While we're talkin' Historics..

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While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Don Butler » Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:53 pm

Since I got mine back on Thursday, it's basically consumed my free time. Last night I went to a private VIP Function at the Hollywood Guitar Center. They invited about 25 of us in after hours to view Clapton's original ES-335 and his Blackie Strat (which BTW, is a parts guitar.. the body is a `64, the neck a `57 and the pickguard and pickups are `70's) and Stevie's "Lenny" Strat .

They also brought out a real `57 Goldtop w/black plastic parts (early GT's with Humbucking's had black parts before the cream) and a `59 Burst that had a very unusual top as the grain didn't run vertical, but horizontal.

I took my R-4 down with me and it actually fool one of the Vintage Dept.'s guys and my pal Dave Belzer looked at it for about 5 minutes and then asked me "What is this guitar?" I finally told him it was a reissue R-4 that had been to Historic Makeovers. He was almost thinking it was an old one. Gotta say that Dave Johnson, who did the work, nailed the neck shape of an old Les Paul as the R-4 and original `57 had almost identical neck shapes. Scary close!!

So.. the big Question is: Why can't Gibson get the Historic line like the originals? Seems like every year we hear Edwin Wilson saying "This is the closest they ever been to the `50's ones.." Well Edwin... not quite, my friend...

Let's start today with the Neck:

Orignals: 1/4" steel trussrod with a 3/8" x 1" steel anchor at the body end welded to the rod covered by a maple fillet strip. Fingerboards were Brazilian Rosewood glued to the neck by hot Hide Glue, Hide Glue acts like a conduit between the two pieces that are glued together. Violin makers have used it for centuries! Nylon 4/6 Nut and Honduran Mahogany neck with a long neck tenon that goes into the neck pickups cavity.

Historics: 1/4" steel carriage bolt with a 1/8" piece of steel that the bolt just fits into. the rod is covered by a plastic sheath(or as we called it.. "Trussrod Condom"). why the sheath? To keep the glue from sticking to the rod and rendering it unusable. In the days before 1968 when they started with the sheath, the rods were coated with beeswax to keep the glue from sticking. In 1968 when Norlin was running Gibson, they were looking for ways to cut costs and production times. Sadly this procedure is still in place. Let's face it, the sheath kills 90% of the vibrations that were transmitted thru the neck by the trussrod. You can feel it in the back of the neck when you hit a chord. Play a G chord on an old Gibson, then play one on a new Gibson. You will not feel the vibrations in a new one like you do in an old one. Fingerboard is glued using a polyvinyl type glue that's basically like putting a piece of plastic between the fingerboard and the mahogany. Gibson does not use Brazilian any longer either as it's a CITIES endangered species. The Madagascar Rosewood, that only Custom uses is not bad, but had a different resonance than Brazilian. Brazilian Rosewood was the stuff that Miramba's were made from.

Nut: in the Fifties Gibson used Nylon 4/6 or 6/6 for the nut. It has a certain ping to it and the strings glide right thru the slots as well. Until this year they used plastic. now the Custom/Historics have gone back to Nylon to be more "Fifties Correct"..

Anyway. Hope you enjoy this little AVH (anal vintage homo) topic.

Thanks!!
Image
Top: Vintage Trussrod
Bottom: Current Gibson Historic Trussrod (Vhat.. are dey kidding?).. :roll:
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Epidrake » Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:18 pm

I love reading your stuff Don. I really feel like buying a beater historic and getting it fixed. I love my Goldtop Historic and I wouldn't touch it except for pots and caps, but if i found a used one,...

Thanks for all that behind the scenes stuff too!!!
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby bassbob » Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:23 pm

I'm really not a Les Paul guy, but I sure dig reading Don's articles on them. Thanks Toneman.
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Epidrake » Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:41 pm

Bob, you really have to try the Historics. They can be really sweet, mine is.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Don Butler » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:21 pm

bassbob wrote:I'm really not a Les Paul guy, but I sure dig reading Don's articles on them. Thanks Toneman.

Bob; What do you play? I know some guys are die hard Gibson guys and others are Fender, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, etc. I own a number of Gibsons, six Gretsch, three Rickenbackers and three Fender types(only one's an actual Fender, the other two are custom made..).
Back in 1980 I got hooked into Strats and had a few good ones and one that was an absolute dog( a late 1960 slab board, sunburst.. wish I still had it only for the value it's worth these days..). Near the end of the `80's I went back to Gibson's as everyone and their brother was playing a Strat..Robin Ford got me back into playing ES-335's and it just went from there with a side stop with PRS for a few years. I no longer own any of the 4 PRS guitars I've had even though all four were personally made for me...
It's like anything else, I go thru cycles.
In the Sixties I played Gretsches and had a `64 Gibson Melody Maker, `70's was Gibson, Gretsch and Travis Bean's. `80's were Fender's and then Gibson's followed by PRS, `90's were PRS, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Fender & Gibson. 2000's have been Gretsch/Rick's and more Gibson's.... It just all depends on what kind of music I'm playing and what I want to hear.. I will say the Gibson's Historics and Custom Shop guitars are getting very close in equalling the ones made in Kalamazoo in the `50's thru mid `60's.
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Epidrake » Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:40 pm

I'm with you Don. I go through stages. Some guitars never speak to me, some are like part of me. I love my historic Gold top LP, I love my tele 52 reissue and finally I love my strat. But I never liked my 335 so I traded it. My Parker sits in its case most of the time and my other guitars are for specific stuff. Sometimes it's just the mood I'm in.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby bassbob » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:10 pm

Don Butler wrote:
bassbob wrote:I'm really not a Les Paul guy, but I sure dig reading Don's articles on them. Thanks Toneman.

