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Old 05-10-07, 04:12 AM   #1
Olsen
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Norlin years

Hi guys.
I often hear about the Norlin Years.When exactely was that?
I believe that I heard something about that guitars from that period should have lower quality.I got a 1980 LP Custom that I regard as my best guitar.Is that from the Norlin era?
Thanks.
Chriss
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Old 05-10-07, 04:28 AM   #2
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Re: Norlin years

Do a search.
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Old 05-10-07, 04:31 AM   #3
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Re: Norlin years

Hi...I did....No match...
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Old 05-10-07, 05:21 AM   #4
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Re: Norlin years

Olsen I am by no means an expert but I believe the Norlin years were from the mid 70's (I think that is right) to 86 (I am almost positive about that). There is a great book you can find at Amazon.com entitled 50 years of the Gibson Les Paul which has a wealth of information.

My understanding from reading and talking with people is that "generally" the Norlin years did not produce the best guitars. If you look in the Blue Book of Electric Guitars (I have seen those at your local Barnes and Nobel) you will see that reflected in what they value those guitars. That being said I also see those guitars selling for more and more each year.

As for me I tend to keep an eye out for 1987 until the present. Hope that helps.
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Old 05-10-07, 05:26 AM   #5
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Re: Norlin years

Hi...Thank you,Captain Jack.Very helpfull.I will check out the book you mention.
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Old 05-10-07, 06:52 AM   #6
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Re: Norlin years

The first thing you have to understand is Gibson didn't make changes in January, so "year" is a bit vague. The second thing is Les Pauls are made by people, and there are "good" ones and "bad" from from every year, even 1959 and 1985. However, the value of the guitar is determined more by the year than it's quality as Les Pauls are collectible.

Gibson stopped making the '50s Les Pauls in 1960, though there are some very rare '61s floating around.

In 1968, they started again, and the only way they new how was the way they did it before, so these guitars are worth a lot.

In 1969, they started making some changes, so these are guitars are also worth a lot, depending...

1970 saw the introduction of the "Norlin" Les Paul. Changes included flatter tops, volutes on the neck, larger headstocks, and the dreaded "pancake bodies".

The Norlin period continued through until the 1986, when the company was sold to the current owner, Darth Juszkiewicz.
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Old 05-10-07, 07:13 AM   #7
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Re: Norlin years

Hey GlassSnuff,thanks a lot.When you say pancake bodies,are you then referring to the three peace maple top?
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Old 05-10-07, 07:51 AM   #8
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Re: Norlin years

pancake refers to the layering of the bodies, you can see a line on the side.
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A 50's Special is, IMO, the coolest guitar ever made.
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Old 05-10-07, 08:31 AM   #9
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Re: Norlin years

There has been a lot of discussion about these things, here's a thread that may be of interest:

Norllin... bad rep?

The bottom line is, if you love your Custom, that's all that should matter to you. Guitars are just instruments to make music, and if you're making great music on your Lester, then by my definition, it's a great guitar!
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Old 05-10-07, 09:49 AM   #10
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Re: Norlin years

So far the question has not been answered well.

The Norlin Years technically started in 68/69 when the "Norlin" group bought the company. It ended in the mid 80s.

Guitar construction "issues" that gave Gibsona bad rap for that time were made starting in 1969 and the change back to better guitars started in 1977 when the one-piece body came back.

SO. IMNSHO, the "Norlin Years" are late 1969 through 1977.

1968 Les Pals were made by Norlin, as were 1980 Heritage Les Pauls.
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Old 05-10-07, 10:02 AM   #11
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Re: Norlin years

Hi ...thanks for the reply's.I was just wondering.I am very happy about my LP Custom.It is a 1980 wine red and as far as I know from this forum,it has Tim Shaw PU's,wich I love.The top is transparent and I can see that it is made in three pieces.It sounds great and I certenly don't feel that it is second rate.
I am the the happy owner of three LP's and this is for shure the best.
If this is a Norlin,I can only say that they made very good guitars also.
Thanks again.
Chriss
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Old 05-10-07, 10:06 AM   #12
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Re: Norlin years

another happy Norlin owner
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A 50's Special is, IMO, the coolest guitar ever made.
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Old 05-10-07, 10:52 AM   #13
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olsen View Post
Hi ...thanks for the reply's.I was just wondering.I am very happy about my LP Custom.It is a 1980 wine red and as far as I know from this forum,it has Tim Shaw PU's,wich I love.The top is transparent and I can see that it is made in three pieces.It sounds great and I certenly don't feel that it is second rate.
I am the the happy owner of three LP's and this is for shure the best.
If this is a Norlin,I can only say that they made very good guitars also.
Thanks again.
Chriss
Fuck the snobs and enjoy your Norlin. I enjoy mine and they are some of the best guitars I've played.

