So My Accountant says: “It’s called a ‘hobby’, not a ‘business’ when you don’t make any money!!!”


Pete, Chris & Hugh sharing the love1

Pete, Chris & Hugh sharing the love1

Having a site to buy and sell guitars has always been a labour of love for me. I’ve met some really cool people and had a chance to lay my hands on some pretty cool geetars and amplificators, for sure. First and foremost, I have always tried to facilitate the deal – to make it happen! I experience these acquisitions vicariously through these deals… and maybe I make a little “scratch” along the way. But the big problem with this is that I love the guitars, the people, and the music they make… too much!  And I just love to play…

So I just haven’t made any money for my time and effort!

For Those Who Like To Rock...

For Those Who Like To Rock…

Anyway, I’d just love to stop and tell you about a new/old “game changer” for me, my recent acquisition, my all original 1955 Fender Telecaster, but we’ll do that in the next post. Where was I?… So anyway, once I buy boxes and pay for the website updates, and pay all the costs… ebay, pay pal, Brokerage fees, etc., I found that the balance sheet… well, had NO balance at all!!! And that doesn’t even include my time!!! So I’ve decided to pack in the sales portion of Blue Hugh Music and to expand the Vintage Gallery and Blog over the coming months… so I can still share the love! And, by the way, the email will remain active and you can still contact me at

In winding down the sales portion of the site, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank a few people: Pete F. for the great logo, Robbie F. at Positive E (and the whole gang at Positive E Solutions) for helping me to make this site a reality… and all the “horse traders” who have made it fun… I can’t name ’em all, but I can name a few… PF, Johnny R. from the windswept prairie as of late, Nige, Ronnie D., Tony F., Chris A., Stephen S., Steve “Rigbyburst” R., Mike B. Tony F., Brian and Richard from the sandbar, Jason “Lemmy” L., Todd L’E., AD, Bill MacM., Brent B., Peeter K., Chad Underwood, Dave C., Esse, Gary C., Jordan J., Kim Lafleur, Mark G., Mike Turk, Peter Swanick, Russ L., Ron Ellis, Steve P S, Ed P., Tony B., Charlie Gelber, Matte H., Walter MacM., Claude on GC, and to James N. for that 55 Tele (I did re-fret and pot the neck pickup, Jim), and to anyone I carelessly left out: Thanks, A. Nonymous!

Now on to geetars! … I always wonder about the comparison between great old vintage guitars and amps and the quality new stuff. We are definitely in a Renaissance period with respect to “new builds” – what with all the introspection regarding pickup construction, wood and design analysis, aging techniques, etc. But, dang!, it’s hard to equal a great – should I say “magical”  – old vintage guitar for the tones they create. My personal collection is about 1/2 and 1/2 vintage to newer builds. And just in case I have to hit you with a ballpeen hammer to point you back to the top of this Blog entry to figure it out… I have recently acquired a stunning 1955 Telecaster that plays 10/10 and sounds 11/10!!! Here’s a little eye candy… and I’ll see you on the next post…

Da '55 Telecaster

Da ’55 Telecaster

Nice wiring there, Gloria!

Nice wiring there, Gloria!




The Fractal Audio Axe FX 2 XL… the end of amps?

That Infamous Fractal Axe FX2 XL box!

That Infamous Fractal Axe FX2 XL box!


When the man in the brown shorts arrived at my home on Wednesday – two days after I ordered the Fractal Axe FX 2 XL direct from the manufacturer – I was excited and somewhat expectant. There are lots of guitar players whom we all respect – with VERY good ears – who have embraced this particular box and moth balled their “real” amplifiers. This is one reason that I pulled the trigger on the Axe FX.

A second reason is that I have become increasingly frustrated with my “sound” in our band – a rock 3 piece that covers a lot of bases – everything from AC/DC to Stray Cats to ZZ Top to Stones to Elvis to the Hip… etc. I have close to a dozen amps, but finding the right volume, the right tone, the right saturation – especially with this wide range of musical material – well, I looked at my wall of amps and said: “this is not working!”.

I had heard so many positive things about the Axe FX 2 XL, not only in print from the pros, but from lots of great local players (thanks A.D.) – it’s naturalness, it’s response and feel – exactly like the tube amps and cabs and effects it emulates – and the pure and rarified quality of sound – that I decided to “bite the bullet” and get one.

