are there "magic" guitars?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by thunderbyrd, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    no, i don't mean really "magic", but i mean uncommonly good examples, guitars which are head and shoulders above their factory-mates, for no easy to discern reason?

    i am very convinced there are such guitars and i am interested in your thoughts and experiences.

    example one: about, mmm, 5 years ago, i bought a used SG. now, one of my complaints about certain gibson guitars is the strap knob on the back of the neck. the 335, firebird, and SG have this and i have a big round belly so these guitars tend to face the floor when i stand up and play them on a strap. but this SG had the strap knob in the regular place, but it hung exactly like i wanted it to, as good as a strat. furthermore, this SG had a big neck but was not neck-heavy at all.

    WHY? why did it hang right? i have no idea. there was nothing different that the eye could see. i should have never sold that one. i don't really remember anything unusual about it's sound, but damn, i have missed that guitar. wish i'd never let it go.

    example two: here where i live, there is a rental outfit that rents out lots of fender guitars. about 2 years ago, they had a new shipment of strats and etc in. i pulled a wine red MIM standard strat off the wall and strummed it and was absolutely blown away. that guitar vibrated from one end to the other with every touch. it was utterly ALIVE and it was loud unplugged. i have never heard another unplugged guitar that sounded like that or was so loud. i should have bought it or at least rented it, but i just didn't need anything right then, so it passed into the great wilderness of Kentucky guitar players. but, man, that thing was truly special.

    and i'll even go one further. along about 2010 or so, the aforementioned rental outfit had a crop of new MIM telecasters. i rented one of them and kept it a couple of months. this rented tele was one of the easiest to play guitars i've ever had in my hands. now here's where it gets unusual: it had very low action but i could play slide on it. it probably had 10-46 strings, but you could just play it on and on like "butter", but pull out the slide and it didn't make no difference.

    it was one of the best playing guitars i've ever had in my hands. i could have bought it but i let it go back cause i didn't like the color. Idiot.

    so, whats your story?
     
  2. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    a '73 Favino and a '65 J-45

    spectacular

    a single chord from each sounded like an entire song

    I'm glad the first belongs to a friend, and I'm bummed that the second got away

    and yes, I played many guitars alongside them, and they alone stood out markedly

    in some guitars, the stars align
     
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  3. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I think so.
    I used to seek them, but rarely found them.
    Some guitars sound or play so good/well they inspire the player.
    Now I look for good guitars and modify them into better guitars.
    I once had a circa 2000 Gibson 1954 Les Paul Custom reissue that “gave” me the best song I ever wrote.
    Like many good things in my life, it came and went.
    I also think that some of our hero’s guitars are magical, because they enable them to inspire us.
    Or, I’m full of malarkey.;)
     
  4. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    IN SOME GUITARS, THE STARS ALIGN. the next time i bump into one, i will grab it and hold it.
     
  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Tele-Meister

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    I have a CS Strat that I received as a Christmas present from my hunnie in 2004. It was a used guitar hanging in a small shop that I ogled a few times over the period of several months, but the cost was way too high for me to justify its purchase. I‘d stop in every few months and see if the price had moved—or if it had sold... It is a seafoam green peach of a guitar. I never mentioned it to my hunnie.

    Fast forward to Christmas, and there’s the Strat under the tree. The guitar. I asked how she knew to get THIS guitar (I knew the serial number from looking at it in the past); she said she stopped by a small shop and was looking at new guitars, and a sales guy asked what she was looking for. She said she wanted something for a complete guitar nut. The sales guy walked straight to the green Strat and took it down from the wall.

    The guys in the shop didn’t know me by name, and they certainly didn’t know this woman shopping for a guitar was associated with me.

    Sounds spooky, right? This is all 100% true. I get a tear in my eye retelling the story.

    I also have a CS Gibson Les Paul CR8 that just about plays itself. This guitar is a *peach* in every sense of the word. If I had to run out of my house as it burned to the ground, I’d grab the Strat and this Les Paul:

    upload_2019-10-21_22-20-42.jpeg
     
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  6. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    if you sing while playing, it's maybe worth recording yourself playing through some guitars, even with an iphone

    I love J-200s, but I did that and heard that their thump and chunk got in the way a bit too much

    so magic for what? is often relevant
     
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  7. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    20180911_102029.jpg Here is one magic guitar- I have put this guitar thru hell ( 6" crack on top, 3 sets of frets/tuners, 2 pickups, rained on, baked) for 27 years- and it just rocks.
    My Martin D-1. " Till death..."
     
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  8. S00NERMAN

    S00NERMAN Tele-Meister

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    I absolutely agree that there is "magic" in some guitars. Same goes for other commonplace items, like shotguns.
     
  9. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    ahh, yes NDcaster - but i am talking about those guitars which have this "Quality" inherent in themselves...it is so different from others. you might have never experienced it.
     
  10. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have, though fewer examples in the solidbody world

    another acoustic stunner was an Asian flamenco knockoff -- I nearly traded my much pricier Brazilian rosewood one for it

    the GC guy thought I was nuts
     
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  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Just a few years ago I would have been a bit skeptical, although about 12 years ago I did experience some almost "magic" while looking for an inexpensive 335 type and picked up a gawdy natural Epi Sheraton II and within 10 seconds of playing it, I knew it was the one for me. Hated the look and the canoe paddle headstock and all of the gold bling, but I still have it today.