Assholes will try to claim the pancake, three piece neck, wide head, volute, pieced maple caps and mini-buckers etc. were inferior. What a load of toss. They were done for practical reasons and not as a way of reducing cost.

The Norlins were marginally, and I mean MARGINALLY, different, to the originals. They were all wood; a mix of mahogany and maple; they were the right shape and the early ones were made in the same factory, most likely, by the same staff.

Plug-in, thrash and enjoy.
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Old 05-10-07, 11:32 AM   #14
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Re: Norlin years

Wilko, I have to disagree with your Not So Humble opinion. You stated that Gibsons had a "change back to better guitars" in '77, when in fact, that was about the time their quality started a long slide into mediocrity. All American products lost quality in the '70s, but to their credit, Gibson held out longer than, say, Fender or Martin. We hung in there, but finally gave up being a Gibson dealer in '89.

If there was truth to what you claim, then an early '80s LP would be worth more than an early '70s LP, but that's not the case. I know you're convinced that pancake bodies are evil, but some folks have a dislike for rocker tenons and weight relief holes, which you appear to consider improvements as you're including them in your specs for "better guitars".

In the end though, none of these things determine a "good" or "bad" guitar. Different, sure there are differences, but I don't think everyone needs to play the blues, and I don't think everyone needs an exact copy of a 'burst. Some of us want to be different.
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Old 05-10-07, 11:43 AM   #15
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Re: Norlin years

Sorry, I understand that there are many differences. I don't consider the weight relief or rocker tenons to be good. Or other quality issues.

I just know that the change back to 1-piece bodies and the longer process to get to the Shaw era was indicator that Gibson knew they weren't making what people wanted and they started back to the old style that made them famous to begin with.
I don't believe that the pancakes are "evil" and have never posted that. I did post that the change back to one-piece bodies signalled the start of the trend toward better guitars. I stand by that. The pancake construction, maple neck, boat anchor heavy guitar isn't as versatile or as "Les Paul" as what they made in the early 80s up til now.

They are DIFFERENT and I have posted that. they are also one of the biggest reasons that Les Pauls sounded very different than the originals.

I still own a 76 custom and have owned many early 70s Les Pauls. I knwo the difference, and FOR ME the Norlin recipe isn't right for most of what I like to play. I like the woody resonance of different Les Pauls.

Last edited by Wilko : 05-10-07 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 05-10-07, 11:43 AM   #16
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Re: Norlin years

Hey PTate..nice post.He-he...
Well,I was'nt worryed about value or "is this a real Gibson" or anything like that.I have had to many well sounding cheap guitars over the last thirty years to be worryed about that,but the Gibson Les Paul guitar has allways been my favorite.I love my Pauls but think about this:The guitar I got,that get closest to the sound of my Custom,is an Epiphone Wildcat with Alnico P-90 pu's.It is way different to play,but the sound...great.I recently recorded 15 songs with my band,using the Custom and the Epi.When I listen to the demo I can't hear where I use the Epi or the Custom.They are so close in sound.The Epi has the sound but the Custom has the feel and the sound.
I also own a '78 LP Pro with P-90 wich according to Guitar Player Magazine,in an article in the mid 80's,did'nt have the real LP vibe.It is one of the best guitars I have ever played.
No,I was just wondering,what years we were talking about,when talking about the Norlin Years.
Thanks for the good post,everyone.
Chriss
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Old 05-10-07, 12:48 PM   #17
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
FOR ME the Norlin recipe isn't right.
For me it is right. Especially '70-'74.
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Old 05-10-07, 02:39 PM   #18
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Re: Norlin years

There are absolutely no apologies that need to be made for a Norlin Les Paul Deluxe.

