Where's our generation's Les Paul '59?

Hecube

Senior Member
Messages
2,806
I don't believe that 50s Les Pauls, Teles and Strats are the pinnacle of guitar making.

Where are the guitars from the 70s, 80s, 90s and now 00s that are as good, if not more, than the '59 Les Paul?
 

skyblue

Member
Messages
92
If you mean a guitar that is visually identifiable as this generation's instrument of choice, you'd be hard pressed to argue against a PRS.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,309
'59's weren't the pinnacle of guitarmaking.

Not even remotely close.

The only reason it's important is that it was closely associated with some pretty remarkable guitar players, and has become an icon.
 

screamtone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,504
If you mean a guitar that is visually identifiable as this generation's instrument of choice, you'd be hard pressed to argue against a PRS.
Depends on which generation you're talking about. Could be a Charvel or a Jackson Soloist for some people a little older than me, an SG for some people a little younger than me.
 

GregoryL

Member
Messages
1,912
Does the Stradivarius belong to a generation? (just an analogy, I'm not suggesting they're on the same level)

It's not about a generation.
 

Artur_I_Tis

Member
Messages
730
I guess you would have to look to companies like Parker and Steinberger to see advances relative to the 50s and 60s. The SG pointed the way. But, it could use some improvements.
 

bettset

Member
Messages
4,229
i read in guitar player back in the 80's a guy from fender or maybe it was gibson--he said that they don't make guitars like they used to--& they never did. the prs could be it. back in the late 60's after gibson had not made lp's for about 8 years, guys liked that thick tone thru a marshall--the brit guys had some of the 58's, 59's. lp's did it--sg's too. but look who used lp's--page, the allmans, then skynyrd, beck, kossoff--keep naming them--335's too. of course with strats--hendrix, blackmore, gilmour, clapton used both & others too. it got that association. we still do it. i have a prs md--why--because it really is the guitar i've been waiting for--when i saw it & played it--that was that. selling my other santana. i still like a lp for some things--i have 2 tele's also, but the md gets the main call now--especially for original work. i have 70's, 80's & 90's lp's. some pickup changes on a few, but they resonate well. another one that resonates well is my epi elite lp--big surprise when i found it. thing is we have a ton of choices now compared to those times when the lp, strat & tele was about the only choice. best strat i've ever played is a 65 a friend of mine had. sold it for a mint & got the L5 he always wanted. if orianthi really hits it big--she's on her way--the prs will get the attention--yeah--she looks good too. if she uses a strat at times, another association. how about the amp of this generation? there's another thread :munch
 

Demioblue

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,307
Nevermind the construction techniques. I cannot understand how the techniques were better 50 years ago than they are now with all the new technology in manufacturing.

But what does matter, as it's been implied in many other sources and forums and books and what not, is that the woods used for the 59 back then were unusually musical in nature. Sort of like a Stradivarius where the timbre used for the violins were from a source where there was some unusual growth patterns.

The 50s Les Pauls all used Hard Maple. Apparently, hard maple usually comes plain (according to a Navigator luthier I met in the ESP Craft Shop in Shibuya, Tokyo). The current maple is a different breed, when you ask for one that's figured. Even on the reissues. The one partular timber harvest in the late 50s yielded figured hard maple, which is why some can be found on 58s as well. That figuring changed the constitution of the woods at that point, and it yielded some pretty interesting results. This led to why those big acts decided to aim for that particular era. Word got round that those era guitars were "special".

Futhermore, due to heavier rainfall in the previous years, the mahogany in that era was a lot more porous, lighter, and more resonant. The mahogany used today is a lot more dense.

Where are the guitars from the 70s, 80s, 90s and now 00s that are as good, if not more, than the '59 Les Paul?
They exist, in less rabid terms. The Ibanez RG550 80s era guitars with the legendary Edge Bridge is the collector's item of that era. So are the old Charvels and Kramers.
 

bettset

Member
Messages
4,229
i've heard comments about this. good points. today's technologies makes for consistency compared to 50 years ago. what we know about woods now, they may not have known or realized then. shame we can't get our hands on a 59--there is that one lucky one somewhere that will. go to youtube & look for the dimarzio vid for their new paf pickup. the reviewer uses larry's 59 along with a newer lp. listen to the difference. us mortals still do the association thing--just look for what resonates for us :munch
 
Last edited:

enigma

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,416
I'm working on it!!! Wait 'til 2011 NAMM :)

Seriously, you raise a very good point. With the vintage market gone wild in the late '90s to mid 2000, many young players looking to the classic guitar icons (partly because there's no real guitar icons of the 90's), the Gibsons and the Fenders of the world still endorsing many young players ($$$ talks) coupled with the baby boomers still looking for "traditional" designs and reminiscing the good old days, guitar innovation in general has not really been explored nor been embraced.

