Is there a better guitar than an R9?

cosmic_ape

Supporting Member
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6,405
I have played ONE great, exceptional -really- Gibson R9 before. It made most production guitars out there sound pedestrian in comparison.

And yet, my Nik Hubers are better.

So, there.
 

hunter

Supporting Member
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6,384
Back when I was Les Paul shopping I was focused on historic models. I liked the sound of every R7 better than every R8, R9 I played. The R7s were so consistently better sounding that I picked up an R7. Maybe looks and price were affecting my hearing. After all, if the price was several hundred higher, it should sound several hundred better, maybe. Can't say for sure why. But as Les Pauls go, my R7 is good. The one exception was a tragic Dickie Betts gold top that still ranks as one of the deadest guitars I have touched but technically not an R7 I guess. These days, I would much rather play my Revstar than my R7. So...

hunter
 

Sirloin

Supporting Member
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15,431
Very subjective question, I know.

I’d like to ask those with experience in owning, playing, or lusting after an R9, if there was any electric guitar they liked better, and for what reason(s)?

I’m just curious.

I own an R9, and often wonder why folks move on from these, what did they move onto, and why?

Thanks.
R8 = better bigger neck. At least they used to be.
 

Sirloin

Supporting Member
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15,431
My R7 sounded glorious, probably one of the best sounding LP’s I ever heard...but that neck was a bat. My R9 (‘99) had large frets....period incorrect but I loved them. Sounded nice but not as nice as the R7. Neck was not as big as the R7 but had very prominent shoulders, uncomfortable for me. I can handle necks in the smaller side of the ‘59 spectrum but alas mine didn’t have one. And it always bugged me that my R7 sounded so much better, even unplugged. Really full and round. So basically I like the level of workmanship that goes into an R9, but it’s not my “perfect” guitar by any means.
Bigger necks have usually equated to bigger tone with the historic Gibsons in my opinion.
 

Alister

Supporting Member
Messages
3,495
Back when I was Les Paul shopping I was focused on historic models. I liked the sound of every R7 better than every R8, R9 I played. The R7s were so consistently better sounding that I picked up an R7. Maybe looks and price were affecting my hearing. After all, if the price was several hundred higher, it should sound several hundred better, maybe. Can't say for sure why. But as Les Pauls go, my R7 is good. The one exception was a tragic Dickie Betts gold top that still ranks as one of the deadest guitars I have touched but technically not an R7 I guess. These days, I would much rather play my Revstar than my R7. So...

hunter
I've been playing LP's since 1971, exclusively until probably the mid 80's, always with at least one in possession: Deluxes with the mini-hums, two-ton black customs, Standards, and since the 2000's when I've had the money, a few historics.

I'm partial to the R7's over the 8's and 9's as well, although I also own a 2013 R9 currently; my R7 still prevails.
I agree it's probably the chunky neck; there's no other variable I can think of. It's not a 'subjective' matter with me, I don't think, either, b/c I don't particularly find the goldtop that visually appealing. (Could be the Duncan Antiquities I put in it, I admit, but I also prefer other R7's I've played.
That said, my R9 is superb and picked out for me by Mark at Mark's Guitar Loft, a guy who's opinion is reliable to me. It's more "mellow" (custombuckers) than my R7, so it makes a good contrast.
I am fortunate in my old age...but final word: I, too, prefer 335's at the end of the day.
 

nichd

Supporting Member
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380
Like @cosmic_ape I would give a +1 on Huber- however I've never played an Orca '59 for an honest side x side.

I think if you love an R9- you should focus on other LPs vs other guitars because gibbys can be very different in feel, sound etc. That alone can give you a lifetime of butterfly chasing.

I can tell you my boring 50+ lp journey to number 1- but its self serving and ends with a rare replica. I will say there was a 54 reissue and a couple 57's that I liked more than most R9's. I never bonded with R8 or R0 necks... have owned a few of each. My fave R9 was a recent Brazilian; however the Carmelita neck carve is just a tad small for my liking.
 

xjojox

Tardis-dwelling wanker
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5,724
Bigger necks have usually equated to bigger tone with the historic Gibsons in my opinion.
All things being equal there may be something to that... but the frequencies at which chunks of wood resonate have to do with lots of things other than the size of the neck. I've had guitars with small necks that sounded huge and guitars with fat necks that sounded thin. Also, when it comes to vintage LP tone... folks tend to like the brighter snappier ones (tele on 'roids) so once again "big" may not be as important as "balanced", "sweet", or any of a number of other verbs.
 

milli vanilli

Member
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4,893
A USA Jackson Ontario or San Dimas era shredder with a badass paint job trumps an R9 in my book. LOL
 
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hunter

Supporting Member
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6,384
All things being equal there may be something to that... but the frequencies at which chunks of wood resonate have to do with lots of things other than the size of the neck. I've had guitars with small necks that sounded huge and guitars with fat necks that sounded thin. Also, when it comes to vintage LP tone... folks tend to like the brighter snappier ones (tele on 'roids) so once again "big" may not be as important as "balanced", "sweet", or any of a number of other verbs.
My R7 actually has a little thinner neck than typical. Somebody at Gibson got a little over zealous with the belt sander that day I guess. Still the big neck is the thing I like least about R7s. Fortunately I am not particularly sensitive to neck sizes. And consistent with your experience, I have a couple of guitars with really thin necks that sound as good as anything.

