued to sell well. They are also considerably less then a Les Paul but still have a Les Paul-ish sound.

    If you go used, check out the Gibson Midtown Custom. These were discontinued but are rather nice guitars. They're the USA version of the CS-336. Oh and don't be afraid to go used. You can find some really good deals out there.

    I don't believe in the whole, "I'm not good enough for a Gibson" excuse though. Buy what you can afford. Who cares what others think. If a Gibson floats your boat then get one.
  14. CaveDave

    CaveDave Underground

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    I've heard nothing but good things about Sweetwater. My son started learning piano and has taken to it like a fish to water, so I decided to put some quality keys under his fingers while the passion is fresh.

    I bought a Kurzweil keyboard from a friend and he mentioned that in the 16 years he's owned, Sweetwater has become his go-to for all things music. They still sell parts for this older model and every time he's had any kind of question or issue, they have techs that have walked him through it over the phone. Customer support like that is hard to find these days.

    They even keep track of what instruments you own so they can orient their sales and service to your needs. I just ordered him a nice z-stand from them and their price and shipping were the same as if I had ordered it with Amazon Prime.
  15. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

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    Along those same lines but with a Gretsch

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_B20C3fV0
  16. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Bongo's Pwner

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    I guess you really don't have to spend thousands to play the blues. Here is a video of B. B.. King describing his first "guitar" a diddly bow.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/48640913" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/48640913">My Back Porch Guitar</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user13262361">B.B. King Museum</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

    And here is fellow playing one.

    [​IMG]
  17. BHW

    BHW Long timer

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    This goes back to the old philosophy that the best pool players in the world, would run the table on you playing with a broomstick, and the best guitar players would still sound great, on a $99 guitar!
  18. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Bongo's Pwner

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    [​IMG]


    So my son has a Piggy and he has been in Japan for the last couple of years and I decide to get it out and run some tunes through it. I'v never played through one before.

    My question: Do these amps always sound dirty or grungey even when turned down? I could not get a "clean" sound through it. Am I missing something?
  19. Jeffy

    Jeffy Hmm...

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    From what I've read, no, but I've never used one before. It will depend on the output of the pickups and how loud you have the amp. The problem is it's setup for OD then it's hard to get clean as it usually will run out of overhead. Dial the Vol down on the guitar and the amp might get you some usable clean.
  20. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Bongo's Pwner

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    That seems to work. It seems like the volume on the guitar acts the same as the gain on a solid state amp.

    Thanks!