New Guitar....more versatile....reccomendations?

(21 posts)
  1. jazzbum
    Member

    Hey everyone,

    I recently acquired a 1956 Gibson ES-125 that I am very happy with, it has done a good job as my main axe, replacing my Eastman. The only issue is really with the p-90 pick up being noisy in certain situations (depends on the surroundings). That said, I'm really feeling like I need a change. I've spent a lot of years looking for the ideal "jazz" tone and I am kind of getting tired of it. The Gibson gets a tone I like, not too far off from the Eastman, so I am selling the Eastman.

    I really am looking for a clean warm sound that is stronger in nature. I kind of feel like a lot of the warm, dark jazz tone lacks a certain dynamic range and expression that I like, for example when I am playing piano, I feel there is a total power of expression just in touch. On guitar, it's almost like sometimes I'm playing and it's like all the other players sounds are on the band stand and mine is backstage in a closet (even with tone wide open). I also recently kind of rediscovered Scofield and have been digging his stuff with Steve Swallow.

    I have been looking at picking up some kind of semi-hollow body. Unfortunately, my first jazz axe was an Epiphone riviera and I hated the way that thing sounded, so I don't know what I should play to kind of get that bad taste out of my mouth. The most important thing for me is tone and presence. My favorite players, Abercrombie, Frisell, Sco and especially Kurt have this presence to their clean sound, its warm and bright, assertive not tinny or dark and removed. I've developed a distaste for the muffled sounding jazz guitar after searching for my tone in only the jazz guitar idiom. I've been playing jazz for about 12 years.

    I want to totally revamp my rig (I also don't use any effects and currently play through a Henriksen amp). Any ideas? I really need a change. Much Thanks.

    -Devan

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  2. jbroad
    Member

    the sadowsky semi hollow is one hell of a versatile guitar. that's the one to check out if you're thinking of getting a semi hollow

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  3. I'd try a telecaster. Probably the most versatile guitar ever made. Great jazz tones there, surprisingly classic ones as well as all kinds of modern sounds. Plus, they are small, light, easy to carry and can take a lot of beating. I have an old 335 and a telecaster, and together they cover about 95% of guitar sounds I can think of. If you want a semi, check out the thinline tele's from the 70'ies. Most of them come with humbuckers, and they are reasonably priced vintage guitars, lots of mojo thats hard to find in new guitars.
    Cheers, lupo

  4. JorgeRubiales
    Member

    I would try Ibanez's Metheny or Benson models. Not exactly semihollows, but can have that kind of sound.

  5. jorgemg1984
    Member

    Hi there,

    If you have a 1956 Gibson ES-125 I dont really think you need a new guitar... I dont think you ll get a better jazz tone with a telecaster or any Benson / Metheny Ibanez, you have a classic guitar, lots of people woul do anything for a 50s Gibson.

    The problem with the guitar is, as you said, presence, the piano is much more easy to cut in a band than a guitar, is the timbre of the instrument. I had the same problem some months ago and almost went crazy, specially when playing with saxs or trumpets, its really hard to be heard in the band unless you re really really loud.

    You can try a lot of thigs before buying a new guitar. the amount of things that influence your sound on an electric guitar is enormous. First check the electronics, I have an old 1965 Guild, the electronics were the orignal ones and were pretty old, when I put new caps, pots and wiring the guitar had much more output and clean sound than before. Trying a very good humbucker like Bare Knuckles is also an option, the P 90 has a very particular sound (your pick can also change your sound a lot)

    I also have and Henriksen and I sort of have mixed feelings about it. Its amazing with my Guild archtop, but so so with my 335 - without using effects, with the effects sounds great with both. The reverb on this amps its really bad, and reverb is just essential to a guitar - nowadays I dont take my pedalboard everywhere but I always take my Hardwire Reverb with me, Hall settings, and its amazing the difference it makes in a band, you ll defintely have more presence - try getting a good reverb and you will see the difference, it saved me, it was all I was lokking for in the first place. Trying a new speaker with the Henriksen could also be a good idea, I think I will try a Weber California, the stock one is kind of flat and dies really fast, that isnt helping you either - or just try a good tube amp, a Fender or someting like that.

