Friday, March 07, 2008

Looking at Guitars

So. I have these two electric guitars (first picture, side-by side hanging on the wall).

The one on the left is my Hagstrom which I got when I was... fifteen? My parents bought it for me for Christmas when I was a sophomore in high school.

The one on the right is a custom-made guitar. Barry Sandor, a dentist in New Jersey made it for me and it was a great price. As you can tell it's quite something as far as the crafting of the body goes. But for some reason I've never been in love with that guitar. I think now I know why: the neck (which is the part of the guitar Barry bought rather than made himself.)

Lately I've been looking at Gibson Les Paul guitars. I played this gold-top Gibson Custom Shop 2004 Les Paul '57 reissue (yes, that's a mouthful) at Matt Umanov Guitars. (This is one of the better set-up shops in the city -- they told me the last time I came in for a set-up that they weren't taking any more customers. Feh!)

I played a number of Les Paul clones, by Paul Reed Smith and others, but the reissue Gibson simply felt better than the others. It seems to me it's mostly because it has a vastly thicker neck. For me, that's just much more comfortable.

Now, as much as I hate to say it, the look of that '57 guitar (which was on sale, used, for $2500) doesn't appeal to me so much. But it felt nice. I didn't even listen to any of these guitars through amps. But did I mention the '57 felt very very nice?

(The last guitar picture is a '59 reissue. It's very pretty.)

Now it occurs to me (getting back to my first subject, my custom guitar) that there are two things I don't like about the guitar. First of all, I don't like the headstock. I don't like the tuners all being on the top or "in line" -- I always end up turning the wrong string. And for my aesthetic sense, Fender headstocks are just ugly to me. Secondly, it occurs to me (after playing the Gibson Les Paul '57) that the neck is simply too thin.

Both of these are solvable problems -- even with off-the-shelf "'59 roundback 23 3/4 - inch conversion necks" apparently. It seems that Warmoth and Musikraft both have those kinds of necks.

So uh... well I haven't made any decisions or spent any money (which I don't have)... yet...


Chance Shirley said...

If you want a guitar with Gibson-style headstock, I recommend the Epiphone Casino. $500, full hollow body, just like the Beatles used to play. Fun, fun guitars.

Andrew Bellware said...

Solid body is what I'm going for. I'm about to lay out for a new Warmouth neck. We'll see how that goes... But yeah, I've heard good things about those Epiphones...