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Toneful HB equipped guitar for $400-600?


seamus

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Hi,

 

I'm currently on the lookout for a HB equipped guitar in the $400-600 range, and hoped I might get some recommendations. Basically I'm looking for suggestions that offer lots of bang for the buck. I currently play an ASAT Classic, and while I love its character and versatility, the SC noise and hum really bothers me at times. I play mainly rock and hard rock with minor forays into jazz through a Traynor YCV40WR.

 

Sound-wise, I'd like to find a guitar with as much character and versatility as I can afford given the budget I've outlined above. Playability is really important too. Aesthetic looks would come in last in the order of what matters most, and I'm not set on a specific body style. I will admit though that I'm finding archtops more appealing, but that's probably due to the amount of LP knockoffs out there. If I could find something that approaches the tone and thickness of an LP, that would be great, but I acknowledge that such a thing may not be possible at this price point.

 

Some models of interest to me so far are:

 

Godin LG HMB

Hamer SATQ

ESP EC-400AT

G&L Invader XL (Tribute)

Yamaha AES620

Epiphone Ltd Edition Midnight LP Custom

 

I'd be grateful for any additional models I could add to my search, thanks!

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welcome to the forum Seamus. i must say the Godin is a great choice, i have the p90 version and the quality is incredible.

you should also check out the Yamaha AES620.

another nice one is the Epiphone G400 vintage.

i am not sure of the price but i think the Epiphone Joe perry boneyard is equipped with genuine Gibson Burstbuckers.

the Godin gives you a five way switch to enjoy a few more tonal options than the others in the list.

you could also go for a Yamaha AES420 and use the extra dough to pick out a nice set of replacement pickups. i had an AES 620 and it was very nice for cleans and crunch. the yamaha neck pickup is sweet and the JB is of course a rockin bridge pickup.

i got "strat" crazy and traded mine. i am stupid sometimes. :D

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Thanks for the suggestions Guitarzan. I edited my post to add the Yamaha AES620 to the list, I totally forgot that was one of the guitars I had taken an interest in already. I'm glad to hear you were impressed with the neck pickup on that model too. I felt good knowing there's a nice SD in the bridge position, but was a little wary of the proprietary neck pup. Thanks again, and I'll look into the other models you mentioned too.
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I don't want to wiz in anyone's wheaties, but the Godin guitars I have tried seem...generic, for lack of a better word. It's a matter of taste, and I wouldn't put my taste over anyone else's. But, while I don't hate Godins, I haven't found a good reason to love them either. Sorry if that upsets anyone.

The thing is, in the $400-600 range, most of what you find sounds pretty generic. If you can put up with the hassles of online ordering, Rondo music has pretty great selction of axes for lessthan your bottom limitthat really sound great, or so we have been told by folks who have bought them. I got the Agile 2500 with three P90s, and it's pretty neat. Check'em out.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Does it have to be a brand-new guitar?

 

You can find good deals on used Gibson Les Paul Studio models; new strings and a set-up later, you often will have a surprisingly nice guitar that has "the tone and thickness of an LP"...

 

I recently tried out a PRS SE II (I think that was the model designation) that was a cool guitar; very easy on the shoulder, too!

 

Scale-length will be a key contributor to the overall character of tone, as well. Shorter/24-&-3/4" on a set-neck will generally be more vintage-y Gibson-y LP-ish; Longer/25-&1/2" on a bolt-on neck (with dual HB's) will take you towards EVH-land...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Ooh, ooh, I know. Pick me, pick me. Look at the Schecter Blackjack series. Generally sell new for around $550, SD '59 in the neck and a JB in the bridge. 5 way switch (splits the coils in the 2 & 4 positions) or tapping tone pot. Mahogany body, set neck.

 

Roll back the tone knob on the neck pup and it gets real dark. I love the tones this thing gives. My only dislike is the super jumbo frets. I have the PT, but like the longer neck of the C1 better. Tone Pros Bridge, Grover Tuners. Yea man.

Raise your children and spoil your grandchildren. Spoil your children and raise your grandchildren.
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Originally posted by CaevanO'Shite:

Does it have to be a brand-new guitar?

