This has been a long time coming, but YouTube is finally dropping the hammer on gaming videos.
[ published 12/10/13 | permalink ]
The USA Les Paul Standard is one of those things many players think is a magic guitar. It's not and no guitar is. What makes a guitar magical is the player and not the guitar itself. Anyone with half a brain knows this.
There is a distinct "honor" that the USA Paul holds. It tests the boundaries of what regular Joes are willing to pay for a mass-produced electric guitar.
At the end of 2013 as I write this, earlier this year the Standard was selling for a whopping $2,600. For a Standard. Not a Custom/Custom Shop model. Not for a "Supreme". Earlier this year, the Standard was selling for that much as a street price, as in the price you would find in a guitar store...
...and that was a huge mistake. It was such a mistake that Guitar Center has deep-discounted the 2013 Standard in Heritage Cherry Sunburst down to $1,849 (make sure to select the cherry burst option to see price on that link to see the $1,849) just to get rid of the overstock in an attempt to clear them out:
Street price was $2,599 and now it's $1,849. That's a $750 discount, which is almost 30% off.
The only time GC ever discounts a guitar that deep is either in an introductory promo for a new model, or when they're overstocked with something nobody is buying and are desperate to get rid of it. The '13 Les Paul in HCS is one of the latter.
Gibson officially hit the ceiling with the 2013 price point. They wanted to see how high they could go before people stopping buying the guitar, and well, they found it.
Did the Fender USA Standard Strats get deep-discounted? NOPE. Even though they're overpriced also at $1,200, Fender was at least smart enough to introduce a "Professional" model at just under $1,000:
Not exactly a pretty Strat (that zebra humbucker is butt-ugly), but the point is you can in fact buy a USA Standard that isn't a "Special" model for under a grand, even if just barely.
But anyway, let's get back to the Paul.
It's widely known that the build quality of USA-made Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars is awful. They keep churning out turd after turd and charging ridiculous prices for said turds. But like I said above, they did hit the ceiling for what idiot guitar players were willing to pay for a high-priced turd. Even the idiots got enough sense to realize the price was too high.
It is totally normal to walk into any Guitar Center in Tampa Bay and see USA Les Paul guitars hanging on wall with a light layer of dust on them. They are always in stock, and many go unplayed. Any day of the week I can waltz into any GC local to me and play a USA Paul...
...and that's not how it should be. USA Pauls should be rare and not available to play any time I feel like trying one out. But instead I find these overpriced turds with layers of dust on them because nobody can afford the frickin' things. When you see the dust, that literally means nobody has bothered to touch it for a a week. Possibly several weeks.
Take the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster I just bought recently. Those guitars are not easy to find in stores, so it was a special experience to play one, and I bought it. Yes, playing a Squier can be a special thing for a hard-to-find model. That's the feeling you should get out of a USA Les Paul, but you don't. Not at all.
USA Les Pauls are the Tiger Games of guitar stores. They're everywhere, they're too common, there's nothing special about them and they just suck. And the fact they're almost always dusty and got a 30% whack in price proves nobody gives a shit about those overpriced turds anymore.
[ published 12/9/13 | permalink ]
There is an AC/DC song called It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll). The song is as old as I am, originally released in 1975, but the message it gives still applies today. The message is that if your goal is to "make it" as a rock guitar player, you basically have to sell your soul to do it. And even after you sell your soul, there is still no guarantee you will ever truly be successful.
Rock music these days does not sell, and therefore a rock band is a very hard thing to be in. Not only will you have a difficult time getting a following, but you'll also have a ridiculously difficult time finding anywhere to play and get paid for it.
Country music on the other hand is something that is really easy to play and really easy to get gigs with ANYWHERE - including paid gigs.
It's like I said in the video. If you want to get paid to play guitar, put on a cowboy hat, buy a Telecaster and start playing country music. Then watch how easy it is to get gigs as a country band.
The fact country music is family-friendly is a really big deal, because it means it can be played to audiences of all ages. That alone opens up a ridiculous amount of opportunities for more places to play. LESS travel is required. And the less you have to travel, the less gas you have to spend, the more money you can keep in your pocket.
Another advantage is that you don't have to play nearly as loud, meaning you can easily get away with smaller gear to take with you to gigs.
Yes, you can make a living as a guitar player, and the easiest route is to play country music.
As for rock and metal? Dead. And has been dead for a while now. If you want to play rock, that's fine, but it just doesn't pay. Country music, on the other hand, does.
[ published 12/9/13 | permalink ]
[ published 12/7/13 | permalink ]
Above is Roy Clark playing a Fender Jazzmaster. And no, I had absolutely no idea he ever played one until just recently. As far as when the program above aired, that I'm not sure of. The Jazzmaster made its first appearance in 1958, so the program may have been aired then. Or it may have been in the early 1960s right before the transition to color television. Either way, yes, that is the Roy Clark playing a Jazzmaster.
Is Roy known for playing Jazzmasters? Heck no. He's known for playing big hollow-body electrics and acoustics. In all honesty it's just plain weird seeing Roy with a Jazzmaster or any Fender guitar at all, but there it is. Maybe Fender approached him in the late 50s or early 60s and got him to play it just to show what the guitar would do on television. Fender along with other companies did do that (and still do) where they put their instruments in the hands of known players in order to make the brand more known.
So anyway, I've been playing my Squier Jazzmaster for a little bit, and here's my take on it so far:
I love it. Truly, I do. The Squier Jazz is one amazing axe. I love the look of it, the feel of it, the sound of it... everything about it is just so right.
