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Old 11-11-05, 07:38 AM   #1
MapleFlame
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Why so many 52's popping up

The production numbers of 52's are what 1200-1700. In the last 3 months between the Bay, members, Southby's and others approximately Fifteen 52's have been sold. That would be about 1% of totall production numbers which is really strange. I guess the word is out. The days of finding a neighbor or friend that doesn't know what they have are bout to be over. Curious what the other Members have to say. :ahem

Last edited by MapleFlame : 11-11-05 at 07:43 AM. Reason: subtract number
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Old 11-11-05, 07:41 AM   #2
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Fifteen sold would be 1%... not 10%
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Old 11-11-05, 07:41 AM   #3
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by MapleFlame
The production numbers of 52's are what 1200-1700. In the last 3 months between the Bay, members, Southby's and others approximately Fifteen 52's have been sold. That would be about 10% of totall production numbers which is really strange. I guess the word is out. The days of finding a neighbor or friend that doesn't know what they have are bout to be over. Curious what the other Members have to say. :ahem
Uh, MapleFlame, that's 1%. Still a lot, though.
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Old 11-11-05, 07:42 AM   #4
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Sorry I will change that, I put a 0 by mistake thanks I am a IDIOT.
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Old 11-11-05, 07:53 AM   #5
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

$$$$$$$$$
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Old 11-11-05, 08:07 AM   #6
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

They used to be about 5K about 3 years ago , now their pulling over 15K for a clean, stock model that shoud tell you some thing. The conversion thing could also be another reason. Conversions weren't the big deal they are now, they could be had for about 5K with PAF's 3 years ago or so. Today a nice conversion with PAF's will be 25K and up for a nice bursted example or one with original gold paint. I don't think it's just these any under valued 50's vintage models that say Les Paul on the headstock have gone sky high in the last year and a half or so. Get them while you still can

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Old 11-11-05, 08:14 AM   #7
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

I am!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-11-05, 09:48 AM   #8
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Me too.
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Old 11-11-05, 10:40 AM   #9
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Those 52GTs have been languishing for decades, as the unwanted "red-headed stepchild" of the vinatage Les Paul market.
NOW, the demand for them has increased dramatically. That has had a major effect of bringing more of them to the marketplace. :ahem
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Old 11-11-05, 11:05 AM   #10
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Just out of curiosity, do buyers of completely original examples of these guitars ever intend to just leave them as is? Given the playability problems that they frequently possess (which even Les Paul himself, if I recall correctly, took issue with), '52 goldtops strike me as a fine example of the idea of a guitar functioning more as a collectible than as a musical instrument. I mean, the whole thing with the strings originating from under the guitar's bridge/tailpiece, rather than being wrapped over it, is clearly a poor design, at least from a musician's point of view. The only difference nowadays appears to be that it's become a much more expensive, collectible poor design. Kind of like the early Rickenbacker "frying pan" guitar—yes, it's very historically significant and probably very collectible, but how truly usable would it be as a musical instrument decades later?

By the way, no offense intended to enthusiasts of '52 goldtops, it's just that I've never understood the allure of these guitars beyond their potential to be converted into more functional musical instruments.
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Old 11-11-05, 11:18 AM   #11
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
Just out of curiosity, do buyers of completely original examples of these guitars ever intend to just leave them as is? Given the playability problems that they frequently possess (which even Les Paul himself, if I recall correctly, took issue with), '52 goldtops strike me as a fine example of the idea of a guitar functioning more as a collectible than as a musical instrument. I mean, the whole thing with the strings originating from under the guitar's bridge/tailpiece, rather than being wrapped over it, is clearly a poor design, at least from a musician's point of view. The only difference nowadays appears to be that it's become a much more expensive, collectible poor design. Kind of like the early Rickenbacker "frying pan" guitar—yes, it's very historically significant and probably very collectible, but how truly usable would it be as a musical instrument decades later?