Not being used to a digital box like this, the supposed “user friendliness” was lost on me. But after struggling for a few days, I was able to use the Axe FX in rehearsal today. I would have loved to have an amp and cab to play it through – you use a linear SS power amp and a flat response speaker cab – so that you don’t colour the models coming out of the Axe FX – but they are hard to get due to the demand. The Atomic CLR Powered Wedge Monitor is my proposed weapon of choice – if I can ever get one! So anyway, for our rehearsal, I went straight into the P.A.

I was going to just try the Axe FX for a couple of songs, but I ended up using it for the whole rehearsal!

Here are some observations:

  1. The type of guitar becomes even more important than with a conventional rig. I had thought that it might be less of a factor, but these “amps” sound MORE like the pure article and so the sound of, say, a Strat through a model of a perfect Plexi and a 4 X 12 just sounds “right”… very much like the “Jimi” thing. Maybe “not so much” with a Gretsch Hollowbody through the Plexi!
  2. Although I had my pedal board in front of the Axe FX adding, say, a Plexi pedal just sort of took away from the tone – whereas a clean boost seemed to add a nice grit and a little more volume to the sound – pushing the “amp” harder.
  3. Certain presets gave me more articulation and a better depth of tone with certain guitars, one that I haven’t often previously experienced with my real rig. For example, my Gretsch Phoenix hollowbody with Filtertrons had a certain complexity that was amazing… not less distortion or funky artifacts… just a certain ability to make the nuance of the selected amp/cab/effects very audible. I could hear ”more” in the sound. Thus, it just “felt” right and made me play better!
  4. I felt the same interaction that you feel when your rig is sounding just right and it acts as an inspiration, creating a feedback loop between the gear and the player – inspirational!
  5. As M.G., our bass player/singer said, “there is a sweet spot between the P.A. speakers where the stereo image sounds amazing!”
  6. Another observation… guitar players still like to play too loud!

I’m a total “newbie” in this new digital world, and I have no idea whether it’s the “end of amps” or not. I definitely have a lot of learning to do with respect to this new box, integrating it into my music, so there’s lots of work ahead. But it’s fun work. We’ve come a long way since those early Line 6 amps and Pods. The road ahead will be rich and fruitful, I’m sure.

The ’59 Gibson ES-345 Mod… Deja Vu All Over Again


This is my third kick at the 1959 Gibson ES-345 in only the last half dozen years. I had one that reputedly belonged to Duane Allman – and I had a letter from Greg Allman’s record producer to prove it… he even said he had the original case, totally beat to uselessness… and I could have it for the cost of shipping… which I never got around to… but that’s another story!

In the later part of 1959, the necks on these beasts changed from a whopper to a more sedate “60s slim rounded profile”, and the ES-345 that I have now (courtesy of my pal Stephen S.) has the smallest profile of the 3. That may be why I just had it re-fretted in jumbo 6100 frets. “I don’t usually comment on my own fret work” said luthier Russ L., “but this one came out particularly well!”. Indeed it did! And the lack of girth is not missed as a result.


These guitars typically come from the factory both “stereo” and with a somewhat lame (at least by modern standards) Varitone with 6 different tonal positions. What I did here – and what I usually do with these guitars, at least eventually – is to take the guts out, lose the Varitone, save all the wiring, pots, caps, etc. intact (in case any future owner wants to restore the guitar to original) – and then to install a new, vintage inspired set of pots, caps, etc. This means the guitar is now in mono – thank goodness – and the Varitone is just a dummy switch (for cosmetics). What we also do here, is to save about a pound or so in weight – “light” being “right” here. This ES-345 is around 7.65lbs… and she rings like a bell – very woody!


