Fender Esprit Robben Ford alternative

kickstrat

Member
Messages
231
I am big fan of Robben Ford's TONE from the Blue Line era. I know that he was using a Fender Esprit Signature model at that time. Unfortunately, these guitars are too expensive now.
What recent guitar would be in the ballpark tonewise. (Hamer, PRS, Gibson LP double cut...)
PS: I also love his tone with Tele, LP, SG... but his tone on Handful of blues and Mystic Mile is my favorite. Thanks!
 

guitararmy

Member
Messages
3,028
I have a Robben Ford model, and one other guitar of mine that is close in tone is an Ovation VXT, a semihollow discontinued model with SD humbuckers...
 

cutaway

Senior Member
Messages
18,211
I am big fan of Robben Ford's TONE from the Blue Line era. I know that he was using a Fender Esprit Signature model at that time. Unfortunately, these guitars are too expensive now.
What recent guitar would be in the ballpark tonewise. (Hamer, PRS, Gibson LP double cut...)
PS: I also love his tone with Tele, LP, SG... but his tone on Handful of blues and Mystic Mile is my favorite. Thanks!
What's your budget? That's the big mistake folks make in posts like this. We need a ceiling or we won't be much help.
 

kickstrat

Member
Messages
231
Yes, sorry about that. I was thinking between $1500 to $2500 for used or new one.
Unfortunately, I can't try these guitars because there are no big guitar store where I live.
 
Last edited:

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,763
I believe there was a Epiphone version but it is fairly rare.

No, it’s Squier, I have one that I bought on overstock.com for $300. I replaced the PUs with PAF style from GFS but otherwise it’s stock. It’s chambered like the Fender and sound pretty good. Without Robben’s hands it will never sound like him.

ker1211e.JPG
 

cutaway

Senior Member
Messages
18,211
Yes, sorry about that. I was thinking between $1500 to $2500 for used or new one.
Unfortunately, I can't try these guitars because there are no big guitar store in my island.
So quick follow up: are you going to buy online or just try to buy what's available where you live? Because, again, we'll be hampered by what we suggest.

If you're buying online, in that price range, you can get a RF. This thing is beat up, but it's in your range.

https://reverb.com/item/17400457-fender-robben-ford-1987-natural
 
Messages
2,751
Those guitars were kinda.... "average" in their day, Just another 2 humbucker Samick built guitar. I seem to remember trying one out of curiousity, my being a Fender man but wanting that Gibson-y sound on occasion. It was heavy, dull sounding, no resonance or sustain that I remember. And the pickups were very "meh". They were blowing them out at $300, I do remember that.

Just about anything with a humbucker would get that tone, I'm sure. Ford's tone was all in that Dumble tone, the tight distortion they have with pushed mids. Remember - Howard built that amp and that tone around Robben's '59 Bassman soooooo..... humbucker + dumble-ish pedal = that tone.

I'd get a used Epiphone or Oscar Schmidt Delta King off of craigslist, a Wampler Euphoria pedal, and a tweed-ish amp... best bang for the buck, a Peavey Classic 30. You shouldn't have more than $500-750 in the whole rig.
 
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bob-i

Member
Messages
8,763
Those guitars were kinda.... "average" in their day, Just another 2 humbucker Samick built guitar. I seem to remember trying one out of curiousity, my being a Fender man but wanting that Gibson-y sound on occasion. It was heavy, dull sounding, no resonance or sustain that I remember. And the pickups were very "meh". They were blowing them out at $300, I do remember that.

I agree they’re kinda meh...but I wouldn’t call them dull or heavy. The $300 blowout was the Squier version that I have. Mine is light and resonant and sustains as well as any decent guitar. I really like the neck joint, smooth and comfortable with easy upper fret access.
 

cutaway

Senior Member
Messages
18,211
Like others have said, you can get that tone with just about any twin hum guitar and a decent amp with a mid OD dialed in. I'd be more concerned with my rig than my guitar. Then there's the phrasing. :) You have to work on that.
 
Messages
2,751
I agree they’re kinda meh...but I wouldn’t call them dull or heavy. The $300 blowout was the Squier version that I have. Mine is light and resonant and sustains as well as any decent guitar. I really like the neck joint, smooth and comfortable with easy upper fret access.

No these were Fenders, not the Elite model, however. This was long before Squier was making anything other than Strat/Tele clones. This was around the time "talk to your daughter" came out, or shortly thereafter. My local dealer was the largest Fender dealer in the country at the time, so they always had great deals.. I was spoiled. I remember when Custom Shop guitars came out, they were $1400 brand new.... I STILL kick myself for not buying one!

A word about "dull and heavy". Every guitar weighs different, these may have just been water logged. "Dull" - I knew nothing about stop tail bridges back then.... thinking about it right now, it could've very well been lack of break angle or just dead strings. My fuzzy memory tells me it was a very "plasticy" feeling guitar, very polished and highly finished. Modern Epiphone Les Pauls feel similar. Again, not a BAD thing, just very foreign to what I was use to which at that time was nitro and typical Fender bolt neck guitars.
 

kickstrat

Member
Messages
231
Those guitars were kinda.... "average" in their day, Just another 2 humbucker Samick built guitar. I seem to remember trying one out of curiousity, my being a Fender man but wanting that Gibson-y sound on occasion. It was heavy, dull sounding, no resonance or sustain that I remember. And the pickups were very "meh". They were blowing them out at $300, I do remember that.

Just about anything with a humbucker would get that tone, I'm sure. Ford's tone was all in that Dumble tone, the tight distortion they have with pushed mids. Remember - Howard built that amp and that tone around Robben's '59 Bassman soooooo..... humbucker + dumble-ish pedal = that tone.

I'd get a used Epiphone or Oscar Schmidt Delta King off of craigslist, a Wampler Euphoria pedal, and a tweed-ish amp... best bang for the buck, a Peavey Classic 30. You shouldn't have more than $500-750 in the whole rig.

Thank you for sharing your experience with the Fender Robben Ford model. I understand what you mean.
But IMO, Robben Ford sound from the Blue Line era is different than how he sounds now. I must add that I also love the sounds he gets with an SG, LP, or ES335.
I have a few Gibsons (LP, ES335, SG) and I love how they sound and appreciate their differences.
I never owned a guitar in the style of the Fender Esprit (Robben Ford), so I was just wandering what guitar could have the same sound characteristics.
 

David MacNeill

Songwriter, producer, recovering guitar hero
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,131
The Hamer Newports do this too from the right angle, but does anyone get the optical illusion like me that the lower horn is longer than the upper?

esprit-top-level-image.jpg

Yep, I see it too. Symmetrical pointy cutaways often look like this to me, but rounded 335-semis never do. Weird.
 

bobogypsy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
45
Yes, sorry about that. I was thinking between $1500 to $2500 for used or new one.
Unfortunately, I can't try these guitars because there are no big guitar store where I live.


I have one for sale on Reverb and in the emporium. It is the same color as Garth Weber's Robben Ford. It plays like a dream. I also have a Fender Flame from 1984 that is similar but a slightly smaller body.
 

jwguitar

Member
Messages
6,591
I am big fan of Robben Ford's TONE from the Blue Line era. I know that he was using a Fender Esprit Signature model at that time. Unfortunately, these guitars are too expensive now.
What recent guitar would be in the ballpark tonewise. (Hamer, PRS, Gibson LP double cut...)
PS: I also love his tone with Tele, LP, SG... but his tone on Handful of blues and Mystic Mile is my favorite. Thanks!

I am not a used Hamer Expert but I do know that you can get a really nice USA one for much less than they should be worth. That would be what I would look into first.
 




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