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New Guitar - Les Paul Jr. or Telecaster?

Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi, thread title more or less says it all. I'm in the market to buy a new guitar. After playing an awful Peavey Raptor for 15 years I'm looking to trade up to something a little more upscale (within a flexible budget).

I was first looking at getting a Gibson SG which, at about $1,500, would be the upper limit of what I'm able to spend. But I'm also not a very good guitar player and it's little more than I need - hence I'm drawn to the more straightforward Jr. or the Telecaster, which both also have attractive price tags (about $800 and $600 respectively).

I have played the Jr. at a music store (hadn't originally been considering a Fender until recently) and liked the sound, action, weight, etc. (but, like you might guess, anything would impress me considering what I'm playing now), so what I'm really looking for are general comments on quality/reputation, what I can do with either guitar (what I play is fairly diverse: punk, rock, alternative, indie, etc.) any limitations, etc.

Also, looking at getting an acoustic too, but unlike an electric have no idea where to start. Something decent that is priced around $500 or under would be good - getting both guitars for under $1,200 or so is somewhere to aim.

Andrew_Jay on

Posts

  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    If you're not a "good" guitar player, do not blow $1,500 on a guitar.

    When I first started, I had a reissue of a Fender Tele Thinline that I really loved. Super easy action and the sound was amazing. Made in Mexico I believe. You could take a look at those? I believe they go for $600-$800 or so?

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  • NappuccinoNappuccino Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    You can find pretty awesome electrics for 300- I'm thinking Sechter or Ibanaz (their Art Core line is fantastic).

    As for acoustics you either a) want to get a cheap acoustic as your learning guitar and later upgrade to a much nicer one or b) get an electric and then later buy a nice acoustic.

    Also, define: "not very good" and that will help us more with what you really should be looking at.

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  • darqnessdarqness Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Gibson SG:
    Super lightweight
    Thin body
    Thick neck
    Dual humbuckers will provide a tone with substantially less hum, and will be a lot smoother and bassier than single coils.

    Fender Tele:
    Probably about 8 LBs, little heavier than the SG
    Thinner neck
    Wider string spacing
    Lipstick pickup and single coil will give you a brighter tone that has more "sparkle" than the SG. Although they'll squeal a lot if you're planning on playing with a liberal amount of distortion.

    Both companies have been making guitars right from the get-go so reputation-wise they're both good choices. I will say that with the higher-end Gibsons, every one that I have played is substantially different. Even if they are the same model.

    Really it all depends on what you are comfortable with. The two major differences are that Gibson necks are pretty thick, while Fender necks are pretty thin. Play and compare. Also, remember that the amp you play them through will affect probably 70% of your tone. So note what amp you're using when you test them out at the store.

  • NappuccinoNappuccino Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    darqness wrote: »
    Gibson SG:
    I will say that with the higher-end Gibsons, every one that I have played is substantially different. Even if they are the same model.

    I have noticed this too. With Fender guitars you can pull off nearly any guitar you see and you'll "know" what it will sound like. Gibsons are a bit of a crap shoot so you'll definitely want to play every one in the store and make sure that you buy the exact guitar you played, not just the same model. (note, this is good advice for any guitar you buy but doubly so for Gibsons (in my experience) and acoustics.

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  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Nappuccino wrote: »
    Also, define: "not very good" and that will help us more with what you really should be looking at.
    Plugging away at it as an off-and-on hobby for 15 years, though have had more time to spend on it the past couple of years. Not a great ear for music (constantly looking up tabulature to play most things) and technique requires some work (someone who can play a wicked solo I'm not). All in all I can pick up the guitar and play about a dozen songs well, can strum just about anything simple.

    Thanks for the comparison darqness. Any thoughts on the Les Paul Jr.? Would I be missing out on a lot by going with such a simple setup of one P90 pick-up? It sounded good to me in the store.

  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Probably a good idea to think about what kind of amp and fx you have. A good guitar is still gonna sound pretty crap on a bad amplifier. And if you have a decent fx setup, you can pretty much nail a good enough sound to play any sort of music.

    The other thing I'd suggest if you know enough about guitars is to just go second hand as it can save a fair bit of money.

