Tools of the trade… wood choices in Strat-land.

The two "chosen ones".

The two “chosen ones”.

 

 

After owning a few “uber” vintage Strats, I’ve found a couple of great guitars that sit with the “good ‘uns”, and I think that my ears have really become sensitive to the differences between individual guitars of this particular model – now that I’m a Strat Cat again. A big reason for the re-visiting of my once favourite model, is that I now have the tools in the amplification department to get good gain at lower volumes – pretty much any sound that I want (thank you, Two Notes Torpedo and QSC!) – handy, or even necessary, in a 3 piece setting.

I have owned a couple of real ’56 Strats in the last few years, and while both were magical guitars, they were a little strident – in fact, they could shatter glass if you cranked ’em up. My beloved 64/65 Strat, which now resides with my best pal Pete F., on the other hand, was balanced across the range. Why was this so?

The beloved 64/65 "Troiano" Strat

The beloved 64/65 “Troiano” Strat

Well, the acoustic properties of an electric guitar are well known to us all – that’s why YOU could hear the difference between a guitar with a loose truss rod and the same guitar with a straight fingerboard and a tight truss rod – yes, you could! So to over-simplify a bit, maple board Strats are brighter and thinner sounding than rosewood board models… often clearer and more articulate too. Ash bodies are also brighter – and if they are light-weight – thinner sounding. An Alder body has a more even tone, with lots of mid-range and smooth highs and big smooth lows. Sure there are other woods, but these are the typical configurations.

Maple Neck / Alder Body

Maple Neck / Alder Body

So what I didn’t like about the ’56 Strats was the ash body/maple neck combo. Not to run that sound down – a killer tone you’ll hear on many records – but not MY sound. And it certainly works for Teles!!! In early to mid ’56, the bodies changed to alder, and to me, the ’56s with an alder body and a maple neck sound killer! I have this combination in my current maple neck Strat – and while it’s articulate, it has a smooth top end. My LSL Rosewood board “Strat” is a bit different… it has a gorgeous rosewood neck with rolled edges – a very similar neck to the 64/65 – but a little bigger… however, it has a lightweight swamp ash body that helps give the guitar it’s 6.7lb weight. This guitar rings! I swear you can hear the trem cavity / springs / control and pickup routes … very nuanced, very lively… real “cluck” and just killer… and the rosewood neck tames it just enough! This guitar “talks”! I LOVE it!

LSL Saticoy "Strat" gut shot

LSL Saticoy “Strat” gut shot

One last thought… well, two actually… I’m a big fan of a slightly hotter bridge pickup in a Strat. It takes the edge off and balances well with lower output N and M pickups – 6.5k – 7.5k is ideal. The “Troiano” has that ( a lucky accident?) and so do my Strats featured here. Secondly, I always wire a tone control to the bridge pickup… like a Tele… and just as usable!

 

Stratocaster® Setup Part 2

Sherwood Green Metallic Sounds Best!

Sherwood Green Metallic Sounds Best!

Thanks to Alex D. for alerting me to the Carl Verheyen Strat Trem setup… Here’s the Dean Markley © C.V. setup off their Balanced Bridge string pack:

Carl Verheyen Stratocaster® Full Floating Tremolo Bridge Setup. For the last 30 years the Fender® Stratocaster® has been my main guitar. When working with the bridge setup I always strive for the most musical and in-tune mechanical operation I can find. I’ve asked hundreds of players about their setup and over the years I’ve come up with my own method that always returns to pitch and has many musical benefits as well. The method described works best when the tuners are working properly, the nut has been properly cut so strings don’t bind,  the neck truss rod properly adjusted and the six (or two) mounting screws that fasten the bridge plate provide proper freedom of movement. At the heart of the setup is balancing spring tension with string tension by adjusting the two long spring tension adjusting screws at the “claw” to which the tremolo springs are attached to the steel tremolo block. Use three springs from the tremolo block to the claw: furthest position left, furthest position right and center; do NOT set the outside springs at an angle. 1. Begin by adjusting the two screws of the claw so that when you pull UP on the tremolo arm and the bridge is in contact with the body the G string pulls up a minor 3rd.This will make the B string rise a whole step and the E string a half step. The mechanics of the system should first make musical sense. When done correctly, you will end up with an “Angled Claw”—which is exactly what you’re looking for. (Balancing the Tension.) 2. You may have to go back and forth a few times between the two adjusting screws until the bridge is stable and the intervals described are true. And you’ll need to correct the intonation by adjusting the bridge saddles. This takes a bit of time. But when done properly, you will enjoy it. 3. When all is right and balanced between springs and strings, the Am7 barre chord on the 5th fret should sound like it is descending musically to an Abm7 when the bar is slightly depressed. It won’t be perfect but it’s a very musical sound you’re after and should achieve.This effect is ideal for “shaking” chords and applying a manual tremolo to your voicings. 4. An important point is to lubricate string contact points. I use a Teflon® lubricant by Dean Markley (Dean’s Tuba Luba) under the strings at the nut slots and where the strings contact the string tree(s).You only need to use a little lube; wipe away any excess. 5. I try to use the minimum windings on the string posts, preferring just one if possible. My bass strings leave the post at the top; my trebles wind down and leave the post at the bottom. 6. There is a short video of me explaining the whole process at: http://www.DeanMarkley.com/QR/WB.html All the best, Carl Verheyen Fender® and Stratocaster® are registered Trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Teflon® is a registered Trademark of DuPont™.