 

Scale-length will be a key contributor to the overall character of tone, as well. Shorter/24-&-3/4" on a set-neck will generally be more vintage-y Gibson-y LP-ish; Longer/25-&1/2" on a bolt-on neck (with dual HB's) will take you towards EVH-land...

*IF* you don't mind second-hand (pre-used, pre-loved) guitar, I'll repeat the best-kept secret in guitars - the old(-ish) Ibanez Studio series, made between c.1978 and 1984.

 

From the basic ST50 to the active electronics ST300, these were built to compete with the best of Gibson. Usually with V2 pickups (essentially DiMarzio Super Distorters, but with Alnico 5 magnets instead of ceramic - good) and mahogany, mahogany/maple body and set neck, these are very versatile guitars. The neck is Gibsonesque, but with a 25.5" scale, and they're built like Fort Knox.

 

I have an ST105 and I love it. The V2s are darkish but good and punchy. I call it 'Bismark', because if the RAF had dropped this on the Bismark during WWII, it *would* have sunk it, and what's more, it'd still have been in tune!!!

 

They go for about £180 - £250 in the UK - $240 to about $350, I suppose.

 

Geoff

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the World will know Peace": Jimi Hendrix

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=738517&content=music

The Geoff - blame Caevan!!!

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Just checking back in real quick to say I went with a used AES620 from Ebay. Shipping was free and the ask price was less than my $400 minimum price range. The guitar is in excellent condition, I could not find any signs of wear and tear really.

 

I love the sound and playability of this guitar so far. It needs new strings and a truss rod tweak, but other than that, it really sings. I seriously haven't been able to get a bad sound of it so far, though I need to raise the neck pickup a bit as it's far too low. This really is a killer axe at a bargain price, I couldn't be more pleased with the sound of the SD pickup.

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Yamaha had a bad batch of volume and tone pots, so if you notice any crackling or signal loss head down to your nearest store and get some new ones because cleaner isn't going to help. it happened to me.

that is the only possible flaw with the aes620.

which colour did you get?

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The one I bought is in blue. I can't comment on whether the pots are problematic yet because I haven't rolled the knobs while playing, but I'll be sure to check that out tonight, thanks.

 

So far, I'm not overly impressed with the tone of the neck pickup, but I'll withhold final judgement on that until I replace the dingy strings and raise it to a suitable height. What I do love so far is the tone of both pickups blended, and the bridge pickup for lead. It can be thick and growly or have singing sustain depending on technique and where you are on the neck. The wonderful squeal of pinched harmonics on this thing are to die for, and literally put a wide grin on my face as I spent my first moments with this guitar last night.

 

The sustain with both notes and especially chords is extremely impressive considering I don't even use a compressor. The overall sound is really fat and full, and I like this guitar more with overdrive than when clean. It's a toneful clean, but I'm probably comparing it to my ASAT in my head, in which case it just doesn't compete with the clean tones of that axe. It has a certain overdriven thickness and growl that the ASAT doesn't have though, where the ASAT excels more with twang, spank, jazz, and vintage single coil sounds. The AES is perfectly suited for any hard rock though, both vintage and modern, and that's fine with me because that's exactly what I craved.

 

Between these two guitars, I feel I can get the right sounds for anything I'll ever play. I'll eventually write a review on HC for the AES, but first I need to make some slight setup tweaks and replace the strings, then let the honeymoon period run it's course. I can already say though that I'm extremely impressed for the $ I spent.

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Excellent score, seamus; congrats! Those are great Les Paul styled axes, the ones I've checked out in shops were all very solid, tight, and precise in their workmanship, very confidence inspiring. Loads of sustain and big guitar tones. And a killer deal, to boot!

 

Originally posted by seamus:

"So far, I'm not overly impressed with the tone of the neck pickup, but I'll withhold final judgement on that until I replace the dingy strings and raise it to a suitable height."

Just what is it about the tone of the neck-pickup that disappoints you? What's missing, or overdone?

