Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Les Paul Quest Part 2

In Part 1 of The Les Paul Quest  I wrote about the Provision Les Paul my friend was contemplating on getting.  But you know, contemplate on something for too long and it'll grow legs and walk away.

With the Provision Les Paul snapped up by another buyer, Sherman sent me an email with pics of a Les Paul from the far, Far East -- Thailand! 

Thai-made guitars are a fairly recent entry into the guitar market and I'd tried a couple of bolt-on strat and tele-style guitars over the last couple of years.  Both were made by one Prasit Pariyarungsri. 

The guitars were pretty well-made and the attention to detail was definitely there.  But because they used indigenous local woods, they tended to be extremely heavy -- imagine a tele-style axe with a bolt-on neck weighing in at almost 9lbs! 

That would be on the heavy side even for a regular Les Paul.  And at that kind of weight a guitar is just not going to resonate.  The two guitars I tried felt like the pickups were speaking directly to the strings, with no contributing acoustic resonance from the body and neck at all.  Which is fine, maybe even desired, for heavier rock and metal, which would appeal to a sizeable chunk of the Thai guitar-buying market. 

From what I understand, Prasit apprenticed under another Thai guitar maker -- whose name eludes me now -- who also made a variety of solidbody guitars in the style of Gibson, Tom Anderson, Fender and PRS and marketed under the brand 'POT'.  And browsing the NNG Guitars website -- Prasit's current guitar company -- it looks like they are taking a similar approach.

This particular Prasit-built NNG Les Paul copy comes upgraded with woods more traditionally associated with the Gibson family.  The description in the email from Prasit himself is as follows:

Neck Joint : Set in (Long neck tenon type)    
Neck : One piece mahogany
Fretboard :  Rosewood with Mother of Pearl trapezoid inlays
Headstock shape : Les paul standard shape with real ebony wood veneer
Body :  Almost one piece Honduras mahogany (the one piece has 90% of total width body jointed with another piece has 10% of remainder).  However I ever found original Les Paul jointed same as this, everybody can be called that one piece body
Body top : Book match highly curly flame maple(4A grade)
PUs. : 2× genuine Alnico V magnet


And I appreciate the guy's honesty about the ratio of wood that makes up the body joint. Try getting the Gibson Custom Shop to openly offer up that kind of information!

Prasit's current approach, now that he has access to Honduran mahogany, is to bring his Les Paul guitars in at between 7.5 to 8lbs. 

I'm really digging the real mother of pearl inlays!  Why Gibson continues to use cheap pearloid plastic for the inlays on their Les Paul Standards continues to elude me. 

And it looks like NNG Guitars is getting their own Alnico humbuckers custom made as well.  Interesting.

Check 'em out --

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Les Paul Quest Part 1

A good buddy of mine is on a quest for his ultimate Les Paul and he has kindly agreed to let me document his ongoing research and correspondence with the various luthiers, pickup makers and hardware manufacturers. Thanks Sherman! 

And having owned several Gibson Les Pauls in the past, he initially had his sights set on one of the obscure Japanese manufacturers.

Like this Provision Les Paul.

Largely unknown outside of the US, Provision makes mid to very high-end Les Paul copies in limited runs.

From Ishibashi Japan's U-Box listing of used instruments, this axe features a nicely flamed, solid maple top, mahogany neck and body and comes equipped with Seymour Duncan 59N and JB pickups.  It was listed on Ishibashi's U-Box for 140,952 yen  or US$1854.  This was Provision's mid-level model, so the price brand new would have been in the US$2500 region.  Pretty crazy I know.

So why would anyone want to pay that much for a no-name guitar?  Folks, it's all about attention to detail and looking past that unfamiliar name on the headstock. 

Gibson's quality began to flag in the early '90s.  My theory is that one Saul Hudson aka Slash suddenly drove demand for Les Paul guitars through the roof and Gibson were caught off-guard and were unable to crank them out fast enough.  In the process, quality was sacrificed. 

And thanks to Slash's popularity, almost overnight Gibson guitars appeared with dodgy craftmanship -- sloppy finishing, rough fretwork with sharp fret ends and misaligned pearloid fingerboard markers inlaid into oversized slots with a huge amount of surrounding wood filler.

What better conditions for a high-end Les Paul-copy market in Japan to suddenly fluorish and prosper, appealing to a culture that is positively fanatical about details.

This particular guitar sold out pretty quickly from Ishibashi's listing despite the numerous dings and dents that pervaded the headstock, sides and back.

Stay tuned for upcoming instalments of the Les Paul Quest!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

10 Steve Jobs Quotes And What They Could Mean For Guitar Players

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

"It is piracy, not overt online music stores, which is our main competitor."

"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." 

On being fired from Apple in 1985 -- "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."

"We're going to use a pointing device that we're all born with - born with ten of them. We're going to use our fingers. We're going to touch this with our fingers."

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

"Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

"I want to put a ding in the universe."

Steve Jobs RIP, 1955-2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yngwie Malmsteen's 1969 Les Paul Gold Top | Random Guitar Of The Day

This was the only Gibson Les Paul in Yngwie Malmsteen's collection before he sold it to the current owner.

Wait a minute, Strat-meister or no, I thought that owning at least one Les Paul was de rigueur for every guitar hero? 

And this Les Paul Gold Top is a good one too, apparently. 

According to the seller, Yngwie was reluctant to sell this particular guitar because it had a 'bright' tone he was unable to find in any other Les Paul. 

I would give this guitar probably a 7/10 on the beat-up scale.  The gold-top actually looks pretty good with none of the green oxidization of the bronze powder that was mixed in with paint to achieve the 'gold' color.  There is a real nice natural patina in the nitrocellulose finish along with a couple of character-adding, man-sized dings -- none of that perfectly coiffed, fake aging you see coming out of custom shops. 

But boy is the back chewed up -- probably from years of grinding against Yngwie's pirate-approved belt buckles.  The serial number (836070) is just visible on the back of the most excellently ravaged headstock, which would put this guitar's year of production at around about 1969.

You can check out the eBay listing for this Yngwie-owned Les Paul here.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...