One of the other ES-345s I owned – a particularly nice guitar that did have the whopper neck – had a particularly nasty hole cut under (and beyond) the Varitone switch. I say this to illustrate my tendency towards “guitar rescue”. Doris Day would be proud! (you may not get the reference, that’s OK). Here are before and after pics of the rescue on that other guitar:





So back to this year’s project… the current ES-345 had replaced pickups – the PAFs were long gone – and for some reason, although this is an original “stop tail”, there was a long tailpiece on it for a while… leaving some extra holes in the top… these two issues got me this beauty at less than 1/2 it’s book value. She’s a “player’s guitar” now! I ended up putting in a real PAF that I had in my stash (although nickel covered and from 1962 rather than 1959), and it’s THE MAGIC in the bridge position – aggressive, woody, open… The Voodoo pickup that I threw in the neck position, while a killer pickup, turned out to be the wrong pickup for this guitar – a brighter, more open sounding pickup being, IMHO, more appropriate. I found a very cool aged gold covered Duncan Antiquity on ebay, and it’s the tone of the Antiquity that my friend Pete F. thought would work best – and I agree. We’ll see when it gets here…

Duncan Antiquity Pickup

Duncan Antiquity Pickup

I’m also a huge proponent of “paper-in-oil” caps or anything but those ceramic disk caps! The paper-in-oil caps have a much smoother taper and a transparent tone that has a broader, wider sweep – very useful – and we now have them in this 345!!!

I’m really pleased with the changes in this vintage 345 so far… there’s a total 10/10 tone from the bridge pickup (and I can see the possibilities for the neck pickup), uber playability, lightweight ergonomics… tone that you’ll rarely find in a newer ES guitar – all good!!! I might even keep this one for a while!!!

ES-345 - Guts... Varitone, Pots, Caps, n Wire

ES-345 – Guts… Varitone, Pots, Caps, n Wire



Do Those Old Tele and Les Paul Bridge Pickup Tones Really Converge?

Nasty, nasty… Broadcaster bridge pickup

Just as nasty… Lester bridge pickup.

The other day I was watching a clip of Joe Walsh, and then I was struck by something he said: “A great old Tele bridge pickup will sound and feel quite close to a great old Les Paul bridge pickup!”. Right on, I thought! (hey, I’m a child of the 70s culture… I still say “right on”… but, fortunately, I no longer say: “solid”). Anyway, this is something that I myself have come around to over the years – a great old bridge PAF in a resonant piece of wood (that doesn’t weigh a ton!) will have single coil articulation and clarity… but with just enough “fur”. A great old Tele in the bridge position will have the same thing – the clarity you would expect, but with a nice microphonic bite, no harsh trebles, and a bit of fatness in the mids and low end.

As far as traditional guitars go right now, I use Les Pauls and Telecasters – and I think there’s no accident there. There is THE CONVERGENCE of these models. Look at the “Rev” – Lesters and Teles (or Esquires)… not a lot of Strat action there. My tone pal (and general all-round pal) “PF” agrees – it always seems to be the measure of a good Les Paul. Particularly in Gibson-land, the Les Paul sort of became something different from the 50s to the 70s and 80s… and not in a good way. A lot of the younger guys seek out the 70s Les Pauls – maybe due to nostalgia or something, but I wouldn’t seek one out. Oh sure, there are “happy accidents” where a great piece of wood came together with an unusually fussy Gibson factory worker, but generally, I believe the thread was lost (although it may have been recently found again).

’52 Les Paul Conversion with some Sweet PAFs

I guess that’s why we seek out “old wood”… and a killer pair of 50s or early 60s humbuckers… we’re not fooled! We know what a Les Paul CAN sound like! Above is my ’52 Gold Top. Converted and reset neck by Russ L. and then a very cool distressed finish by Kim at Historic Makeovers. Oh sure, it has had the mandatory “Gibson smile” (headstock break), but dang if it doesn’t sound a whole lot like my Underwood Broadcaster when I crank it up!

I should really say that this doesn’t mean that there’s no place for a good old Stratocaster… heck, I’ve had a few myself…

JR’s Search for “The One”

Looking for the Holy Grail?

Is one of these guitars “The One”?

My pal John Rollins recently posted something that I think you might want to read…

“You know, I will be 69 next month and have had so many guitars go through my hands. I have owned many of the old instruments when they were not old. I love old guitars, though – even though many of them have been at best “so-so.” Many were simply worn out and played to death. Some were heavy as tanks. The frets were too small. The radius was small. There was no “magic”

in many of the old guitars. But from time to time, a special guitar would come along – usually an old strat or tele for me … light, wonderfully resonant, guitars that had that “dry and airy” tone with a tele that was slightly microphonic and made me think I was Roy when I turned up the little 5-watt tube amp to the max. I had a brand new 1964 strat that was heavy as hell and I loved it. But my love came not from the fact that this strat had “magic,” but simply from the fact that I did not know any better. I kept that guitar close to me and actually fell asleep with it very close on a couple of nights. The Black Diamond strings were railroad tracks.