 

It may be possible to arrive at a more pleasing tone along the lines of what you're looking for by adjusting both the height of the pickup AND its polepieces. Fill me in on what you do and don't like about the neck-pickup's tone.

 

"...I like this guitar more with overdrive than when clean. It's a toneful clean, but I'm probably comparing it to my ASAT in my head, in which case it just doesn't compete with the clean tones of that axe.

 

...the ASAT excels more with twang, spank, jazz, and vintage single coil sounds.

 

...I need to make some slight setup tweaks and replace the strings..."

I think that new strings and a little attention paid to relief, action, and intonation will make a big difference here. It won't ever sound like your ASAT, but it will be more capable of very good clean-tones in its own right.

 

http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif I keep finding references to "active and passive volume controls" on this model in sales ad-copy, but no further details so far; what's up with that? Perhaps you can get clean-tones more to your liking with the "active" mode? Maybe the battery for the active circuitry needs replacing? If so, that would make a big difference on low-gain, clean settings...

 

May I take this opportunity to recommend my favorite strings for a Les Paul styled axe? I love DR ("Dee-Are") round-core strings (as opposed to the usual hex-core on wound strings). My personal all-around favorites for such Les Paulishness are DR's "Pure Blues" pure nickel-wrap sets in .011" through .050" (you'd be very surprised at just how easily they play on a LP-style 24-&-3/4" scale-length), although a set of Pure Blues "tens" might better suit your Yamaha's longer length of string behind the bridge with its through-body tail design (this can make for a "stiffer" overall feel, especially when bending). They sound sooo fat and full and chunky and warm, and yet still nicely crisp and twangy. Noticeable impact and heft, due to both the round-core design and the fact that they're "compression-wound", yielding a little more mass per a given gauge of string.

 

If you want still more twang and bite and zingy brightness in the harmonic overtones for your clean-tones, their "Tight-Fit" sets are of the same design and construction except that they have a nickel-plated steel-alloy winding.

 

I don't mean to gush here or try to shill for DR, it's just that when I tried a number of different brands of "vintage"/pure-nickel strings on my LPs, the DR's really stood out as the best of 'em for those guitars! I'd be surprised if you didn't find the same.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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http://i18.ebayimg.com/02/i/05/30/b0/b0_12_sb.JPG

Look like this one? Nice!

 

Well caev I think I'll give a set of DR's a try

but I'd have to get nines if they make em, I don't

have those big lobster ripping man hands to take on tens or elevens.

The story of life is quicker then the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.
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Caevan, the confusing copy that you have read only refers to the AES820 (discontinued). it is a three position tone pot that does.(1)Bypass (2) tone rolled off Jazz tone... and the other position i forget. for some reason Yamaha has diferent copy depending where you look. i don't even know if it was battery powered or just a different cap in each postion.

but it doesn't exsist on the aes620, and seeing the 820 is gone, it doesn't exsist anyway. so don't even worry about figuring it out. pretend you didn't read that. ;)

you didn't see anything ;)

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Originally posted by Darklava:

"Well caev I think I'll give a set of DR's a try

but I'd have to get nines if they make em, I don't

have those big lobster ripping man hands to take on tens or elevens."

"Big lobster ripping man hands"... !! :D:freak::D

 

I can still bend 'em (the "elevens") all I want, and play any double back-bent partial-barre grips, etc., that I've come to use, no problem; I just feel worn down too soon now. I've gotta fix that pronto! My fingertips used to look like little camel-feet... (NOT "camel-toe", maaan!) :eek:;):D

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by Guitarzan:

Caevan, the confusing copy that you have read only refers to the AES820 (discontinued). it is a three position tone pot that does.(1)Bypass (2) tone rolled off Jazz tone... and the other position i forget. for some reason Yamaha has diferent copy depending where you look. i don't even know if it was battery powered or just a different cap in each postion.

but it doesn't exsist on the aes620, and seeing the 820 is gone, it doesn't exsist anyway. so don't even worry about figuring it out. pretend you didn't read that. ;)

you didn't see anything ;)

Aaaahhh... that 'splains it. Thanks!

