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Old 12-21-2017, 11:32 AM
dbradfie dbradfie is offline
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Default High end electric? Help me understand.

I don't play electric guitar. I do play acoustic and can appreciate the difference that a high end acoustic brings to the table, the voicing of the top for example.

What is the appeal of a high end electric guitar? Say a fender masterbuilt heavy relic Stratocaster vs the basic american made stratocaster that costs thousands of $ less? Would there be a noticable difference in tone? Aren't they just slabs of wood with electronics added? I know this is naive. Help me to understand.

Thanks,
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Old 12-21-2017, 11:37 AM
Tony Burns Tony Burns is offline
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typically you get better quality materials and Craftsmanship . alot of orient made guitars do not use a solid piece of wood on the neck
( many times a lower quality piece of wood ) , cheaper electronics ( low cost wires , pickup , pots etc ) your also getting ( typically ) better and more durable pickups .
Plus you know in the long run you will have less problems with necks warping -tonation issues plus the fact it will have a higher resale value in the long run .
If your looking for lower cost alternatives -i can say The Epiphone line ,
which is owned by Gibson -is not bad . But my long years of experience
tell me to stay with the parent company for the long haul .
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Old 12-21-2017, 11:38 AM
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IMO, you are mostly correct.

You can make a garbage electric sound good with a lot of electronics upgrades. You will never make a garbage acoustic sound good.


The quality of the build, the woods selected can have an effect on tone, sustain, playability, intonation etc.

But most of the sound of an electric comes from the pickup chain.
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Old 12-21-2017, 11:46 AM
AndrewG AndrewG is offline
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Much of the appeal with Fender Relic models is how they feel; I owned a Relic Nocaster with the fattest and smoothest playing neck I ever felt on a guitar. It sounded like a good Telecaster, but that's it really as far as the electronics are concerned. The Custom Shop stuff, relic'd or otherwise, really does feel like a comfortable, well played-in guitar. As ever, only you can determine if the increase in cost is worth it.
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Old 12-21-2017, 11:51 AM
robj144 robj144 is offline
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You are mostly correct as I feel most of the sound is due to the pickups, effect chain, and the amp. However, how the body is constructed is better for higher end electrics. This does translate to a better, more "smooth" sound when amplified. If you play an electric unamplified, none sound great, but higher end electrics sound better unplugged than lower end electrics.
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Old 12-21-2017, 01:19 PM
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There is a bigger difference in electric brands between their offshore offerings and their USA Made lines. For example, there is a big difference between a Mexican and American strat, not so much in quality, but in how the guitar feels and what specs it has. PRS is cool because you get great quality with both lines, but there is a huge jump in features with the USA line.

To me, I think that a USA Strat is worth the money over a Mexican model, but mainly for features and preference. Quality is fine with Mexican. I think what they are charging for USA strats today is way too high. Of course with that price tag you get Nitro, nicer neck carves, better electronics, and vintage appointments. I have a limited '61 Thin Skin strat that I bought 6-7 years ago and it was $1600 new. A similar guitar today costs $2300....crazy!

I don't know much about Gibson, but I've owned a 57RI Gold Top that was killer, but I stupidly sold it. Miss that guitar BADLY.

PRS is a brand where I think if you buy used, you can get really great bang for your buck. Impeccable quality, great wood, and sick looks. They feel great, play even better, and have a nice modern sound. Don't expect vintage tones and you can get a killer guitar for $1300-1600 used if you look hard enough.

Bottom line, you can get a good quality guitar for $500 these days. How much more you spend IMO depends on how deep down the rabbit hole you choose to go and how much Kool-Aid you like from each brand.
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Old 12-21-2017, 01:31 PM
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I can't help feeling the price difference refers mostly to the amount of work (hours) that go into customising and/or relicing these guitars by experts and not much else.

I don't believe that you are getting thousands of dollars worth of more guitar wood or pickups than your standard Stratocaster for example.
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Old 12-21-2017, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbradfie View Post
I don't play electric guitar. I do play acoustic and can appreciate the difference that a high end acoustic brings to the table, the voicing of the top for example.

What is the appeal of a high end electric guitar? Say a fender masterbuilt heavy relic Stratocaster vs the basic american made stratocaster that costs thousands of $ less? Would there be a noticable difference in tone? Aren't they just slabs of wood with electronics added? I know this is naive. Help me to understand.

Thanks,
There's a difference in everything. A better built guitar makes playing easier, and sound better. Try a US made PRS, then a fender squier, maybe you'll understand. It's the difference in the way the guitar feels, plays effortless, not the looks.
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Old 12-21-2017, 03:53 PM
wrathfuldeity wrathfuldeity is offline
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OTOH...don't let price tag, brand and looks fool your hand and ears. The basic feel and inherent resonance of an electric is the foundation. Then the pu's, nut, hardware, electronics and etc can be further dealt with down the rabbit hole. I've sold off dozen electrics over the past couple years and down to 2 solid players. Both are old MIA Peaveys...a Predator (strat) and Reactor (tele) with a few upgrades...total cost of about $250 each...they just fit my had better than any Fender. The nice thing about electrics is that you can easily customize to you specs.
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Old 12-21-2017, 04:14 PM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbradfie View Post
I don't play electric guitar. I do play acoustic and can appreciate the difference that a high end acoustic brings to the table, the voicing of the top for example.