 

The Mexican and the Fishman… A Proverb

Fishman Fluence Single Width

Fishman Fluence Single Width

 

It’s been a while since I have been so “chuffed” (if you’re not English, look it up!) with a guitar, and I haven’t been able to put this guitar down over the holidays! You may know the Strat – a Mexican Stratocaster that was re-fretted in stainless 6100 wire by Ronnie D. – and generously passed on to me as he continues to engage in Grissomesque PRS tones. I loved the Mojotone Steel Pole pickup assembly (with Blender pot) that Ronnie had in there, so I have left it intact for future use. Added was a gold anodized aluminum pickguard with the new FISHMAN FLUENCE SINGLE WIDTH pickups. I first heard these pickups when the wonderful Greg Koch did a clinic in our town (yes, Greg, you did make a splash in Barrie, Ontario!!!). GK pretty much uses these pickups exclusively, and there’s good reason. For one, they are completely silent – NO NOISE! Another fab thing is that they have a pull pot that changes the pickup voicing – not just superficially – but by accessing a different wind in the coils. You get a very natural Strat tone, and then a beefier, more mid-rangey tone when you pull the bottom tone pot. The magnets are “normal” Alnico IV, but the coils are printed on multi-layered circuit boards that give a very consistent result from pickup to pickup, as well as many tonal possibilities. I found that wiring these pickups was pretty easy when I allowed lots of time and followed the YouTube video step-by-step. I wired the Tone controls with one on the neck pickup and one on the bridge pickup – as I always do. I also employed the 250 hour battery backplate that you charge with your computer (or into the wall) … these pickups are “active” – although you’d never know it!

Da Battery Pack

Da Battery Pack

 

So how do these pickups sound? Well, I compared this guitar to the “gold standard” – my 64/65 Troiano Stratocaster. Tonally, I found the “Mexican” to be very much in the same park – and that’s saying a lot! The pull pot to fatten up the pickup tone added even more color. I’d have to say that the Fluence pickups hang very well with the vintage Strat. The Fluence bridge pickup has a tad more highs, but this can be useful… and that’s why I have moved the tone control to the bridge pickup from the middle pickup. The straight Voice 1 sound is VERY vintage, very “Stratty”, and the notch positions just sing a little more than with conventional pickups. I almost tend to forget the added bonus that these pickups are dead quiet. So here we have a rainbow of wonderful Stratocaster tones, all with no noise, it’s just a revelation! Through my Friedman Smallbox 50, it’s devastating!!!

I really don’t see myself moving off these great pickups… really! The Fluence pickups come in several flavours – including a 2 voice PAF that I think sounds amazing – as well as a Tele set that was developed with the input of the Gristle King himself (no, I don’t sell these pickups or work for the company!!!). I bought my set at a “show special price”, but they are very reasonably priced anyway. They come with pots, extra color coded wires, etc. The Battery Pack – which I really recommend over 9V battery operation – just for convenience – can be purchased separately.

Twang on!!!

The "Offender"... Mex Fluence Stratocaster

The “Offender”… Mex Fluence Stratocaster

 

Can a $479 PRS Kick a 10k Historic Les Paul to the Curb???