 

Many online dealers have that listed in their description of the AES620. Once again, mis/dis information to out-and-out bull$4!+ and even claims that are LIES... I can't believe how lame and faulty so many of these 'sites and catalogs are, including Musician's Friend. Some of the ridiculous crap I've read concerning guitars and amps having brilliant "new" features that were around, oh, say, fifty years ago... !!

 

Sorry, O.K., I'll get off the soap-box now...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by CaevanO'Shite:

Excellent score, seamus; congrats! Those are great Les Paul styled axes, the ones I've checked out in shops were all very solid, tight, and precise in their workmanship, very confidence inspiring. Loads of sustain and big guitar tones. And a killer deal, to boot!

 

Just what is it about the tone of the neck-pickup that disappoints you? What's missing, or overdone? It may be possible to arrive at a more pleasing tone along the lines of what you're looking for by adjusting both the height of the pickup AND its polepieces. Fill me in on what you do and don't like about the neck-pickup's tone.

 

I think that new strings and a little attention paid to relief, action, and intonation will make a big difference here. It won't ever sound like your ASAT, but it will be more capable of very good clean-tones in its own right.

 

I keep finding references to "active and passive volume controls" on this model in sales ad-copy, but no further details so far; what's up with that? Perhaps you can get clean-tones more to your liking with the "active" mode? Maybe the battery for the active circuitry needs replacing? If so, that would make a big difference on low-gain, clean settings...

 

May I take this opportunity to recommend my favorite strings for a Les Paul styled axe? I love DR ("Dee-Are") round-core strings (as opposed to the usual hex-core on wound strings). My personal all-around favorites for such Les Paulishness are DR's "Pure Blues" pure nickel-wrap sets in .011" through .050" (you'd be very surprised at just how easily they play on a LP-style 24-&-3/4" scale-length), although a set of Pure Blues "tens" might better suit your Yamaha's longer length of string behind the bridge with its through-body tail design (this can make for a "stiffer" overall feel, especially when bending). They sound sooo fat and full and chunky and warm, and yet still nicely crisp and twangy. Noticeable impact and heft, due to both the round-core design and the fact that they're "compression-wound", yielding a little more mass per a given gauge of string.

 

If you want still more twang and bite and zingy brightness in the harmonic overtones for your clean-tones, their "Tight-Fit" sets are of the same design and construction except that they have a nickel-plated steel-alloy winding.

 

I don't mean to gush here or try to shill for DR, it's just that when I tried a number of different brands of "vintage"/pure-nickel strings on my LPs, the DR's really stood out as the best of 'em for those guitars! I'd be surprised if you didn't find the same.

Thanks, I agree with your comments on the guitar and I really like it a lot so far. I really think it's the pickup height and awfully dingy strings on there right now, but the neck pickup is just sort of blah, rather generic as opposed to having a distinct voice of it's own. I really need to make that string swap and adjustment though to see if my initial comments are unfounded.

 

AFAIK, this is a passive axe, no batteries. I think the neck sounds lame right now based on the comments I made above. In terms of strings, I tend to like Super Slinkys on guitar (Stainless 9's or 10's), but I just so happen to have a custom light gauge of DR Pure Blues lying around that I was thinking of trying first on this guitar. Coincidentally, I swear by stainless DR Lo Riders on all my basses, I just love them to death. I used to prefer Roto 66's until I discovered the Lo Riders though. I may have a custom light set of the Tite-Fit lying around as well. Pretty much any of these strings sets would make a vast improvement on the nasty old strings on there right now.

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Originally posted by Darklava:

http://i18.ebayimg.com/02/i/05/30/b0/b0_12_sb.JPG

Look like this one? Nice!

 

Well caev I think I'll give a set of DR's a try

but I'd have to get nines if they make em, I don't

have those big lobster ripping man hands to take on tens or elevens.

Yup, looks just like that DL.
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Y'know, I've got a Les Paul Classic that had too shallow of an angle cut on its neck-pickup mounting bezel. The pickup sits in such a way that the "screw"-coil is closer to the strings, and the "slug"-coil is farther down away from them. It's 'supposed' to be fairly parallel to the strings, with each coil nearly equidistant from the strings.