    Abercombie, Frisell, Scofield and Kurt use a lot of effects and that really helps for them to have much more presence in a band, you wont get their type of sound plugging an archtop directly to a Henriksen. They dont use arhctops usually also, if you like those players just check what guitars, pickups, amps, speakers, effects, etc.. they use to get their sound. Just listen to guys who play clean, Peter Bernstein has a killer tone but I heard him playing on the Blue Note septet and I really think his sound is completely lost in that huge band. Kurts sound in "Intuit" is amazing for a quartet with a piano playing standards and bebop tunes, but I cant imagine him using that sound on his standards trio ot originals quartet / quintet, it would be also lost in the band. Using effects will help you with that, bue you ll never get the dynamics of a sax or trumpet...

    So I think you still have to try before buying a new guitar... dont even think of changing an old Gibson for a new Ibanez!

  6. david6strings
    Member

    if i just could afford 1 guitar i choose a 335, but as lupo said with a tele (i prefer strato) too, you can cover a lot of styles. im disagree otherwise in the point of the tele jazz sound, i dont remember a recording of any jazz album recorded with tele that i liked. but this is just a matter of personal preferences. stern signature sound is horrible to my ears (blasfemy) but this is my opinion. P Bernstein is near the ideal a like . my favourite guitar sounds are made with 175s byrdlands and L5s, but they are so and so expensive

  7. jorgemg1984
    Member

    I forgot to mention amp placement on stage, its also very important for how you sound with a band

  8. Poparad
    Member

    I'll echo a number of things said here. Good reverb is an essential part of filling up the guitar sound. I've taken to using a Boss delay in place of reverb, but for the same goal of adding more sustain to connect things together, which in a way is kind of like the function of the sustain pedal on the piano.

    Also, I think a semi-hollow will get you what you're looking for. It'll be a bit brighter and crisper than a full hollow, so you won't have to worry about being to dark or removed, as you said, but at the same time, it will still have that 'open' sound that a solid body doesn't get.

    I recently switched over to using a Carvin Holdsworth Fatboy semi-hollow, and I love the thing. Plays great, and has a very thick, saturated sound that is still very crisp and can be really bright if I want it to be. However, I'm sure a number of semi-hollows would do the trick, such as various 335's or a Tele thinline semi-hollow.

  9. I've been using a Carvin SH550, and it is a very versatile guitar. The most important thing is to find a guitar that feels and sounds good to you, and is inspiring for you to play. That might end up being 1 guitar, or many guitars for different situations. Between that, and all the other technical suggestions on this thread, (effects, amp placement, etc.) you should be good to go.

  10. Yes poparad! I saw your video with your new fatboy. Great playing and sound once again! Have you explored the synth aspects ? If so how are you going about this? I have one aswell ( although withou synth access) . It did need done grounding work out of the box. Otherwise very very happy. I got rid of my heritage h550 for it. I was tring to play that high part and trinkle tinkle and couldn't based on how the neck joined the body... No jazz on the jazz guitar? Hmmm... So I got the fatboy w claro walnut body and neck, koa top, black hardware, tungoil finish. I love this thing . If were to do it again, get synth access and a whammy bar in the partially chambered version and black walnut.
    ...the name plate says " worth holding ".

  11. jazzbum
    Member

    Wow. That is a lot to consider, thanks for the input so far. I wanted to clarify a couple things. Jorgemg - I never plan to sell the es-125, it is a keeper. I am really looking for an axe to replace the eastman, something that would complement the traditional tones of the 125. I'll definitely get new electronics and look at effects before buying a new guitar (I have very little spending money these days). Poparad - I have thought really hard about getting a fatboy since they first came out. How are the clean tones? Do they compare to a semi-hollow type of sound, or is it really its own animal? I haven't been able to find an example of clean single note soloing on that instrument.

    I noticed Peter Bernstein mentioned here. He, along with Anthony Wilson get two of my favorite hollow body jazz tones. I find though, that what I really love about both of their sounds is the combination with the B3. It's almost like without the organ their sounds are not quite the same. Interestingly, I have felt the same way listening back to recordings that I have made with a B3 player, its like the sound I love in a classic jazz guitar context is not just the guitar but the guitar + the B3. It's almost like the B3 balances out the general lack of sustain the guitar has. That said, one thing I love about the modern guys I mentioned (Kurt, Sco, Abercrombie etc.) is that they maintain their fullness and presence in tone no matter the situation. Where as, Peter Bernstein does sound a bit lost in that Blue Note 7 record, and in general that type of classic jazz guitar sound doesn't sound quite as full (to my ears) when playing with piano rather than organ.

