Greetings, and thanks for reading this monster... but theres a good story to tell.
For the past few months Ive been actively looking for my first "real nice" electric guitar, one that I would keep and really enjoy for a long time ... I have owned/played various beginner strats but nothing that felt "just right." Really, I've just begun to play electic after years of acoustic. After saving enough dough to lay down for a nice american strat or maybe a gretch DaddyGod just decided to blow my mind.
An (amazing) friend from church came to me after choir practice this week and said, "Aaron, when I die I want you to slip a thousand dollar check in the coffin just as they are closing the door and we will call this deal square ok. I cant take these with me when Im gone anyway right?" Then he hands me his 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom with a huge smile on his face. I hadnt told him about my plans to buy a new guitar... He just said he could tell that it would bless my socks off.
As you can guess, Im still reeling from all this... Im just so flabber-gasted that someone would just give something like that away. Im really really blessed with an amazing church family, Ive known that... I just never would have dreamed in a million years... what else can I say?
The guitar itself is beautiful (Ill post pictures soon)... cherry sunburst. Well played and traveled but without any real damage. I plan to have the local luthier have it set up soon, what else should I have him look at when I take it in? I've never had my hands on a vintage guitar and am clueless to what should be done and what shouldnt... I dont want to take anything away from this guitar by having needless work done, but I do want it to play this beauty... a lot... Are there any electronic things that I should have done/checked? A buddy told me to have the pots and wiring updated with Jimmy Page push-pull-something-or-others so that I can control the sound better.... Youtube had cool vid's on the process, Have any of you seen it done?
Also, what amps/combos should I be looking for leading worship, playing in a medium sized building (150-200 people)... priced at or below $650. To give you a bit of the church's sound, our music style ranges from Tomlin to Jesus Culture and I love a smooth bluesy Overdrive. Im thinking a TubeAmp but dont know what the upkeep intails, and any advice is really appreciated. I know Ill take your suggestions to the MusicStore and play til it sounds just right... but every time I go to that place I get lost. Ive never shopped for amps and dont want to be there for hours and hours with a salesperson suggesting a big sale item.... I just want a good sounding amp that I can cart from home to the church, play at the house and not blow my wife's ears off yet get good versitile tone for services.
Again, Im so amazed at what God is doing and I really appreciate your thoughtful, educated, responses.
I paid about $600 for my Blues Jr. NOS tweed new from Guitar Center. I'm sure you can find better deals though if you looked around. I run a full pedalboard (10+ pedals) with my BJ and it sounds great. Mine came with a Jensen speaker which I love. I've also played a few of the larger Fender tube amps. They are great, but they are big and heavy. The BJ is small enough to move around without breaking your back and it's plenty loud for stage volume. I haven't had my amp modded, but I hear that the mods are nice. The only thing I've done is put the new power tubes in. The stock tubes are fine, mine were just worn out. I'm thinking of buying a second amp to run stereo and if I do, it will be another BJ that I buy.
Also note - for the original poster - the NOS tweed unit is more expensive to start with. You can get these things used all day long for $300 or less. New ones are $499.
What told you your tubes were worn out?
You will notice when tubes get worn out in these two ways I experienced (or probably more)...
1. The amp will start emitting strange loud noises
2. The amp will not emit any sound, all of a sudden. ( Like what happened to me during the last Christmas Celebration).
Tubes worn out by time.. .like everything else ;)
This is where advice is not so helpful: you need to get out there and try some of those amps. Take your guitar and any effects you currently expect to use and go try them - it may be worth scheduling a 1/2 days holiday during the week, rather than going at a weekend in order to get plenty or relaxed time trying things.
Re speakers - your questions are entirely legit. Traditionally the 2 main speaker types in Fender amps are Eminence (usually badged as Fender) and Jensen. They both have their own particular voice (voices really) and if you like them then they're the right speaker for you.
Hi, Aaron [and everyone else]
A similar blessing happened to me. My co-guitarist in our Praise band gave me a new Telecaster, case, strap, and a used Marshall Class 5 amp. I could barely thank him out loud! The tele sounds VERY good with the Class 5. My Epiphone DOT never sounded so good for that matter. I found out later that he sold his Strat in order to get my gift together. Okay, he has 3 Teles but that was his only Strat...That was even MORE humbling.
Since your Les Paul is a new guitar to you play it obsessively and develop/adjust your style. Play it plugged-in and amped. Take it to your church when no one else is there and crank it. Find what it and your amp can do. Experiment with different strings. I would add, get a wide PADDED strap. Those LPs get heavy after a while!
I wouldn't necessarily start changing the electronics in it unless something goes bad. (At least for now) Since you're having a luthier look at it, he will be able to tell you if everything's okay
Praise and honor God with the gifts He gives!
Nathan, Sry for the (really) late reply... God really knows how to keep his word about giving us more than we could ever imagine (here as well in eternity) And, YES I totally got the padded ultra-fat strap. Im still waiting for funds to buy the amp that I really want (Either a fender deluxe or a vox ac30 tube) but have been surprisingly happy with the vox- modeling/practice amp that I have. It is perfect for what I need at this point.
I havnt changed any of the electronics at all, and dont plan on it anytime soon. And there are no repairs needed at all. Again, just totally blessed. Im getting ready to do our churchcamp music this summer with some of the teens from our youth group. His Plans for Us Are GOOD!
Congrats! Isn't it cool how God works wonders!
As for the comment about not being able to strum it like an acoustic.. would that poster care to elaborate? I've got both a Les Paul and a Tele and I can strum them (and my acoustics) any way I want to depending on the song and sound I have set up on my pedals/amp... There is a definite difference in feel on all of my guitars (different scale lengths, different radius''s, different everything), but I can play pretty much the same on all of them.
I prefer the feel of the LP bridge/tailpeice combo to a Fender bridge, not sure how to describe it, but I just know I like it!
As for amps. Go for Tube. Go for Hot Rod Fender, all of the advice/opinions here are pretty good!
About strumming, that might have been me.
Les Pauls sound messy if you strum them like you're laying into a dreadnought. They have enormously more sustain, compression and are generally all about the mids, while most acoustics are all about top or top & bottom with minimal sustain. A Les Paul can certainly be strummed, but if it's treated like an acoustic guitar then it'll sound really messy unless you have an extremely light touch when you play acoustic, and always carefully articulate and damp to leave space. IME a strat tolerates 'acoustic' style strumming much better because of it's different tonality, dynamics and generally shorter sustain.
I understand where you're coming from (I think) because I can play my acoustic like it's an electric. But just taking strummed cowboy chords from acoustic to Les Paul sounds like rubbish unless there is a major effort made to control how notes ring.
You are so right about the Les Paul.
An Orange Squeeze compressor and some EQ can help make a Les Paul more "strummable". In fact, most any compressor will help most any electric become more "strummable" if you use it right. It can also make it worse if you don't set it correctly. But I'm really finding the Orange Squeeze (I have a Hartman version of it) to work well since you can set if for that dip on the initial attack.