Historic 56 Goldtop Les Paul Vs. Custom Shop 51 Nocaster Relic ??

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Madcap, May 3, 2005.

  1. Madcap

    Madcap Member

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    Hello everybody,
    a kind help from Your part is really needed.
    Mostly I play "clean" Blues, Jazz (à la Wes) and some Progressive-Rock.
    I usually play through a Bruno Cowtipper 45 matched together with a Clark Piedmont.
    I already own 3 Strats and an Ibanez AM 200 (semi-hollow, humbucking-equipped).
    I would like a guitar "richer", "rounder", "thicker" (fatter) sounding than a Strat but still more dynamic, more detailed, harmonically richer and sweeter than an humbucking-equipped guitar.
    Tone-wise I read great things about two totally different "beasts": the 56 Goldtop Les Paul and the 51 Nocaster (the relevant Custom Shop versions).
    Unluckily I have no chance to test any of them.
    So, please, I'm asking for a kind help from someone who tonally knows them both.
    Tone-wise, how would You compare them ??
    (I'm talking about the CLEAN sound of the relevant neck pickups ONLY)
    Looking forward to hearing from You, thank You so much indeed in advance for any precious help You'll be kind enough to give me.
    :)
     
  2. Marty s Horne

    Marty s Horne Member

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    Judging by what you're looking for, I'd go with a P-90 Paul.
     
  3. Ville

    Ville Member

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    +1 on the p90 les paul
     
  4. RichSZ

    RichSZ Member

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    I am going to suggest the Goldtop Les Paul Deluxe that Musician's Friend is selling for $1499.

    I had one myself (sold it due to an R9 purchase...I miss it!), and likened the tone to (warning!! cliche' on the way --> a "Tele on steroids".

    The minihumbuckers really had the clairty and bite of a tele with a rounder, thicker tone. This was with both pickups on.

    I eventually put P90's in the Deluxe, but preferred the minihumbucker tone, which was very similar to the P90 tone, but much quieter with only 1 pickup selected.

    The guitar needed a pro setup up when I received it, but other than that it was constructed really good and was very toneful.

    -Rich
     
  5. DrJamie

    DrJamie Silver Supporting Member

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    I love the tone of my Historic '56. If you get one, just be prepared to replace the plastic nut, and properly set it up, including a possible fret dressing. Mine is a 1996, and maybe Gibson has improved on the build quality since then, but I doubt it. I do get alot of positive feedback on the tone of this thing when I take it out. I would also like a mini-humbucker LP, someday.
     
  6. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    I always think of Teles and LPs as cut from the same cloth; they both have a very articulate character to the sound.

    That said, I would go against the tide here and recommend the Tele. To me, Teles have a clearer voice and more variety to their sound; LPs are a little more one-dimensional.

    I don't think you'd be unhappy with either choice; that's just the way I would lean.

    /rick
     
  7. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    ...and another +1 :dude
     
  8. tuna

    tuna Member

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    I would look at a Historic 1960 Les Paul Special with the wrap around tailpeice and the P-90's. That all mahogany body with that set up will growl and it has a great tone. If you really want the Goldtop though, I'd go with the '54 (wrap around tailpeice).
     
  9. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    You're basically talking about the two guitars RF used for most of the recordings that folks consider his holy grail tone. Except that he used real ones, and the LP is a 54. I found one new '54 reissue that has the magic, but just don't have the spare change for that toy. The few '56 reissues (new and older) that I've played don't really have the same responsiveness. Played a couple of older '54 reissues that were better, but not as good as that new on up in Redwood City. I think there's something to the single stop bar tailpiece that gives it a more solid sound on the bridge pickup, and a quicker attack. For a voice inbetween a Strat and 335, it would be a great choice.
     
  10. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    As much as I love Telecasters, the neck pickup on them is frequently nothing to write home about. An aftermarket pickup with a less lossy cover, or no cover, will remove the wet blanket effect. Many vintage neck pickups really are dark. Your Strats are going to be more satisfying IMHO.

    P-90 Les Pauls are great. The neck pickup is usable. I also really like the sound of the two pickups together. The combination can get a tonality through a clean amp, that reminds me of the footprint of a Fender Rhodes. IMHO Gibson's P-90's can be inconsistent, so it's a shame you cant find a way to audition some guitars. Also be prepared for quite a bit of hum in playing situations where there are florescent fixtures or neon signs.
     
  11. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    aeolian -

    can you say more about the '54 with the magic? I assume it is/was at Gelb Music? Can you remember what they were asking for it? I'm kind of on the lookout for a nice one.

    Thanks!
     
  12. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Yeah, ask Erik. It was there when I picked up my Fuchs last year and we both played it. Was there the last time I looked. They had it marked down at the private sale in the fall to under $2K but I just couldn't justify it. My hand cramps up playing those kind of necks too long so I wouldn't use it as a gigging guitar, and unlike some folks here, I can't justify long dough for something to plink around the house with. But this one has the open, agressive yet solid neck tone with a solid bridge that doesn't get thin and piercing. Ultimate BlueLine tone with the Fuchs. Erik plays with his fingers and he was nailing it too.
     