I own an play a bunch of good guitars, including a few R9s from various years, a Custom Shop 335 and an L4-CES.

My 1971 Deluxe is a really great guitar! It is different from the R8 and R9s, but it sounds and plays fantastic.

The Norlin Deluxe needs a few different settings on the amp, so be aware of that if you go to try out an old original Deluxe. Turn down the treble on the amp.

I am very happy with its unique voice, its feel, neck profile, and workmanship. Great instrument.
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Old 05-10-07, 03:27 PM   #19
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Re: Norlin years

Also, I totally agree with the stand that most have made: that this is an individual thing.

There are specific areas where my 71 Deluxe with original mini-hums will excell in a unique way. It is good for certain tasks.

1.) In particular, it has a very nice and full clean sound when both pups are engaged and the bridge volume is rolled off a bit (7 or 8). This is quite a full and clear sound which has drawn unsolisicted compliments from other players. This sound is most evident in a 6L6GC-based amp, has a nice chime though EL84, and is less amazing in an EL34 system.

I partly attribute this positive feature to the ~absence~ of that woody resonance tone that I seek for lead work.

2.) The 71 Deluxe has a very good sustain to it. You do not need to put it in a compressor or high-gain amp or overdrive to have the notes hold out. On a related note it is loud acoustically for a solid body. Not up there with an Historic Reissue, but pretty good!

3.) It is much less likely to go "muddy", and therefore nice for clean rhythm work in a band setting. It cuts through a bit more, without necessarily being obnoxious.

Thanks
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Old 05-10-07, 04:34 PM   #20
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Re: Norlin years

Sparta's comments are exactly the same in my experience as well.

The term we've been using around the LPF for years is that the heavy Norlin Guitars are "focused". And yes, sustain is excellent.
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Old 05-10-07, 06:01 PM   #21
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Re: Norlin years

The Norlin years were from 1969 to 1985. There were really two periods in the Norlin ownership, the first from 1969 to about 1976 or so. Those years were not the greatest for Gibson in terms of quality guitars. They put into place a number of manufacturing processes that were not very popular. The sandwich body for one, where they put a very thin piece of maple between two slabs of mahogany for the body. This process is called crossbanding. Crossbanding allowed Gibson to use smaller pieces of mahogany, that were used for necks because of their size, to be used for the bodies. There were problems with this process, there were complaints about shrinkage around the joints. Also in 1969 Gibson changed the necks from 1-piece mahogany to a 3-piece laminate, and added a volute to the back of the neck. Also the angle at which the headstock pitched back was decreased from 17 degrees to 14. All these things hurt Gibsons reputation amoung traditionalists. Rumors started to spread that LPs were not as good as they used to be.
The second period of the Norlin ownership showed quality guitars coming back to the LP line. In 1978 Tim Shaw joined Gibson, and by 1979 he was heading up the R&D dept. The crossbanding process was stoped by this time, and the LP necks went from the 3-piece laminate to a 3-piece maple for added strength. The volute was removed by 1981. The headstock pitch returned to the original 17 degrees as it should be. Shaw designed new humbucking pickups that mirrored the original PAFs, he hand wound some himself. Today Tim Shaw pickups are highly regarded, and some say are the closet to the original PAFs. The changes mabe in the early 80s resulted in some of the finest LPs made. Unfortunately today when someone talks about Gibsons Norlin era it has a negative conotation. People seem to forget, or don't know that the end of that era, 1978 to 1985 Gibson made some fine guitars.



KEEP PLAYING
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Old 05-10-07, 06:02 PM   #22
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Re: Norlin years

I’m not a fan of Norlins. Having said that (and I believe I’m on record here) the maple neck Customs, The Paul’s and Deluxe are (imho) quite good. Artisans as well if you can stand the weight and loose the TP6 in favor of a stop tailpiece. But they are Norlin models. Enjoy yours.
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Old 05-10-07, 07:11 PM   #23
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Re: Norlin years

Did God create 17 degrees? Actual 14 degrees started with the SG in 1965 when Gibson still was pure. Shows evil was starting to penetrate before Norlin.
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Old 05-10-07, 07:16 PM   #24
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Re: Norlin years

Quote: People seem to forget, or don't know that the end of that era, 1978 to 1985 Gibson made some fine guitars.

and it appears others forget that, between 1969 and 1977, Gibson made some fine guitars.
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Old 05-10-07, 10:55 PM   #25
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by scozz50 View Post
Also in 1969 Gibson changed the necks from 1-piece mahogany to a 3-piece laminate, and added a volute to the back of the neck.