By the way, no offense intended to enthusiasts of '52 goldtops, it's just that I've never understood the allure of these guitars beyond their potential to be converted into more functional musical instruments.
What you say it correct in my opinion.... that is why they have sold for the most part at about 1/10th the price of a '57 goldtop. But if you consider that '57s have gone from 40k to 140k in a year or so, then its not so surprising to see '52s go from 4k to 14k.... its all about collectibility not always functionality... That being said, '52 goldtops do have great tone...
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Old 11-11-05, 11:24 AM   #12
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Speaking of conversions, how's this for a thought ... I believe that the "pedigree" of any 52'-'56 conversion will also come into play as guitar store owners and the public becomes more aware of their existance! ... The luthier that did the job (neck reset, refin, whatever), accompanied by a handwritten, signed letter, (or "COA" if you will), which would include some trademark (initials, a sticker,etc.) ... We're not just talkin' "cosmetics" here.

Will "who did the conversion" affect resale price in the future?? I think it probably will. The ability to make these conversions look and play like a 1957 Goldtop or a 1959 Burst will rule the day IMHO, parts not withstanding.

Who cares if it looks good, has humbuckers, and real parts, if it plays like crap because the neck angle is wrong, been sanded too much, neck tenon got messed up, poor bridge and/or tailpiece location, binding errors, etc.). Getting as close to the model you wish to replicate is key. Craftsmanship and reputation will be king in the resale market.
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Old 11-11-05, 11:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed A
That being said, '52 goldtops do have great tone...
True, I don't doubt that. And I could see where that point alone would obviously add considerably to their allure. I guess that I'm mainly shocked at the price range in which '52 goldtops currently appear to reside. Your comparison with the current prices of '57 goldtops certainly puts things in better perspective, but I personally don't think that I could ever warm up to the idea of laying out $15,000.00 for a nonfunctioning musical instrument.

Which, in a way, relates back to that other recent thread (yours, I think?) about what vintage-guitar purchase(s) would be the best choices on a $16K–$18K budget. Basically, if I were going to spend that amount, I'd probably skip over '52 goldtops entirely and stick with something that "works" in stock condition.
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Old 11-11-05, 01:05 PM   #14
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
... but I personally don't think that I could ever warm up to the idea of laying out $15,000.00 for a nonfunctioning musical instrument.
Even if was worth almost twice that after conversion? ... then will appreciate over time?
Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
... if I were going to spend that amount ($16,000 to $18,000), I'd probably skip over '52 goldtops entirely and stick with something that "works" in stock condition.
First, you can still find '52 Goldtops with few or zero issues, with not a lot of effort in the $13,000 range. Otherwise, be ready to stick with Juniors, Specials, etc., and rule out EVER owning a vintage Les Paul with 50 year old wood, a brazilian fretboard like it was meant to be, PAFs, an ABR-1/Stop tailpiece setup, the look, the feel, ... and that sound!!
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Old 11-11-05, 01:48 PM   #15
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Right TW...the '52 goldtops used to be the ugly duckling and the less than desirable Les Paul. Not so anymore.
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Old 11-11-05, 03:00 PM   #16
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

While I agree that the trap tail on 52s is not ideal, they are very playable, and have a unique tone among the LP line. The underwrap bridge, is actually very resonant and that comes through plugged in. If I had the $$ (which I dont, and didnt even when they were 7k a pop 2 years ago) I would buy one and keep it stock, not for collectability reasons, but because I think they are great guitars. When I was shopping for a p-90 historic I tried many R6s and a couple R4s though none really spoke to me. When I went to try an R6 at a store near here, they also had an R2 hanging on the wall. After being unimpressed with the R6, I had them pull down the R2 just for the hell of it, and ended up walking out with it. I now have one R8 and one R2 as my only two guitars, and find I dont need anything else. So I know I am the exception, but If I had the $ for a real 52, I would get it in a heartbeat and not touch a thing.
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Old 11-11-05, 03:01 PM   #17
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
a nonfunctioning musical instrument.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I love '52's and would definitely take issue with this characterization.

