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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Great cheap guitars vs. a transcendent guitar

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by matrix, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    33
    945
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    I also own an Epiphone Sorrento that's pretty special. Maybe I should delve further into the emerging trend
     

  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    This thread reminds me of another thread right now about an excellent player running thru an inexpensive S.S. amp. We need to well define "transcendent". Are we are talking exceptional experience with a guitar or exceptional guitar or exceptional experience with an exceptional guitar?
     

  3. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    33
    945
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    The OP said it was a guitar that made you play better. At least that's what I understood
     
    matrix likes this.

  4. FirTrader

    FirTrader Tele-Meister

    Age:
    42
    177
    Jan 8, 2017
    Alberta Canada
    My buddy has an early PRS that makes me play better, I can just play stuff on that guitar that I couldn't ever play on my own Les Paul. But... fundamentally I hated the sound the PRS made, so I never had any interest.

    So to me, this "transcendent" notion has to hit all kinds of stuff - and it's likely to be very personal - we might not all agree on any given guitar's greatness.

    I should mention I have a Schecter Hellraiser, bought used for 200 bucks, it's all beat to ****. Has the old EMG 81/85 pickups in it. Man... what a great guitar, I cannot imagine an improvement. Great neck, nice feel, it sounds good, .... what's not to like?
     
    Obsessed and matrix like this.

  5. NotAnotherHobby

    NotAnotherHobby Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 27, 2015
    Da' Magic Mittin'

    HAH!


    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...HAAAAAAA!

    {inhale}

    There isn't a guitar built past, present, or future that will e-v-e-r make me a better guitar player. My sucking at guitar is like a gravitational constant. They'd need to warp reality for that one to happen. Wormholes, rips in space time, and so on.

    With that in mind...cheap is good.
     

  6. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Bakersfield
    The only thing I can offer is perhaps a good Martin guitar might inspire you to new hights.
     

  7. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Dang I thought the end of the story was gonna be: "Then I upgraded to a POS hardtail strat copy!"
     

  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    57
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    Are you looking for a consensus, a majority vote, or a maniacal rant where most of us drop off and the winner keeps going?
     
    matrix likes this.

  9. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    That makes sense. When I got my new guitar for my 50th birthday, I was inspired to play more often. Yes, it's a very nice guitar, and it sounds great and feels great, but I didn't immediately play better. That took time, but it was time I was happy to put in because the guitar is so great to play.
    Perhaps that's what makes a particular guitar really special, even "transcendent." It's the pure joy of playing it, which leads to more playing, which leads to better playing.
     
    Telesphere and Toto'sDad like this.

  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Good question. I realized that I think some of us are not on the right page. I might be one of those.

    That said, I love rants.
     

  11. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Meister

    371
    Dec 20, 2010
    Harrisburg, PA area
    I've played nice guitars in all price brackets. So far, if I've ever gotten close to transcendence, it's in the audience reaction or the interaction between players. Not to be to literal but there's a definitional problem with a material object being "transcendent"
     

  12. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Bakersfield
    You know the funny thing about a special guitar is you can't just go down the corner guitar shop and buy one. Especially if you've been playing a long time, and perhaps have become a bit jaded. I'm glad that you like your "new" guitar and that it inspires you to put the work in on your playing to improve not only the way you play but how the guitar sounds. Good tone really is not all in the fingers, or people wouldn't buy so many guitars and amps. Once in a while, a guitar, an amp, and a player all come together to do something just a little bit special in this world. It's great to be a part of that even if only for a little while. The same is true for acoustic guitars.

    I will end on this. Not all Martins are special. Some are. There was a time when most were. They were built in a different way, in a different place. Many of the operations were performed by hand and that is one of the factors that led to some of them being special. There are still special Martins, just because they are mostly built by hand doesn't mean it can't all come together. If you ever get a chance to play a Martin, I would suggest the HD-28V, not an HD-28, they come in two flavors. I have never played an HD-28V that wasn't a great guitar. I don't know why, but I know it to be so.

    Here is what a truly great Martin guitar sounds like. This is in a setting where an acoustic generally will not shine, where the humidity is up, and the weather not good. The more you know about acoustic, the more you can appreciate this one small piece of music plucked from long ago.

     
    elihu likes this.

  13. midnight340

    midnight340 Tele-Meister

    404
    Dec 27, 2012
    Lawrence, KS
    A few comments:

    I'll leave the "transcendent" part alone, though the right guitar can indeed make you instantly a better player. (I was up in Portland OR at a GC and picked up a nicely set up used Gretsch Power Jet…. has never left my mind and have cash in the basement if the right one comes along.)

    Comment two. JHS Vintage Icon guitars are pretty amazing. My Tele started out as one, $400 picked up just because it really felt right in my hands. After a couple of years as #1 the neck felt a bit narrow for me, so added a RW USACG fatter 1-3/4" neck (beautiful work.) Eventually added all new nickel hardware. Then it got a set of Aaron's Rumpelstiltskin 1950 Black Ropes. (pure love for these!!) ...Right after I did a refinish and all new wiring with p/p series tone. So now only the Vintage body is left, I guess, but the original Icon '52 model is worth checking out if you see one.

