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Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by walrus, Apr 20, 2019.
What's your verdict of its build quality?
It was fine. Reminded me of the Reverends when they were still made in the US with hollow Formica bodies and various Danelectro type materials.
Nothing wrong with that, not my thing. Swiss imports are usually expensive, as this guitar was.
I may have missed it, as I skimmed through most of this thread, but Gibson did this already with the "Les Paul Push Tone". As someone who used to change pickups thinking it would increase my playing ability, it was fascinating when i first saw it. I still like it better than the Relish guitars. Anyway just thought I'd mention these guitars in case someone hadn't seen it before.
Wow! I must have been off-planet when that one happened. Thanks!
I saw a wall full of these in a music store this morning, though evidently pre-2019 since they didn't have the swappable pickups. Interesting enough, but the Earth didn't move. Very nicely made. Crazy expensive, though. Models with plain painted tops went for about $1,500, but anything at all fancy was $4,500+.
I heard the guitar player from Tower of Power playing one of these. Even in the large band setting, I didn’t like the tone at all. I wouldn’t Think of it for that reason.
At least somebody likes them! Yeah, beyond an appreciation of the sheer the sheer build quality they pretty much left me cold.
Advocating an opposite view, no, my guitars don't have problems. My problem is that, like many folks, we can't find the time to practice regularly enough to be "approved" guitarists by our local peers. That being said, my hope is that via concerted study of fundamentals and doing away with bad habits, it might be easier to improve my technique if not virtuosity.
It may also be possible that classic designs that guitars have aren't as easily modified other than the traditional mods we've often seen. Effects, OTOH, have many parameters that can be tweaked to produce whatever effect is desired. And with amp/mic/cab/effect modeling, technology keeps moving forward only to revisit classic designs that guitarists have known for some time. With improvements in chip circuitry and nano design, modeling seems to be the forerunner and newest wave of technology that may give tubes a run for their money, especially when builders tweak the parameters so that the modeled products sound (and feel!) exactly tube amps, cabs and effects.
True, but consider the market share of guitars being sold to folks nowadays. More women and children are being introduced to guitars simply because the demographic is shifting away from the guitar industry catering to a teen or adult male-dominated market. Do you consider this type of change foolish, or just that guitars are not as gender-specific as they used to be?
I think that is why many folks (male / female / child) begin with entry-level guitars, and if they find guitar suits them well, might modify or try to improve on what they already have, without buying inordinately expensive guitars until they consider themselves worthy of owning such fine instruments. Or they choose the path I did.
FTR, some years ago, I used to play regularly as a rhythm/lead guitarist at our local jazz & blues jam. Was I a "good" player in my view? Not really, but that didn't dissuade me from owning several PS, until the time arrived when I realized my chops couldn't justify owning such fine workmanship. What happened? After spending inordinate amounts of cash on several PS, the days arrived when my savings dwindled because I was overspending on gear, and not improving my practice regimen or playing technique.
Had I been smarter, I would have used the money from one PS and invested it in guitar lessons and been more active on the gig circuit. But no. That didn't occur, and as hindsight is often 20/20, and being shortsighted originally, my current guitar practice is kept to noodling while listening to iTunes, viewing Truefire lessons and listening to various YouTube guitarists.
The woulda-shoulda-coulda is palpable.
Radically changing guitar design may take a while, until some builder can design a body shape with materials that resonate better and weigh comparably than what's currently being marketed to guitarists. Not only would that be an improvement, but also a game-changer. (Could someone dial up the number to Paul's harmonic design shop and let them know what's being said here?)
FTR, aluminum is often used to replace heavier steel, and certain plastics have replaced metal parts in vehicles. Why not research materials that might replace wood? Doing so might allow rainforests to produce sustainable growth while introducing an entirely new lightweight and equally if not better resonant material that would replace how guitars are built today.
I can express my musical ideas on a ukulele, or a penny whistle. Its easier on a guitar because of its greater range and polyphony etc. I can extend my ideas accordingly as appropriate to the instrument available.
