The first time I’d bought a brand new guitar was in 2005. I started playing back in the seventies, when used guitars were cheaper. Later on, when the good guitars increased in value from new, and cost had become a less important factor for me, I still preferred second hand. My reasoning was that older guitars would have recovered from the trauma of manufacture, and after ten years or so of playing, were as they would remain thereafter.
I went into London’s Denmark Street, looking for a seventies (or so) Les Paul. I’d found the right guitar. But after a bit of salesmanship involving the shop changing the strings, I had taken it out into the sunshine to give it a really close examination. I discovered a hairline crack in the neck, which looked like a repair. Les Pauls do break at the neck, so this was a serious problem.
The shop gave me a load of bull about not having noticed this, and the repair making it much stronger than an unbroken LP… etc. Then somebody sidled up to me and suggested I go across the street to another shop where they had a brand new LP Classic that was really special.
Denmark Street is full of dodgy deals, with guitars changing from shop to shop if they don’t sell – all manner of shenanigans, and dealers lurking everywhere. Nevertheless, I wandered across, found this guitar and played it for ten minutes or so. It was indeed special.
The shop guy asked if I wanted to plug it in, and seemed taken aback when I said no. A good guitar is a good guitar, which you can tell as soon as you pick it up. In any case, it was new so anything wrong with the electrics would be under guarantee. Plus I didn’t need to deafen everybody in the shop to know what it would sound like.
Thirteen years passed by. It remained just as nice to play – clearly not a Monday or a Friday guitar, and I didn’t manage to wear out the frets. But I did get to play my producer friend Jez Coad’s Les Paul – which has a Bigsby… And so I had to have a Bigsby on my LP. But did I want to drill holes into my beauty?
A clever device called the Vibramate (which sounds like a sex aid but isn’t) provided the solution, which I fitted in less than an hour (all the details are in my post about Bigsby). It works a treat. As does my now teenaged Les Paul, which is as a Les Paul should be – and always was. Apart from the usual LP rock sound, they do sound wonderful backed off to volume four or so, playing chords using a clean tone – especially through my AC30TB VibraTrem with its volume also backed right off.