What's Your "Do-it-All" Guitar and Why?

Mine's the black American Standard Tele.

For what I like to play, it does the clean neck pickup really well, has a little 59 hum bucker in the bridge for higher gain stuff, and the other position is rewired to be the split humbucker for single coil bridge sounds. Obviously not a traditional tele bridge tone, but I like it since it's less ice-picky than the one that was stock. I'm playing everything but metal and country basically. Very versatile instrument for all other guitar genres. The white offset tele is stock so it can still cover a lot of sounds.


 
Although I'm a Strat guy, I also have a PRS S2 Vela, a PRS 277, an SG and a couple others. Earlier this year I bought this 70th Anniversary Esquire. Always planned on getting a Tele some day but based on several YT reviews, decided to pull the trigger on this one.

Maybe not as versatile as a dual PUP Tele but it does offer aa wide palate of tones. And after playing it for several months now, and although I still love my Strats, I really have to agree with Tele aficionados that it truly is THE desert island guitar.

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My Gear Page tile icon says it all: Whitfill T52 ("Butterscotch black guard Telecaster"). As guitar player-supreme Kenny Vaughn once said in an interview about his own Whitfill: "If I could only take one guitar on the road, it would be a Telecaster...it is the "Swiss Army Knife" of guitars...it can do anything." Totally true. I used to play Strats and could get a lot of cool tones out of them, but never Tele tone (unless you put a Tele pickup with plate in the bridge position of the Strat), but...you can get Strat tone out of a Tele with a good neck pickup and a well-chosen bridge pickup.
I also like longer scale (25.5") and wider string spacing at the bridge of a Tele (or Strat) vs the Gibson "narrow" string spread at the bridge. And of course: "weight." Nothing worse than standing with a 9-10 pound mahogany body Les Paul hanging on your shoulder vs the light-weight, super-resonant ash body Telecaster that weighs in between 6.5 to 7.0 pounds. Slam dunk. And...for variety, you can get Tele's with humbuckers or P-90's. I have both/all.
And...think about it: nearly every great player since the 1950's started with a Telecaster or Esquire. Some moved on to other things, including Gibson, but the classic sound of Rock 'n Roll and Blues was based on the Telecaster: B.B. King (yep); Steve Cropper; Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Albert Collins, Mike Bloomfield, James Burton, Sid Barrett, Roy Buchanan, Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Buckley, Mike Campbell, Jim Campilongo, Jerry Donahue, Danny Gatton, Vince Gill, David Gilmour, Ted Green, Merle Haggard, Chrissie Hynde, Waylon Jennings, Greg Koch, Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Buck Owens, Brad Paisley, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, G.E. Smith, Joe Strummer, Andy Summers, Tommy Tedesco, Redd Volkert, Keith Urban, Joe Walsh, and Clarence White..."just to name a few." :)
 
In my 50 years of gigging, a good Strat best covered the most bases for me. Yup, there are other guitars that did some things better but I hated changing guitars at a gig...so I found a good Strat and made it work. But finding a "good" Strat is another story;)!
 
My PRS Custom 24 SE - it's the 35th anniversary model, with individual coil split switches for each humbucker. Super versatile, hence the 'go to' for all kinds of genres. My Godin Montreal (my profile pic) can also do a lot with Seymour Duncan P-Rail pickups - each one is one single coil rail, and one P90, which you can mix and match. The only reason it's not my 'go to' is because it's more expensive and more fragile, so I rarely take it out of the house.
 
For me, it was a surprise, but it was a pleasant surprise. It’s the Chinese-made Starcaster-reissue on the left. Early on, I replaced the electronics and dropped a couple of Martin Smith WRHBs in her (which was a pain in the butt with this semi-hollow, but it was well worth the hassle).

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The others in the photo excel in certain areas (the Parker loves high gain, the JM w/P90s loves gritty/sleazy mid-gain, etc.), but the Starcaster covers everything well, excelling most where neck-pickups are supposed to excel, but covering everything else (but sleazy bridge bits) as well as or almost as well as anything else. The only thing I might do to improve it would be putting a WRHB-sized PAF-type pickup in the bridge (but it’s either good enough as is, or I’m simply lazy… but that’s my only gripe with it… working on the electronics is tougher with this one than it’s ever been with any other semi-hollow I’ve had). I’m also afraid if I drop a bridge PAF-type in, I might lose it’s wonderful middle-position tones. And, truth be told, a few pedal or amp eq tweaks is all that’s needed to get her bridge PUP where I want it.

Overall, she’s a keeper. Her sweet, smooth voice and her wonderful feel (she sits and feels Goldilocks-perfect in every scenario, as if she were built specifically to match my body) are addictive.

I have to find an original 70s Starcaster to compare her against, just to make sure, but I doubt that she’ll compare unfavorably.
 
My Boutique Built 2004 Frankinstein Guitar Works Creation is one of the most versatile guitars I have ever owned. Individually Coil Tapped ,Push Pull Vol/Tone,NOS 70's Bill Lawrence LS-500's Wrapped in a 3/8" Bookmatched AAA Flamed Maple Cap and Back,Sandwiching Wedges of Western Red Cedar whilst creating a 50% hollow see thru body.Set Birdseye/Flamed Maple Neck with Slab Rosewood Fretboard and Jumbo N/S Frets,Held in tune by Sperzel Tuners
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Epiphone Nighthawk. JB with split at the bridge, some odd single coil in the middle, mini humbucker with split at the neck. Five way switch brings the quack. Longer than Gibson scale length lends some twang. Rosewood board for a soft touch. Also cheap and cheerful so I don’t care where I take it. I guess they’re a little too odd looking to be popular.
 
Another member of the ssh contingent checking in.

If I want "do it all," I grab this. Great humbucking and split sounds. Might mod it so I can get the middle by itself.
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If I want "do most of it," I grab the silo special w/ piezo I've had for almost 20 years. I'm trying some new pickups, but will likely go back to the Jb and antiquity texas strat hots I had in it forever. Rock, funk, jazzish, "acoustic," whatever, I've probably played it with this guitar.

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I used to play in a big band with a repertoire ranging from Sidney Bechet or Benny Goodman to Joe Zawinul and Queen (with overdriven guitar solos). After trying different things (ES-125, Tele, Gretsch, Heritage H535, H530, D’Angelico EX-SS….) I ended up settling with this Gibson ES-275.

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I’m normally more of an ES-125/175 or even acoustic (archtop, manouche, nylon) kind of guy, but for that specific job the 275 worked best for me.
 
PRS SE Custom 24 Floyd.
  • 24 Frets that are easily accessible all the way up the neck.
  • Floyd has been replaced with Graph Tech LB6 Floyd with piezo pickups and an Acoustiphonic preamp.
  • Piezo pickups processed with a tone matched Kemper Profile to a 6 string or 12 string acoustic.
  • Lead pickup changed for a DiMarzio Super Distortion.
  • Rhythm pickup changed for a Sustainiac for instant feedback or endless sustain on demand.
  • Inexpensive and easily replaceable.
  • Very good action.
 
I have three, that's the same as one, right?

A decent lighter weight les paul or LP special (look away purists, I think a special is a better guitar, but it doesn't have the same perceived quality) with paf type pickups. Brand doesn't matter, it just needs to be straight and the pickups, pots and tuners all need to be good stuff.

A strat - no special conditions other than not being 6 pounds or 11 pounds

A tele with the four way switch

I haven't performed live in 25 years, so I don't have too much thought about pickups, but I guess noiseless pickups for live would be better.
 




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