Out of favor?...maybe. But "non-functioning"?....no way. I have 2 of them, and they both play and sound fantastic. I also have some later GT's. But the 52's have always more than held their own for me. I'd probably buy another one in a heartbeat if the right one presented itself. The fact that they have been overlooked has made them a great deal in the vintage marketplace. ;)

Now if ya wanna talk about non-functioning....I can point you toward a few vastly overpriced early 50's strats I played this week.....:2lol

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Old 11-11-05, 03:03 PM   #18
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
Just out of curiosity, do buyers of completely original examples of these guitars ever intend to just leave them as is? Given the playability problems that they frequently possess (which even Les Paul himself, if I recall correctly, took issue with), '52 goldtops strike me as a fine example of the idea of a guitar functioning more as a collectible than as a musical instrument. I mean, the whole thing with the strings originating from under the guitar's bridge/tailpiece, rather than being wrapped over it, is clearly a poor design, at least from a musician's point of view. The only difference nowadays appears to be that it's become a much more expensive, collectible poor design. Kind of like the early Rickenbacker "frying pan" guitar—yes, it's very historically significant and probably very collectible, but how truly usable would it be as a musical instrument decades later?

By the way, no offense intended to enthusiasts of '52 goldtops, it's just that I've never understood the allure of these guitars beyond their potential to be converted into more functional musical instruments.
I play my '52 and '53 trapeze Goldtops all the time.
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Old 11-11-05, 03:13 PM   #19
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

billyS

Amen to that brother. I cannot understand 54-56 Strats being worth a hang. Poor tone and playability for me.

But maybe that's just me

OTOH my 54 GT is sooooooo sweet

How the hell did they sell Strats back then, on price alone???
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Old 11-11-05, 03:32 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BurstMeUp
Even if was worth almost twice that after conversion? ... then will appreciate over time?
Yes to both, but that's just me. My current vintage guitar–buying philosophy is leaning towards guitars that need no work or restoration whatsoever. And that's not because of collector-oriented concerns, either; it's more an outgrowth of musical concerns. You see, I'm the type of person who spends way too much time fussing over whether this or that part is historically correct, or whether the typeface on a switch ring looks right. And the net effect of that whole mindset (on me, at least), is that it's taken me further away from things that I think matter more—like practicing, composing, and performing. So as you could imagine, if a person like myself were faced with a project like a conversion (which, if done correctly, could well be described as involving the utter pinnacle of the above sort of fussiness), I'd probably never get anything done. There are simply too many decisions involved with a conversion, and I just wouldn't have the patience to deal with all of them. Alternately (and more briefly) stated: I just want a vintage guitar that I can play right out of the case, with little more than a set-up and, at the most, a refret. And if that means moving into a slightly higher price range, I'd probably do that before buying a less expensive guitar and spending several thousand dollars afterwards for the necessary vintage parts and conversion work. Again, though, that's just me.

But let's imagine that someone did want to go ahead and convert a '52 goldtop to '57 specs, but (and this is an important "but") he or she didn't already own any of the necessary vintage parts at the outset of the project. And let's say that he or she were going to start off by buying the guitar and all the related parts today (i.e., at today's prices). In this scenario, it may well be true that the given '52 goldtop will be worth twice its original price when the conversion is done, but the buyer would also have to purchase the following:

- double-black PAF's (with covers): ~$3,000.00
- 1957 Centralab pots and Sprague caps: ~$800.00
- 1957 knobs: ~$500.00
- Kluson single-line, single-ring "2356766" tuners: ~$1,000.00
- "wireless" nickel ABR-1: ~$800.00
- 1950s stop bar nickel tailpiece: ~$800.00

