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I used to have a Strat and Strat copies, I used to have a Tele (recently got a new one), but I just love my Gibsons. And I say that if I didn't have a Gibson to learn on in my formative years, I'd be a lot worse of a guitar player, for the main reason being their necks.

My first good guitar was my 1987 Les Paul Junior (80477514). I washed dishes to pay for it and it cost $750 back in 1988 and it still sounds like a million bucks.  I was just playing it the other day.  And it became my slide guitar for years, after I bought my Goldtop.

Ah, yes, my Goldtop - a 1989 Les Paul Standard (82559553 ).  My first love.  I got that for $1100 because there was a "scratch" on the front of it.  Actually, it's where the seam would have been and the finished checked.  It was only, maybe 6 inches long at the time, but weather in the last few years extended that check on the top.  It pretty much covers the whole thing.

I was already out playing in bars when I got it, and that through the Fender Super Twin I was using at the time was a pretty great sound.  The Goldtop went everywhere with me and who knows, I might have been "the kid with the Goldtop" since there was only one other one at the store when I got mine.

I learned almost everything on that guitar and the neck on that thing is the reason why; it`s so comfortable.  That's why I wrote at the beginning that "if I didn't have a Gibson to learn on in my formative years, I'd be a lot worse of a guitar player."  A great neck is important and I got into a lot of good habits.  Also, I love the P-100s.  They get knocked about "not having character" but I never had a problem with them and no one else said anything to me.  They're nice and bright, and no hum.

When I joined a band that I'd wind up playing with for 15 years, I celebrated by buying a cherry-red 1995 Les Paul Special even though the serial number read it was a 96.  I bought it in 95 so I know for sure it wasn't from the future.  That thing was great too.  It had a skinnier neck than the Goldtop but still had P-100s.  I swapped those out for P-90s and it was kind of a mistake.  It sounded a lot better with the 100s.  And the Tune-o-matic was nice too.  That was my backup guitar for gigs.  I let that go around early 00s.

In 2001 I got my first Gibson SG.  It was an SG Classic in red with P90s.  I loved that guitar, especially its back pickup sound.  I don't think I appreciated its front pickup sound until later.  Not more than a year later I picked up a SG Standard in a brown sunburst.  That was my first (Gibson) full-humbuckered guitar.  The neck was weird on it because it was pretty fat and in turn made the whole thing top heavy.  It didn't really suit the thin bodied guitar.  At the end of 2003, I traded the SG Standard in for a Les Paul Studio (fireburst) because I missed the front pickup sound from a Les Paul.  That Studio was my first Les Paul with humbuckers.  And I didn't care for them, and that led me to customising my guitars.  I put a 57 Classic in the front, and the stock front pickup went in the back.  Big improvement.  But me being me, I traded this guitar back for my old Les Paul Special

In 2006, I got my Number 1 - a 2004 Les Paul Studio Plus (03544528) in Desertburst.  Nice flame too.  That now has a full set of 57 Classics and I changed the pickup rings and toggle switch rings from black to cream and put the pickguard on it.  The biggest improvement done to that guitar was switching the volume and tone pots with each other.  I read this online (and I really wish I knew who to thank for the tip): tone pots have a liner taper and usually Gibson volume pots are audio taper.  Audio tapered pots are why Gibson volume pots clean up at around 3 when the distortion pedal is on full gain.  Having liner taper pots for the volume knobs lets you dial in better; there`s a big difference between 9 and 7.  Super practical when you`re playing out and you don`t have a boost pedal.

In 2008, as a backup when playing out, I picked up an Alpine White Les Paul Studio, changed the pickups and put a Bigsby on it.  It was light because this is when Gibson started chambering their Les Pauls.  That`s why I put the Bigsby on it - to make it heavier.  It was light and really liked to feedback.  I sold that one.  I also learned how to dislike a Bigsby.

In 2009 I thought I bought my last Gibson; I got an 2007 SG3 (C 217).  I love that thing.  Super versatile and you can get all 6 pickup combinations and the neck is better than on that old SG Standard I used to have.  Now, that guitar is officially my number 2 and I don't mean in a bathroom sort of way.  Originally it came with 2 57 Classics and 1 57 Classic Plus pickups but I switched out the 57 Classic Plus with a regular 57 Classic and also switched the volume and tone pots again.  And it's just plain nice to look at.  In 2015, a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat (single coil in a humbucker size casing) replaced the centre pickup.  Big improvement.

In 2010, I couldn't pass this up: a 1956 Les Paul Junior (6 5685)....for $1000.  It wasn't mint by any stretch.  I had to replace the tuners since one literally melted off and I replaced the bridge with something I could intonate.  I took it in for a nut replacement and everything's good.  Sounds quite different than my first Junior - pretty snappy and the neck is pretty beefy yet comfortable.  Now I know what they mean when they say those old necks were like baseball bats.

In early 2014, because I really had to, I picked up a 2014 Les Paul Traditional (140024052) in Midnight Manhattan.  it's purdy but it's the last Gibson I'll buy.  Overall, I like the guitar, but small things like one of the strap pins wasn't the right size so after a while it came right out.  I found a big screw and drilled it back in myself.  And the pickups are kinda bunk.  They sound really good clean but not so much with a lot of gain.  The low frets weren't a good idea either.  For how much I paid for what I got, I feel pretty ripped off.  Thanks, Gibson.

Me at Canusa


Gibson Les Paul Junior


Gibson Les Paul Goldtop


Gibson Les Paul Studio Plus 

1956 Gibson Les Paul Junior 1987 Gibson Les Paul Junior
1989 Gibson Les Paul Standard 2004 Gibson Les Paul Studio Plus
2008 Gibson SG3 2014 Gibson Les Paul Traditional


Epiphones - The Poor Man`s Gibson

You know, I used to think that.