  • OverlordOverlord Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I'd actually recommend a Made in Mexico Telecaster if you can find one you like. It's a try it out thing, some are amazing while others are pretty crap, but they are like half the price of the American made.

    sigsh.gif
  • Space PickleSpace Pickle Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    No. Neither one of these guitars is better or worse, they're just different. It totally depends on what kind of sound you like. I don't know too much about the Jr. but for $600 we're probably talking a Mexican tele which is not top of the line but plenty decent. If you're just a hobbyist you really can't go wrong with either.

    One thing about P90's is that they can be pretty noisy if there's a lot of electrical interference in your house (RF, I think).

  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    If you want something nice, I'd have no problem saying to buy the $1500 one. They're going to be pretty different guitars, though, as has been mentioned.

    If you do some looking around and have some patience you can get just as nice of a guitar and save a lot of money. Have you considered buying used? Do you check ebay and craigslist, even for new stuff? You can get a very nice guitar for well under $1000. I just picked up a brand new Ibanez xpt700 for $550 with hardshell case last week on ebay (not the style of guitar you're looking for, but a damned nice guitar and a good deal even at regular price). Musician's Friend had the Dean Buddy Blaze ML as their Stupid Deal of the Day the week before that for $350, which was an absolutely killer deal, although still also probably not the type of guitar you're after.

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  • McVikingMcViking Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I play a Gibson Les Paul special with a pair of P-90s, and I adore that guitar. But it's definitely true that P-90s are noisy pickups. If I'm playing a venue with dicey wiring and a neon sign in the window behind me (which, for a honky-tonk guitarist like me, is most of the time), it's going to hum. If you're getting a guitar for things like punk rock where you're using a lot of distortion/overdrive, that Jr. is going to be a really noisy guitar. You'd be better off with the Tele, but even better getting something with a humbucker in the bridge position. The SG comes in that configuration. (So does the tele, but it's kind of rare.)

    I ain't gonna talk acoustics, because I'm an incorrigible snob in that department. I will say that if you buy new, you get what you pay for most of the time. If you buy used, you're almost always better off. It's not like a used car where there may be something horribly wrong that you find out three months after you bought it. In solid-wood acoustic guitars, it takes a couple of years before the sound really opens up -- the actually improve with playing. A used Martin often goes for more than a new one for that reason. Other than the 'original owner' lifetime warranty from high-end dealers like Martin, I can't think of any reason to ever buy a guitar new.

  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Overlord wrote: »
    I'd actually recommend a Made in Mexico Telecaster if you can find one you like. It's a try it out thing, some are amazing while others are pretty crap, but they are like half the price of the American made.

    Don't do this unless you actually know what you're doing. While he's right that every once in awhile you can find a decent mexican made fender, it's damn rare. Stick with American if you can, the only squire line that was ever any good was the japanese one.

    Personally I'd go with the Telly, as they're suprisingly versatile tone-wise. (Full disclosure I love Fenders.) The Juniors are great guitars too, but arguably they're a bit more limited in tone options. Ultimately that isn't a big deal since a great deal of a guitar player's tone comes from his hands more than anything else, and if you like straightforward utility in a guitar, can't get much better than that. Go to guitar center, play em both through a quality tube amp and likely one will just feel better for you.

  • NappuccinoNappuccino Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Squire has upped their game in the last two years. Don't ignore them just because they used to be be shit. (though the good ones are still 300-500 ish)

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  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Rogue Jpeg Jockey Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    drive around to a few guitar stores and make sure you get to try out a couple of tele's. (regular / thinline -> difference).
    SInce you've been playing for 15 yrs, normally you'll know what you'll like pretty quickly.

    You can spend ages reading opinions and procrastinating online (like i always do too before a major purchase), but i usually find that in-store, you'll make a good fast judgement about what you like and what kind of guitar feels/ sounds good to you.

    That being said, i love teles, and a telecaster thinline is something really special to me. But i guess that stuff varies from person to person...

    ozr4h81a0maq.jpg0lwmzl3bfzok.jpg
  • stormbringerstormbringer Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Dark_Side wrote: »

    Don't do this unless you actually know what you're doing. While he's right that every once in awhile you can find a decent mexican made fender, it's damn rare. Stick with American if you can, the only squire line that was ever any good was the japanese one.

    The Mexican ones are just fine, a good setup and good pickups and they are great. They just come setup terrible from the factory.

    I will say go used, you can get so much more for your money that way. I payed less then 500$ for my rickenbacker glo 6. (clearly not your style but)

  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    I'll give you a couple of recommendations.

    I'd advise against a Tele that is two single coils. They're very bright and the bridge pup is gonna be full on chicken pickin.

