Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

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Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by TRGuitar » October 9th, 2012, 10:33 am

I was watching the Bachman Turner concert on HDNet the other day. Randy Bachman was playing a cherry ... Cherry Burst Les Paul. It was a Gibson of course at least I thought. Then he changes to a Gold Top with a Bigsby and I think, he must have a million vintage guitars. Then I see the head stock. It says Epiphone! I have also seen Myles Goodwyn of April Wine with an Epiphone Les Paul. Maybe it's a Canadian thing? :lol:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLfQqrcJ_h0

Has anyone else seen a Pro use a less than Pro instrument? I say a good guitar is a good guitar, don't care what it says on the head stock.
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by cnev » October 9th, 2012, 11:24 am

I have but can't remember who it was I was a little suprised but I'll bet they are custom made for them so it's probably not the run of the mill you'd find at GC.
Last edited by cnev on October 10th, 2012, 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by Liontable » October 9th, 2012, 2:28 pm

There are a few guitarists that have custom made Epiphones on exactly the same quality as handmade Gibsons. Most pro's would care even less about what the headstock says I'd assume, as they have little to prove to anyone. Fact of the matter is though that there'll be a lot more good handmade Gibsons over factory built spinoffs and the big issue for most people, namely price, doesn't come into play for them. The smallest differences can be more comfortable to play, and if it's your job I could imagine a custom built guitar would most definitely be worth it. I'd use the word "different" to describe the difference between guitars when you talk about high end guitars, moreso than "better". The same goes for lower end guitars, there'll be gems among them, but more often an exception than the rule.

I personally don't really mind the general brand, but some brands/products have better/worse reputations than others. Line 6 Spiders are known for being bad considering the price (better alternatives), whereas Line 6 itself actually has some very good products at higher price points. Squier has a wonderful Classic Vibe series. Marshall is very often very expensive for what you get, while Laney or Splawn can very often deliver similar products at better prices. Everyone'll have his opinion though, so I guess there isn't really a definitive answer unless the question regarding what you're looking for is more specific. :lol:

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by notes_norton » October 10th, 2012, 8:20 am

I'm a pro, and have been since the 60s.

When I was young I cared. But I was inexperienced then, and the name carried a reputation and what I perceived to be quality. In other words, it's safe.

Now that I'm older, I could care less about the name on the headstock. I do care about the build quality, neck radius, the scale length, the frets and fretboard, how balanced the guitar is, how comfortable it is against by body (if it's comfortable, it's easier to play and I play better), where the controls are located, if there is a master volume near my pinky finger, and last of all, how it sounds.

Last of all, how it sounds? Yes, because I can change the pickups if everything else is OK.

For a year or so I played an LTD - EC50 that I modded myself. Definitely a bottom feeder guitar, but it had a great neck and was comfortable. I replaced the pickups with Mean 90s, took out one of the volume controls and re-wired it for only one, and installed a Varitone in the hole where the removed volume pot was. It served me well for a year or two.

But I wanted to explore strat territory. I don't like real strats because the neck radius is too short and I bend strings a lot. Plus I don't like the curve of the strings near my pick, it slows me down and I'm not that fast to begin with ;) - it's the comfort thing I mentioned earlier.

Then I found the Parker DF. Light weight, long scale, long 14" neck radius, ebony fretboard and hardened stainless steel frets, light weight, perfectly balanced, contoured and comfortable, a Piezo under the bridge, SSH pickups with a coil tap on the H and I bonded with it instantly. Since I bought the Parker, I hardly touch my Gibson, Epiphone or LTD. The Parker is my first choice.

I didn't buy it for the name on the headstock, I bought it because it is the tool I want. It has the features and the sound both, so I don't even have to swap pickups! My DF524 is the bottom of the DF line, satin, natural finish (which I like). If I wanted to impress other musicians, I would have gotten a glossy fancy finish and paid a lot more. But I actually like the natural wood better anyway and I bought it for me.

I had my saxophone custom built in Taiwan and doesn't carry the prestige name of the equivalent of Gibson or Fender USA in the guitar world. But it is perfect for me.