There are a few innovative guitar luthiers and designers out there. I hope to be one of them soon.

I'll be embarking on this journey of innovative designs and ideas in 2010 :)
 
Last edited:

lpdeluxe

Member
Messages
1,529
One of the reasons that Strats and Les Pauls remain popular is that they were designed for working musicians who had to depend on them for gig after gig, and who had no expectation of their contemporaries showing up in large enough numbers to pay their bills. They played with orchestras, jazz combos, western swing bands, and they were career musicians, not twenty-somethings who were trying to impress the girls.

Nobody has significantly improved on any of the iconic fifties' designs. Leo Fender and Ted McCarty pretty much covered all the bases, from the rudimentary but musical Telecaster to the difficult-to-make 335, and to date, no one has put in the time and sweat to compete, with the exception of PRS (but his designs borrow a lot from earlier efforts).

If you think that pointy superstrats were the pinnacle of human artistic achievement, you are, of course, allowed to disagree. But seriously, name a POPULAR guitar that isn't a variation on one of those four designs (five, including a late-comer, the SG).

I've owned one of each, except for the Tele, and I can't think of a feature that I'd add to any one of them...unless less weight (for the Les Paul) could be considered a feature.
 

Artur_I_Tis

Member
Messages
730
If you want to see real wood joinery, check out an amish barn, or even an old built in cabinet. Those are some real mortise and tenons, not the slots that you find in set neck guitars. Or, look at good furniture. I'd like to see a dovetail joint in one of those $25000 guitars.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,309
Nobody has significantly improved on any of the iconic fifties' designs. Leo Fender and Ted McCarty pretty much covered all the bases, from the rudimentary but musical Telecaster to the difficult-to-make 335, and to date, no one has put in the time and sweat to compete, with the exception of PRS (but his designs borrow a lot from earlier efforts).

If you think that pointy superstrats were the pinnacle of human artistic achievement, you are, of course, allowed to disagree. But seriously, name a POPULAR guitar that isn't a variation on one of those four designs (five, including a late-comer, the SG).

I've owned one of each, except for the Tele, and I can't think of a feature that I'd add to any one of them...unless less weight (for the Les Paul) could be considered a feature.
I really don't think that Fender or Gibson (or PRS) covered all the bases. The problem with your restriction to "Popular" guitars is the very reason that we don't have *more* improvements in the genre. Most guitars are a variation on one of those four designs NOT so much because they're the epitome of all things guitar, but because it just made good marketing sense to hope on those bandwagons. The real problem is that manufacturers have so emphasized traditional guitars (and players have so bought into it) that it's difficult for them to implement improvements without being stoned by luddites <G>.

Improvements? The neck heels have been improved on, for one. Other guitar manufacturers have produced neck-through construction that allowed them to fairly eliminate the chunky neck heel.


It's finally even found its way to Les Paul type guitars:



Metal necks (from a bunch of different builders including Travis Bean, Messenger, Kramer, etc.) have proven to be very stable, and in the case of the Travis Bean guitars, which had all important bits (everything from tuners to tailpiece) mounted on the piece of metal running down the center of the guitar, the entire system worked together to produce sustain and tone.

Other improvements are out there -- flatter radius fretboards, scallops, carbon fiber fretboards, light-activated pickups, piezo pickups, MIDI/synth setups, sustainers, active preamps with boost and cut tone controls that work with any passive humbucker, blend controls on LPs instead of strange old coupled volume controls that change the volume of both pickups if both are selected, various kinds of boost controls, varitones, active pickups that are NOT metal pickups, modelers (like the Variax) -- but when you've told customers for years that they need a guitar just like the one that Clapton played in the late '60's to do "real" rock and roll, you've left behind any chance to introduce new stuff. The threads that roll their collective eyes at Floyd Rose trems showing up on LP guitars (even though they've been doing so since the early '80's) because "I dunno, it just doesn't look right" speak volumes.

When you've got thousands of followers who act like schools of fish, you have little chance to add improvements if you want to sell to that herd.

There aren't any problems like that with keyboardists; the Korg Oasys, which was introduced in about 2004 and was recently discontinued, can sound like anything and everything. You don't find keyboard players absolutely lockstepped into a grand piano, a Hammond B3 and a Fender Rhodes 88. While those sounds are still staples, there are thousands more available and used. Guitarists? Not so much.
 






Trending Topics

Top