Bob; What do you play? I know some guys are die hard Gibson guys and others are Fender, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, etc. I own a number of Gibsons, six Gretsch, three Rickenbackers and three Fender types(only one's an actual Fender, the other two are custom made..).
Back in 1980 I got hooked into Strats and had a few good ones and one that was an absolute dog( a late 1960 slab board, sunburst.. wish I still had it only for the value it's worth these days..). Near the end of the `80's I went back to Gibson's as everyone and their brother was playing a Strat..Robin Ford got me back into playing ES-335's and it just went from there with a side stop with PRS for a few years. I no longer own any of the 4 PRS guitars I've had even though all four were personally made for me...
It's like anything else, I go thru cycles.
In the Sixties I played Gretsches and had a `64 Gibson Melody Maker, `70's was Gibson, Gretsch and Travis Bean's. `80's were Fender's and then Gibson's followed by PRS, `90's were PRS, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Fender & Gibson. 2000's have been Gretsch/Rick's and more Gibson's.... It just all depends on what kind of music I'm playing and what I want to hear.. I will say the Gibson's Historics and Custom Shop guitars are getting very close in equalling the ones made in Kalamazoo in the `50's thru mid `60's.




Like you guys I have several guitars. When I'm not playing bass (which is just about all I've been doing lately) I usually play my acoustic Ibanez, which although it's a cheap guitar, it played better than every guitar at GC including the Martins, plus has been set up by me exactly to my liking and plays as sweet as most people's electrics. I have a 74' SG which is pretty nice and plays well, but my main electric is this one.




A 99' Carvin TL60:

Image




This guitar came from the factory playing like a dream. I love the neck on this guitar and prefer it to almost all of the Teles I've ever played. It is extremely versatile and sounds great. I usually am on the neck pickup, but when I feel like cranking the old Brown deluxe I'll play on the humbucker, which seems to give Gibsonesque tones, although certainly it doesn't sound like Les Paul.

That being said, if money was no object, I guess my dream guitar would be an early Telecaster.
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Winston » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:30 am

I gotta tell you Don, I've seen you perform four or five different times with Tim Piper. This last time in Norwell a few months ago was the best sounding tone that I ever heard from you for Beatles stuff. You were playing a Tennessean and the Janglebox just nailed the tone. I always that that it was odd that you'd be playing a Les Paul for that type of show. I do remember a few years ago in Somerville when you brought a Rick 620? twelve string for the twelve string songs and that was also great. Les Pauls are certainly fine guitars and I realize that they are your personal preference, but you really need to play that Gretsch.a Rick or a Casino type guitar for the Tim Piper shows.
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Don Butler » Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:46 pm

Jim; Hi! It's actually a 6120 Chet Atkins (1959 replica with lacquer finish and TV Jones pickups). Thanks! What's hard with this gig is that although the 6120 would be great to use the whole show, it's not feasible because some of the later stuff like Come Together, Cold Turkey and I Want You(She's so Heavy) are not really Gretsch friendly for the amount of overdrive I use. the 6120 would howl like crazy. Those songs were actually cut with a Les Paul on the records by George and Clapton's on Cold Turkey and used a 3-pickup Les Paul Custom. I think I brought my `62 SG/L.P. Std. along with the 6120. I prefer using my 3-pickup Les Paul as it's a more sonically versatile guitar than the SG. The Ric 660-12 is pretty cool, but with that show we do now, we're only doing a snipet of one 12-string song.
We're looking at parking this show here in L.A. for a bit so I'll be able to use a Gretsch, Les Paul and an electric Sitar for Norwegian. I don't think that a Gretsch is a good choice for the later Beatle's stuff or the solo era material. George pretty much stopped using a Gretsch by the end of 1965 and used an SG and a Casino and by `68 was using the red Les Paul almost exclusively until Get Back and Abbey Road where he switched between the Tele and the Lester.
The biggest problem I'll have if we park the show for a period is deciding weather to use the 6120 or my White Falcon and which one of my 5 Les Paul's to use. I've got a 3-p.u. Custom, a `60 reissue, an R-4 (was a goldtop) w/P-90's or my old 1959 L.P. Special..maybe I'll use my Firebird VII & Casino..
Usually I leave my old guitars at home so three of my six Gretsches won't go out and I'll most likely not take the `59 Special out.
You do need to understand though that Tim's not looking for me to duplicate the sound or playing of the early Beatles(even though I can). What he's wanting is what Lennon would sound like as a solo artist in the early `70's.
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Re: While we're talkin' Historics..

Postby Epidrake » Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:14 pm

As much as I like my Gretsch, Don's right. It can't do everything I need it to do. I can get my Historic Les Paul to sound great in almost every situation. It's not a dark sounding guitar.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:4–5).
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