Over the years, I have come to realize that I am always looking for and will never find “the one.” Many of the new guitars that I have played are wonderful in so many ways. Very gifted people have learned to make what are, in my opinion, “better” guitars. Frets. Radius. Pickups. Wood selection.

Tones. Woods. I keep looking for the “the one” and now know that it is the quest, not finding “the one,” that is most important. I also realize that I have made some fine friends along the way. I expect that it is the friendship that is more important. Along the way I have had conversations with trading friends about family and life and loss and joy. As I grow older, I appreciate more fully the importance of such friendships.

It is a joy to be part of a community of people who love guitars and who are looking for “the one” and really do not want to find it. Such is the journey.”

Amen! Thanks to Johnny “Purple Hayes” Rollins for his well formed and eloquent musings!


I Finally got my old Les Paul… Oh My! It’s a PRS!!!

Once again G.A.S. has gotten the better of me, and thanks to the “facilitator” extraordinaire: Brandon at Willcutt’s Guitars, it came in the form of a McCarty Burst DGT model… behold:

Brand Spankin’ new DGT in McCarty Burst

I’m a traditionalist by nature, but these dang DGTs have sort of “chosen me”, if you know what I mean. They are 90% of what I play in my 3 piece band, and for good reason. We cover everything from Stray Cats to Elvis to AC/DC to David Wilcox to ZZ Top to Stones to Black Crowes to country… and the versatility of the DGT with extraordinary tone can’t be denied. The 3/4 coil taps are super useful and, again, toneful! I use the whammy bar in some form or another on just about every song, and the DGT Trem just stays perfectly in tune… even after some sporadic dive bombing. Heck, I don’t even bother to lube the nut slots! So anyway, I have a couple of all “hog” DGT Standards that I use, but my hankering for the “‘Burst” of the DGT world led me to this spectacular McCarty Burst 10 top DGT.

Bee-you-tee-full and Toneful 1 pc mahogany back!

Notice the beautiful mahogany grain… PRS seems to get incredible, and incredibly resonant, wood! I saw a youtube clip of them randomly pulling neck blanks at the PRS factory – when they tapped them, the mahogany neck blanks rang like friggin’ marimbas!!! A pure musical note rang out! Now let me pull you aside here and say… “I am NOT a PRS guy!” by nature. Plus, I don’t work for the company or have a dealership! I’m not into “lawyer guitars” (apologies to any lawyers who may be reading this blog entry!:-) … as I said before, the DGT has sort of chosen me. I think that happens when you invest a lot of psychic energy in something… like being a student of the guitar, for example. I am playing and practicing a lot right now, and these guitars have come to the fore. I remember hearing the story about Stevie Ray that, when he saw the Strat that would become his #1, in a shop… he KNEW – without even touching it. Now, I do not put myself in the same company as Stevie (try working “Scuttle Buttin'” up to speed – I’m currently trying, me and my ol’ metronome – if you want to see where his technique was at!), but “as above, so below”.  But I digress… So maybe I’ve found my “‘Burst” with a PRS headstock?! I should also mention that I did buy one of the rare, maple necked DGTs (for sale on my site as of this writing), but even though it sounded great and played great, it was a little too “blingy” for me… JR calls it the Blingster!

The Blingster

Now before you start recommending an “intervention” for me, let me say that I still love Gibsons and Fenders… and Gretsches, for sure… and then there’s that old Eastpointe Reverend that I just got – and am re-visiting after inexplicably selling the last one I had (a great slide and jangly “Stones” geetar)… and obviously Gustavsson guitars… as well as those high end boo teek guitars like Suhr and Anderson and Grosh and Baker and McNaught and Underwood… and is there anything better than a good Telecaster??? A GOOD GUITAR IS A GOOD GUITAR! It just needs you to play it… here are a few from my past…

2005 The Herd Turning the Clock Back

The Herd from 2009

Notice the “un-tarted up” Gretsch Billy Bo in the second row… fated to become the “Blue Hugh Music” guitar after a makeover by Dave Connery of Connery’s Custom Paint!


