Bursts…I don’t get it

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by Robbie, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    I could get spanked for this and I certainly mean no disrespect to those with a differing opinion but I just don’t get the fuss about the sound of the original Bursts (‘59, ‘60 etc)

    How much they sell for aside, they are worth whatever people are willing to pay, I don’t hear the “magic” that I guess I’m supposed to, and I trust my ears. I like the sound of them, and LP’s in general, but I don’t hear this huge difference between a Burst and a really good new(er) LP. In all fairness I’ve only ever heard sound bites on You Tube etc. so perhaps if I was to play one I’d feel different. And, perhaps the price of a Burst does play a part as it’s always in the back of my mind and I end up thinking about the cost for a Burst when I’m not hearing this massive difference.

    Does anyone else have the same issue?
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  2. TSims1

    TSims1 Gretschified

    Jun 18, 2013
    Years back, Joe Bonamassa let me play one of his fave ‘59’s. I braced myself and readied my back as I went to pick it up, but was blown away at what a featherweight it was! It must’ve been 6-7lbs!! Couldn’t believe it. Turns out, some of those early LPs were quite light indeed. Not what I expected.

    I’m not really a Les Paul guy though, so can’t speak to the tonal differences vs value.
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  3. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    That would have been a great experience.
  4. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    I'm not sure the "general rule" really works. Good ones are just good ones. There were some really excellent ones from that era that have stood the test of time. They sound great and feel great, but not every one from that era was good. I have picked a few up over the years that amazed me with how easy they were to play and how low the action was. But I've picked up many more that were not so good.

    And I would also speculate that Gibson is making more consistently good ones today than they were back then. Tooling is better, they've learned a few tricks etc. etc.
  5. AZBrahma

    AZBrahma Gretschie

    Dec 18, 2020
    99.8 percent of guitarists would fail a blind Pepsi challenge of a recording between an original burst and a recent production model. Yes, there are real differences between the great originals and newer models, but I think it simply comes down to differences in the available materials combined with the effects of age. I think many guitarists can pick up on these traits in isolation when the guitar is in their hands, but throw it in a mix or on a recording and all bets are off. For example, my LP clone has factory PAF spec pickups but with NOS A5 magnets. They are the best sounding PAF types I've ever heard with a certain combination of sweetness and clarity I've never heard before. There is probably something to those NOS magnets. But I'd never expect anyone in a crowd or listening to a recording be able to pick it out.

    All that said there is one LP I like to think I can pick out in a recording even in a band, because it sounds exactly like its name implies and is truly unique. That is The Beast, owned by Bernie Marsden.
    mrfixitmi and Robbie like this.
  6. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    For sure. And I think you will find some stand out specimens from all eras. Sometimes, you just get a perfect combination of all elements, including the amplifier, that really excel. I'm thinking of some of the guitar/amp combos that Dickie Betts has played over the years that sounded great. Of course he has a lot to do with it, but I think he also picked out a great guitar.
    pmac11, Robbie and AZBrahma like this.
  7. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    I suspect the number is higher than that. I'd go so far as to say that not only would they fail to identify which was which based on a recording, I'm betting they'd fail if you blindfolded them and handed them each guitar in turn to play.

    For that matter, you could probably extrapolate this to encompass new vs old Strats, Gretsches, Ricks, pick your flavor.

  8. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Firenze, Italy
    I never played a '50s Les Paul other than a '59 Junior and I guess the feeling may be the main difference, althought I could tell that the Junior was even superior to my '64 SG Special tone wise (although a lot less versatile).
    I never made an A/B comparison with another modern Junior but I did with another new production SG Special Reissue and the difference of feeeling could be felt.
    Having said that, I believe that the sound is in the fingers, so I would be hard pressed to hear the differences between them on a record, even with me playing it...:)
  9. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    When Gary Moore had to sell his Peter Green burst for close to a (purported) cool million dollars I read an interview where he called it a mediocre guitar as far as Les Pauls go. Still makes me chuckle.
  10. wabash slim

    wabash slim I Bleed Orange

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    In the book, The Million Dollar Guitar", the author opines that since Gibson came out with the new SG in '58, they sent/dumped their '58-'60 batches of LPs to England coz they weren't selling here. British guitarists jumped on them due to price compared to Fenders and other imports. The LPs also really suited the styles of music being developed at the time. Maybe it was due to the humbuckers' different sound than folks were used to hearing from single coils.

