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[Split off from a thread discussing wood used for sculptures.]

The alternative is basswood, which has exactly the opposite working properties. It tends to fuzz up when machined, but cuts beautifully with edge tools. I never used it, but some of the best carvers in the world prefer it. It's a classic wood for carving that is in the same family as linden, aka limewood, which has been used for centuries in Europe.
A lot of the mass-makers of guitars use basswod for electrics that are going to get solid color finishes. It's cheap (which is why they like it) and lightweight (why some players like it), but the basswood guitars I've plunked on for a minute or two all sounded like mud.

It's probably stupid to judge an electric guitar based on how it sounds when it's unplugged, but that's what I've always done.
mjp, I'm afraid I must agree that judging a solid body guitar by its alleged acoustic properties doesn't make a lot of sense. Remember Rob Reiner and Chris Guest in Spinal Tap?

"Listen to that sustain! Woooooooo..."

"But it isn't plugged in."

Once you plug in, all bets are off. I've sold a lotta solid bodies in my time. I think it's most unlikely that anyone could consistently be able to tell basswood from swamp ash from mahogany with a maple cap in a blind test. And anyway, better basswood through a Super Reverb than ash or mahogany through a Champ.

Both the Japanese Reissue Fenders and Ibanez Roadstars of the late 80s-early 90s were basswood. Japanese Reissue Strats and Teles are among the best Fenders ever made. For people who like a lock nut floating trem, it's hard to beat those Roadstars. One of these days the Floyd Rose will make a comeback, and they'll escalate in value, but thank God I'll never have to set one up again.
Yes, once they are plugged in I find all the arguments and religion around "tonewood" to be moot.

Or as Rick Nielsen said back in the 70s when someone asked him about a valuable old burst or something, "Doesn't matter, I make them all sound equally bad."
Both the Japanese Reissue Fenders and Ibanez Roadstars of the late 80s-early 90s were basswood. Japanese Reissue Strats and Teles are among the best Fenders ever made. For people who like a lock nut floating trem, it's hard to beat those Roadstars. One of these days the Floyd Rose will make a comeback, and they'll escalate in value, but thank God I'll never have to set one up again.

Uh oh. Fender lover vs. Les Paul fan.
I don't mean to take this too far into guitar land, and I do like some Gibsons. But Les Paul Standards and Customs are just too damn heavy and overbalanced towards the body. Stand up with one and it'll kill your back. Sit down and the damn thing will slide off your lap like the dinner napkins in the old Kleenex TV ads with Manners the Butler (dating myself). Besides, Strats are cooler, and much more versatile. If it's gotta be a Gibson, spare me the humbucker mid-range mud and gimme something with P-90s. Single coils rule.

I could always tell a good acoustic player from a novice even before he or she started playing, because the good ones never asked me any questions about wood. Of course I kept my game face on when they did ask questions about wood and told them all about the differences between maple and mahogany and rosewood and Sitka and Adirondack spruce, but hello? You aren't playing pieces of wood. You're playing a guitar. Do you like the way it looks, sounds and plays? Can you afford it? Does it have a good warranty and good resale value? Then buy the damn thing already, it doesn't matter what wood it's made of!

We now return you to a forum for artists, not gear freaks.
gimme something with P-90s. Single coils rule.
The wall behind me concurs.

Oy, I'll always take the bait even though I promised Arty I wouldn't. When I was working at Martin in 69. I had a 57 double cutaway Special with soap bars. Medium red mahogany finish, not TV yellow. Bought it for a hundred bucks from a kid in Englewood, NJ. I forget what happened to it. Lost somewhere in why did I ever sell it land.

Alright. Last gittar anecdote, I swear. There was only one other guy with long hair working at Martin at the time, Steve Medve. He walked into a music store in Bethlehem, PA, just down the road from Nazareth, one morning and walked out with a dead mint cherryburst 59 Standard with a highly flamed cap... for $250.

I assume you know what this thing would be worth now, if he kept it in excellent condition.
I've had a few 50s Juniors, always red, always double cut, never TV. Always wanted a 50s Special, but settled for the new one in the picture in 2012. I got lucky with the Special, it's probably the best P90 slab I've played, including the 50s models. Gibson's modern quality issues aside.

There's nothing like those 50s Specials and Juniors though.

I like hearing the stories of people buying bursts for a few hundred dollars. No one cared about them. Same with the P90 slabs back in the day. I bought a dead mint 60 Junior for $300 in 1984, with the original case. Also long gone to why-did-I-ever-sell-it-land.
I dunno... maybe just a revival of the old "What Are You Listening To" thread would do it. A forum I can't really see.

All guitar players do is argue about gear and whether Clapton is over rated. We're a childish bunch.

So here you go. Fender amps are better than Marshalls, old Ampeg amps are way under rated and old Vox amps would be wonderful if they didn't blow up. Humbuckers suck and single coils rule. Nobody can hear the difference between silicon and germanium transisters. Only 20% of old Martins are magic guitars, old Gibsons are great when they're great and awful when they aren't, and Hoboken Guild 12 strings are the best ever. Preamp tubes are more important for tone than power tubes unless you're playing at earbleeding volume. No solid body electric is worth more than five hundred bucks. Joe Satriani is the only hard rock virtuoso who knows how to take a friggin' breath once in awhile.

And no, Clapton isn't over rated.
My babies, alas languishing on the wall... I can't play at all anymore, it's as though I never learned.

I bought the 65 Duo-Sonic II in 73 for thirty-five bucks, at which time it was Olympic White. Now, after years of playing in smoky dives, she's Nicotine Amber. The pickups are Van Zandt True Vintage Strat.

