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Would you buy an early 80s Les Paul Standard unseen?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by William Braddell, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. William Braddell

    William Braddell Member

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    I'm in NZ so my options over here are pretty limited and I tend to look more at guitars in the U.S. I know this particular era has a bit of a reputation for inconsistency but the one I am looking at has playing wear through the finish on the back of the body, both from buckle rash and also at the top. That might sound like an odd thing to mention but I've always had a theory that an older guitar having that kind of playing wear is a really positive sign and a perfectly clean one is one you should probably run a mile from. The neck is mahogany according to the seller. I also know that it is a medium C profile and although I haven't measured my 335 with the slim taper neck I'm pretty confident it will be a little thicker than that which is encouraging because as much as I love the 335 and won't ever sell it, the slim taper profile can cause my hands to cramp in some places if I hold certain chord shapes for a while.

    Anyway, I don't have the cash for it yet but I'm just wondering what people's thoughts are.

    EDIT: I meant to say in the title "unplayed" not "unseen." My bad
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  2. rolandk

    rolandk Member

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    As the former owner of an ‘80 LPS, I wouldn’t buy one from that era without playing it first. Sadly, mine was kind of a dog. I agree with your theory of a guitar with lots of wear is probably good, but mine had lots of bare wood and I didn’t really play it that much.
     
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  3. shane8

    shane8 Member

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    noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
     
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  4. sunking101

    sunking101 Member

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    Is any era that consistent? There's good and bad in every day's batch so far as I'm concerned. If you can see photos and ask the seller questions then I don't see why this purchase should be more fraught with danger than any other.
     
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  5. makeitstop

    makeitstop Member

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    I bought an '82 Standard off Reverb. The price was so good that I could have flipped it for what I paid, but once I got it it turned out to be a really good guitar.

    Good luck.
     
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  6. Steadfastly

    Steadfastly Member

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    Only if I knew I could flip it right away and make some money on it.
     
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  7. William Braddell

    William Braddell Member

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    Was it a lack of resonance plugged in that was the problem? Also do you know if yours still had the 300k pots? I just wonder how much those were responsible for people not liking these guitars.
     
  8. rolandk

    rolandk Member

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    Yes, it was the lack of resonance. I tried several different pickups and it always sounded dull. I don’t remember what the pots were, assuming they were 500k. I bought a ‘90 LPS new and its been my main guitar ever since.
     
  9. TL;DR

    TL;DR Member

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    I’ve played some ungodly heavy, dull LP’s from that era. I’ve also played some terrible strats from the mid 80’s. Good ones exist, but I wouldn’t buy one without feeling/hearing it
     
  10. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    I've bought a ton of old Gibsons sight unseen - the UK doesn't have the greatest selection of vintage guitars and they're often excruciatingly expensive compared to the US. My rule is to try to find deals that are good enough that I can sell it again reasonably quickly without losing a great deal if I don't get on with it, the flip side of high prices and low availablity over here being that reselling isn't that difficult if the price is fair. I always live with a guitar I bought sight unseen for six months or so, and often I bond with things after a while, and if I don't at least I know I gave it a good chance and got some value out of it. In practice, I never hate anything and my success rates of things I keep in the long term is pretty good.

    I've never found any real correlation between condition and how good the the guitar was. I've certainly played mint vintage guitars that were exceptional and worn ones that felt like they were ready to be put out of their misery. In fact, I'd say the biggest issue with old guitars that leads to people thinking they're dogs is the state of the neck and frets, which logically is going to be worse on a heavily played guitar that hasn't been maintained properly.

    Speaking of necks, the single biggest problem I encounter buying old guitars sight unseen is frets. For a seller to admit a guitar needs a refret the frets basically have to be silver lines along the fingerboard, but a fairly high number of old guitars I buy are playable but have been dressed to virtually nothing. Gibson didn't use very high wire to begin with in that era, so if the frets are original and it's worn looking, the chances of them being in great condition are pretty small.

    A Les Paul in that era will likely be pretty heavy, so if weight matters to you ask first but the chances of it being a great deal under 10lb are pretty slim.

    Gibson's Achilles heel in that era was the pots - they used any old rubbish, on average around 300k but they can be as low as 100k. When people talk about many Gibsons of this era being dull, the pots are by far the most likely reason. Happily, it's an easy enough thing to fix.

    Late 70s / early 80s is an era I'm quite fond of for Gibson. They're quirky old things and there a bunch of stuff that isn't so good about them, but they often have that Goldilocks neck profile that feels nice and solid without being overly chunky and I've had a few great ones. My favourite guitar out of everything I've owned is a '79 ES355 that has pretty much everything that people hate about the Norlin era, but I love it.
     
  11. William Braddell

    William Braddell Member

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    Would you mind if I PMed you the link the link to the guitar in question? It's silly cos I'm nowhere near having the money for it but I don't want to post it here on the off chance someone else snatches it up.
     
  12. William Braddell

    William Braddell Member

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    Now I'm confused. I've just noticed that the guitar is not only listed on CME but is also listed at Willie's American Guitars without the price reduction down to $2595 from $2750. It's using different photos but it's definitely the same guitar...
     
  13. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    Yeah, sure!
     
  14. Moby Dick

    Moby Dick Member

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    An ‘82 standard will have a multi-piece maple neck. It should also have Tim Shaw pickups.
    For the right price, I would buy a Les Paul of this era provided you have the ability to send it back if it was as advertised.
     
  15. William Braddell

    William Braddell Member

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    This particular one has a three piece mahogany according to the sellers.
     
  16. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    I wouldn’t buy it without playing it...sorry.
     
  17. Moby Dick

    Moby Dick Member

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    I would ask for pics of the trussrod cavity to verify.
    Either way, mahogany or maple would be fine with me.
    I would expect a discount for not having Shaw pickups.
    They fetch $500-$600 a pair.
     
  18. William Braddell

    William Braddell Member

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    One of the auctions (which I think is not from the current seller and just a case of Gbase being out of date) stated they were Shaws. The other one simply hasn't clarified.
     
  19. DonP

    DonP Member

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    Three piece mahogany necks were from 1969ish to 1976ish. Sounds fishy.
     
  20. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    Gibson switched to three piece maple at the beginning of 1975 but three piece mahogany starts showing up again from around 1981 - lots of the early 80s 335 Dots have three piece mahogany.
     
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