1974 Norlin era Les Paul vs 2004 Historic Les Paul...whoa !

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Timmo, Jan 9, 2006.


  1. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    Well, I just got through having a shootout with a ' 74 Gibson Les Paul Custom and a '04 Gibson Historic Les Paul Standard and I gotta tell you, I now have to rethink my views on Norlin era Les Pauls.
    Now I know the Customs and Standards have a few differences in materials such as mahogany top vs maple top, ebony vs rosewood fretboards etc. but WHOA ! The tonal differences between these two guitars are HuGe!
    The '74 Custom has been well played but at the same time, well loved. It has been taken care of although the frets are just plain gone. The ' 04 Historic has also been played but not taken care of as well in it's short life. Nothing major just not the way I treat new guitars.
    First of all, the ' 74 Custom just has more of "IT". More bite, more bass, more mids, more sustain more EVERYTHING! Hey, I'm as shocked as you! I've bashed Norlin guitars more often than not in the past and now, that will never happen again. I stand corrected!
    The Historic just sounds "young" in comparasion if that makes any sense.
    Nowhere near the sustain or clarity of note separation.
    Here's the strange part..........the NORLIN LP is as light as ANY LP I have ever had my hands on. I bet it was under 8.5 lbs. A NORLIN under 8.5 lbs. I never knew such a beast even exsisted!
    All I'm saying is... NOW, I'm a believer that there are indeed Norlin era guitars that are just plain freakin' MAGIC !
    :RoCkIn
     
  2. 83stratman

    83stratman Member

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    Yep, not surprised. Give me a decent Norlin Gibson or CBS Fender over any new guitar any day. They feel and sound better to me.
     
  3. DiazDude

    DiazDude Member

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    The way I remember Norlin/Gibsons is the QC in that era was
    WAY worse than it is now on non-custom shop pieces.
    BUT every once in a while you saw a good one.
     
  4. erksin

    erksin Member

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    My '78 Deluxe is the first LP I ever picked up and instantly loved - unplugged, it's one of the most resonant and fullbodied guitars I've ever played. It has a nice rich clarity plugged in too. It's heavy (in the 11-12lb range), but that's what good straps are for. I may have found a 'good' one, but I never seemed to find a newer 'good' one that spoke to me half as much as this Norlin...

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    I have a 74 LP Custom and a few historics. I love them all and I plan on holding on to all of them. With the right amp the 74 Norlin really shines. My 74 custom is on the heavy side, though. It has the 20th anniversary fret marker as well.

    Also, those 74 customs were modeled on the 50s "fretless" wonder version of the LP. My 74 custom hasn't seen that much playing, even from me and the frets are almost not there. They really didn't have much in the way of frets when they were new, just enough to sound the notes.

    :AOK
     
  6. einstein

    einstein Member

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    old growth wood obviuosly combined with time. new lespauls always seemed stiff.
     
  7. Riscchip

    Riscchip Member

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    I was just playing a 1980 wine red back-breaking 3-pc top boat anchor at a shop yesterday. Should have sucked, but it didn't. Really sweet sounding guitar. Might have bought it, but I could barely lift it. Amazing playability, and nice tone.
     
  8. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Member

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    My two favorite guitars....
    03 R7 and '70 Deluxe GT

    [​IMG]
     
  9. axpro

    axpro Member

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    As much as I am one to complain about Gibson, the nicest sounding LP I've ever had in my hands was a 76 gold top. HOrribly disfigured, someone routed for full size HB's with a chisel. It had been to hell and bacl and was selling for $600 Canadian... I tried it at the shop, liked it, and figured I'd come back a week later. (I was a little younger and a LOT dumber) I got the itch as soon as i got home, and called the shop to put a hold on it, someone bought it about 10 minutes after i had put it down. :(

    That is when i learned, it doesn't matter what brand, or what era, if a guitar speaks to you when yo pick it up, you BUY IT!
     
  10. Red Suede

    Red Suede Member

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    Neck joint depth makes all the difference. The Norlins are O.K., but I never liked the Les Pauls from the late 60s through the 70s because of a midrangey honk I heard. A friend bought one of the first Historics that I really liked and asked him what was the difference between his Historic and the other models and he told me about the neck being deeper into the body, peghead tilt angle, pickup placement corrections, etc. Depends if you like a more Bruce Conte 335ish tone (me) or a harder midrange attack.
     