If another musician comes in and wants to judge me by the name on my instrument instead of the music I'm playing, that musician's opinion is not worth anything to me. The majority of the audience (perhaps all) doesn't care what name is on my gear and that's who I'm playing for. So for me the tool to do the job to the best of my ability is the most important to me.

Charlie Parker, one of the legendary alto sax players of the 20th century had a severe addiction problem. He often pawned his horns to pay for drugs and would go on stage or in the recording studio with borrowed saxes. He even played a plastic sax. But he always sounded like Charlie Parker. It didn't matter what instrument he played, it mattered what notes he played and how he nuanced them.

Jimmy Page made a Danelectro sound better than most guitarists could make a top-of-the-line guitar sound.

The moral of the story is: Don't be ashamed about the name on the headstock as long as you can be proud of what is coming out of the speakers.

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by chykcha » October 10th, 2012, 5:12 pm

Sometimes the endorsement you have with a particular company will influence the gear choices you will make at a gig. I've met some players who told me this when I asked them why they were playing with a particular piece of gear (not only guitars, but even amps, cables and things like strings and picks too).

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by notes_norton » October 11th, 2012, 7:14 am

Celebrity endorsements sell overpriced things to fanboys and fangirls. It has always been thus.

And not only in music, in sports, cosmetics, processed food, and just about everything else.

Most people buy things that way, but others think for themselves. If you think that the Yngwie Malmsteen Strat is worth $12,500 (or $11,500 more than a standard USA Strat), then go for it. Or if that $100 Rondo faux-strat with a pickup upgrade is your choice that's OK too. Or you could choose something in-between.

It's your choice - and there is no wrong answer. It depends on your values.
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by jason brann » October 11th, 2012, 11:32 am

i used to work in a music store. there was a definite quality difference btw squiers, strats, and mia strats. g&l sounds better to my ears than strats, and i think the best strat i ever played was a suhr. unmodded boss pedals seem to universally suck, and danelectro sells plastic toys and gives money to anti-gay groups, while keeley mods turn junk into gold and all my subdecay pedals blow my mind. the best acoustic i ever played was a 40 year old martin, and the best electric i ever played was a 30 year old gibson les paul. mesa boogies usually sound like mesa boogies, and fender deluxes usually sound like fender deluxes.

so i personally care. it's not the only thing i look at, but if i see a gibson lp selling at a garage sale for 100 bucks because the owner bought it and hasn't bothered to learn, you can be sure i'll pick it up and play it and probably buy it, while i wouldn't give a second look to a squier strat selling for the same price and reason. if someone recommends that i play a specific guitar, i'll give it a shot, of course, but there's no point in pretending a squier starter kit is going to sound like a high-end rig unless there's something else to it.

i'm not a brand purist. i know squier makes good basses, and there are plenty of companies that make both high end gear and low end, (i've owned a high end epiphone acoustic and a pos yamaha) and in the end you have to play the instrument.

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by boxboy » October 11th, 2012, 12:50 pm

notes_norton wrote:Celebrity endorsements sell overpriced things to fanboys and fangirls. It has always been thus.
And not only in music, in sports, cosmetics, processed food, and just about everything else.
Notes, while I was watching cross country skiing during the last winter Olympics, the announcer casually mentioned:

Every top racer has a ski endorsement deal but a lot of them aren't using the latest gear. Their preferred models might be 5 or 6 years old. But at the start of each season, the manufacters take these old skis and paint them with all the graphics of 'this year's model'.
So the casual viewer thinks only the latest and 'greatest' gear is being used. :)

Back to guitars, there's no question iconic brands like Gibson or Fender have had great value in the grand scheme of things. Both companies have been able to stagger around the market, making multiple pricing and QC missteps, for decades.

There was an interesting NYT business section article about Fender recently:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/busin ... wanted=all

It's sloppily written, but provides a good overview of where Fender is at.
Don

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by notes_norton » October 12th, 2012, 6:58 am

The sound of an electric guitar is produced predominantly by the pickups and the fx/amp chain. The wood has little or nothing to do with it.