My first Epiphone was a Korina SG. I picked that up in 1998 or 99, I think.  It was my first SG as well.  After years of playing my Goldtop, Special and Junior...well, I knew why they were poor man's Gibsons.  But to Epiphone's credit, they were making some really neat shaped guitars, and more recently, some really good guitars.

I used to have a Firebird (red); double cutaway Junior (yellow); an SG Junior (red); and The Biscuit (resonator/wood).

Throughout the 2000s, I found a really special one. It was their all chrome resonator, the MD-100.  Still, one of the best guitars I have.  I'm not sure who they outsourced it too but they did an excellent job.

It wasn't until the last couple of years that Epiphone has come a long way, for me at least.  In 2008, I picked up a white EB-3, just for a different sound. For $400, I didn't think I'd be out much if I didn't like it.  I do like it so it all worked out.  It's not a bass you can use on everything, but there are a few things it works well with.

In 2010, feeling brave, I ordered one of their Les Paul Specials in yellow online.  It had P-90s, Grover tuners and a 5 or 6 piece body (you can see the seams in certain lighting).  $399.  It was a "Limited Edition" too but I don't think it'll go up in value.  I used to have a real Special ('95) and this Epi doesn't have anything on that but still, it's makes a great slide guitar.  Any slide I did on No Harm Done was using this guitar.

In 2011, after being fairly satisfied with the Special, I picked up a Nighthawk Reissue for $399.  This is the guitar that made me seriously look through the Epiphone website for other treats.  The Epi looks better than the 2 current versions Gibson has out.  In my never ending quest to have as many available sounds at the ready, the Nighthawk is my Strat, only it's put together better than most Strats.  Glued in neck; Grover tuners; coil taps; strings go through the body; binding; crown inlays and a nice veneer flame on the top.  I think that was the best guitar for the buck I had the pleasure to buy.

I did get their ES 345 reissue.  And it was OK.  There was checking by the nut (common) and my toggle switch had the pickups backward.  The Varitone wasn't all that useful unless I needed some nasally sounds.  It looked great but it ended up being a gift.

Me and SG SpecialI picked up their 61 SG Special in white. That thing is indeed the coolest.  Years ago I traded in my old SG Classic for an Alpine White Les Paul Studio, and I've been thinking about the Classic ever since.  No other guitar sounds like it due to its pickup placement.  I bought it on a Saturday, took it to a gig on Sunday and smiled on Monday.  Again, I spent just over $400.  I picked up one in the TV Yellow too.  I lanned on getting all 4 and then one day selling them as a group but I'm not that ambitious and I don't really have the room.  The TV Yellow one is my slide guitar since I gifted a friend of mine the Les Paul Special..

The last thing I picked up from Epiphone was their Viola bass.  I got it for $180.  And it sounds really great.  That was the only bass I used on Dutch Oven.

I'm thrilled with my Gibsons, especially my Studio Plus.  Epiphone can't compete with that, or my SG3, or my Goldtop or my Juniors.  And that's fine.  While I'll never buy an Epiphone Les Paul but I'll seriously look at anything new Epiphone has to offer.  They are starting to make great guitars.

 Epiphone MD-100

 Eipiphone EB3

Epiphone Nighthawk Reissue Epiphone 339
Epiphone 61 SG Special White Epiphone 61 SG Special TV


It's too bad you had to scroll all the way down here to see these two gems

My first more-than-one-pickup guitar was a Strat copy, and then another one.  I pretty much stopped using them when I got the Goldtop.  My first proper Fender was a Mexican Jazz Bass that I bought in 2001.  Nice Candy Apple Red.  I'm not sure if that was the offical colour name but that's what it looked like.  About a year later, because they were cheap, I got a Mexican Strat in the same colour.  And it was kinda weak sounding.  I ended up trading that in for something.

In 2013, I bought an American Jazz Bass off my friend.  Nice sunburst.  It's a great bass.

Up at the top I mentioned that I used to have a Telecaster.  It's true but it wasn't a Fender.  I ended up selling that so I could buy my first Les Paul Special.  At the end of 2014, after going through yet another Danny Gatton/Roy Buchanan phase, I decided to buy one, really, really good Telecaster and that would be it.  I treated myself to a new Fender American Deluxe Ash Telecaster. 

This one's nice. I haven't hopped on line to see what year it was made but I'm guessing it's 2014. What I really like about it are the N3 pickups and also, I'm liking the tone knob that has an extra notch to bypass the tone capacitor. I did have a bit of a learning curve for one thing being the longer scale and also the lack of sustain. All the more excuse to keep playing it.  I will say I love it and it made up for buying that Les Paul Traditional earlier that year.

In 2015, because I really needed it, I picked up a 50's Classic Esquire. Why I did that was since I loved the Ash Deluxe so much, I wanted to have a backup, and I really liked the Ash Deluxe in white blonde with tortoise shell pickguard.  What I didn't like was the $200 increase.  So I thought, maybe I'll get a decent cheapie (in white) and throw a tortiseshell pickguard on it.  Then I thought about getting an Esquire and doing a Tele mod to it.

Then I got it and I'm happy to say nothing's changed, not even the pickguard (but that's because I can't find a 5 screw replacement).  I can't explain why I like this guitar so much.  For a 1 pickup guitar, it's way more versitle than either of my Juniors; it's responsive, the neck is great even with the small frets, and it just plain sounds great.  It was the only guitar I played for months after I got it.

2014 Fender American Deluxe Ash Telecaster 2015 Fender Classic Series '50s Esquire

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