A Tale of Two Wraptails or a Wraptail Tale

Two ’55 Series Gibson Les Paul Wraptail Customs… relaxin’

NO… don’t “adjust your set” … as they used to say… These are two eerily similar guitars from 2011. It all started when I purchased the “’55 Series Les Paul Custom Wraptail” from Wildwood guitars in 2011 (oh, thank God it’s not a 2012 with a 2 piece lam fingerboard!!! Well I have news for you… I have a LP from 2012 … CC#3 “The Babe”… and it KILLS!… there are no rules!…but I digress…). Well, this ’55 Wraptail guitar “has the magic”! It went back and forth between my pal Pete F. and I until, when the music stopped again, it had landed back with me.

’55 wraptails close up and personal

So, to pick up the thread, next thing I know, Pete has tracked down a second Wraptail at a music store in USA… it’s used… and it’s ostensibly the same DNA as the beast that I originally bought. Well, Pete was scooting off to his day job at the Juno Awards (yes, I do sometimes rub shoulders with the rich and famous – or in this case, not so rich and only moderately famous… but rich in spirit and famous amongst his peeps) ( … did I save that???), and since I owed Mr. F a large sum of money, I purchased the guitar for him, took delivery, and began my mad scientist experiments.

Back(s) In Black

You know, you can’t really isolate a single factor and say that’s why a guitar is magical. Some are and some aren’t. It may be somewhat in the ear of the beholder – it’s a tough thing to analyze. Anywho, getting the two geetars together, Pete’s is a bit heavier (8.7lbs vs 8.3lbs) and they both sounded 90% similar and 10% different – if that makes sense. The Burstbucker 1 and 2 pickups just sound killer (another prejudice trashed!) – spec-ing out around 8.2k for the bridge pickup and around 7.55k for the neck (similar in both guitars). Initially, Pete’s guitar lacked a certain “immediacy” and “presence” that mine had. Well, I had taken the covers off my pickups – that not only gets the gold plated covers (gold covers=loss of tone=evil) out of the way, it also allows one to lower the screws in order to bring the slug coil closer to the strings and more even with the screw coil. This is a fairly strong modifier of the tone – at least on the subtle level that we are listening here. By the way, there is speculation amongst the Tone Police that the worst effect on a pickup’s tone can come from the gold plating on the covers… just sayin’. With permission, I removed the covers on Pete’s guitar and set up the pickups the same as mine – better. My wound strings seemed to have more twang and spank… “I know, I’ll put the same strings on Pete’s guitar as I have on mine!” Again, the two guitars moved closer together in tone… more spank in the low end from Pete’s guitar with the perky Cobalt strings. I should say that some of the subtle character difference between the two guitars did remain – Pete’s guitar had a tiny bit more sizzle in the high end and a little more response in the low end. My guitar had a tiny bit more in the mids and upper mids. But basically, these guitars are now 98.5% similar… or was that 97.9%… or 99.2%? We’ll have to check these two out at the next Tonefest!!!

Not exactly consecutive serial #s!





The Devil made me do it!… Chasing Tone on a Saturday Night

I love that Starwarsian phrase that my friend JL coined (either he coined it or he’s lying… again…kidding): “the sickness is strong with him”. Of course, we’re talking about the tendency for guitar players to chase tone with multiple aquisitions. I have friends like that! (yes you, JR!!!) Not me, of course. But I know people…

Last night I went to my long time (younger) pal’s CD release and he gets a killer, killer, tone. He’s not “one of us”… he’s had the same rig for a few years now (not unusual, my bandmate MB has played the same white Strat for 15 years now) – a recent red ES-335 dot neck (more on that later), and a 1966 Fender Tremolux Head through a 2 x 10 cab. I know. I sold him the Tremolux/cab. I also sold him a Dr. Z Brake Lite attenuator – but you’d swear he never uses it… the band was LOUD! But “GOOD LOUD!”. He’s a wonderful player, this I.R., and he’s honed in on a magical tone with this rig. I have to tell you that I felt superior last night, because, of the mostly older crowd, it seemed like all those over 60 had their fingers in their ears! Hey, if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Ha! I should tell you that the only time I actually saw a headstock broken before my eyes was from the stage (that I was sharing with our young IR), when he carelessly grabbed his beloved Gibson ES-335 off it’s stand… lost his grip… and the guitar fell forward and hit his pedalboard, breaking the headstock. Oh well, some rock stars claim that their guitars sound better after having had the headstock glued back on. Oh yes, he then did it again later down the road! X2. Same guitar… sounding 4X better maybe?