I got my LTD EC-50 for a deal I couldn't refuse and it sounded bad to my ears. But the build of the guitar was very nice, fast neck, balanced body, nice fit and finish, even inside the control cavity was neat and finished well.

I replaced the pickups and it sounded great.

In addition the pickup selection toggle switch was cheap and eventually broke, but that is an inexpensive and easy replacement.

So for the price of a couple of GFS Mean 90 pups, a Varitone and a toggle switch plus an afternoons work, I ended up with a great sounding, great playing guitar.

Image

You can by 12 USA made standard Strats for what you you would pay for one Yngwie Malmsteen strat. Is the Y.M. Strat really worth 12 standard strats? You know the body and neck are identical, and the pickups aren't worth 10,000.

I have a 1970 Gibson ES-330 and a 2000 Epiphone Casino. Pretty much identical guitars. The Casino has aftermarket pickups on it (Duncans) and sounds better plugged in than the Gibson does.

But there are some amateurs and pros that really value the name on the headstock, while others don't care. There is on "one-size-fits-all" answer.

The thing to do is to think for yourself, and be happy with your decision. If your decision is to buy a less famous name on the headstock, don't worry about what other musicians think of that as long as your audience likes what you are playing. If you decide to buy a premium name on the headstock, be aware that it doesn't make you a better person or a better player than someone playing a lesser instrument.

The only thing that makes you a better or worse player is the music coming out of the speakers. And remember, however good you are, there will always be someone better and someone not as good, so work on your playing and be the best that you can.

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by TRGuitar » October 12th, 2012, 9:38 am

I think Randy Bachman has some kind of endorsement deal with Epiphone. He sounded great playing it just like he did playing the Gibson so he is probably laughing all the way to the bank. I saw Nancy Wilson with an Epiphone Les Paul as well.

For what it's worth, if I close my eyes I probably couldn't tell you if I was holding my Gibson, Epiphone of Agile Les Paul style guitar. I play them all.
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by Moonrider » October 23rd, 2012, 6:39 pm

TRGuitar wrote: Has anyone else seen a Pro use a less than Pro instrument? I say a good guitar is a good guitar, don't care what it says on the head stock.
I ask:

I have three Fenders, Two G&Ls, a Gretsch, and a Squier.

The Squier is my #1, and at almost every gig I do.

Brand? pfft.
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by TRGuitar » October 23rd, 2012, 8:09 pm

Pfft! 2 ballons full my brother! "Inside FaceBook joke" ............ My Epiphone LP Standard .... black one is my favorite!
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grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by EzraplaysEzra » October 24th, 2012, 7:37 am

I don't know if it is an endorsement deal with Randy as he's playing a Slash model. Unless Slash is paying him and as far as I can tell Slash doesn't pay people- he gets paid. It makes sense, the slash model has a neck much closer to the Paul, Duncan A2's (Which are great) and tone pro kit. So it isn't like a standard Epi. Bachman uses a Pod and a Johnson millenium for his rig and has stated that it doesn't matter what guitar he uses he gets exactly the sound hes looking for through the Midi dump. His '59 goldtop used to record American women is appraised at $900,000! and he has had some thefts - Take the $1000 epi out. (It should be noted that Slash's original Les Paul was not a '59 gibson - but a replica built by Kris Derrig - so the slash epiphone les paul is a tribute to a reproduction of a replica of a classic Les Paul - or something like that.)

Jeff Ausley is Nancy Wilson's guitar tech and admitted that she does have a signature Epi as backup, but her main guitars are EPi branded Paul's made in Memphis. Its pretty common for artists to have a signature model available but their personal guitars are built in the custom shop - Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Clapton.

Notes_Norton - I'm not a YM fan or anything - but if someone is in the market for a guitar like the YM start - the YM is signature is a huge bargain at $1600 USD (not 10K) You were probably just making an example but the YM has jumbo's, Scalloped quarter sawn neck and custom duncan's - if you called the custom shop and ordered that puppy, you'd probably be up around 10k. Everyother signature is a slight variation on the standard - mostly variations that could be down in the average workshop for a tenner.