The Strat is a mongrel purchased for two-fifty in 94. MIJ 60's Reissue neck, Surf Green Chander body, Red Rhodes Velvet Hammers neck and middle, everything else stock MIJ. I got the VHs for twenty-five, nobody knew what they were except me. They're way overwound and more mid-rangey than most single coils, so I would cut the mids down to zilch on my amp and the result was a very dark sound on the neck, for a Strat, but still with that single coil top end shimmer. The middle was plenty bright enough. I never used the bridge, which is just a crap MIJ and very shrill (how did Hank Marvin ever get that sound out of a bridge pickup?).

The ding on the Strat resulted from me falling flat on my ass with the gig bag on my back on an icy driveway-- the trem arm dug into the top and flaked off the finish. Try that on a Gibson and see what happens!

The greatest regret of my life is that I was never recorded, except for a few things live. I could play stuff nobody else ever even tried to play, to the best of my knowledge. Like this-- good luck and ten years relentless practice, friends.

Professor Longhair, Hey Now Baby

The first time I heard this, in 75, I nearly fell out of my chair. You try keeping that triplet (except when it isn't) bass line going with all the other stuff under it. Of course I couldn't really do it all the way through, I had to go for a punctuated bass line for the breaks, ala Lonnie Johnson, and let the ear fill in what I wasn't playing, but I plugged into the grand piano patch on a Roland guitar synth once, and yep, I sounded like Fess.

My other biggest influence on guitar was another piano player, Otis Spann. Otis was absolutely the baddest, coolest blues pianist who has ever been. I stole his phrasing whenever I could. Not the fancy runs, just those little rhythmic fills. This is actually a set of variations on Worried Life Blues, written by his mentor, Big Maceo, one of the most covered blues tunes of all time. Lots and lots of space in Otis's playing, which makes it a reasonably easy steal for guitar. I never tried to play his left, that's what bass players are for. Only his right.

Otis Spann, Walking the Blues

If I had it to do all over again, the hell with the guitar, I'd play piano.

I ran pretty heavy strings on both guitars, .011-.050 at concert pitch. At one sit in gig where I was invited up to play a tune, I was handed a friend's Parker Fly, strung with nines. I couldn't even feel the damn things and promptly busted both the high E and the B with just one bend. Them skinny strings are for wusses.
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I wish I recorded more. I wish there was more live footage. I wish my old band didn't hoard the pictures and videos away from me. I wish I had copies of many rehearsal tapes some of my bands made (where are they?) I have some stuff, but maybe not the absolute best of my playing.
The greatest regret of my life is that I was never recorded, except for a few things live.
Well, you never know what might happen. An old bandmate of mine is prepping an LP for release that's mostly made up of 38-year-old live board tapes. Not the kind of things I would have imagined winding up on a record four decades later.

I ran pretty heavy strings on both guitars, .011-.050...
.050?! I'll have to try that. I go .010-.038 and people used to pick up my guitar and ask how I could play such heavy strings. Yours probably would have snapped their fingers off.
I started out on acoustic, so I was used to heavier strings. But yeah, a two whole step bend on an .011 at concert pitch is a lot harder than with an .010. It was easier on the Duo, which has a shorter scale length than a Strat, but I could do it on both. Even two and a half, if I was in an Albert King frame of mind.

Here's the Duo when she was still her original color, along with a 69 Supro Statesman. I had a thing for whacky old amps. Dig those big chrome knobs and the orange on and standby lights! 2-12", quad 6L6 wired for stereo. Great sounding amp but once I got past a certain age, just too damn heavy to haul around so I traded it for a 62 brownface Princeton, which I still have.

Duo & Supro.JPG
Fender amps are better than Marshalls...
Truth. I played through a 2x12 50W Marshall combo for years and it was always the crappiest sounding amp on the stage. But I couldn't afford to replace it (because no one wanted to buy it).
Humbuckers suck and single coils rule.
As a kid I was a DiMarzio user, the Super Distortion and the Super II. When I finally plugged an old Junior into an amp I thought, "Oh, so that's how guitars are supposed to sound!"
Nobody can hear the difference between silicon and germanium transisters.
I think you're right about that too. But you can certainly hear the difference between a germanium transistor fuzz in a cold room and a hot one. But then germanium transistors were never known for their consistency.

It's funny you should say, "No solid body electric is worth more than five hundred bucks." I started to set up a page that shows guitar prices from the 50s, 60s, and 70s (it stops at 1966 at the moment, but I have a lot more price data to add), and when you click a price it pops up a window with what that price would be today, adjusted for inflation.

According to the inflation calculator, in 1951 just the case for a Telecaster was $400! The guitar itself, $1,875. I don't know if that one is a fair comparison since there wasn't much of a solid body electric guitar business in 1951.

A '59 Les Paul Standard sold (or didn't sell) in the showroom for the equivalent of $2,335 in today's dollars. $42.50 ($375) for the case.

Which is all to say that solid bodies from the big names have always been expensive. Have they always been overpriced? Probably. The only new Gibson I ever bought (until 2012 anyway) was a Les Paul Deluxe in 1980. I paid $800 for it ($2,419 now). But like I mentioned, four years later I bought a '60 Junior for $300 ($730 now), so maybe the value of "new" was as out of whack then as it is now...
It's a truism among dealers in used and "vintage" (stupid term, meaningless in the wine trade far as quality goes) that people pay way, way too much for solid bodies. Of course, we don't mind. I can understand a pre-War Martin OM-45 being worth stupid money. Only ninety were ever made, and an acoustic is a much more complicated proposition to build. But fifty grand for a 50s Stratocaster? I don't think so.

Yes, she's a sweet little angel. Other players always wondered how I could get such a great sound out of a crappy student model. They would try, and they couldn't. Well, it's ultimately all in the fingers, no matter what you play.