 

Once I decided that I was going to correct this by carefully bending the little metal bracket that sits concealed from view inside the bezel, to angle the coils evenly.

 

Guess what? After I "fixed" it, the tone of the neck-pickup became very generic and bland sounding to my ear, with less pronounced attack and a wide, congested sounding response. As soon as I put it back the way it had been before, it sounded much more pleasing to me again; almost like a Strat's neck-pickup, but bigger and fatter and rounder yet. Not quite as 'bell-toned' as a Strat's single-coil, but moreso than when I had "fixed" it...

 

"YMMV"! :thu:

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by CaevanO'Shite:

Originally posted by Guitarzan:

Caevan, the confusing copy that you have read only refers to the AES820 (discontinued). it is a three position tone pot that does.(1)Bypass (2) tone rolled off Jazz tone... and the other position i forget. for some reason Yamaha has diferent copy depending where you look. i don't even know if it was battery powered or just a different cap in each postion.

but it doesn't exsist on the aes620, and seeing the 820 is gone, it doesn't exsist anyway. so don't even worry about figuring it out. pretend you didn't read that. ;)

you didn't see anything ;)

Aaaahhh... that 'splains it. Thanks!

 

Many online dealers have that listed in their description of the AES620. Once again, mis/dis information to out-and-out bull$4!+ and even claims that are LIES... I can't believe how lame and faulty so many of these 'sites and catalogs are, including Musician's Friend. Some of the ridiculous crap I've read concerning guitars and amps having brilliant "new" features that were around, oh, say, fifty years ago... !!

 

Sorry, O.K., I'll get off the soap-box now...

i hate it when sales people just regurgitate info they read from ad copy. if you sell it ,learn about it. what is worse is opening a magazine and reading a whole page only to gain the same info from the companies ads. i want deep info and i want it NOW!!!! :D
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I had a freindly, well-meaning, but obviously confused and nervous sales-guy in a store telling me all this ridiculous stuff, rapid-fire, about how this one Yamaha guitar's P-90 styled single-coils were "Paf type pickups" ("Paf" as a word, obviously a misunderstanding of P.A.F. "Patent Applied For" orange-label Gibson humbuckers and their kin) and yada yada yada...

 

I actually told him to "chill, relax, there's no fire, calm down...", and then said something about the old "soap-bar" single-coils on a friend's guitar were put in before Gibson came out with "P.A.F." humbuckers, without making it too obvious that I was trying to clue him in. I mean, I honestly don't think he was trying to B.S. me, he was just kinda mixed up and wound up too tight...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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PAF :D

i have had the local manager of the store i haunt tell me all the Epi elites are american made.

they are made in Japan! the pickups are USA made.

funny he didn't notice the made in japan sticker on the back of the headstock.

i was inquiring about where the neck humbucker should sit on a 25.5 inch scale and he told me "against the end of the fretboard."....really ? :rolleyes:

next time i will get a measurment. i was trying to determine if the rear or forward bobbin is under the "24th fret harmonic".

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(Sorry to have highjacked things here!)

 

Uhmn, generally the rear-most (towards the fretboard) bobbin of a neck-position humbucker aligns more-or-less with any imaginary 24th-fret, unless, of course, there is a 24th-fret, regardless of scale-length...

 

Find where to touch the string to play a harmonic two-octaves up from the fundamental of an open-string, up there near the end of the fretboard; there ya are.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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If you're still not happy with the neck pickup, I would recommend a SD '59. I've got one in the Schecter Blackjack and it is my favorite sound on all of the guitars in our house. I especially like it when rolling back the tone a bit.
Raise your children and spoil your grandchildren. Spoil your children and raise your grandchildren.
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Originally posted by caprae:

If you're still not happy with the neck pickup, I would recommend a SD '59. I've got one in the Schecter Blackjack and it is my favorite sound on all of the guitars in our house. I especially like it when rolling back the tone a bit.

Oh for sure, I'd be looking at either the SH-1 or SH-2 for a neck replacement. Going to give the stock one a little more review time first.
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