The name on the headstock really comes down to the needs of the player. Not all pro guitar players are created equally in ability or paycheck. So you have guys that get endorsments or disounts and are perfectly happy and guys who need to have a certain name but rarely do you see anyone playing a real hunk of crap. My good friend has a muiskraft strat he bought from me that he stuck squier decal on - he loves handing it to guys who come in with american deluxe strats and seeing the look on their face) But really, How many guys playing in the bedroom are going to ever hear their guitar on a track of 1 inch tape or cranked through 200 watts of KT88's and a stack of greenbacks, how many could pick up a guitar and tell you the mids are too scooped, or the radius frets out or the scale is too short for 9's. Not recognizing those kind of things doesn't make you any less of a player, it just means you probably don't NEED a guitar with such detail. Of coarse, having a guitar with that kind of detail could be the next step. Conversely, I saw a band this summer where the two guitar players didn't realized one of them was tuned a half flat from playing with another band earlier. They played an entire set like that then walked off stage and said there was something funky with the PA! A $4000 martin wouldn't have cured that issue, I know that because they were both playing very expensive Martins. Guitars are a lot like cars, some have pretty things you pay extra for but they all do the same thing around town, you really have to get out on the track and push the limits to find the why some cars cost 20k and some cost 70k. I have been playing professionally since the early nineties focusing on the guitar for about the last eight years and only recently I've started to reach the limits of my beloved stratocaster platform. And it had a lot more to do with the musicians I have been playing with recently and their styles as with my own natural progress as a musician. If I had stayed home or played with the same group for twenty years I'm pretty sure a vintage type strat would have served me my entire career. But I'm moving towards thinner flatter nacks, floating trems and humbuckers - For a long time I haven't needed a guitar that can do anything, just one that can do a few things exactly how and when I wanted them to, but now those couple things have changed. So right now I'm building a new guitar with a custom neck and pickups and its probably going to cost me a third of what a standard start would run, because I know what I want and how to do it through experience. Without that experience what does a guitar player have to go on? I want to sound like Clapton, there's the Clapton strat problem solved.
Guitar is specialized equipment - most lower priced guitars are less specialized and more middle of the road and serve as a great platform.
On the other hand many guitar players are ego maniacs and would rather have a fender that plays like crap then hondo that plays and sounds like the guitar EVH hears when he closes his eyes at night. Does anybody remember what I was talking about, I'm lost.

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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by NoteBoat » October 24th, 2012, 10:12 am

My two cents...

If you're shopping for a band to join, they may ask what kind of gear you have. What they're really asking is what kind of commitment you have to music - if you have brand name gear, you've made an investment in yourself as a musician. If you only have cheapo instruments, they'll assume you're not serious.

But if you've been approached for a gig or by a band, nobody cares. It's all about how you sound. And that really has very little to do with your gear.

A few years ago I was auditioning singers for a project, and one young lady showed up at my house carrying her guitar (a Squier Strat) and amp (some inexpensive solid state practice amp). We started playing a bit, and she mentioned how much better I sounded - and that it was because I had good gear, and she couldn't afford it. So we swapped... she took my Strat and played through a vintage tube amp; I used her kit. I still sounded like me, and she still didn't. She wasn't quite sure what to make of that. :)
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Re: Do the Pros care what name is on the head stock?

Post by Crow » October 24th, 2012, 11:53 am

NoteBoat nailed it. If I were selling myself as a pro, I would have to shelve my Kramer aluminum-neck bass and my Kalamazoo solid-body six-string, and get myself more respectable gear -- P bass, J bass, something Les Paulish, a proper Strat, all the fashionable stomp-boxes -- anything necessary to play well at a gig at which I might be called upon to do anything. If I'm approached to be in a band, however, I will bring my present gear, weird as it is, because that is what got me the gig in the first place.
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