Is the search over?

Just got back from a grueling day of guitar shopping. One thing about guitar shopping is that the salesmen don’t tend to be dicks (they just happen to be very busy). I was able to discuss my desires and found the types of gear I was looking for quickly.

First and foremost, there will be no Stratocaster or Telecaster in my future. I simply do not like the feel of them. I tried many types, including the $1500+ models to see if maybe the American made, high end babies were better suited, and… no. They just didn’t feel right to me. Most of them had actions that were too high and the spacing between the strings didn’t work for me. They might have sounded good, but I never even bothered plugging one in, I could tell it wasn’t for me.

Second, I swore I wasn’t going to look at Ibanez because I can’t seem to see them as anything but shredder guitars which isn’t the sound I was going after. However, I did play around with an ART320 and was very pleased with its sound and speed

Ibanez ART320

The problem was when I flipped it over. It has Active Electronics. This is not a terrible thing minus the fact that you need batteries, however I think the sound is just a bit sterile. It was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, and my style and level of playing probably would not find itself limited by the active pickups, but there’s just something about having to ensure you have batteries that is disconcerting. This was the cheapest of the three and still would not be a bad choice. It had that fast fretboard I like and the weight was considerably lighter than the LP.

Next on the list was an Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus in translucent blue

Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus

The funny thing was I picked up a few $1000+ Les Pauls, including the USA made Gibsons and yes, there’s a fit & finish difference, but playing wise and sound I just couldn’t really tell the difference. The action was perfect on this one as well as being adjustable so the fast feel I was looking for was there. The guitar had warm, clean tones and really could play through the heaviest of distortion. This isn’t a guitar for covering Megadeth songs on, and that’s not what I am looking for, but it still could hold its own chunking out a Van Halen rhythm. Passive pickups, so no battery changes!

Finally, the one I loved the most, a Paul Reed Smith SE245


Paul Reed Smith SE245

Oh yeah, the sound from this puppy was amazing. It held its own in solos, had that clean, hollow sound (or, since I have chromesthesia, a ‘blue’ sound) I was wanting. It did great with distortions, each note being clearly discernable. Interesting, my inner synesthete found the distorted sounds to be more ‘red’ than their normal ‘orange’. I wonder if the color of the guitar had anything to do with it.

The weight of the PRS was less than the LP but more than the Ibanez. The LP had amazing sustain. Even using headphones, a note would linger well into the time my fingers got tired. The PRS and Ibanez were no slouches in that arena either but didn’t hold as long as the LP. Granted, holding a single note for more than 30 seconds is one of those rare occurrences and probably should not factor into guitar selection that heavily.

The PRS and the LP were both the same price, minus the fact that the PRS came with a ‘gig bag’. I don’t need a hard case yet as I’m not travelling, so a soft bag will do fine for now. Unfortunately, the PRS was the only one at any store, and since I do not have the physical cash to pay for any of them now, I have a feeling by the time I save up the money in 2 months the PRS will be gone. Looking online, I can’t get it any cheaper than the store was selling it, so if I get to the point where I think I must have it, then it’ll probably be closer to 3 months before I can pick one up.

Sadly, I need a new guitar. My Charvel, bless its dinged up, rusted potentiometer heart, just isn’t the sound I want any more. It’s fast enough of a fret board, but the strings are closer together than I like and I can’t bend without plucking 2 or 3 others. I’ve got a buddy who I will be giving it to when I get a new fiddle so it won’t get put in the trash which is good. I’ve had it for 25+ years and I’m fond of the thing.

Now for the hard part – the waiting. Unless a few of you want to toss in a Benjamin or two* into the tip jar so I can speed things up ;) Sucks, but you don’t stay debt free by purchasing things you don’t have the money for. Technically, I could shuffle around family finances to do it, but this is for me and it should come out of my ‘blow’ money. So, I’ve got about $300 set aside right now, another 2 months will see me at my goal unless something pops up that I asolutely must have.

Any thoughts on the selected guitars?

*I’m kidding. There are a million things better to spend your money on than toys for me

posted by by Robb Allen @
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