Anyway, last night, also playing in another town, was “not quite as young” PF. He’s also a killer player, but unlike IR, he changes gear like he changes his underwear (at least, I hope “like he changes his underwear”). I must confess that I fall into this second group. And although alot of what I do is for Blue Hugh Music, I do have my own multiple gear cravings. My store allows me to be an enabler, and I’ve been know to drive 4 or 5 hours round-trip on the spur of the moment to deliver a guitar – provided the universe is calling me to do so (don’t get your hopes up!) 🙂 I should tell you that since it seems like the appropriate place to randomly insert some guitar porn, I recently got back a very beloved and toneful instrument – the exquisite Gustavsson P90 Bluesmaster Gold Top. Not coincidentally, also owned by PF at one time. Behold:

2004 Gustavsson P90 Bluesmaster Gold Top

Gustavsson “up close and personal”.

I feel better already! 🙂

So back to Saturday night… I also made a stop at my friend RDs rancho – that was to deliver a particularly toneful brown 1962 Fender Super amp. While we were playing his exquisite Suhr “S” guitar – attractively finished in the traditional “early Campbell’s soup can” colour, RD mischieviously (as it turned out) said: “here, try this amp…” Now I always thought my Retro King sounded superior to any 18 watt Marshall clone, but last night, sweet mother of Robert Johnson, RDs 18 watt Marshall 1974x combo (if you must know, also with Mercury Magnetics transformers as a later upgrade) sounded like the music of the spheres… I MUST HAVE ONE! So here I am today, a pitiful sight, ordering my 3 Mercury transformers and scouting for a local Marshall 1974x that I can scoop up…    oh, woe is me! Only Nigel would understand this AMPLIFIER obsession!!! Time for more porn… this time “amp porn”… see you next time… and BEHOLD!…

1962 Fender brown Super amp with 2 x 10″ Jensen speakers

“You Want How Much???!!!…”. Establishing Value 101

Here’s a nitty gritty topic for a proprietor of an on-line guitar store (like me) – ESTABLISHING VALUE! Since this is a Blog, I’ll just ramble a bit with the few thoughts that are rattling around in my brain, rather than trying to write a scientific paper on guitar value-ology! But I won’t lie to you, I have 20 odd years of establishing value in another business – so I have some background here. Let me say that the principles are the same whether you’re valuing a boat, a car, a house, or in our case, a guitar. For example, although “asking” prices have some small relevance in the equation, it’s really the price that something sells for that establishes value of a similar item, for the most part. That’s where the “Vintage Guitar Price Guide” gets its numbers. Then there’s Ebay “completed items” – quite useful and quite current. Plus there are lots of other less visible sources that one learns about over time for checking out “what’s sold for how much”. So we also ask: how long ago did that similar guitar sell? Was it in the current market? Was the guitar that sold identical to the one we are trying to appraise – or do we need to make value adjustments for different condition, features, or mods? Obviously, a guitar that is almost the same as the one we are trying to evaluate but sold 2 years ago may need a value adjustment for a different market. Hey, my pal Jeff P. offered me either a 1961 Strat or a 1958 Tele for $600 – “take your pick”, he said… but that was 1979… so we must adjust value for the time. By the way, I took the Tele! And no, I don’t still have it!  Also, some sales are made under duress, so we typically take a few comparable sales and knock out the highest and lowest… we’re looking for a cluster of prices for similar instruments. Sometimes, especially with modded or unique guitars, it’s really hard to find close comparable instruments that have sold. So there is some voodoo involved – it’s not all science! You kind of have to get a feel for what might affect value and by how many $$$ in the real world.

OK … find one like this! A Strat with 3 Firebird pickups.