  13. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    aeolian -

    Thanks for the info. I'll try to get down there soon and check it out. Do you remember if it was light/medium/heavy?
     
  14. malabarmusic

    malabarmusic Member

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    I'll toss in my $0.02 as I happen to own both an R6 and a relic'd Nocaster Thinline built by Chris Fleming.

    The R6 is a Les Paul. I state this obvious fact because while the P90s offer a slightly different flavor, it's still the same *fundamental* sound. Just as Cabernet and Pinot Noir have very different nuances, but at the end of the day they're both red wine.

    To me the LP is a rock machine, first and foremost. It certainly meets your criteria of "richer", "rounder", "thicker" (fatter) sounding than a Strat but IMO it is not necessarily "more dynamic, more detailed, harmonically richer and sweeter than an humbucking-equipped guitar." An R6 is basically an R7 with the humbuckers swapped out for P90s, so if we use the R7 as a reference for a "humbucking-equipped guitar," then I don't believe the R6 is not going to give the meaningful difference you seek.

    If you like the idea of a Nocaster, I'd strongly recommend seeking out the Nocaster Thinline. It's a "reissue" of a guitar Fender never made -- basically a melding of the earlier Nocaster appointments and the later Thinline body style and pickguard. David Grissom owns one, and in a VG interview he described it as "Tele meets 335," and I think it's an apt characterization. This guitar has the dynamics/detail/richness/sweetness mojo in spades. Compared to my Strat, it has a much bigger and clearer low end, and (like most Teles vs. Strats) a more extended and sparkly top end that can be tamed with the tone knob. I'm not a blues/jazz guy, but I would think that it would be a monster in that application. I can vouch that it brings on the rock as well as any solid Tele I've heard, but it "breathes" in a way that a solid plank cannot.

    From what I've heard, the NC Thinlines were only done as a limited run by Chris Fleming, so like all Masterbuilt Fenders they're an upcharge over standard CS fare. The other thing worth noting is that I've played four of these and the necks vary quite a bit.

    Here's a pair of pics of mine: [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Good luck with the quest.

    - DB
     
  15. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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  16. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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    David Gilmour's solo in "Another brick in the wall II" is a Goldtop, neck pickup, going through a compressor to the mixing desk to a Mesa combo. It's obviously very compressed and slightly overdriven so dynamics are difficult to ascertain, but IMHO all the other features you require are there.
     
  17. Madcap

    Madcap Member

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    THANK YOU ALL, THANK YOU SO MUCH INDEED FOR YOUR EXQUISITE KINDNESS !!!!

    It does seem I've received a great chorus of preference for the P-90 Les Paul Goldtop (concerning the tone I'm looking for, of course)

    Aeolian (& Tuna), the 54 wraparound tailpiece version, does it have just more attack and aggressiveness or is there a difference in tone also ?
    (I'm always talking about the neck pickup only, I don't usually use the bridge one at all)
    (...and I play clean 99 % of the time...)

    So more attack is welcome but I do not need aggressiveness.

    Pbradt:
    it seems to me a Tele.

    Once more: MANY, MANY THANKS !!!! :D
     
  18. Teleman

    Teleman Supporting Member

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    Hey pbradt!
    My guess is that it is a tele. Either a relic nocaster or an old blackguard. May even be James Pennebaker??
    Sound's a bit like "Momma screw your wig on tight"

    That's my guess.
     
  19. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    My experience is that the wrap around tailpiece is more responsive to picking nuances and slightly thicker or more solid sounding. Also, when you pick hard, or pluck with your fingers, the tone holds together better IMO. Sorta like having a gauge heavier strings on in terms of tone and pick response (but you can still bend them). On many P90 the bridge can get shrill, but a good 54 will have a solid usable tone there. Sort of like a Tele with a hotrail or stacked humbucker in back. Some bark but not so much twang. That will make the middle position much more useable though. If you play lots of clean, you may find yourself using that for a nice clear alternate tone.
     
  20. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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    Yes, on ball three counts. Y'all are the first to ever figure it out when I asked. Most think it's a 335 or a 295.

    It's a '52. Through a '59 Vibrolux. The demonstration was to show you don't need a LP or an archtop to play jazz.

    There is a real bias on this board against real Telecasters with the classic pickup configuration. But in the hands of a guitarist who has their stuff together, a Tele can do ANYTHING. It's as if the majority have decided to buy into the myth that "Telecasters are for Country only."

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Brother James proves that.

    I think many players shy away from the Tele because it is demanding that the player have their technique together. It's delivery will reveal you as the fraud you are, if you can't play. In this world, there are an awful lot of people who lean onn various crutches, from humbucking pickups to triple-rectifiers...to conceal the slop.

    However, for those who can really play, a Tele will reveal you as the raging stud you are. That's why I love them.

    When I'm fraudulent, which is more often than not, it laughs, points at me and says "does this guy suck or what?"

    I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Now THIS is a Tele. :-D
    [​IMG]
     

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