    One last thought, that may spur more discussion about a flexible rig. When I was in music school I had a teacher who was a bass player. I thought his sound was the most incredible on upright. I asked him about it once, and rather than give me the old "tone is in the fingers" spiel, he gave a more complex explanation. Every gig he played, he took a journal, before he started playing he would dial in settings he thought sounded good for the room, then he would take note of it's size, ceiling style, flooring etc. and write it down. After about a year of regular gigging he had a notebook filled with settings that would work for his sound for just about any room he could possibly play. Anyone else do anything similar to maintain consistency in tone?

  12. W
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  13. Poparad
    Member

    Floatingbridge: I just have a Fatboy like you, without the synth. I've toyed with the idea for a while, but I don't think I'd ever use it, so I opted not to get the synth version.

  14. jorgemg1984
    Member

    Pat Metheny does the exact same thing you mentioned abour your teacher, thats a great way to learn ho t have a good sound and its related with amp placement I ve metioned and other things. Its true what you sair about the B3, but i think a clean guitar and a piano can sound good in a quartet, but if you had horns to it you must use some effects, otherwise the piano will kill you.

    Sorry I misunserstood what you said, I thought you wanted to sell the Gibson. You dont have much money find a cheap 335 copy and mod it - i have a cort source completely modified - new pickups, electronics, tail, bridge, tuners and its an amazing guitar for less than a 1000 euros, I guess you could the same with an epiphone, just find one you like the woods, neck and feeling, all the rest you can replace. Check out also a godd reverb pedal, some hall or plate, not spring, thats the essential one no doubt

    Anthony Wilson is a good example, sometimes he uses effects with his les paul but with the archtop he just uses reverb from the amp and he plays a lot with nonets and sextets, but i still miss some presence in his sound. But you re right, bernstein and wilson are the top in archtop clean playing, i guess its just not possible to have that beautiful clean sound wih a medium ensemble unless you had some electronics in the middle.

  15. Poparad
    Member

    jazzbum: The Fatboy is very similar in sound to a 335 or thin 135. Basically your normal semi-hollow type tone, if not a bit more in the Les Paul direction. The pickups on it (The Holdsworth H22's) are very close to the standard 57 PAF's in Gibsons. However, you mentioned Anthony Wilson and Bernstein, and I don't know if you could get that sort of tone with the Holdsworth. Your ES-125 is probably a better bet for that type of sound. On the other hand, the Holdsworth would be a nice contrast to that.

    Here's a demo I did of the guitar. Not my most creative playing, but eh, whatever.

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Flash Videos

    For what it's worth, the ES-135 sitting behind me in the video sounds almost the same when I play it.

  16. jazzbum
    Member

    Poparad - that is an amazing guitar. Thanks for posting that. It seems like it would be good for my purposes. About my interest in this direction - As much as I love the classic hollow body sound it just doesn't feel like me, as in, I don't feel like that tone range as beautiful as it is, enables me to express myself through the guitar.

    I've got some great ideas now. I think I may go the modded 335 route. Time to do some soul searching and get some quality time at the guitar shop.

  17. Kapteinar
    Member

    Look for an Old Ibanes AS100 or AS200. Great semi hollows!
    And Sandemose on here sounds great on his höfner verythin. Alot of semis out there.

    I find kind of useless to try guitars at the guitar shops.
    All of the guitars come with 9s or 10s, you won't get the tone you're after until you change them.

  18. Stephan
    Member

    i think ibanez built some really beautiful guitars in tghe 80s. i have a semihollow guitar from '83, and it sounds wonderful.

    about the general question: make up your mind about what you want, and then go to a guitar builder you think is good, maybe a local one, and let him give birth to the instrument you dream of! i made that about two years ago, and it was the best decision i have made.

  19. jazzbum
    Member

    Kapteinar - I hear you about the guitar shop setups. They're terrible. I have a hard time considering spending money on a guitar sight unseen though. The ES-125 was the first one I did that with and it needed pretty serious fret work, though it sounds good now. I also live in a place where there aren't many local stores to check out, and are virtually no Luthiers. The only one I know builds guitars out of tabletops. Perhaps I should send some emails out?

  20. jazzbum
    Member

    - I also would like to learn how to do some serious guitar setup work myself. I've had some seriously bad experiences with techs here. any ideas?

  21. jeez, last time I did work on my guitar, I spend like 5 hours trying to put the wiring + pots I just soldered back into my 335. Gave me nightmares. I never, never ever want to do that again. ever.


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