Forgive me if some of these prices are too low or otherwise off from where they should be; I really haven't kept up with the current values of the parts to which they pertain. Anyway, all this is not including the remainder of the guitar's wiring harness, or the switch ring and pickup surrounds. So you'd be laying out $13,000.00 for the '52 goldtop, plus about $7,000.00 for the above-listed parts, plus another $3,000.00 or so to have some expert luthier do the conversion. That adds up to about $23,000.00. If the original guitar doubled in value to $26,000.00, your profit would only be about $3,000.00, and this would be after a tremendous amount of legwork to find all the necessary parts, and then who knows how much time to wait for the conversion to be completed. Therefore, I personally would rather just spend $23,000.00 on a completely original guitar that's ready to play as is (see below), and whose value would likely appreciate as much as that of the finished conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BurstMeUp
[Y]ou can still find '52 Goldtops with few or zero issues, with not a lot of effort in the $13,000 range. Otherwise, be ready to stick with Juniors, Specials, etc., and rule out EVER owning a vintage Les Paul with 50 year old wood, a brazilian fretboard like it was meant to be, PAFs, an ABR-1/Stop tailpiece setup, the look, the feel, ... and that sound!!
I've already ruled out the idea of owning a humbucker-equipped 1950s Les Paul—for the time being, at least. I'm simply not in a financial position to even *entertain* the idea of purchasing one at this stage of my life. But maybe someday, who knows?

In the meantime, I've become interested mainly in 1959 ES-345TD's. Among other things, these guitars: (a) sound great; (b) look cool; (c) have PAF's (frequently double-white ones, at that); (d) have intonable bridges; and (e) can still be had for a little over $20,000.00. And, despite what others have said, the Varitone does not "suck" tone!!!

Last edited by vintage58 : 11-11-05 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 11-11-05, 03:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cibai
While I agree that the trap tail on 52s is not ideal, they are very playable, and have a unique tone among the LP line. The underwrap bridge, is actually very resonant and that comes through plugged in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by billys
But "non-functioning"?....no way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSlub
I play my '52 and '53 trapeze Goldtops all the time.
Hey, my apologies for any potential slight against '52 goldtops, I do suppose that "non-functioning" was a bit harsh. I was mainly referring to things like the higher level of difficulty in muting strings with the palm of one's right hand when playing these guitars.

Anyway, I guess that playing '52 goldtops is not too far off from what Jimmy Page once said about playing Telecasters: "It's more of a fight [with a Telecaster], but there are rewards."
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Old 11-11-05, 04:04 PM   #22
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

I know what you meant; no problem.

It's interesting to me how people always talk about the muting factor with those tailpieces, and while it's true, I just have never seen it as that big a thing. Every setup has certain attributes that suit it to a certain kind of playing....



Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
Hey, my apologies for any potential slight against '52 goldtops, I do suppose that "non-functioning" was a bit harsh. I was mainly referring to things like the higher level of difficulty in muting strings with the palm of one's right hand when playing these guitars.

Anyway, I guess that playing '52 goldtops is not too far off from what Jimmy Page once said about playing Telecasters: "It's more of a fight [with a Telecaster], but there are rewards."
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Old 11-11-05, 04:19 PM   #23
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

54-56 Strats not being playable? I have had many guitars in my time and My 54 Strat plays and sounds much better than a refin 59 burst i had......54 Strats and 59 Les Paul are the holy grail in my opinion.
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Old 11-11-05, 07:32 PM   #24
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
In the meantime, I've become interested mainly in 1959 ES-345TD's. Among other things, these guitars: (a) sound great; (b) look cool; (c) have PAF's (frequently double-white ones, at that); (d) have intonable bridges; and (e) can still be had for a little over $20,000.00. And, despite what others have said, the Varitone does not "suck" tone!!!
Sorry the hijack the thread but I love my '59 345!
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Old 11-11-05, 07:34 PM   #25
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
Yes to both, but that's just me. My current vintage guitar–buying philosophy is leaning towards guitars that need no work or restoration whatsoever. And that's not because of collector-oriented concerns, either; it's more an outgrowth of musical concerns. You see, I'm the type of person who spends way too much time fussing over whether this or that part is historically correct, or whether the typeface on a switch ring looks right. And the net effect of that whole mindset (on me, at least), is that it's taken me further away from things that I think matter more—like practicing, composing, and performing. So as you could imagine, if a person like myself were faced with a project like a conversion (which, if done correctly, could well be described as involving the utter pinnacle of the above sort of fussiness), I'd probably never get anything done. There are simply too many decisions involved with a conversion, and I just wouldn't have the patience to deal with all of them. Alternately (and more briefly) stated: I just want a vintage guitar that I can play right out of the case, with little more than a set-up and, at the most, a refret. And if that means moving into a slightly higher price range, I'd probably do that before buying a less expensive guitar and spending several thousand dollars afterwards for the necessary vintage parts and conversion work. Again, though, that's just me.