The Korean PRS SE Custom

The Korean PRS SE Custom

 

Sometimes it’s unclear about what makes a great sounding guitar and sometimes we “listen with our eyes”, as my friend PF has become fond of saying…

So the back-story here is that I bought a cool little Korean PRS hollobody a few years back (now long gone), and after a re-fret and a few boo-teek pickup changes (I ultimately chose the stock Korean made pickups as best thing in that geetar!), I had a marvellous sounding and playing axe! The thing about these guitars is that they are built a little bit like a 335 – with a FLAT plywood top and a solid centre block… this gave it a unique and wonderful punchy tone… the guitar was small and lightweight, with a big neck too! Anyway, as I said, that guitar is long gone. When I saw another on ebay, I grabbed it. $479.00 US greenbacks. I tried to live with the frets, but ultimately I had the guitar re-fretted with jumbos (thanks, Russ), put Grovers on, and threw in a set of ’61 model Jim Rolph pickups that I had in the parts bin.

Yup, made in Korea,,,

Yup, made in Korea,,,

 

There are clearly some “offshore” aspects to the guitar… I didn’t trust the tuners, the bridge needed shimming so it wouldn’t wobble, the nut material was soft and rubbery (clearly not the “unotainium” material that Paul uses in his US made guitars)… But all stuff that I may change at some point. The effect on the playability was insignificant, in any case. But in a tone test, with the Jim Rolph pickups, this guitar sounded HUGE! Very lively. Big, tight bottom end. Smooth aggressive top end. I particularly noticed how percussive and “round” that the single note lines sounded. But “we have a problem, Houston”… rolling back the volume knob produced almost immediate “mud”. Problem #2: changing the offshore pots meant re-drilling the holes in the top of the guitar – since offshore pots have smaller shafts – a big hassle! Checking the wiring, I noticed that there was already a treble bleed cap, so this in itself should stop the volume pot from getting muddy, but it clearly wasn’t doing what I thought it might. At that point, my madcap brain remembered a small seemingly insignificant fact – that it was the recommendation of my late pal (and wiring genius… well, just GENIUS, period), Brian Miller, that a small bleed cap PLUS A SMALL RESISTOR in parallel was that best way to do this. In fact, I had a few of these parts that Brian had given me. So I soldered in the tiny resistor with the existing cap and VOILA! clear and beautiful all the way up and down the volume range. This was a bit astounding to me, but hey, I am thankful for small mercies! I plugged the guitar in… OMG, I’VE CREATED A MONSTER!!!

The Beast! Lightweight and Savage!

The Beast! Lightweight and Savage!

 

Now this guitar sounded so good… that I did an A/B with a $10,000 Historic Les Paul that I had laying around (well, not actually laying around) and, oh my! Blind-folded I might actually choose the PRS… The guitar was more lively, smoother, had more bottom end. It was punchier. It had more “bloom”. The Jim Rolph pickups in the cheap PRS – VERY highly regarded with those “in the know” (and rather expensive too) – obviously didn’t hurt the outcome either. Anyway, if you see one of these guitars around for sale used (they don’t make them with the flat top anymore), I highly recommend them as a great “project” guitar. And the stock pickups do sound excellent!

 

 

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 hugh@bluehughmusic.com

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!

 

 

 

Rare Teuffel Birdfish Sighted Outside of its Natural Habitat!

Handler with rare Birdfish

Handler with rare Birdfish

The delicate and rare Teuffel Birdfish was glimpsed last night in… Brantford, Ontario last night! 1000s of kilometers from its natural habitat of Germany!

When you can find one of these creatures, they are upwards of 10k, and we understand that the “new” price is around 20k!

New custodian, Pete F., is anxious to see if the Birdfish can deliver the goods… Although quirky, the Birdfish feels quite comfortable to play… the neck feels very vintage – rounded in profile – and not unlike the lovely Music Man necks in overall feel. The tone is bright and very “Strat-like” – the 3 pickup/5 way setup helps here… but the tone is much more articulate and percussive than many Strats – with great note separation as a consequence.

Fly on, fly on, Little Wing!…

Best Amp On The Planet?

DSCF0515

I should actually say: “Best REAL Amp On the Planet” because I am still enjoying the tones that come from my Axe FX 2 XL. But let me tell you that the Bludo Drive amplifier (this is the 70s voicing with optional FET channel) has been in my peripheral vision ever since my pal PF got one a few years back. The Bludo really came into focus for me a couple of weeks ago when PF and I had a few “Lugtreads” and proceeded to audition a few special guitars thru his Bludo.