3-piece laminate?

Are you saying that these where made of plywood? I need some more verification on that.

The ones I've seen with clear neck finishes sure looked like maple.

It was my understanding that in that era they were all three piece maple necks, which from the company's stand point could be considered an upgrade. Gibsons top guitars (L5, Super 400) where 3-piece maple from day one or at least since the early 30s. These days the top arch tops are 5 piece necks including two decorative walnut(?) strips between three maple pieces.

I worked at a Gibson dealer from 80 to 84 and LPs took a major turn for the better during that period, but the 80s were the era of pointy guitars and Gibson's sales were hurt by that and their 70s reputation, despite marked improvements. As I recall things, it took Slash to revive the LP.

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Old 05-10-07, 11:34 PM   #26
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Re: Norlin years

1969 saw the introduction of the three-piece mahogany neck. Maple came in 75/76

Actually five (if you count the wings) pieces of wood laminated together.
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Old 05-10-07, 11:45 PM   #27
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by scozz50 View Post
The Norlin years were from 1969 to 1985. There were really two periods in the Norlin ownership, the first from 1969 to about 1976 or so. Those years were not the greatest for Gibson in terms of quality guitars. They put into place a number of manufacturing processes that were not very popular. The sandwich body for one, where they put a very thin piece of maple between two slabs of mahogany for the body. This process is called crossbanding. Crossbanding allowed Gibson to use smaller pieces of mahogany, that were used for necks because of their size, to be used for the bodies. There were problems with this process, there were complaints about shrinkage around the joints. Also in 1969 Gibson changed the necks from 1-piece mahogany to a 3-piece laminate, and added a volute to the back of the neck. Also the angle at which the headstock pitched back was decreased from 17 degrees to 14. All these things hurt Gibsons reputation amoung traditionalists. Rumors started to spread that LPs were not as good as they used to be.
The second period of the Norlin ownership showed quality guitars coming back to the LP line. In 1978 Tim Shaw joined Gibson, and by 1979 he was heading up the R&D dept. The crossbanding process was stoped by this time, and the LP necks went from the 3-piece laminate to a 3-piece maple for added strength. The volute was removed by 1981. The headstock pitch returned to the original 17 degrees as it should be. Shaw designed new humbucking pickups that mirrored the original PAFs, he hand wound some himself. Today Tim Shaw pickups are highly regarded, and some say are the closet to the original PAFs. The changes mabe in the early 80s resulted in some of the finest LPs made. Unfortunately today when someone talks about Gibsons Norlin era it has a negative conotation. People seem to forget, or don't know that the end of that era, 1978 to 1985 Gibson made some fine guitars.
Bullshit.

Traditionalists: Do you all still drive around in Model T Fords? Ride horses as transport? Live in caves? Catch your own food? No........?

Well it seems that it's OK to claim that the Les Paul should never have changed, but everything else can.........Hmmmmm.........Screw evolution then, lets all go back to living in the ocean.

69-76 Gibson Les Pauls were improved, not fucked-up. Wonder why the prices of these are on the up? Because people who listened to the "old", discrediting bullshit have realised that they were wrong. Can you direct me to the documentation that says the crossbanding/three piece necks were a cost-cutting exercise? As a qualified engineer, it generally means that there is a structural reason. Same with the volute/head angle. In very basic business terms, you don't change things to lose money, you do it to gain profit.

Mini-humbuckers are fantastic, cut nice and clean, but still have a disgruntled growl that can bite you in the ass.

Rumours, well, lets see; that is just unsubstantiated gossip; I know; I studied it for my MSc.