Of course, it’s natural for us to feel that what WE have is worth a whole lot of cabbage… but what we want to buy… well, not worth so much. In my little on-line business I tend to just roll with people’s opinions of the respective values, or at least I hear them out, and sometimes I even just do trades for the fun of it – or because I want to change my inventory around (you know, keep the website fresh) – knowing full well that my customer’s opinion of the value of his/her stuff is inflated! That’s the price I pay ’cause I am a geetar junkie! Of course, sometimes reason prevails and I just don’t do the deal… or I only do it if we can get to realistic values – ones where I can make some money – so that someday I can call this a “business” rather than a “hobby”. My problem isn’t figuring out the values… it’s letting my compulsive, guitar-addicted self rule my business self!!! THAT is my problem! Sometimes I really go off the rails e.g. my recent purchase of what I call my “double cut nightmare” – an acquisition (ostensibly for the store) based on impulse and passion that is sure to ultimately end up in the red, that is, once it’s been marketed and moved along!!! But don’t get any ideas! 🙂 , I’m working on getting tough as nails!!! I practice in the mirror, you know! 🙂 To be fitting, I think it appropriate that I post some “guitar porn” pics of a few odd-ball guitars that are tough to pin a value on… Hey, Bo Diddley… we’ll start there.

A bass made by Tom Holmes for Bo Diddley in the 70s and sold after Bo’s passing – I owned this for a while.

Here’s the case that Bo cleverly customized with his own artwork… THE MAN! You betcha!

A 1961 Gibson ES-335 Dot Neck that’s been re-necked using the old fingerboard, truss rod, and binding.

Howard Leese’ (of Heart & Bad Company) ’96 rare Gold Sparkle CU22 – featured on Bad Company Live at Wembley – and soon to be for sale at Blue Hugh Music



Gibson’s “Silence of The Lam (2012)”

For those who are concerned about the minutia of guitar construction, the 2 piece laminated rosewood fingerboard that has invisibly crept into the 2012 Historic Les Pauls (and many other Gibson guitars as well) seems to be a problem. It is a damn shame that Gibson can’t use a thicker 1 piece board, but the scuttlebutt is that the raids from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife have left the company no choice, with stocks of permissible rosewood depleted .

I know I really may be “flogging a dead horse” here for those of you “in the know”, but this may be a shocker if you’re hearing this “2 piece fingerboard thing” for the first time. There’s lots of talk amongst the dedicated Les Paul junkies that it’s all being done wrong anyway – the thin top piece leaves 30-something individual pieces of rosewood once you cut the fret slots – the glue used to laminate the rosewood is yellow glue (and that’s just wrong!) – etc. I think the easiest way to know if you have a 2 piece laminated rosewood board (the “Lam ” fingerboard, as they call it) is to remove the nut and check the end grain. Some say that it’s done pretty well – under very high pressure. Well, whatever! Can you HEAR it? Does it really affect the tone? I think most who know good tone would argue that it does NOT!

I’ve had two 2012 Les Pauls in my possession and they are both superb sounding and playing instruments. To me, there are other factors that are WAY more likely to have an effect on the tone than the 2 piece rosewood board. So let me mention a few factors that I think are on the “A list” for killer tone… and perhaps amongst the reasons why Gibson 2012 Les Pauls seem to sound consistently great (or so I hear, anyway).  1. I always think about the neck angle to the body. The old ones almost always had a very shallow angle – and I think this is part of their tone-recipe! (and playability too, I might add).  2. In a Les Paul, where the bulk of the wood is mahogany, the quality of the wood in the mahogany back (and neck)  seems to be a significant tone-factor. There’s actually a rumour that in the last year or so, Gibson sourced some AMAZING (and legal) mahogany from a country previously unknown for it’s instrument grade wood.  3. Let me keep going here…a third factor … the pickups. Those Burstbuckers just seem to be getting better all the time… more clarity and percussiveness in the neck pickup… an aggressive but less brittle and harsh bridge pickup. As a matter of fact, thanks to my pal PF, I now have a 2012 “Collector’s Choice #3” Les Paul – also referred to as “The Babe” (horrible name!) – and it is absolutely superb. One of the best sounding guitars I’ve had – 2 piece fingerboard and all! The pickups are referred to in the literature as “Custom Alnico 3 Buckers”. Whatever! They sound great!!! It has a Bigsby, but mercifully, it only weighs 8.85lbs. Hey! – I thought that Bigsbys were “tone-robbers”!? There are NO RULES on a feature-by-feature basis, IMHO – it’s just how everything adds up! Here’s a shot of “The Babe” relaxin’ Two piece board and all!!! Doesn’t seem to bother HER!!!…

Gibson Collector’s Choice #3 “The Babe” Les Paul…only 8.85lbs!