What is the appeal of a high end electric guitar? Say a fender masterbuilt heavy relic Stratocaster vs the basic american made stratocaster that costs thousands of $ less? Would there be a noticable difference in tone? Aren't they just slabs of wood with electronics added? I know this is naive. Help me to understand.

Thanks,
You've kind of quoted a straw man there with the relic thing. Not every expensive guitar is a relic'd thing. There are expensive instruments that cost more because there is more hand work involved that produces their signature sound. For instance, the Gibson ES-335. For a modern, standard example of this guitar you'll pay in the range of $3500. Why? The body is semi-hollow and is shaped. The front and back woods are laminated together by gluing up and pressing sheets of poplar and maple in a heated press to create their arches. The sides are bent maple, bent just as the sides of an acoustic guitar are. The sides are placed in a former, and a maple center block is added. Perfling is added around the edges. Profiled contour bracing is glued on the fronts and backs to support the front and back and then the assembly is glued together and hand laced with cloth to hold until the glue sets. Once the glue sets and the wrapping comes off, it is time to bind the whole affair.

You can watch some of this here:

This video is specific to the Eric Clapton sig but Custom Shop and Memphis techniques are virtually identical.
29.33 rolling the neck
31.31 body rim glue-up
etc.

The combination of woods do indeed have a profound impact on sound. An SG and a Les Paul can be made to sound similar but their raw sound is far different because the LP has a cap of maple on top of a mahogany body and the SG is pure mahogany. The LP had a rounder, fuller sound, the SG a thinner sound with more of a bark. I have an SG and an ES-335 with the same pickup set and they sound far different.

By the way, slab mahogany, from which the bodies are shaped, is becoming expensive!

Bob
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Old 12-21-2017, 05:09 PM
harpspitfire harpspitfire is offline
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i dont have alot of money to spend, so i set a price, and get what feels and sounds good
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Old 12-21-2017, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbradfie View Post
Aren't they just slabs of wood with electronics added? I know this is naive. Help me to understand
Pickups, amp and speaker can act like pretty savage EQ controls discarding much of the signal and adding some colour of their own. As a rule of thumb the influence of each component on the final sound is in reverse order - with the guitar itself last of all.

Say I pick up a new guitar. If I don't know what tree it was hewn from but I do know how the pickups are wound I'll have a good idea what it's going to sound like. If I know it's made of mahogany but I don't know what the pickups are, I won't have a clue.

That's not to say the physical construction has no influence on the sound. It will certainly affect the envelope ie the attack/decay/sustain/release when you pluck a note. Really stiff necks will sustain longer (eg the laminated neck on most neck-throughs). The classic Tele bridge - large metal saddles and high break angle - reduces the high frequency damping a little, contributing to the classic Tele twang.

Timbre? If I was a betting man, I could make a lot of money carrying out proper, double-blind tests of different guitars through the same electronics. It's really up to you to listen for any subtle differences which make you prefer one guitar over another. Subtle is the operative word here.
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Old 12-21-2017, 05:57 PM
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PS: the price absolutely does not reflect the quality of the sound but rather the maximum the marketing guys think they can get away with. Does anybody really think there are quality control guys at Gibson etc who play every instrument and say: "this one has a special magic but those other 6 don't. Give them some furnace time boys!"

Or will they all end up on the sales floor, regardless..?

PPS: One of the best ways to make any product seem special is to stick a big price tag on it.
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Old 12-22-2017, 07:22 AM
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There's a lot more to the guitar than the current Gibson or Fender offerings. Custom shop often yields better QC, which has been lacking from F&G historically. The better QC will often help an instrument play better and occasionally sound better.

There is a plethora of pickups available these days, well outside of traditional PAF, single coil, and P90s.

The important thing is to be able to tailor the guitar to YOUR exact needs. My initial dislike with Fender was because I like at least a 12" radius, which used to be very uncommon back in the day. I stopped being a fan of Gibson in the 90's when their inlay work was fairly sloppy considering the proud price tag.
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Old 12-22-2017, 08:27 AM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbradfie View Post
I don't play electric guitar. I do play acoustic and can appreciate the difference that a high end acoustic brings to the table, the voicing of the top for example.

What is the appeal of a high end electric guitar? Say a fender masterbuilt heavy relic Stratocaster vs the basic american made stratocaster that costs thousands of $ less? Would there be a noticable difference in tone? Aren't they just slabs of wood with electronics added? I know this is naive. Help me to understand.

Thanks,
Well, I could take an all wood Eastman, and do some bracing work to it, and action and intonation adjustments, and make it sound and play like an instrument costing thousands more. What's the difference then?

I could also give them a piece of BRW or Tree mahogany, and the guitar would cost at leas half less than what even Taulir or Martin offers.

The only way you'd know is to play a MIM Strat or American Standard, against a Custom Shop.
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