But let's imagine that someone did want to go ahead and convert a '52 goldtop to '57 specs, but (and this is an important "but") he or she didn't already own any of the necessary vintage parts at the outset of the project. And let's say that he or she were going to start off by buying the guitar and all the related parts today (i.e., at today's prices). In this scenario, it may well be true that the given '52 goldtop will be worth twice its original price when the conversion is done, but the buyer would also have to purchase the following:

- double-black PAF's (with covers): ~$3,000.00
- 1957 Centralab pots and Sprague caps: ~$800.00
- 1957 knobs: ~$500.00
- Kluson single-line, single-ring "2356766" tuners: ~$1,000.00
- "wireless" nickel ABR-1: ~$800.00
- 1950s stop bar nickel tailpiece: ~$800.00

Forgive me if some of these prices are too low or otherwise off from where they should be; I really haven't kept up with the current values of the parts to which they pertain. Anyway, all this is not including the remainder of the guitar's wiring harness, or the switch ring and pickup surrounds. So you'd be laying out $13,000.00 for the '52 goldtop, plus about $7,000.00 for the above-listed parts, plus another $3,000.00 or so to have some expert luthier do the conversion. That adds up to about $23,000.00. If the original guitar doubled in value to $26,000.00, your profit would only be about $3,000.00, and this would be after a tremendous amount of legwork to find all the necessary parts, and then who knows how much time to wait for the conversion to be completed. Therefore, I personally would rather just spend $23,000.00 on a completely original guitar that's ready to play as is (see below), and whose value would likely appreciate as much as that of the finished conversion.

I've already ruled out the idea of owning a humbucker-equipped 1950s Les Paul—for the time being, at least. I'm simply not in a financial position to even *entertain* the idea of purchasing one at this stage of my life. But maybe someday, who knows?

In the meantime, I've become interested mainly in 1959 ES-345TD's. Among other things, these guitars: (a) sound great; (b) look cool; (c) have PAF's (frequently double-white ones, at that); (d) have intonable bridges; and (e) can still be had for a little over $20,000.00. And, despite what others have said, the Varitone does not "suck" tone!!!
You are off by around $2600 for the parts you listed and that is on the conservative side, fyi
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Old 11-11-05, 07:35 PM   #26
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by freecap
How the hell did they sell Strats back then, on price alone???

The price of a 1959 Strat was higher than a 1959 Les Paul Standard [Burst].
Even the case. :eek
I suspect the same was true in 56/57.

Demand was MUCH higher for the Stratocaster. That's how they sold them. ;)
I think some of the finest Strats ever made came from 1956. :brow
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Old 11-11-05, 07:52 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badbrad
You are off by around $2600 for the parts you listed and that is on the conservative side, fyi
Thanks for the info. So, were those estimates $2,600.00 too low, or $2,600.00 too high?
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Old 11-11-05, 07:52 PM   #28
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Old 11-11-05, 08:02 PM   #29
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

I agree with Tom, I've had and played many early Strats and I think 56-58 were the best years with 54's being very uneventful. Incidently, I've played quite a few custom shop and masterbuilt strats that have exceeded the originals in tone and playability. I've NEVER played a Gibson Les Paul Historic reissue that even came close to an original, not that they arent good guitars, just different....it must be the age factor.
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Old 11-11-05, 08:29 PM   #30
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

I just compare my experience with strats, having owned and played 54,57,60,62 (presently), 63.

