In my humble, modest opinion...no one has better taste in guitars than me.
While sitting up here on my ivory tower of taste and sophistication, the rest of you out there are simply lowly pedestrians crying out for someone like me with the infinite wisdom of all things guitar to tell you what you want. That having been said, allow me to school all ya'll on what you should be buying, because unlike everyone else, my opinions are right. If I say a guitar is good, it is good and you will agree.
Or, not. Whatever.
Laying sarcasm aside (for the most part), sometimes we here at the shop find ourselves with a surplus of very cool guitars that no one seems to want. It's a cryin' shame, really. Makes me want to make some sob-story commercial showing pictures of these guitars all sad and down on their luck with a manipulative Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background. But that's a lot of work and, as a rule, I'm super lazy. So I'll just select a couple of my favorites from these poor, unloved guitars that just need to be given a chance and B.S. about them for a minute or two. Let's begin with one of my all-time favorites: a little something I like to call, "The Irish Explosion"...
Used Gretsch Diamond Anniversary 6125 ($1499.99):
Wooooo-wee! Look at that piece of Americana appliance-green! This is certainly a guitar with a unique style, for a number of reasons. Though it certainly has an ostentatious look, it is a deceitfully sweet and simple guitar. A wholesome, simplistic hark back to Gretsch's golden years, this is Gretsch's tribute to the now vintage 1950s-ish 6125 "Single" (named for its single neck pickup). Though it is a much more basic version of the original 6125 (replace the Bigsby tail-piece with a trapeze tail-piece and some less expensive hardware), this guitar is actually pretty killer if you have the guts to pick it up and command the attention of all St. Patrick's Day patrons.
Pros: This is a great feeling and great playing guitar. There's something about how hollow-bodies ride that tension between fragile-sounding clean and resonant, rich crunch that this guitar in particular does not fail to deliver on. Tonewise, very reminiscent of its original namesake: warm and organic. Mellow cleans that remind us all of Chet Atkins, but if you pull up the gain and boost the mids, this thing can punch through some crunchy, modern blues with that still warm, olden-day charm. Functionally, it's simple with its single neck pickup, single switch and single knob. What it may lack in versatility, in makes up for with accessibility.
Cons: Those of you who swear by your Bigsby tail-pieces, this one may come as a bit of disappointment. Trapeze tail-pieces are less expensive and much simpler, but sometimes at the cost of maintaining consistent intonation. However, with a good set-up under your belt and a decent set of properly-wound strings, it's hard to tell the difference. Unfortunately, this guitar came to us with a pretty terrible set of strings, but it's nothing a person with the unbridled confidence to rock a fifties roadster green guitar can't fix. However, even in spite of the terrible green-colored strings (it ain't an Irish Explosion for nothin'), this thing still plays warm, sweet, and crunchy. Like a piece of pecan pie. Mmm...pie.
All and all, this guitar is gonna need a brave, unabashedly green-lovin' player for an owner. All you'd really need is a big "Kiss Me I'm Irish" sticker slapped onto the pickguard.
Used Vintage Ibanez Blazer ($349.99):
I have to say that this is probably one of the most under-rated guitars I've ever played. I tend to gravitate towards the less-fancy side of things because I tend to prefer utility over fancy-schmanciness, and I'll go for the simpler looking guitar over the ones with nine pickups and eighty-seven strings and active/passive blah-de-blah-blah electronics almost every time. In my opinion, this is the perfect guitar for someone who just wants something simple, solid and rawkin'. This is a no-nonsense player, and I dig that very much.
Pros: The one and a half of you who read this blog regularly probably know by now that my approach when judging a guitar's merit is about 70% how the guitar feels and plays, 20% tone, and then 10% looks. On this grading scale, this thing exceeds expectations in all areas. When I say this guitar is solid, I mean it. Carved out of what was most likely a very robust chunk of ash, this thing packs a definite punch and a deep, growly voice. Not to mention, it plays smooth as silk with a fast, comfortable maple neck. Fact is, most people who try this guy find it hard to dislike how it plays and feels and how it responds to a good amount of riffing.
Cons: Tone snobs may not find a whole lot to like with these stock pickups. This really just comes down to a matter of taste. The tone here is pretty gritty and raw, which I personally like a lot. However, hot pickups tend to distort rather taste, and people looking for a nice, clean, shimmery sound will probably be disappointed in the Blazer. But if you're not all that concerned with "the perfect tone", or maybe your toney-grail is the raw, edgy growl of the beast within, look no further for a great sounding deal and a guitar that will last you through the toughest, most taxing gigs.
Fender Thinline Tele ($799.99):
Now we've got something here for the tone guys, though fair warning: if you're a Tele purist and you're of the opinion that "you shouldn't fix what ain't broke" about the classic tele tone, you may need not read further. As for me, it's hard not to like a tele: simple, versatile, and you usually know what you're getting when you get it. However, for those of you who are beginning to sink into ennui with the classic tele sound and you want a subtle change from the old routine, Thinlines are certainly worth an experiment or two.
Pros: This guitar sounds gorgeous, clean or dirty. But what seperates it from a garden variety telecaster is the body: a light, hollow body that embellishes the familiar tele tone with a richer, deeper voice and warmer distortion. For those who like teles but can sometimes find them brittle or sterile sounding, this may be your shining light in the darkness. I personally appreciate the more balanced distribution of weight in my hands due to the lighter body, but I also love the extra depth a hollow-body provides in the sound. It adds an extra dimension when clean and some decent punch and growl when dirty. Basically, everything you love about a classic tele but with a hollow twist.
Cons: Like I mentioned before, if you're a tele purist, this may not be a welcome detour for you. But if you're looking for something unique enough to notice but not so out of the ordinary as to send your telecaster fans packing, this may be your jam.
So, as your residential "expert" on tone and guitars and all that stuff, I urge you to reach down deep inside yourselves and find a place in your heart for one of these poor, homeless guitars that, if only given that chance, could rock your ever-lovin' socks off.
Stay Excellent and have a good week!