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US standard vs custom shop\Historic for tone alone

jb_abides

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
4,196
I got it, and fair play to golfnut 🙂.
I’m laying at home after a spinal fusion and can’t even play guitar, it’s making me stir crazy! I went on a (legal) opiate fueled dribible and it likely won’t be the last, I even omitted a good old whinge about the top carve.
I will endeavour to improve my poor grammatical ability whilst having a sook 🙇‍♂️ 🤪

Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a good dribble catcher! Be Well!
 

Guitar Magic

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
54
Found this thread and I don't share the general consensus.

I had many Historics and most of them were light, acoustically resonant and loud. What I found though is that many of them have a softness that I can't bond with. I need a percussive, fast note attack in a Les Paul. A metallic jackhammer-like responsiveness in the low-end acoustically. I've never owned a Burst but late 60s Les Pauls and pre-74s have this quality generally. I can easily find a good 90s Standard that has this quality. I hear this quality in every Burst, hence the famous 'Tele on steroids' phrase.

Many of the Historics are too soft sounding and have a rubberiness in the lows that I can't stand. The best Historics are the ones that sound like a heavyweight percussive 90s Standard but weigh about 8.8 lbs and resonate like crazy while somehow retaining that biting quality. I had one like that, a 2005 or 2006 Cherry Sunburst R9.

Some say here in the EU that the really good Historics tend stay in America. If I had a shop I personally would keep the best ones for my favorite customers and myself and send the rest overseas, so there might be truth in it.
 

Big Al

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,411
Found this thread and I don't share the general consensus.

I had many Historics and most of them were light, acoustically resonant and loud. What I found though is that many of them have a softness that I can't bond with. I need a percussive, fast note attack in a Les Paul. A metallic jackhammer-like responsiveness in the low-end acoustically. I've never owned a Burst but late 60s Les Pauls and pre-74s have this quality generally. I can easily find a good 90s Standard that has this quality. I hear this quality in every Burst, hence the famous 'Tele on steroids' phrase.

Many of the Historics are too soft sounding and have a rubberiness in the lows that I can't stand. The best Historics are the ones that sound like a heavyweight percussive 90s Standard but weigh about 8.8 lbs and resonate like crazy while somehow retaining that biting quality. I had one like that, a 2005 or 2006 Cherry Sunburst R9.

Some say here in the EU that the really good Historics tend stay in America. If I had a shop I personally would keep the best ones for my favorite customers and myself and send the rest overseas, so there might be truth in it.
Your opinion, your tastes. I disagree with your overly broad generalisations and misleading assumptions. Not true at all in my experience. It ALWAYS boils down to personal preference between the two you compare. That is all. Tone is unique in each individual guitar and the desirability is determined by the individual ears listening.
 

Any Name You Wish

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
248
I'll throw in by two rubles. All the standards I've played, including the late 1990's one I owned, felt and sounded the same. Very consistent and very nice. All the Custom Shop Historics I've played sounded and felt different, some of them significantly different. I love that aspect of the Custom Shop guitars because you can play a half dozen or more and one of them is going to be the one for you personally. I experienced the same thing with my '59 ES335 RI and my '61 SG RI. In my humble opinion this is just an awesome gift from Gibson. Almost like bespoke offerings, but you have to sift through them to find the one that fits you perfectly. Right now with what you can get from the Gibson Custom Shop I feel like I've died and gone to guitar heaven. What they do is remarkable in this day and age.
 

Guitar Magic

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
54
I'll throw in by two rubles. All the standards I've played, including the late 1990's one I owned, felt and sounded the same. Very consistent and very nice. All the Custom Shop Historics I've played sounded and felt different, some of them significantly different. I love that aspect of the Custom Shop guitars because you can play a half dozen or more and one of them is going to be the one for you personally. I experienced the same thing with my '59 ES335 RI and my '61 SG RI. In my humble opinion this is just an awesome gift from Gibson. Almost like bespoke offerings, but you have to sift through them to find the one that fits you perfectly. Right now with what you can get from the Gibson Custom Shop I feel like I've died and gone to guitar heaven. What they do is remarkable in this day and age.

I can agree that Standards have a somewhat more consistent tone, talking about late 80's, 90s and 2000s ones until the chambering started. Traditionals are also very similar (some of the early 2008-2009 ones with the thick neck can be outstanding). Historics are different in the way that they have a much broader personality range. That makes it a never ending quest to find 'the one'. With a Standard you get the quintessential modern LP tone. With a Historic you may find yourself disappointed because the tonal variation among them is huge. On the other hand, if you manage to find a good Historic it will be simply magic.
 

1allspub

Active member
Joined
Feb 25, 2018
Messages
103
When it comes to pickups, my experience is pretty straightforward... a good set of pickups will not make a bad guitar sound good (maybe better, but it will still be lacking something inherent to that particular guitar). While a bad set of pickups (or at least a bad choice of pickup for a particular guitar) can indeed make a good guitar sound bad. It’s very much a symbiotic relationship. Pickups, electronics, hardware, wood (heck even strings and picks) all play into it. But swapping pickups definitely (IME) makes the single largest difference relative to any other part of the integrated system that is a guitar. A new bridge won’t make crappy sounding pickups good (maybe a bit better, but not good). New wiring harness will improve things, but again, if the pickups are not voiced to what you are looking for it won’t solve the problem, etc.

Proof of this is self evident if you take your favorite guitar with pickups in it that you really like the sound of and put a set of pickups in it that are not your taste (eg, pull out your favorite PAF clones and install a set of hot ceramic pickups). You’ll soon discover that no amount of good wood or 50s wiring or vintage hardware can make up for the drastic change in pickup voicing. The guitar’s sound will be unavoidably and negatively (assuming the hot ceramics are not to your taste) transformed.

However, when we’re talking about similarly voiced pickups like PAF clones, the differences are much more nuanced and as a result the other parts of the guitar system are able to play a larger role in that system. And as the similarity between pickups narrows, the other variables take on a much larger importance.

At least, that’s been my experience with tinkering with many Gibson USA and CS guitars over the years. YMMV, WAFH, DSTM, DWBH. :)
 
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