A few years back...

A few years back…

Traditionally, when I start “the hunt”, everything becomes tunnel vision towards the new piece of sonic glory – and this time was no exception! I was fortunate enough thru a happy coincidence and the positive energies of some guy named Todd and some guy named Brandon, to acquire my Bludo Drive amplifier and Loopalator almost immediately! Good karma! Last night, my pal PF jumped in his Prius and headed for the Rancho (more good karma – thank you PF!) – mainly so he could show me the “ins and outs” of both the amp and the Loopalator.

Now these amps already have a huge reputation – you’ll see Santana with a couple, Larry Carleton loves his… there’s a long list. The Bludo Drive amps apparently were inspired by those “D” amps – made by the eccentric and brilliant Howard Somebody… or was it Alexander? I actually played a 100 watt “D” and wasn’t smitten – but, to be fair, I didn’t spend more than a few minutes with it. Back to the Bludo… this amp is like no amp I have ever heard – and I have owned 100s! Even when heavily over-driven, there is a depth of tone, complexity, and a big sound that you don’t hear in other amps. Most amps flatten out and become less-dimensional, smaller, as you increase the amount of distortion – not so with the Bludo. The cleans are also spectacular and very big, with no tendency to be “limited”. The FET channel adds an FET pre-amp and it makes the tone a bit “tougher”, brighter, and more focussed. A nice option. When I got the amp, I immediately flipped the 1/2 power switch to 50 watts, and all my auditions were done at 1/2 power. The 100 watt setting is obviously a tad “bigger”. The Master Volume works exceedingly well too – and I would have no problem using this amp in a small pub. The Loopalator is an impedance matching device that has a 12AX7 tube in it. I makes the amp sound ever so slightly fuller, and the effects loop is killer, I have never heard my delay pedal sound so good. Now I know why I don’t like the sound of my delay on my pedal board “in front” of the amp! This Bludo Drive amp is completely in a class of it’s own… best amp ever? Quite possibly!

So I guess there will be some amps for sale! maybe I’ll keep my Black Face Princeton Reverb, my Divided By 13 LDW (for Marshally tones), my Tex EF 86, and, of course, my custom Funk Farm “Hughbie” amp… hey, if you had a model of your own, you’d keep it too!

DSCF6944

The Plexi Hunt… A Ceriatone Surprise!

Ceriatone Yeti 50 - Custom Color 1969 'you know what' below!

Ceriatone Yeti 50 – Custom Color 1969 ‘you know what’ below!

Every so often I re-activate my search for a great Plexi. I’m one of those players who loves the sound that my favourite players get with vintage Marshalls, but I’ve always had trouble bonding with most (including the “knock-offs”). For one thing, I don’t play super loud, so that issue has to be dealt with – either with my Brake Lite attenuator or maybe even with a Master Volume on the amp itself, when available. Also, I find that there are so many variations on this Plexi theme, many of which don’t sound right to me or fit with my band – or perhaps I admire certain amps but just can’t see myself using them for my own sound. One thing I have come to pretty much accept these days is that: “bigger bottles equal bigger tone”! So even though I play with some degree of authority (a little loud!), my amp is often running at only “3” on the Volume knob… but, still, I am currently using more powerful amps. Because I have a 3 piece band, there’s always room for a fuller sound. The last excursion into Plexi territory for me was a Roccaforte with 2 – 6V6s and a Plexi tone (they said) – and I am in no way running down the amp – but it just wasn’t “me” and it was quickly sold. So fast forward to last week, and I begrudgingly took a trade – this Ceriatone Yeti 50 head – something I had never heard of. I was even more skeptical when I heard that the amps were made (or sold in kit form) in Malaysia – not exactly the boutique amp center of the universe. Anyway, suffice it to say that this amp is astounding! I LOVE IT!