    Prices for them now seem to be more hype and myth than anything else.
    Runamok, Craig Encinitas and new6659 like this.
  11. Floo

    Floo Country Gent

    Dec 16, 2012
    Elmshorn, Germany
    By any means, I'm not an expert on this subject, but I'd say a few '59 Bursts are very good guitars while the majority are quite good, mediocre or not good at all. There were just too many variables in production.
    Soundwise I think they can be good, but whether they are magical or not would probably depend on the player and amp (and everything inbetween and after that, like recording equipment etc.) Even if I had the money, I wouldn't spend it on a guitar I wouldn't take out to play.
    And like others have said before, the same goes for Strats, Teles, and every other guitar.

    and this one was special because of a repair that went wrong - and of course PG's hands.
  12. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
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  13. Chmason85

    Chmason85 Synchromatic

    May 1, 2018
    I have yet to see any Les Paul that I’m in love with. I always feel like I want one and then hold it in person and realize they’re just so small. I had one and was shocked at how small and heavy it was.
  14. afire

    afire Country Gent

    That's exactly how I feel about vintage Gretsches. I doubt that I'd be able to tell the difference just by hearing modern vs. vintage, but I have no doubt that I'd know immediately by playing them.
    j.s.c and Groutsch like this.
  15. wabash slim

    wabash slim I Bleed Orange

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    On top of it all, I don't like burst paint jobs. YMMV.
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  16. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Are you moonlighting as Windsordave from the other place? That's one of his signature rants. Actually, he wouldn't say "I don't like them," he'd say they're terrible and nobody should like them.
    knavel likes this.
  17. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    Just to clarify, I’m not saying Bursts are not phenomenal instruments. I’d love to play one for a while, I’d love to own one. I’m just not hearing the massive differences when compared to a new(er) generation really good LP.
    Runamok, new6659 and GlenP like this.
  18. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    I think the "burst" is irrelevant. A good one is a good one, whatever color. Probably just that many were made as bursts back in a great time period. Today, too many are chambered. My guess is that effects things somewhat.
    Robbie likes this.
  19. wabash slim

    wabash slim I Bleed Orange

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Nope, I'm not him. Ask him how much he likes bagpipes. There's something he truly doesn't like. As far as I'm concerned, there's enough variety in life that everyone can find something to like. I really believe that there's no accounting for taste, or the lack thereof.
    Runamok likes this.
  20. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Oct 18, 2015
    To be honest , I never played a Burst.
    I owned a boatload of vintage guitars, but not these Icons.
    I had the chance of playing a 52 , a 57 Goldtop and three mid 50ies Juniors. These were miles above any guitar I ever layed my hands on. Brilliant. Believe me.

    Sadly I missed every opportunity to buy one of them on my personal budget at that point of time. And I am crying ever since....(DM 1200 on a 52`and later DM 2000 on the 57` Junior,)

    Of course they are way above a normal working-man`s budget. And they sky-rocked since.
    But to be totally clear, they were over everyone`s budget even in the late 70ies/early 80ies:
    I just presented a local vintage guitar collector with an 80ies Guitar Player issue with a cover article about vintage Bursts informing the scene about prices in -an unheard range of- USD 6.000 for an perfect sample. I would pay that gladly today!

    So I really don`t care now anymore and I would not look back.

    At least I got my vintage 70ies Flying which is an icon to me and gives me a lot of what these guitars give tonewise except the mojo of being crazy unaffordable.

    If I would be a very rich man I would not hesitate to buy one. They are the Stradivarius of solidbody-guitars.
    Robbie likes this.
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