The 57-62 era fits and sounds best to me, but what do I know???

So a 59 strat costs more than a Burst at that time? Amazing when you consider the workmanship and materials. Guess three pups is better tahn two...
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Old 11-11-05, 08:35 PM   #31
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by TW59
Demand was MUCH higher for the Stratocaster. That's how they sold them. ;)
Plus the Stratocaster had many selling points. 3 pickukps, body contour, tremelo, custom colors!
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Old 11-14-05, 11:19 AM   #32
R.A.O.
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

If the underwrapped bridge is such a dealbreaker on a 52, you don't have to do a full on conversion to make it work for you. A neck reset will make it function fine. Personally, I love those tailpieces.
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Old 11-14-05, 01:16 PM   #33
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

I think 1954 to 1956 strats are the best. The older the better when it comes to strats. as time marched on, Leo was always tweaking the design so he could make it faster and easier. prior to october 1954, all strats were basically hand made custom guitars. the official 'production' date of october 1954 made the strat much more of a 'production' guitar. when fender changed from ash to alder (alder being cheaper and *much* easier to finish) in mid-1956, i think the end of a strat era came to be.

Les pauls on the other hand constantly improved from 1952 to 1959, without regard to making them easier to make or cheaper. i would say that it's harder to make a dual coil pickup (PAF) than a single coil (P90). and shooting a sunburst finish is a lot tougher than a gold finish. also with sunburst wood grain and match was a concern, where with gold it was not. gibson had a much different philosophy about making guitars than fender.
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Old 11-14-05, 02:03 PM   #34
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

I agree , but i always wondered why all the biggest Strat hero's from Clapton to Stevie Ray always used alder body strats? How could anyone not love those early ash body strats? They are just so rare and expensive now even the hardtail models are expensive. I saw some nice ones in Philly over the weekend , but not one blackguard tele.
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Old 11-14-05, 03:26 PM   #35
cfh
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

The equivalent to the pre-october 1954 strat is the broadcaster. again, totally hand made and not a 'production line' guitar at all! very cool. by the time it became the nocaster it was more of a production line guitar. certainly by fall 1951 when it became a tele it was definately a production line guitar. the early models are so unique and each one is totally different.

i think the reason for clapton and stevie and all the other using alder body strats is this - just the sheer number of them available. ash body strats were fairly low production. each year of the strat they made more and more of them. alder models outnumber ash model probably 20 to 1 (if not more than that). of course that's just a guess, but they only made ash body strats for 2 years, and the first year was pretty low production.

back to gibson, it amazes me how few of any 1950s model gibson they made. what did they crank out? maybe juniors and specials, but that's about it.
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Old 11-14-05, 03:48 PM   #36
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Hank Marvin, Homer Haynes, Buddy Holly and Hendrix all used alder Body Strats.....Holly had a 55 Ash first but then got the famous 3-Tone Sunburst 58.
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Old 01-12-06, 11:58 PM   #37
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage58
Thanks for the info. So, were those estimates $2,600.00 too low, or $2,600.00 too high?
too low, sorry for the lag.
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Old 01-13-06, 08:22 AM   #38
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

'52s sound GREAT and don't have to be permanently altered to make them play great:

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Old 01-13-06, 03:58 PM   #39
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev.WillieVK
'52s sound GREAT and don't have to be permanently altered to make them play great:

That's the ticket, Bill--I play mine with the trap, as well. It's no problem--just requires technique and musicianship...
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Old 01-13-06, 04:13 PM   #40
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Re: Why so many 52's popping up

Cool guitar!

I think this is the best and easiest solution to make a `52 full playable.
What`s that bridge, Rev.Willie? Is it milled on the bottom to make it fit?
My `52 LP has an old Gotoh-ToM installed, that is reduced in the height that way, and it
works well (and looks good too).

The only thing is, that you have to drill two holes into the body, but... so what?!
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