Remember, Don't believe the hype.
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Old 05-11-07, 02:40 AM   #28
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Re: Norlin years

if Norlin years were 70- early 80's roughly, and alot of people hang shit on the Norlin years, how come a 76 explorer is meant to be a great guitar? different people working on the explorer and flying v line or what?
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Old 05-11-07, 03:05 AM   #29
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
1969 saw the introduction of the three-piece mahogany neck. Maple came in 75/76

Actually five (if you count the wings) pieces of wood laminated together.
No. It was three-piece neck and five-piece head ( as one -piece neck and three-piece head on '50s LPs ).
Let as try to be precise and not make more confusion. There are so many mis-information on co-colled "Norlin Les Pauls", and pepole tend to repeat them over and over.
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Old 05-11-07, 04:03 AM   #30
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Re: Norlin years

First you say "No", and then you go on to say the exact same thing as Wilko in different words...?



Your post is adding to the confusion.
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Old 05-11-07, 04:09 AM   #31
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by big-ace View Post
if Norlin years were 70- early 80's roughly, and alot of people hang shit on the Norlin years, how come a 76 explorer is meant to be a great guitar? different people working on the explorer and flying v line or what?
And '76 Explorer is vintage and '69 LP is not (WTH is Al Di Meola so fond of his '69 LP).
Also, '52 LP was made with error in neck angle, so they had to put trapezoid tail piece and bridge upside down and it is still vintage (top quality, not only old).
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Old 05-11-07, 04:35 AM   #32
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Re: Norlin years

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cody View Post
First you say "No", and then you go on to say the exact same thing as Wilko in different words...?

That is what I asked him to say: in different words - precisely.
Note the DIFFERENCE between neck and head.

I only wanted to prevent that, in some next thread, someone start talking about five piece Norlin necks.

(BTW there are some classical guitars with three-piece neck and one-piece head).
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Old 05-11-07, 05:29 AM   #33
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Re: Norlin years

it's Wilco. He's the trouble maker, here. He's prob one of those guys who puts a life-jacket on his dog, too!

i'm a HUGE fan of the Norlins.

anything under 10 lbs just don't feel right, imo.

my R7 is right around 9lbs, and if it wasn't so damn nice, i'd trash that POS!

I even have an '04 AAA top that weighs 7.5-8lbs...YUK. (but boy it plays niiiice!..and it's prettier than my wife!)

I think I'm gonna change my tagline to; If you hate your Norlin, then sell it to me!

Love,
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Old 05-11-07, 06:06 AM   #34
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Re: Norlin years

Obviously, some people put a value on the "specs" of the 'bursts. To each their own, but I feel this is misguided. A 'burst is a 'burst, and a copy isn't (unless, perhaps, it's a Max or a Keebler). To dis a guitar from any era because it's not "like they made them in the '50s" is to ignore the quality of the guitar itself, and assume there's some "secret ingredient" that defines a good instrument. I just don't think this is true.

As it happens, there was a '57 hanging in the shop when I bought my '75. I didn't buy my guitar hoping it would be like a 'burst, I literally bought it instead of one. For my preferences, my Custom is a "better" guitar. To be completely honest, I didn't want a Les Paul at all, I wanted an L5s. I just didn't want to take the chance of special ordering one. ;)
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Old 05-11-07, 06:59 AM   #35
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Re: Norlin years

I once owned a '77 LP, so I have just a bit of experience with this era.

I can't comment on workmanship--it was purchased used with plenty of playwear, so it would be difficult to determine if there was a bit of extra lacquer on the nut when it came from the factory.

The general build was that of a high quality guitar. Played pretty well (but neck too thin) and it had a great tone, too.

I like the comments about some guitars in this era having generally less resonance, and more sustain. Perhaps that represents the sonic signature of the era, although of course every guitar would have its own unique qualities in this.

I think Wilco, Glassnuff, Scozz, and Sparta, have made great points.

PTates idea that changes in the '69-'76 specifications were 'improvements' seems indefensible. I think a lot of people would like to believe it, to defend their beloved Norlin guitar. So maybe you could argue the 3-piece neck and volute were a design change to reduce neck breakage. In all the years I have been reading about Gibson LPs, I've never seen any evidence of fewer headstock breaks on Norlin-era LPs. So maybe there were good intentions there, but it just didn't turn out to be an improvement.

I just don't see how anyone can argue the pancake multipiece body was designed as an enhancement. What was the deficiency they were trying to 'improve'? And we are then to assume this was another failed engineering exercise, despite good intentions, and that's why they did away with it in the late '70s? Or they were simply catering to the fickle whim of the guitar-buying public?