    That was just a taster of what was to happen later in my life. Two years ago after an exhaustive multi year search for a resonator, my budget was under $800, but I would play the spendy Nationals everytime I had the opportunity to hear a good example to compare with. I had played close to 20 different resos (no small feat) and saw an unusual National hanging up in a small music store while we were on a trip. It was a custom order that the owner thought was a great combination of neck and body. I asked to try it and ... one strum ... both my wife and my own jaws hit the floor that very moment. I had a difficult time letting go of this magical guitar, but at 4x my budget, we took off to our destination. Stayed a few days while contemplating this reso. My wife, the bass player suggested that this was a once in a lifetime guitar. Well, we were coming back past the store on the day they were closed, but I called up the owner at home and said his amp tech will be there and let me in to look at it again. Yup, I bought it and now know that magic guitars do exist.
     
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  12. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have always believed this. When I was a lad in the early ‘70s, my grandparents bought my sister an acoustic guitar. Knowing nothing about such things, they asked friends who owned a music store (Sigler in Fort Smith Arkansas) to choose the best $125 guitar in their fairly large store. It is an Alvarez dreadnought with spruce top and maple back and sides. Flame-y to the point of tiger stripes on the back. I have played two others of the same model, and a few similar Alvarezes, and none were a patch on my sister’s. When guitars are being mass produced by machine, there is no reason they CAN’T be as good as a carefully hand-assembled one, but it takes sheer luck for all the best bits to come together. No reason that can’t happen now and then. For the record, I believe the same to be true for my late ‘80s Takamine 12 string. It punches waaay above its weight.
     
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  13. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    My short answer is yes.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Starting with your last line: "you might have never experienced it".
    I've seen players react that way to some of my guitars in the past, parts guitars I've been putting together since 1980.
    Many players seemed to have never played a really great guitar, or a well set up guitar with a solid core of potential.
    Some players felt that their own guitar was far better than they had realized until I worked on it, and that was all it took for them to have a great guitar.
    Not every guitar can be made great with some setup and mods, but any great guitar can suck due to poor setup and other problems.

    Regarding your line: "for no easy to discern reason", my belief is that the reasons are discernible, but it might take a lot of experimenting to learn how to figure out what's right and what's wrong in a guitar that isn't great.

    Something simple like poor balance is pure physics.
    Resonant guitars that vibrate are a mix of simply lighter weight softer body wood and the more esoteric tonewood mythology where every piece of wood has different properties.
    I certainly find body swapping nets me lots of different guitars with all other parts the same.
    If you have a nice resonant Fender style, buy one of those $79 northern ash bodies that weighs 5.5lbs and swap just the body into your resonant guitar. I guarantee the resonant guitar magic follows the light body.
    That may not guarantee every piece of balsa wood or styrofoam makes you happy though.

    For me the process has involved replacing one part at a time in a great guitar, and replacing one part at a time in an OK guitar.
    Probably hundreds of times.

    Seems like some parts never contribute greatness to a guitar, while other parts only become a great guitar when combined with parts they complement.

    As far as guitars that vibrate a lot, and the view some have that these are THE great guitars, while guitars that don't vibrate a lot are not the great guitars; I do not agree with that idea.
    Guitars that vibrate a lot are only great to players who want that in a guitar.
    They don't sound best or even better, and to me they sound a little soft on the attack and clarity of bass strings.
    I actually like some variation between my guitars and often play a one piece light alder bodied hardtail Strat style.
    Comfy to get fat sweet tones from. One of my swamp ash Esquire with cut up a room more easily though.
    Some of my swamp ash Tele/ Esquire bodies got retired or set aside, because they were not the one.
    The one merely being my favorite parts among lots of parts.

    In summary I'd say there are great guitars, mediocre guitars, dead sounding guitars, poor playing guitars, and garbage.

    There are also warmer guitars, brighter guitars, snappy guitars, and muted attack guitars.
    But they are the sum of their parts.
    Oddly there seem to be very few great guitars on the racks, yet there are IMO plenty of parts there which can be combined into a smaller number of great guitars.
     
  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    WRT acoustic guitar, well yeah, a factory cranks them out and a few are great while most are OK.
    Harder to change parts with an acoustic though, so there's less that can be done to improve them.
    Braces can be shaved and sometimes bring out the sound, if a mid range factory instrument.

    I've had lots of magic electrics but only two even remotely magic acoustics.
     
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  16. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

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    Out of the 100's of guitars that have crossed my path in the past 50 some years, a handful have truly been amazing. The thing is, that handful have not been Gibson, Fender, Martin, et al, but off brand, "lower level" models that took me to a place musically (and playability wise) I'd never been before.
     
  17. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's

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    I've played a few fine guitars but never any that clearly stood head and shoulders above everything else. I hope to meet one someday.
     
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  18. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    For sure - I’m a Fender guy and I can play dozens of the same model and year, at any price point, and every once in a while one just feels over the top right.
     
  19. Electric Warrior

    Electric Warrior Tele-Meister

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    Favorite guitar I have ever played was a Harmony Meteor. You had to be there. Sadly, I didn't buy it. But I know it by its markings and will be on the lookout for it forever. A Harmony!
     
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  20. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I played about six of the same model sigma dr35 acoustics at the wholesalers and settled on one that was way better playing and sounding than the other 5. I suppose I could convince myself that it was due to magic whereas in reality it is just a nice combination of wood and spec/tolerances working together with my personal preferences.
     
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