I have heard this claim made of LPs, and "an LP was good enough for Page, Bloomfield, Green etc. and I don't have a problem playing them either...".
That assertion being that the LP cannot and should not be improved upon. But it can, and has been improved upon.
1/ That horrible heel join that impedes upper fret access. You can get used to anything but why should you have to? Why not improve it?
2/ The angled string path that causes binding in the nut. Jackson, PRS and others have improved upon that. Why doesn't everybody?
3/ The susceptibility of headstock breakage due to the single billet neck/head and angled grainflow.
4/ the weight.
5/ other features such as nibs, control positioning, circuit design etc don't suit everyone's style and can be an impediment in use.
Improvements have been made, but does that mean the later designs cannot be bettered? Can the Custom 24 cannot be improved upon? Yes, anything can be improved upon. Any design draftsman or production engineer would attest to that. When new tech is developed, new materials and new manufacturing processes become available, that's when everything else can move forwards. You just need the will to do it, and in the case of musicians, a hard prod with a sharp stick to jolt them out of their complacency and inertia.
What might be bettered? Full unfettered access to the 24th fret without even a small heel in the way. Got a new material/neck design that can do that? If so then fine. Now how about a 26 fret model? Neck pickup moving too far back now? What about an under fretboard pickup?
It has never been good enough for us to stand still. Standing still is what the dark ages were all about. I would prefer to have better medicines, cleaner and safer working practices, greener transport etc. Why should our guitars stand still? Because violins do (or seem to). No, I'd rather use my 2019 laptop rather than an abacus thank you.
I have already said pretty much everything I've got on the topic in several posts earlier in the thread, but to re-state the gist of it:
The guitar, amp and all the rest are tools for making music. In introducing changes, novelty is not (or shouldn't be) the goal. The goal is to see if those tools can't be made more compliant to the wishes of the musician.
And, no one is proposing that anything traditional should be abolished! There's plenty of room for the new and the old.
Given that, why should a musician be attracted to one instrument over another? Who knows. There are as many reasons as there are musicians.
Yes but what have the Romans ever done for us?!
I don't think guitarists adopt to change very easily in large enough numbers to drive innovation like this. Case in point, 2014 Fender American Deluxe Plus. I bought one of these because it had what they called a Personality Card system. There was a small compartment on the back that you could just change the card to achieve an entirely new and different analog wiring. They were easy to change and sounded great! Plus they were compatible with the passive pups of your choice. Not many bought one so Fender dropped the concept and never produced more of the cards...although each guitar came with three cards. I put SD SSL-1's in the neck and middle with an SSL-5 in the bridge. Pity.
PRS are not known for standing still. Apart from 'engineering' a guitar from completely man-made parts, they are limited to the qualities of the woods they use in their construction and the shape (to a degree) that makes it comfortable and familiar to play. You can't go changing the core design that makes a guitar a guitar. By that, I mean that you don't have to learn how to play a PRS because its different to other guitars. Its like changing the order of a standard Keyboard from QWERTY just because you can and trying to be 'different' and 'innovate'.
The natural woods that PRS (as many other brands do) may have to have designs that get the 'best' for the tone and sustain. That's why we have the Heel joint we have and maybe it could be a bit more contoured to take off some of the 'edges' but the heel is an integral part of the neck and does affect the resonance and sustain. There is also the aspect of after-market parts - whether that's PU's or tuners, different switches even frets and strings too. The fact that there are 'standard' sizes for the PU's does make it 'difficult' to break away from these sizes. Just look at the 'negativity' to guitars like the 509, 408 etc - not from 'everyone' but you do here more negative comments based on the shape and style of the PU's. I don't change PU's myself but I have seen comments about these guitars and the ease of replacing certain PU's in the future. As a builder, you have to fight against those that complain or refuse to buy because the shape/style of the stock Pick-up cannot be easily switched out with after market 3rd Party PU builders.