That preference for brighter and snappier big tele tones? At the risk of incurring the wrath, I am gonna take a chance and claim that is a probably an internet gossip phenomena that took hold. And yes it could currently be a sonic preference. Brighter snappier is definitely a sound pursued by Gibson in relatively recent history as evidenced by their pickup choices in the post 57 Classics era. But it is not something I heard a lot about until the age of internet expertise. I am pretty sure someone with serious research skills could trace the tele on steroids concept back to an origination point, something some important person said, that post dates the initial Les Paul boom by many years. Or maybe prove me wrong which is OK too. I was playing a Les Paul in 1970 and no one I knew ever looked at a Les Paul as a tele on steroids. My room mate had a Les Paul and his brother had a real 59 so Les Pauls were in the air. And I owned a Tele at the time too. I never thought any of em were like a telecaster. But that is just me.

Nigel will tell you Les Pauls were about fat sustain. Hear it?

hunter
 

sidekick

Supporting Member
Messages
1,520
After experiencing several historic reissue models over a 15 year period including R9's, my preference, (Les Paul wise) was the Chambered reissues because they are lighter and a tad more 'airy' sounding that suited my ear better. Experienced a couple of replica LP's also.

The CR's went to happy homes after I experienced Gustavsson BM's which are a nod to the old wood Les Paul 50's period having some similarities yet still being different in a pleasing way.
 

MikeMcK

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,584
Bigger necks have usually equated to bigger tone with the historic Gibsons in my opinion.
While there are no hard and fast rules, I've found the same thing... that I'm more likely to be impressed by the sound if the neck is bigger. It's not just Historics... my '59 Junior is a baseball bat and sounds killer.
 
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xjojox

Tardis-dwelling wanker
Messages
5,724
I am pretty sure someone with serious research skills could trace the tele on steroids concept back to an origination point, something some important person said, that post dates the initial Les Paul boom by many years. Or maybe prove me wrong which is OK too. I was playing a Les Paul in 1970 and no one I knew ever looked at a Les Paul as a tele on steroids. My room mate had a Les Paul and his brother had a real 59 so Les Pauls were in the air. And I owned a Tele at the time too. I never thought any of em were like a telecaster. But that is just me.
it?
Yep! I was there too. We liked them specifically because they were thicker sounding than teles and strats. And... louder LOL. Eventually Gibson started making them heavier, with hotter pickups, because that's what we all wanted. Especially after Larry DiMarzio made a mint by starting the aftermarket pickup craze. How many of those vintage axes had Super Distortion pickups put in? Any guitar tech from the era can tell you loads of stories.

In conjunction with the vintage craze (which was fueled in part by counter-culturalism of the 60's/70's including the conspiracy theories about "the man" ruining Gibbys and Fenders) folks eventually notice that PAF's were sweeter and brighter than the 16k ceramic sledgehammers that became popular later. And of course we don't really need hot pickups with high-gain amplification anyway. So as the prices of 59's went thru the roof, everything about them became sacred, including the lower output PUPs. And I agree, THAT is when the "tele on steroids" thing started. We were focused on the "steroids", not the "tele" part back in the day!
 
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DiPa

Constant GAS
Gold Supporting Member
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14,043
@sfarnell you still own your Yaron LP?
I never played one but have played a real 59 and many true historics and others, the thing is Gibson’s have a dark element and aren’t bright guitars per se, just checking if Yaron guitars are bright naturally ?
 
Messages
3,884
Very subjective question, I know.

I’d like to ask those with experience in owning, playing, or lusting after an R9, if there was any electric guitar they liked better, and for what reason(s)?

I’m just curious.

I own an R9, and often wonder why folks move on from these, what did they move onto, and why?

Thanks.
I never owned one though I played a few extensively, and you are right in saying it is an incredibly subjective question. There isn't any true consistency even in high cost instruments and one R9 could be "just ok" and another could be absolutely jawdropping. Guitars are best judged on a case by case basis.

I have about 10-12 guitars currently that I would much rather have than an R9, and minus one they all cost way less :).

Doesn't take away the R9s reputation for being an excellent instrument, but we all have our preferences.
 




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