    Mexican made Fender instruments are fine and outside of electronics, they are almost US made quality for much less the price.

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Gibson-Les-Paul-Studio-1950s-Tribute-Electric-Guitar?sku=430789

    Les Paul with two P90s instead of Humbuckers. I personally prefer P90s. They have a good mix between single coil and humbucker tone wise.

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Gretsch-Guitars-G5122-Double-Cutaway-Electromatic-Hollowbody-Electric-Guitar?sku=514651

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Gretsch-Guitars-Electromatic-Pro-Jet-Electric-Guitar?sku=511586

    These Gretsch's are off the chain, quality wise.

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hagstrom-Swede-Electric-Guitar?sku=513340

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hagstrom-Viking-SemiHollowbody-Electric-Guitar?sku=513354

    Same for the Hagstroms.

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/G&L-ASAT-Classic-Walnut-Finish-Electric-Guitar?sku=502718

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/G&L-ASAT-Special-Deluxe-Carved-Top-Electric-Guitar?sku=502720

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/G&L-ASAT-Classic-Bluesboy-SemiHollow-Electric-Guitar?sku=502719#used

    G&L is Fender for the modern day guitar player. It is Fender, meaning these guitars were made by Leo Fender with updated parts and designs.

    Their pups aren't as bright as Fender, and that third G&L has a nice humbucker in the neck.

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Fender-Classic-Series-72-Telecaster-Deluxe-Electric-Guitar?sku=511141

    Fender has a MIM 72 Tele with double humbuckers.



    That's what I'd recommend. You'd be able to find any of those, save for maybe the G&L, and your local Guitar Center.

    Find them, play them, turn all the knobs and flip all the switches and find one you think sounds best.

    Do NOT play through a super expensive tube amp. You won't own one of those for a long time and they can make anything sound superb. Just pick a mid priced amp to test it through.



    EDIT

    I play one of these

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Yamaha-SA503-TVL-Troy-Van-Leeuwen-Signature-Electric-Guitar?sku=512447

    and one of these

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/G&L-Legacy-Electric-Guitar?sku=502721


    I'd abide by the quality of both companies.


    When you're looking in a store, run your fingers along the fretboard. The sides, where the frets are cut, and make sure none are sticking out. Plug the guitar and turn all of the knobs to make sure they don't making scratching sounds.


    Frets can be dressed and fixed by the store, knobs/pots not so much.

    Also, pretty much any Agile from

    http://rondomusic.com/

    Is good stuff.



    EDIT

    I would avoid Epiphone. I've never an SG or LP from them that didn't have some type of problem.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • The CheeseThe Cheese Registered User
    edited September 2010
    You're in Nova Scotia, yes? Then I will say what I say to anybody looking for a good guitar in Canada.

    Buy something from Godin.

    I have a lot of guitars including some that were $1500+ and the two I play the most are a Heritage guitar (which you should look into if you want a Gibson style guitar - the company is old Gibson guitar builders who operate out of the original Gibson factory and everything they make is amazing) and a Godin SD.

    My Godin SD was $400 new, though it was given to me by a friend for nothing. It has 24 frets, a bridge humbucker and two single coil pickups. With that pickup setup I can get just about any sound I want, right up to metal which is when I bust out a different guitar. The neck is straight, slim and easy to play. I would replace this thing if anything happened to it.

    Seriously, don't buy a Gibson or Fender unless you are dead set on having one of those brands (nothing wrong that that, for what it's worth, I have a few of each)

    e: in reference to Sheep's post above, if the store won't fix up noisy electronics for you, you should probably avoid them. It costs practically nothing to replace the switch and pots and it isn't much work.

  • biomanbioman Registered User
    edited September 2010
    i need some help on geting a new guitar

  • Cedar BrownCedar Brown Registered User
    edited September 2010
    The best thing is to go to a couple shops a try out a few. There are many different brands and you are not limited to just Fender and Gibson. For harder music I'd think that the LP Jr. would be better with it's crunchier sound. I think it's a waste of money to buy a $1500 SG. It's just too much. I would spend around $600 at the most on the guitar and a couple hundred on a good amp. Don't overlook Epiphone.

    You should find out what guitars feel best for you personally. As suggested, Godin has some very nice guitars. Actually, they have some downright sexy stuff. Maybe not that great for punk and hardrock but I don't know. Telecasters have a warmer sound. I'd imagine it would weigh less than the solid mahogany Les Paul. Ibanez has some nice models too. PRS has some sweet stuff.