Even this Relish guitar could be difficult to swap to a P90 or a Single Coil and look tidy because the hole and holder is built for a Humbucker. It may not be wide enough or leave an ugly gap. The only way to keep things tidy would be to have a replaceable PU block from the neck to the bridge, the whole section so you can swap from a HH to HSH to SSS to H-P90 to dual P90's etc etc.
From my PoV, I cannot see the 'long term' benefits of this system. Whether its perfect for someone else and their situation, from my perspective, it doesn't really offer me 'something' that I would benefit from. I would think that you may spend the first few weeks swapping the PU's around but would reach a point where you find the PU combination you prefer. Why would you then swap back to something that you didn't like as much? I can't see it being any easier to change PU's if you buy a 'new' set and if you do swap out a set from the cradle, you would have to add a new longer 'wire' to the old set if you want to pit them in a traditional guitar. All in all, it seems that 'long term' its more of a hassle.
What annoys me most though is that companies like Gibson have been criticised and forced backwards instead of looking to the future and offering something more innovative and versatile. I agree that the 'robot tuners' were not the best idea because of the added weight but the sentiment behind them wasn't bad. The functionality at the other end though, the multitude of options that the combination of push/pull pits and dip switches offered wasn't bad at all. The option to change the function of a push/pull - going from Split to Tapped or vice versa for each PU for example - giving guitarists the choice is NOT bad - its not like it didn't offer the standard 3 options that Les Pauls are known for. To me, that's innovating and trying to move forward but they were forced to go back. I had other issues with Gibson though but trying to move forward wasn't one of them.
It seems that some can handle some innovations and more and more people seem to be embracing modelling of amps, cabs, mics and effects with Helix, Kemper, Axe-FX3 etc so maybe we will see something that sticks with guitars rather than something that seems innovative at first but then becomes more of a fad and disappears from the market.
The context of my post really was regarding the need to have an instant-swap pickup design. And if you couldn’t tell, my post was partly tongue-in-cheek.
I’m all for incremental improvements, like the ones PRS does. For all of its innovation and improvements, a PRS is still a traditional guitar made out of wood, with a wooden neck and fingerboard, with a headstock, and a bridge, and so on, and its back doesn’t come off to facilitate instant pickup changes.
As I mentioned several times - and possibly unlike many contributors to this thread - I actually played one of the guitars in question. If it doesn’t have an improved tone, I don’t feel it’s much of an improvement, but then, I don’t make a living testing pickup designs, where it would be something interesting.
Also, I make no claim to not being completely full of...uh...bad ideas.
Well I sort of felt that and its why I didn't respond earlier. I was really augmenting Candid Picker's response to your post, but quoting you. It does seem a little out of context and unfair. You were being specific and I was being general. Should have quoted Candid Picker.
No worries! We’re buds!
I do tend to go out on a limb and then saw myself off!
I think that if "looks" were the deciding factor, most all might agree that high-end quilt or flamed figured guitars are most desirable, because they hold a certain place in our hearts for beauty. What do you look for in a guitar?
Most true guitarists know that looks alone do not decide whether a guitar will have good tone, feel, vibe, etc. But it might be a forgone conclusion that high-end instruments already have the tone, feel, and vibe thing covered. Beauty, or "good looks" is obviously more than skin deep.
Oh, sugar, here we go again!
As much as I'd prefer to disagree with you about looks, I cant.
But at the risk of sounding like a broke record. I choose looks over sound and playability when I got my CE24 and I've been paying for that mistake ever since. Yes, my one is beautiful, and the other one was ugly. But... the point is, I bought the wrong guitar. Aesthetics are a nice thing. Function is a vital thing.
I don't think you can take anything for granted irrespective of the price, brand or spec of the instrument. They still all need to be individually assessed.
I think looks do play a big part. Its what attracts you to a guitar in the first instance. What someone considers 'beautiful' in a guitars aesthetic though isn't necessarily what another likes. Some of that may well be influenced by your upbringing, the instruments of your favourite artists etc, your favourite colour(s), your favourite shapes etc etc. Even the 'relic' look isn't necessarily just about the 'feel' either.