Perhaps if we all thought like PTate, Gibson could go back to the Norlin archives, pull out the '70s LP specs, and start making their 'improved' guitars once again?

So if you are to believe PTate, you must assume that Gibson will build whatever the public wants, and in general the public wants an inferior guitar modeled after some old 50's LP.
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Old 05-11-07, 07:36 AM   #36
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Re: Norlin years

Actually, I do think the pancake body was meant to improve the tone. It seems to increase the focus and sustain, two thing Lester himself appreciated. And you'll note, for many years he played a Norlin, himself. Obviously, Les and myself are in the minority.
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Old 05-11-07, 07:39 AM   #37
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Re: Norlin years

[quote=D'Mule;1548147 Or they were simply catering to the fickle whim of the guitar-buying public[/QUOTE]

isnt that what the current ' i have to have a reissue model' wank is all about?
gibson will sell to the public what they think they want,... for whatever price.
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Old 05-11-07, 07:40 AM   #38
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Re: Norlin years

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Actually, I do think the pancake body was meant to improve the tone. It seems to increase the focus and sustain, two thing Lester himself appreciated. And you'll note, for many years he played a Norlin, himself. Obviously, Les and myself are in the minority.
Fair enough. It is true that music was entering a high gain era that could benefit from more focus and sustain, and couldn't really take advantage of harmonic resonances (which reduce to mush). But where is the cause and effect? Maybe the high gain era simply benefited and was shaped by the tone of the guitar at that time?
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Old 05-11-07, 07:43 AM   #39
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Re: Norlin years

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isnt that what the current ' i have to have a reissue model' wank is all about?
gibson will sell to the public what they think they want,... for whatever price.
To some extent, yes, but at this price point the guitars also need to be perceived as toneful. And there are plenty of good guitars to compare to, so I don't think the public is just imagining reissues are good guitars.
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Old 05-11-07, 01:40 PM   #40
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Re: Norlin years

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PTates idea that changes in the '69-'76 specifications were 'improvements' seems indefensible. I think a lot of people would like to believe it, to defend their beloved Norlin guitar. So maybe you could argue the 3-piece neck and volute were a design change to reduce neck breakage. In all the years I have been reading about Gibson LPs, I've never seen any evidence of fewer headstock breaks on Norlin-era LPs. So maybe there were good intentions there, but it just didn't turn out to be an improvement.
Lets see. Indefensible.......Why exactly would Gibson start to use offcuts? More work? Harder to shape/cut? Delamination issues? Or it could be an attempt to improve an "already" failing product line by re-introducing an updated "modern" re-issue; hence the mini-hums; why not leave the P90's/'buckers on there as well?. A very, very basic marketing technique. Let's not forget that Gibson was going down the shitter at the end of the 60's. Everyone wanted a Strat/Tele as the "latest" guitar heroes were using them.

Let's all see the research to back-up your headstock break hypothesis when it's concluded. May be enlightening.

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I just don't see how anyone can argue the pancake multipiece body was designed as an enhancement. What was the deficiency they were trying to 'improve'? And we are then to assume this was another failed engineering exercise, despite good intentions, and that's why they did away with it in the late '70s? Or they were simply catering to the fickle whim of the guitar-buying public?
Lets spell it out for the numbskulls:

Crossbanding = tougher/more solid material = more sustain = less flex = less resonance (sounds like a Deluxe to me- I've got two 1970 models!).

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Perhaps if we all thought like PTate, Gibson could go back to the Norlin archives, pull out the '70s LP specs, and start making their 'improved' guitars once again?
Funny how they keep "improving" their re-issues, isn't it? What's the BFG? Do you hate all of the other Les Paul models? Should they only make the R8,9, or 0 then? Nonce.

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So if you are to believe PTate, you must assume that Gibson will build whatever the public wants, and in general the public wants an inferior guitar modeled after some old 50's LP.
Idiot. Never heard of marketing and supply chain dynamics? A company progresses by d-e-v-e-l-o-p-m-e-n-t, understand? I know it's a big word for you. However, all business tries to change things for the better. If they don't, they go tit's-up. Ever see the SG Les Paul?

Go live in a cave and chase dinosaurs.
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