    There's no real way to say one is better. You have to sit them on your lap and see what you like.

  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Dark_Side wrote: »

    Don't do this unless you actually know what you're doing. While he's right that every once in awhile you can find a decent mexican made fender, it's damn rare. Stick with American if you can, the only squire line that was ever any good was the japanese one.

    The Mexican ones are just fine, a good setup and good pickups and they are great. They just come setup terrible from the factory.

    I will say go used, you can get so much more for your money that way. I payed less then 500$ for my rickenbacker glo 6. (clearly not your style but)

    As I said, if you know what you're doing and having been playing and doing guitar set ups for awhile, sure, you might find a decent one. But squires don't last. They're made cheap and they will start to fall apart after a few years of regular use. Weird neck bends, shitty fret jobs (which equals bad high neck buzzing), crappy bridges, and horrible electronics work are the more common issues. Now true, it's not as bad as it used to be, but OP, I would stay away from Squires unless you have pretty solid guitar tech experience. If you're going to go Fender, spend the money and buy an American made version.

    Edit: Oh and I'll second Sheep's recommendation on G&L's. They're kind of ugly what with that wonky pickup design, but good lord do they play nice.

  • biomanbioman Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Wats better a bass or a guitar

  • OverlordOverlord Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    @Dark_Side

    We aren't talking about Squires. we're talking about the Fender models that are made in Mexico. They are Fender brand, not Squire, and are usually called Fender Standard Stratocaster/Tele, instead of Fender American Standard. They're pretty great on average, but there's some that just blow the rest out of the water.

    http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0145102302 This guy vs. http://www.squierguitars.com/products/search.php?partno=0310202506

    sigsh.gif
  • devCharlesdevCharles Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    To be honest, you really want to try those Mexican strats out. The guitarist in my band has one, and they have their high points and low points. His has a pretty nice low end, but the high end is not as crisp as I have in my Gibson.

    Just be sure that when you play to try them out, do apple to apple comparison. Basically, don't adjust the amp settings, play a couple of the same songs on each one, and try to match the tone. I usually do 4 tests when doing side by side comparisons. I do a clean check, rhythm and single notes, light distortion with a high treble sound, mid distortion with a robust mid, and heavy distortion with a good bass and mid. Generally, you'll get the full range from going through each.

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  • Space PickleSpace Pickle Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    But squires don't last. They're made cheap and they will start to fall apart after a few years of regular use.

    No offense, but this is flat out untrue and it isn't helpful for the guy looking to buy a guitar. The Squier brand has been around for like 30 years with numerous models made in different factories in different countries. My first guitar was a '97 Korean Squier strat...for a long time it was my only guitar and survived being played and gigged upwards of five or six hours a day, every day. It still works great, except my ear has developed to the point where I realize the pickups aren't very good.

    In fact, if the OP wants a MIM Tele he should check out the Squier Classic Vibe 50's Tele or Classic Vibe Custom Tele (these are the high-end Squiers). They're easily on par with the $600 Fender Mexican standard guitars, the difference is they're made in China so you can save like $200 or $250.

    OP: If you have your heart set on a LP or Tele go for it, but bear in mind if you go for other brands you can get more bang for your buck because when you buy Fender or Gibson you're also paying for the brand name. They charge more because they know people want iconic guitars.

  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    bioman wrote: »
    Wats better a bass or a guitar

    Depends on what you want to do. I play and own both.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    If you buy a Squier you'll need to do some upgrades before it's giggable. Definitely will have to replace the tuners, chances are you'll have to replace the pots and pickups, and eventually you'll run into problems with the neck.

    It's easier and cheaper to just pick up a good MIM Fender.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • devCharlesdevCharles Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I disagree. A Squier has a specific type of sound. I've seen a number of bands use Squiers on stage because they liked the muddy, gritty sound it has. Just because it doesn't sound in a way I would define as pleasing compared to a Fender Jag, it still can suit its purpose if the person who is playing it is OK with it. They should see how it sounds around 50 watts before they make that decision though.

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    I've seen good Squiers plenty. I really wanna grab one of those Hello Kitty guitar and bass combos because they're a nice bang for the buck and completely stupid.

