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.


Aaron

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Or a Les Paul / 335 through a Bandmaster or Bassman. Good times can be had by all. I may splurge and get a Bassman or Bandmaster head soon.

Yes, I feel no need to look for variety when the tone is already good. If I'm not mistaken, Marshall used the Bassman as the starting point for his designs. At least that's what I've always heard.

 

The cool thing about Bassman amps is how well they take pedals. Just a solid, all around great amp. Oh no, I need one.

I thought it might be helpful to explain 'gain' as it's presented by amp marketeers to the user, rather than being technical.

 

;-)

 

A good Les Paul or 335 (or indeed strat, tele, explorer, V etc) will sound great through almost anything, while a sucky one will provide various degrees of suck according to how much the quality of the amp attenuates the sucky tones. A really good amp can make almost anything sound tolerable. And I'd certainly agree that a fat, warm humbucker-equipped guitar through a classic Fender amp is almost always going to sound great.

Yes!  Please don't subject this wonderful instrument to solid state slavery or digital bondage. It is crying to be heard, it's heart beating in anticipation of having a voice once again. In fact, if you play it through a pod, you will find that it is constantly finding ways to break cables and cause feedback. Yes, that is the guitar trying to tell you to get a real amp.

 

It is often said, "the main reason to buy a tube amp is for the smoother overdrive". That's garbage. The main reason to buy a good tube amp is for the warm and responsive clean tones - tones which digital and solid state are unable to pull off. Overdrive is yet one small aspect of it and there are plenty of pedals out there that sound very good to most ears. 

Yes, that guitar is worth a small mint. Take out a rider on your insurance in case it's stolen.

- As others have said, check that both pickups are working and that your knobs do what they're supposed to. If they are scratchy, just turn the knobs back and forth a bunch of times. If that doesn't work, they need some light cleaning. If you're even slightly included, you can do that yourself. If not, take it to a luthier who isn't at Guitar Center. Seriously, most luthiers out there are not qualified to be called luthiers.

- See how it plays. Do any frets buzz? Is the action where you like it? If you like the way it plays and it doesn't buzz, or doesn't have static, leave it alone and play it!

- Again, I've seen too many luthiers cause more problems than fix them. You're better off leaving it alone than taking it to a luthier who doesn't know what he's doing.

As for amps, if you're looking for bluesy overdrive, nothing beats a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe or Blues Deluxe for that. You get nice Fender clean and great overdrive tones.

The guitar is probably not *that* valuable - likely a pancake body and maple neck, though it might be all mahogany. Not all guitars from that era were bad, but it's not going to be sought after like a 50s or 60s LP.

 

Re: luthier, if you know the guy is good then by all means use them, but if you're not sure then don't break etc... My Heritage Les Paul was given a 'pro setup' for the vendor that left it almost un-usable - the seller didn't use it because it was so badly intonated that you could barely play it!

Yea, interestingly, I looked it up after I wrote that and I was surprised at the low prices they were selling for. Still a nice guitar.
I can wholeheartedly recommend a Blues Jr. I used it for two years leading worship in a medium size church. Make sure you do the Billm mods. (www.billmaudio.com) Especially the tone stack. It is a great portable amp and at 15 watts not too much for church.
I'm thinking about getting another one myself (did the Bill M mods on my first one and sold it for more than I bought it). I can't tell if I'd rather have an older one with Bill's mods or if 'd rather have the current generation III one. That new one sounds pretty nice, especially when clean. They've done a good job with it.
Man, what a blessing on your Les Paul. It's awesome how God works sometimes... As far as amps go, I'll throw in my support for the Fender Blues Jr. It's only 15 watts, but way loud enough for stage volume if you plan to mic your amp. I use a Blues Jr every Sunday morning for stuff similar to what you are playing (Tomlin, Crowder, Gungor). I'm playing in front of a congregation between 500-600 people and the BJ does a great job for me. As far as upkeep, the BJ has a few tubes that will need to be replaced from time to time. It runs the tubes hot, so they do wear out a little more quickly than other tube amps. However, I've used my amp for 2 years and just now had to replace the power tubes. The nice thing about the BJ is that you don't need to worry about biasing the tubes. All you need to do is buy a matched set that you can get anywhere online or in a chain store. I bought a good set of tubes for about $30 and swapped them out myself in about 5 minutes. I've played a few other Fender tube amps and still prefer the Blues Jr. It also comes in NOS tweed which is pretty sharp looking. Try Craigslist first though before you buy new. There are some great deals out there if you look hard enough. Good luck.
Yes! Great point! I forgot that the Blues Junior is "cathode biased". Hot having to adjust the bias or go to an amp tech for biasing is a great bonus when you want to replace tubes. And the tubes that it uses are relatively inexpensive. Excellent amp for worship, I don't know why I sold mine.

Thanks again folks for the info and experience... 

 

Amps... Im totally into getting a tube amp, Just from looking on youtube (with its limited sonic capabilities) that Im not going to be happy with the tone of the solidstate/modeling versions. Just a few questions remain.

 

Looking at craigslist and im seeing all three of the fender "HotRod" amps... Jr, Deluxe, and Deville... All are running between 375 to 500 and all look really nice but I think the Deville is gonna be too big.

 

Will both of the other amps take effects pedals well? Is one more versatile than the other? Is there a big difference between the Blues Jr III vs an earlier BJrs? Ive seen BillM's mods for the BJr, are there important mods to have done to the Deluxe? Which speakers should I look for when buying a used amp? (( Sorry for the numerous questions that you all probably learned in 2nd grade.. Im so glad you learned it for my benefit.))

 

On another note, the guitar has been looked at and needs almost no work. The luthier said probably half an hour of bench time to clean and set up and thats all... So happy for that. GodBless.

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