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Old May 11th, 2017, 12:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2017
Location: NC
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New (almost) to Gibson, not to guitars

I'm not new to guitars. I started playing around 1965 with a piece of crap acoustic. That one broke (bridge tore out) just sitting on my bed while I went to class. I got another junk acoustic, but this one held up until long after I was out of school. Then, in 1972, I decided to buy a "decent" acoustic and saved up for one. I went to the only local dealer that carried Martin and Gibson. Didn't like the Hmmingbird, too "thin" a sound imho. I did like the Martin, but was undecided between Mahogany and Rosewood body (both with Sitka Spruce Top iirc, Rosewood a different Martin number). I finally decided on the D-18 (Mahogany sides) as being more open and less "muddy" than the Rosewood, just imho. Of course all this required multiple "audition" trips until I was satisfied with my choice (I can be a real nudge like that) It was just the beginning of big guitar stores offering major discounts on guitars. This local shop wouldn't negotiate at ALL. So, I went to NYC the next weekend and returned with the D-18, from Manny's iirc. Should have woulda' gotten it from Sam Ash (iirc) right next door, but a long story for another time.

I still have that guitar today. In the late 1980's I took a trip into electric land. I bought a cheap H-S-H red guitar, which is all I remember about it... whammy bar, I think. At the same time, I bought an amp, with a very long audition. The time was well spent, wound up with a Roland Jazz Chorus JC55 (50 Watt, SS was all the rage then) w/ Chorus, Reverb n Distortion besides all the rest, (2) 8" Speakers. I still have that now. The electric guitar was returned in a week or two as I realized what a piece of crap it was. Believe it or not, my wife was very supportive through all this. I got a late 1980's (used, but barely) Ibanez RG600WP, H-H guitar. It quit working a week later, that was my first lesson about Active Pups. I later found out it was Ibanez's "Flagship" guitar. The looks were what swung my wife's vote, "Go ahead. Get it!" really. It was a very deep glossy white finish with a light (I've since seen [online, bought one] many others darker ones than mine) violet burst over the flame in the center. VERY cool... and it sounded VERY good, loved those Pups. Wife called it "Cream Cheese and Jally". Oh, wife also "insisted" I buy the 12-String Ovation I had been eyeing because she liked the sound of the 12-string (S&G hay days).

I took a long hiatus from buying guitars after that. We had moved (through SC) to Eastern Tennesse (I originally lived in CT). When we moved from one rental house there to buy one... I discovered that my Ibanez case that was under the basement stairs was... EMPTY!!! Of course I had to buy another electric guitar. I bought a "Raven", with no audition, from ebay. Wife like the Quilt Purple Top, I liked the idea of the H-S-H. It arrived, very cool looking, and very decent sounding (the guy had promised to take it back if I didn't like it). I later found out it was a "PhotoTop", but it still sounded good. I suspect from the year (1998 or so) that it was Korean made.

Fast forward to 2002 and we're in SC just below Charlotte, NC (parents lived there). I saw and played a Fender Highway 1 and put it on layaway on the spot. It was the first Strat I had ever picked up that I could play... even like... the Neck / Fretboard, great tone that I innocently acredited to the Nitrocelluose finish. I got it home eventually, decided wasn't getting the sound I heard in my head. I was a member of Guitar Player (Magazine) Forum at the time as they were closing shop and I was easing over to StringNetworkForum, whic is a VERY cool bunch of guys. Between the two forums, and after buying a few EFX, I decided (and "everyone" agreed) what I was missing was TUBE power. I got a used amp on ebay. Now this one is weird. It was a Randall TubePro 1000 which is normally thought of as a metal, or at least heavy rock, amp. But this one, the guy had modded slightly. He put in 6L6 tubes to replace the factory EL34. There was a switch to change over the settings. Two channel amp with Vol, B, M, T for each; Gain for either, a Bright Switch... some other stuff too that I can't remember atm, was REALLY a good (Fender-ish) amp. EFX Loop, DI out, Spker out (combo was a 12", good can't remember the brand /model atm), 1/3 Power Sw (50 Amp nominal) and the one thing I personally think all amps should have... a Circuit Breaker, SUPER heavy... way over 50lb. Anyhow... got more pedals, Dennis Distorted Mind I loved, DOD Mystic Blues was good too. THe best was Dunlop Cry-Baby 535Q... lots of varyuing opinions on that, enough said. Just as a bench-mark, after I had gathered all that gear, I "tested" it. Where I worked had a big metal-walled and roofed almost warehouse-like building. It had metal cutting machines in it and they take up very litte space... only about 6 or so. The ceiling was open to the metal roof and at least 15 feet high. I played my Strat through that Randall amp at "4 & 5". Then I kicked in the Dennis George distortion. AWEEeesome. . RAWWwwwkin the house down!! I finally packed it in and thought I should try it at 1/3 power next time. I checked the switch. I had been on 1/3, i.e. 17W, all that time!