    Problem is that they have really cheap electronics most of the time and tend to be one trick ponies tone wise.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    Also, while I tend to dislike PRS in general, I almost bought their PRS SE Soap Bar Semi Hollow.

    It's a complete bias on my side as well. PRS sound pretty great and I've heard tons of good stuff about the SE line, which is their more affordable Student Edition.


    EDIT


    double_agent_II_blk.jpg

    These Reverends are cool and get consistent praise.

    Has Tele style look, and tons of different options.

    I've played one of their Club King's at Morrison Brothers and it was nice.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Going to throw my voice in there and say get a Tele. They're very versatile. Also I hate how overpriced Gibsons are.

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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I'd recommend buying whichever guitar is the same scale length as your current guitar so that the learning curve won't be so steep. Well, either way I guess you should simply expect your fingers to land in the wrong places for the first little while.

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  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Hey, thanks everyone for the input. Still haven't made up my mind yet due to not having a change to get out to the music store.

    This is what I'm hearing out of all of this:

    Telecaster:

    At about $500 I'm not actually looking at a "regular" Telecaster - there's the made in Mexico "Standard" and the apparently better made in the U.S. "American Standard". I was not wise to that before now. Thanks. Sounds versatile without being too versatile (seriously, I'm playing a Peavey-copy of a Stratocaster right now and I don't know if it's me being tone deaf or the general lousiness of the guitar and my amp, but I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what difference switching between pickups or changing the tone makes).

    Les Paul Jr.:

    Very straightforward and utilitarian, a bright sound but the P90 will be a bit of a cross between a humbucker and a typical single coil. Several of you have mentioned the thick neck and while I had heard that before and thought it would be a problem (I have fairly short fingers) it actually wasn't too bad. May be a bit overpriced (was also my worry).

    I will also have to look at amps, but last time I was at the store the practice amp was selling for $150 and I was really impressed with the sound I was getting out of it (and the guitars).

    Also, the info about other brands is much appreciated (though my selection is a bit limited - basically there are only two places to go around here: Long and McQuade or Music City, which I find has an unusual selection). But it especially helps when looking around online (I have been trying eBay, but have found that at least with a Fender or Gibson, the used ones are often as much or more than the new ones).

  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Andrew_Jay wrote: »
    Hey, thanks everyone for the input. Still haven't made up my mind yet due to not having a change to get out to the music store.

    This is what I'm hearing out of all of this:

    Telecaster:

    At about $500 I'm not actually looking at a "regular" Telecaster - there's the made in Mexico "Standard" and the apparently better made in the U.S. "American Standard". I was not wise to that before now. Thanks. Sounds versatile without being too versatile (seriously, I'm playing a Peavey-copy of a Stratocaster right now and I don't know if it's me being tone deaf or the general lousiness of the guitar and my amp, but I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what difference switching between pickups or changing the tone makes).
    Without any other info, I'd put my money on the pickups sucking. My nephew has a Peavey Void or something like that... roughly Explorer shaped. The pickups in it are terrible.

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  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    If you go for a Telecaster, definitely go American. I think you can maybe find them for the same price as a LP Jr., but the stock pups will be great. I'm pretty sure very few telecasters are swimming pool routed, but some of the Mexican ones have a single/humbucker rout if that is the sort of thing that might bug you.

    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I get by on the knowledge that I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time mucking about inside of my asshole anyway
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
  • darqnessdarqness Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
  • BeckBeck Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Jazzmasters are sick, but changing the bridge is expensive enough that you would probably want to go for a real jazzmaster (avri or something) rather than something else. Mastery Bridges are like 200 bucks. :X

    Lucas's Franklin Badge reflected the lightning back!
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    You mean the tremelo?

    Gotoh has Jazzmaster bridges for 30 bucks.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • BeckBeck Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Oh, no, the Tremolo is great. The Jazzmaster bridge is just a mess, I traded my SG for an avri and the amount of buzzing, and bouncing strings they expect you to deal with is really surprising, it's really weird that they would ship with that bridge. I think the style is great, though (besides the shallow saddles), because of the low tension, so a lot of people switch to tune-o-matic bridges (which requires drilling). So Mastery Bridges are basically what you want, really deep saddles, easy to set up, no drilling required, nice tension, but they're nearly 200 bucks. You can switch to a mustang bridge or use a buzz stop, but it changes the tone enough that you lose a lot of what makes the jazzmaster unique.

    Lucas's Franklin Badge reflected the lightning back!
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