Gear Talk: Guitars – Nick’s Ibanez

We continue our dive into our guitar collections with Nick’s mystery antique…

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My main guitar at the moment is an Ibanez PF155 which is a Les Paul shape from 1978 or 1979. I actually took a chance on this guitar after seeing it in an antique shop in Buxton. I’d seen it several months prior and couldn’t afford it at the time, then after a while I came back and checked to see if it was still for sale out of curiosity more than anything, and it was, and I had some money. I did a bit of research on the spot but I found next to nothing about the model and the seller had no information either. I had a little play on it in the shop and it played very nicely; and on advice from Tom, we thought it was worth the punt as it would retain its value if I fell out with it, so I took the plunge.

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I still know very little about it to be honest, other than it being the best guitar that I own. I know it comes from that era when Japanese companies were making budget versions of American guitars, in this case a Gibson Les Paul. That being said it doesn’t play like a ‘budget’ guitar. It feels very comfortable and there is a much fuller sound to it than anything else I’m currently playing. As far as I’m aware it still has the same humbuckers it had when it was built and there is a real vibrancy and life to them which I haven’t experienced with the more modern guitars I’m used to. As for what it’s made of, I can only assume it’s some sort of wood and the hardware is metal of some kind (I don’t have a clue about either, nor what difference the materials would make if I did). It is a nice shade of orange though, which is something I can tell you.

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I’ve been using D’Addario EXL 110-7 XL strings, which is actually a 7 string set, for a while now. We’re generally tuned to a variation of B standard or Drop A so having strings that can handle low tunings is ideal. It also means that the G string (or D string in this case) is wound so I don’t have to worry about it being difficult. They sound the fullest and last the longest of all the strings I’ve ever used in lower tunings so I definitely recommend. At some point I will give baritone strings a try but for now I’m happy with just having lots of spare high E strings knocking about at home.

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I really like this guitar, and unless a white Flying V crops up at a reasonable price, this will likely be my main guitar for a while.

-Nick

Gear Talk: Guitars – Tom’s Greco

As the first entry in the ‘gear’ category of our blog, and the first in a mini-series on our guitars, we thought it made sense to let our resident gear nerd run wild to set the tone…

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So begins the diary of a gear nerd.

My current main is a violin burst 1984 Greco EG600 (it could also be a 68-80… Trying to pin model numbers down is difficult. The serial number says its an ’84 and the month but no more detail), made in Japan at the Fugi-Gen factory.

When I first joined Ba’al I was playing an old Gibson RD Custom from 1978 which was all maple with the moog active boards in it. It sounded great and the longer scale was great for the low tuning we use. However, it being old and the electronics being something of voodoo and hard to repair or get parts for, it got retired from use before I broke it.

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Photo by 9barsofgold

For a while I had another Gibson (a Firebrand ES-335s which was, again, all maple) but that was replaced with the Greco, as the mahogany-maple combo sounds darker than the all maple construction of the Gibsons I had been using until then. Plus I’ve always had a soft spot for the Les Paul shape, especially the Custom, but the real thing is way beyond my bank balance and the Grecos more than do the job, along with destroying my shoulder.

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The stock pickups are long long gone (before I got it). Currently in there are Seymour Duncans: an SH-5 Custom in the bridge and a ’59 in the neck. The Custom being ceramic has more bite and punch than the more mellow ’59 in the neck, which gives a nice balance and means flicking from the neck to the bridge I can go from warm and mellower to something with more bite and cut easily.

The neck was refretted and the radius changed before I got it, with the fingerboard now being slightly flatter than normal and fitted with jumbo frets. I don’t like thin shred style necks and this has more of a big vintage Gibson profile to it, so it suits me to the ground. The bridge has been swapped for a Gotoh Tune-o-matic and the pots are all CTS. The tuners I believe are the stock still (not much is on this otherwise these days), and the straplocks are DiMarzio clip locks.

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String gauge wise this is currently strung with D’Addario Baritone Lights 13-62, and tuned to B (or A) E A D F# A. I’ve used D’Addario for best part of 15 years and they just seem to work best for me. They settle well, are stable, last a long time and are not excessively bright when new – which is good because I’m terrible for leaving strings on for ages until they start to flatspot. These take all the punishment (I’m very heavy handed and dig in hard) with no issues.

Lastly, the sparkling green basset hound sticker…. The tone is in the hound.

-Tom