During that period, I also got an Electra Phoenix Strat clone from a Pawn Shop. That's my last name and it had a cool decal of a Firebird on the Headstock. btw, that did compare favorably with the Highway 1, not quite as good though. Just before we left Rock Hill, SC, the Electra and Raven disappeared.

Moved to Columbia, SC. In the midst of the move, lots of my equipment was left behind where I had been renting a room due to a catastrophic moving day. iirc, I only brought the 12-String to our new home. I didn't bring any other (music) stuff with my first load (big converted van) was going to pick them up "soon". The live in landlord I rented from (also a guitarist) had his own difficulties and had to abandon the house. I didn't know, he had changed his cell-phone and by the time I got there, everything was gone... the Martin, both Amps, the Strat... guess that was all by that time.

We wound up back in Charlotte, NC not long after. There the 12-String and all my EFX pedals disappeared to my son's friends as we moved to a new place in Charlotte. So I went to the new house with... nothing. While there, on ebay, I bought an Ibanez RG530 WP, a clone of Cream Cheese 'n Jally, except it had passive Pups instead of Active and Floyd Rose instead of... "Hardtail", but the same colors. I think my original had, definitely not a tremolo, not sure if it was a Hardtail or not. Then I bought an Epiphone Galaxie 10 (10-watt) amp that the guy had re-tubed the junky 6L6 factory tube with a better one... RCA 6L6. It was still a little "thin", "piercing" on the highs for my taste, although EG mostly tamed it. I conferred with the another forum's tube-guru and changed the Pre-Amp tube from a 12AU7 (which the previous owner had liked for some weird reason, changed to) to 12AY7 instead of factory standard 12AT7. Tremendous difference! Even decent sounding now. I got a Genesis 3 as well to help the amp's sound out. Those two and BOSS G-7 and Nano Vol Boost and everything is cool... usable.

Three years ago we moved into the boonies, lower edge of Blue Ridge Mountains in NC, between Boone and Hickory. The Ibanez had been lost to a Pawn Shop... was gone when I tried (late) to retrieve it. So I had NO guitar and low-end tube amp. By now I was officially retired and on a fixed income, buying a guitar seemed really financially unsound. BUT... then that guy... we'll call him George for an anonymous name... called me up. It had been about 10 years. George had been searching all over for me the same as I had been for him. He had my Martin! He had my Roland Amp!

He sent the Martin to me and then the Roland Amp. Then he called me to confess... the Martin was leaning on the wall and fell over... broke the neck. I hadn't even noticed it... really. He had a Pro Luthier repair it. Now that I know where it is, it's obvious... on one side of the neck, the one towards the floor, just below the headstock of course. Howerver, the action is better than ever.

Anyone that has (tried) to play a Martin knows that the tone comes with a very high pricetag (besides money) their action sux. The problem from Day 1 in NYC was that the one I got hadn't been set up properly... maybe even the Neck bowed even back then (no truss rod, those are for whimps). I had it straightened (I understand they steam it and leave it set up clamped in place to slowly cool) when buying all that gear in the late 1980's (Massachussets btw). I think I had it straighted one more time, can't remember where or when atm. Now, after the break and Neck repair & straightening, a Pro setup... the action is SUPER low (for a Martin), 5/64 at 3rd Fret and 5/32 at 12th Fret. I think both of those number are at least 1/32 less than it's ever been before.

So, to summarize, I now have the 1972 Martin D-18, the late 80's Roland SS Amp, the... (I think around 2000) Epi 10-w and Genesis 3. My callouses have long since faded and I'm trying to build them, and my finger strength back up. I enjoyed my foray into the electric guitar culture so much, I'm going to <gasp> sell the Martin and get an Eric Clapton Strat (I played one in Guitar Center and LOVed it) and (hopefully) get some kind of (FINALLY) a Gibson LP... cheap... used. I'll start a Thread soemwhere else for that. I might have change Pickups although I'm pretty sure that I like the '57 Classics and will try to get one with those. I did see a "beater" player's Studio DC that had Seymour Duncan Custom Custom in Bridge and '59 in Neck and I'm also pretty sure I'll like those.

If you stayed with me thorugh all that... God bless ya'. If not, no problem. I got pretty wordy, but once I was on a roll, figured I'd keep going.

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Old May 12th, 2017, 08:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Whew! Welcome to Gibson-Talk, Dave! Sounds like you've had quite a journey and got to own and play a lot of guitars. Great! Keep on playin' man, life wouldn't be the same without it.
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