Do the lengths of strings beyond the saddles ring out sometimes? Yes. Do the saddles buzz sometimes? Also a yes. Does it sustain as much as a Strat or Tele would? Nope, nor is it supposed to because it wasn't designed that way. Even with these idiosyncrasies, I still greatly prefer it over a Strat or Tele.
My playing style on the Jazz is significantly different than when on the Strat. I purposely use a medium-thin Fender pick, pick lighter and it really works out well.
The sound of the Jazz is obviously night-and-day difference compared to a Strat. Those two big-ass Duncan Designed pickups with the alnico V magnets in them are very responsive and bright - but not too bright, which in this case is a good thing.
And let's not forget there are no staggered pole pieces on Jazzmaster pickups, but they're not all the same height either. The pole heights are "curved" very, very slightly. So slight you wouldn't notice unless you specifically looked for it (which I did). The "curve" of the poles follows the curve of the fingerboard radius. On the 1 and 6 they're slightly sunk into the holes, and towards the middle they raise up slightly, but just ever-so-slightly.
Jazzmaster pickups absolutely do not sound like Strat or Tele pickups at all. The Jazz doesn't sound like it has P90s in it either because they're brighter than P90s would be. A Jazzmaster, simply put, sounds like a Jazzmaster.
I can whiz around the Jazzmaster neck like nobody's business because of its offset position. And because the Jazz pickups have more output compared to Strats and Teles, I don't have to pick nearly as hard to get the notes I want.
Another thing that makes a Jazz easier for me compared to a Strat or Tele is that I can feel the notes better. I mean that literally. The Jazz design resonates almost every note played when you can feel the vibration right in the chest. The pick guard is vibrating, as is the bridge, as are the lengths of string behind the bridge, as is the vibrato plate. You can even feel treble-E notes when played.
Now before you say, "That's the tonewood talking!", no it's not because the body on the Squier VM Jazz is basswood, just like my Squier Bullet Strat. It's the guitar design that's talking here.
I have played Strats and Teles with bodies that resonate like crazy, but the Jazz is different in a better way. I prefer Strats/Teles to have a mild amount of body vibration when being played, because anything more than that bugs me on those body styles. The Jazz vibrates more than the Strat/Tele does, but in the way it does it, it feels 100% correct. Why? I couldn't really say. Could be the offset-style body shape, could be that everything is loaded on top compared to string-thru of a Strat/Tele, or any number of other things. Whatever it is, it just feels good.
Is the Jazzmaster the guitar I always wanted? So far, it's looking that way.
Note before continuing: No, I am not trying to make you dump your Strat, Tele or Les Paul for a Jazzmaster; this is just my personal experience with the guitar. If you like what you have and genuinely enjoy playing the guitar you currently own, stick with it.
Why did I go get a Jazzmaster in the first place?
The first time I tried a Jazzmaster was in Guitar Center in Clearwater, Florida. But it was not a traditional setup. Instead it was one of those Jazzmaster Special types with the concentric knobs (middle of knob for volume, "ring" for tone) and no vibrato system. I did not like it. While it was built well, and the best way I can describe the guitar is that it looked, felt, played and sounded generic. Nothing special, even though Special is in its name.
Then in September I tried a Vintage Modified Jazzmaster at Sam Ash in Tampa. It was a Candy Apple Red with the white pick guard just like the one I bought (and for all I know it might be that same guitar). I fell in love with the vibrato system instantly. The guitar just felt so comfortable.
Why didn't I buy it then? Too much.
Then in November I bought a Thinline Telecaster. Great guitar, but it had a grounding problem. Took it back, had it repaired, same problem. Took it back, traded it for an even swap for a Jazzmaster. And that was the right price that time around since I paid $279 for the Tele originally, so technically I got the Jazz for the same price (it ordinarily runs for $299).
ANYWAY... it was a combination of things that made me pick up the red Jazzmaster. First was the look of it. Frickin' gorgeous guitar. Second was that vibrato system I wanted to try out. Third was the big honkin' single-coil pickups.
That combo, as it turns out, is exactly what I wanted.
It needs nothing
When I play the Jazz, I don't think, "Gee... this guitar would be so much better if it had [this, that, the other thing] in it." I don't think that at all. I just pick up and play and not think about those things, because there's nothing on it that needs improvement as far as I can tell.
That, for me, is super-rare with any electric. Whenever I pick up an electric no matter what it is, be it a cheap Squier or a ritzy and expensive Custom Shop Fender, I always feel that something could be better about the guitar. But not so with the Jazz.
It has issues, but I actually like them
The Jazz has wonky issues with it. But here's the thing - they don't bother me. Those wonky issues actually give the guitar good character that I like.
I'll put this in comparison to a Strat just to explain better what I'm talking about.
All traditional-setup Strats have what's jokingly called "Stratocaster reverb" where the tremolo claw springs in the back ring out when you play certain stuff. You'll play a few riffs, stop and hear a dulled "brrriiinnng" noise. That's annoying. So, like most Strat players do, you take off the rear cover, stuff the springs full of paper towels and that kills the ringing noise. Problem solved.
Jazzmasters ring also, but it's all on top since it's a top-loader. And the ring comes from the extra lengths of strings after the bridge to the vibrato plate. This ring is something you can actually use because it makes certain notes sound different in a cool way.
When I first started playing the Jazz, I admit I hated the string ring. But as I kept playing it, I discovered that ring actually contributes some really cool overtones to certain chords and notes. Heck, there's even stuff you can play where that ring adds in a very faint natural chorus of sorts.
The idiosyncratic nature of the Jazz is something that really fits me. I think it's great.
For either this month or when the new year starts I'll be writing some new cool music with it, so watch for that.
[ published 12/4/13 | permalink ]