It starts the minute you walk into a shop and see a vast array of guitars - different shapes, colours etc. You aren't going to make a beeline for a guitar that to you looks 'ugly' for whatever reason. It may depend on the instrument, the brand etc that you may find that a certain aesthetic looks right on one but not right on another - even if its the same finish/colour/style. Some may prefer the more vintage bursts on instruments that are more vintage or vintage inspired. What looks gaudy, out of place on a vintage style instrument can look right on a modern instrument. For example, the Jem Swirls or Neon colours may look right on that instrument but completely wrong on a LP style single cut.
There are instruments to that I really find aesthetically pleasing but not sure if they would be comfortable to play. Some may well be built to show of some craftsmanship more than actually for playing and whilst they maybe 'playable', they are not comfortable or the easiest to play. It doesn't stop them looking great and being a 'high end' guitar from its price point perspective. What this proves is that high end aesthetically pleasing guitars are not always great from a tonal or playable perspective.
What one person considers attractive another does not. As a PRS owner, I do love the flame/quilt tops but I also have a 'dislike' for certain colours - Blue especially. I am not a fan of guitars that cover up the natural beauty of wood with solid colour - inc Gold Tops. Some combinations of colours and/or patterns can look 'bad' to me. I have said before that I really dislike the brightly coloured flame back plates hideous on a plain back - something you see in Private Stock and you don't get more high-end than that. Its clear that some people love it though otherwise it wouldn't keep cropping up on builds but that illustrates my point about what people consider aesthetically pleasing.
It isn't just colour though as some find anything 'strat like' with a 3+3 headstock as looking 'wrong', looking 'ugly'. The headstock shape matters - look at Epiphone vs Gibson headstock shapes and the amount of people that consider Epiphones Headstock as ugly too - its not about functionality, tonality and playability here - its enough to put some people off from buying. Whether some reasons for buying or not buying may seem trivial to some, I bet in a lot of cases, aesthetics/image play a part.
I am a classic case of aesthetics influencing my decision to buy guitars - maybe more extreme than a LOT of people and I couldn't care less if people think I am 'unreasonable' when it comes to some of my purchasing decisions. I certainly wouldn't buy the 'best' playing, sounding guitar if it doesn't appeal aesthetically. My guitar collection is very 'narrow' aesthetically with 4 of my PRS guitars (would have been 5 if I had my first choice), all looking remarkably similar - all double cut PRS guitars in Fire Red Burst and even the Charcoal Cherry Burst has a 'red' edge and another DC shape too. I don't care if certain guitars have something I can't get with my range of PRS Guitars or a blue PRS is better than my Red one - if I don't like the look of it, then why would I want to pick it up and play it? Especially when you look at my collection of guitars - its not that these are lacking in playability or tonal quality so what can a guitar that I don't particularly like the look of offer over these - not that I would ever find out because I wouldn't pick it up in the first place let alone buy.
Point is, aesthetics do matter but, as people are very different, the amount of influence that aesthetics have as well as 'tastes' are also very different. What I consider 'ugly' another may love, what colour(s) I like, another may hate, what shapes I would consider, another won't. Also some may have a a much broader colour palette, shape, style etc etc than I do as well - but I am certain that aesthetics play a part in their decision making. With 'High end' guitars - like PRS - you maybe able to put much more of your aesthetic preferences into the decision making because build quality, playability and tonal quality are consistent enabling you to pick the colour you really want. With low/medium or even brand inconsistencies, you may have to compromise a bit more on aesthetics because the 'colour' you prefer doesn't meet the quality or playability of a different coloured version.
If I walk into a shop, and the best guitar (tonally and playability) in the shop is also the most unattractive, I would never pick it up and try it to find out if its the best. If I had to buy that day, the guitar I would walk out with is the 'best' out of the guitars that I like aesthetically - if that's the best, double humbucker, set neck and/or Red guitar, then so be it but I wouldn't even try any guitars I didn't like the look of and I would be surprised if others would try guitars that they don't like the look of just to find the 'best' sounding/playable guitar in the shop.