Ceriatone Yeti 50 "gut" shot

Ceriatone Yeti 50 “gut” shot

So here’s the “skinny”… This amp is part of the HRP Series – meaning Hot Rodded Plexi… and they have many of the “Jose” mods – Jose being a famous amp tech who modded amps in the 80s for even more famous clients. The “Era” switch has a Plexi mode, an 80s mode, and a “Modern” mode. I pretty much stick to the Plexi mode – the others being a little over the top for my style. But even so, this amplifier is one versatile tone machine! There are 3 volumes at different stages of the circuit – and for a “one knob” guy like me, they are still very intuitive and easy to use. Gain 1 at the first stage, Gain 2 comes after (duh!), and then there’s a Master Volume – easy peasy! There are 2 Bright switches – one at Gain 1 and the other at Gain 2 – and they add lots of different tones – each switch having bright/off/bright with a touch more gain… and because they are at different gain stages, they affect the tone quite differently, and add to the versatility of the amp. The Resonance control adds a low end “thump” that I just love! This amp is certainly more flexible than my real ’69 Plexi… it’s a keeper! Talking tubes with my pal and bandmate Mark G., I just had to open up the amp to see what the heck the power tubes were – KT77s – hmmm. These are a JJ re-issue of a rare 50s tube that is said to be a great alternative to an EL34… more headroom, better balance, less compression, and a little cleaner. Nice!

Ceriatone Yeti 50 Trannies

Ceriatone Yeti 50 Trannies

I am currently running the Ceriatone with one of my 2 PRS open back 4 x 10 greenback cabs. As a footnote, here’s a little anecdote about Ceriatone owner Nik Azam. He’s a bit of a legend for his great customer service, and when I got the amp (used), the jewel light was burned out, but the seller had graciously supplied a replacement. Well this replacement also had a small resistor included, and not being a tech head, I had no idea what to do with it. So I emailed Nik, in Malaysia (!), and within 2 minutes I had an email back (results may vary) instructing me in simple terms how to solder in the new jewel light (the resistor being a new feature to extend the bulb life). Good on ya, Nik! I’ve dealt with other boutique amp manufacturers – one of the feline variety – who needed their cages rattled numerous times to just get a pulse… so there ya go, a Ceriatone surprise that’ll be front and center on my next gig!

 

 

 

Finding Your Voice… The RIGHT Guitar

OK, we’re into serious “guitar geek” territory here. But I am talking to the right people here… “singing to the choir” – as they say. Sometimes I forget that not everyone cares about this stuff! After years and years of listening to me go on and on about this stuff, my wife still got the following question wrong in a game of Trivial Pursuit: “The Les Paul is… (a) a Gibson guitar (b) a Fender guitar.” … so not everyone cares about this stuff!

Bashing out the tunes on a Blues gig

Being a gigging musician (when I can get a gig!), I have a chance to run different rigs all the time, and so I get a chance to hear instruments in a band context as well as in the music room. Obviously, different guitars inspire different playing styles as well as taking one into uncharted musical territory. At a recent “Les Paul Fest”, full of both vintage and modern guitars, I earmarked a certain newish Collector’s Choice “Beast” Les Paul for it’s superior tone (yup, it surprised me a bit that a modern Lester can go toe to toe with vintage wood), and I now own it. I have to say that this guitar is so solid in the mid-range (and clear) that rolling back the treble pickup a tad inspires the country boy in me – no need for a Tele! It is also, surprisingly, is also a fairly aggressive and higher output (for a PAF style set of pickups) guitar. I love it! It takes me where I need to go! It inspires a new voice!

The Beast – a new treat from Gibson

It’s interesting that for many years I used to play Strats and nothing but Strats… now I’m seen with my beloved Underwood Tele, a few Lesters, and my workhorse guitars – the DGTs. I won’t spend any more time on the DGT – I’ve done that in several previous posts, but it should suffice to say that the PRS DGT was NOT the intellectual or instinctive choice for me. But man, it sure scratches my itch!!!

I think it’s also worth saying that an integral part of finding your voice with a guitar is finding the amp that works with a particular model of guitar. For example, my Dr Z “Z Wreck” seems to be the perfect amp for a Telecaster… this is no surprise because the first Z Wrecks were built for Brad Paisley. If you are a Tele-meister, I highly recommend the Z Wreck.

Dakota Red Underwood T – as good as it gets!

Da ‘Most Inspiring’ Z Wreck Amplifier

Check out one of these Z Wrecks with your favourite Telecaster… the “Comfort” and “Speed” switch is very cool… it changes the plate voltage of the output tubes for either a stiffer, cleaner, louder tone or a slightly “browner”, richer, softer tone. No, I don’t sell these amps! And you can’t have mine! 🙂

I recently read something about how: “you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a guitar… and that’s almost the same thing!”. Find your voice or die trying! Life is good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…