  11. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    I've been saying it for years, there are no absolutes, don't believe anyone that tells you that Norlin Gibson or CBS Fender are all bad.

    My '81 Goldtop Deluxe killed in every way.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. red firebird

    red firebird Guest

    If they all had been so bad companies would have sunk very fast, and guitarist of the 70s were not that def ;-) The new thing at this time was that quality control was bad and let badly crafted instruments go out of factory, I think we all seen some. But even if morale was bad people didn't stop doing their job at doing instruments.
     
  13. cvansickle

    cvansickle Supporting Member

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    You can find bad and good guitars in every era, of any vintage. I've played new Gibsons that were killer, and I've played 50s Gibsons that sounded like ass.

    A local shop had a pair of early 90s Customs in stock recently, only a couple months off according to serial number. One was great, could have played it all day. The other only so-so.

    As it always has been, my main guitar is a 1979 Les Paul Custom silverburst - can't get much more Norlin than that!
     
  14. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Member

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    My only "real" Les Paul is a 1979 tobaccoburst Deluxe. I think it sounds great, mind you there's a soapbar Dimarzio Super Distortion in it. :)

    It has a three-piece top, one-piece back, and a three-piece maple neck that is a little on the skinny side for my tastes these days.

    I do like it and can't imagine ever parting with it, but man is it friggin' heavy - close to 12 pounds!!!

    Jim
     
  15. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I've not understood the whole "QC was bad during the Norlin Years." I haven't seen a lot of glaring QC errors on those guitars. What I see is a bunch of "features" or "distinguishing characteristics" that were a part of the guitars at that time. In this day and age, most of those "features" or "characteristics" are not considered desirable today. As a whole, I don't look at Norlin era guitars as "vintage" or 'old wood' or anything of the sort. I've owned and played dozens and dozens of these guitars, and it seems inconcievable that someone would fork out a premium for a guitar solely on the basis of it being a Norlin era guitar. A good guitar is a good guitar no matter what it is, and I've had a few good guitars- in spite of them being made during the Norlin era.

    However, if it came down to two guitars, sight unseen, I would pick the newer Historic ANY day of the week.
     
  16. SFW

    SFW Member

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    My first guitar was a 1974 Les Paul Custom, in whine red. It is still by far the best playing and feeling Lester that I have ever played. The neck profile is slightly thicker than a 60s slim. It has a nice balanced tone and sustains for days. It is noticably heavier than my 2001 Classic. I love both my Lesters.

    By the way, my LPC is a one piece back with a three piece maple cap.
     
  17. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I should ammend that...

    I'd choose a 90's to present Standard over a Norlin, and a Historic over a Standard.

    I think, generally speaking, the quality of the wood, construction techniques and overall feel has been better on the "recent" guitars than on the Norlin guitars. I remember being most impressed with the new guitars I played in the early 90s, but I was ecstatic to find the neck carve on the Historics more fit what my ideal neck size and shape was. In '02 when Gibson started offering the "50's" neck shape AND gave the headstock a normal size, that was a big boost to the production Standard.

    Fifteen years ago I played Norlin guitars because that's what I could afford, the guitars I have now I actually chose on their merits.
     
  18. rwe333

    rwe333 Supporting Member

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    My main guitar for ages was a wine-colored '78 Deluxe. Would still be number one, but it was ripped-off... <sigh> I'll always miss it...
     
  19. erksin

    erksin Member

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    I can only take exception in my particular case, but my Deluxe has a very nice, tight-grained one-piece Mahogany body - most recent production Lesters I've seen have VERY porous backs without much grain character - almost like 'Phillipine Mahogany'. Looks very cheap IMO...

    I would like a smaller headstock, but it doesn't make that big of a difference to me.
     
  20. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    There were plenty of Norlin guitars made with good wood- but as you mentioned yours is a 1-piece body, not a sandwich- but chances are you've still got a 3 piece top and a 3 piece maple neck. To my way of thinking (and I could totally be wrong) but those laminations mean that Gibson didn't want to source wood properly to even get the right sizes... My 81 Standard was built like that, and it was a great sounding (if a bit bright) guitar, but it was a friggin' tank. As it was a tank it was also virtually indestructible as well... But that guitar was an easy 12 pounder.
     

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