    Comment three, about cheaper guitars. Another $400 one, the Squier J.Mascis Jazzmaster. Wow!!! All around great, p-90-ish pickups, beautiful finish and detail, and the neck is so fine (dark rosewood, rolled edges, light flame to the maple, great feel…) I believe most would pick it blindfolded over the USACG neck on my Tele. Remarkable quality!
     

  14. matrix

    matrix TDPRI Member

    Age:
    47
    75
    Apr 13, 2016
    Vancouver, BC
    Fair comment, and I think a few posts got hung up on the use of that word. I was reaching for something that would get across more than just "special", and imply that near-magical lift that some instruments seem to impart. Please substitute the word you prefer!
     
    thesamhill likes this.

  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    57
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    This is about my favorite subject; trying to determine the distance between three peoples perceptions, the reality in question, and the common understanding fragment that that cements the conversation.

    Rants are likely the result of going too long with miles wide spaces between those things- in our daily activities, till we reach the point where we cannot stop ourselves from screaming to the universe: "Doesn't anyone understand anything I say???".

    Now and then we might feel deeply understood numerous times in a given context, at which point we might say something crazy like: "Will you marry me?", or, "You want to start a band?".

    Love, Art, (and) rare shared understandings, private and public.
     
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  16. matrix

    matrix TDPRI Member

    Age:
    47
    75
    Apr 13, 2016
    Vancouver, BC
    Fair question. Most pros I have met are very particular about their gear - their guitars may look like an off-the-rack instrument, but they are not.

    Just like cooks and their knives....pros tend to be very particular about their knives. Might look like what I purchased from Amazon, but it is a very different thing.

    Not saying that pros cant make amazing music on a run-of-the-mill guitar. But the (admittedly few) that I have met and talked with do not choose to do so.

    Ag
     

  17. Crawldaddy

    Crawldaddy Tele-Meister

    189
    Dec 12, 2006
    Singapore
    Good yet affordable vs transcendent?

    My definition of affordable: not necessarily monetary terms, but a guitar that I would have no pressure lending to a friend for an extended period of time due to the monetary worth in my mind.

    My definition of transcendent: something that evokes a level of playing that I cannot get from "the others" that I've tried before.

    With those in mind, the most mind-blowing affordable guitar I've tried is a 2008 American Standard Strat, ash body, full maple neck, Sienna sunburst. That thing just made me get my **** together and save up like mad, but eventually got a different Am Std model, because my tastes in aesthetics changed by the time I could afford one! At the other end of the monetary scale was a 3TS Squier 20th Anniversary Strat that I had to sell off to help with the rent. Still miss that guitar to this very day.

    The most "transcendent" guitar I've ever played is an original 1962 Strat in lake placid blue. Close runners-up are the Gibson Nighthawk Custom I acquired not too long ago, a Warmoth/MJT strat build with Klein Jazzy Cats, and an Orville Les Paul loaded with Suhr Thornbuckers. These 3 guitars bring me to a different state of mind when I pick them up and have a go on them, and it comes through in my playing as well.

    So far, the barrier of entry for guitars into the fold is that "emotional response" aspect, and it has been raising up every year, especially since I have had the privilege of owning a few truly "transcendent" guitars. I'm currently in the process of thinning the herd into "transcendent" guitars, guitars that are great daily players, and guitars that I know will soon be put up for sale.
     
    matrix likes this.

  18. roger@pennyflic

    roger@pennyflic TDPRI Member

    6
    Aug 5, 2013
    melbourne
    Having already given an opinion on the OPs original musings, just a quick one on some if the responses.

    I dont think a great guitar can make you play any better, but I think it allows you to play up to the limit of your own ability. A poor guitar, however seems to choke some of that talent.

    If a great guitar made you play better, we would all be lining up at the bank
     
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  19. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    Not just you @NotAnotherHobby, I'm surprised at how many people take the OP literally with "They make you a better player."

    IMO - I read this to mean a guitar that brings out the best in you and inspires you to play! There are all kinds of guitars like that, and $$$$ really don't have anything to do with it.

    As for transcendent... "surpassing the ordinary; exceptional." Perfect use by the OP! IMO :D
     
    bottlenecker likes this.

  20. theprofessor

    theprofessor Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Thanks for posting this, @Toto'sDad ! I started playing guitar in junior high school, and at the time I listened to a lot of Tony Rice, Doc Watson, and so forth. I love this video of Rice playing. I'm gonna go get my acoustic and enlarge my sound hole right now! I recall reading in Allen St. John's book on Wayne Henderson someone saying that Rice's Martin that is pictured here seemed to be a fine guitar, but it wasn't the greatest acoustic anyone would pick up. Seems to be that folks were offering to buy it right and left, but the point was that Rice himself is a big part of what makes that particular guitar great. Now I'm not saying that guitar isn't good. It's probably better than anything I will ever put my hands on. But it may be that it's the combination that makes the guitar transcendent.

    In related news, I started guitar as an acoustic player, through and through. I remember having a silly debate with a friend of mine who was all-electric about who was a better player: Tony Rice or Stevie Ray Vaughan. Ha! Both great. Very different. But I don't think that Rice stands in anyone's shadow.
     
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