Noteworthy guitars I had the chance to play pt. 1

I have a few technical posts in the chamber, but it’s tough finding time to write everything down. I should come up with a way to update in a cohesive manner that is easy to keep track of, but also that doesn’t require me spend two hours writing a long post.

Until then, here’s a post about really nice guitars I had the chance to play.

Santa Cruz OM Prewar (made in 2008). This is maybe the best acoustic guitar I’ve played. It didn’t feel worn in like my 81/82 Guild F30, but it was ridiculously easy to play, and sounded fantastic. It was the kind of guitar you just want to keep playing, which is probably the best quality a guitar could have.

Some of its features that stuck out were that it’s braced like a pre-war MartinĀ (I assume) with the X brace closer to the soundhole, it was extremely light, and the nut was gorgeous. I don’t think the nut was ivory. It must have been bone, and if so, they probably hand select the pieces and spend a lot of time polishing each nut.

I should have taken a picture of the fret ends, because they looked beautiful. Santa Cruz does the thing where they file bevel the ends, so the fret ends t looked like this. I believe that’s how Martin used to file their fret ends, and probably still does.

I always feel like spending more than $1500 on new guitars is absurd because there are so many nice, older guitars out there that probably play better, but my opinion might change if I get to play more guitars like this one.

Gibson Les Paul Premium (2008). I think newer Gibsons get a bad rap, and some of it is justified, like the 2015 models with the robot tuning gears and zero fret, but some of it is comes from vintage-obsessed dorks who didn’t really try enough new guitars to form a valid opinion. This Les Paul was chambered so it was relatively light (but still had heft to it), had locking tuners, and a transparent (!) back plate that let you see how the pots are soldered onto a PCB, but the best thing about it was the pickups. Holy cow! That neck pickup wasn’t muddy, it had low end but with a bite. You know how a P-Bass sounds great because it growls? That’s what that pickup sounded like, but on a guitar. The bridge pickup sounded great too, but I was too dazzled by the neck to remember anything about it. I’m not a big humbuckers fan, but if I had some money to throw around, I’d get those. For posterity sake, the neck was Rhythm BurstBucker Pro (Alnico #5) and the bridge was Lead BurstBucker Pro (Alnico #5).

Man, locking tuners are nice. They’re super easy to replace strings with, easier to tune, and hold the tuning better than traditional tuners. Not sure I’d throw those on every guitar I own, but it’s good to know they don’t suck like some people make them to be.

I’ll admit that the PCB control plate is dumb, but I doubt it affects the sound (seriously, this guitar was dynamite). It’s just a pain to service in the future.

Like the Santa Cruz, the best thing about this guitar was that it just felt really nice in my hands and made me want to keep playing it. Even the stupid “licks” I play all the time sounded cool!

Fender Kurt Cobain Mustang. I don’t like Mustangs (too tiny!), but this one played really well and looked really cool. Not sure about the humbucker in the bridge, but hey, I guess that’s what Kurt Cobain had!

Fender 78 P-Bass. Did Fender make a crappy 70s P-Bass? Probably not! I don’t care that it’s way post CBS and has some of the usual P-bass problems. It had a chunky (but not too thick) neck, and sounded like a P-Bass. It was also worn out like a 35 year old guitar, and those are always fun to play. Hey, I used “P-Bass” quite a bit in a three lines paragraph.