Posts Tagged ‘electric guitars’

Last week the guitar company Gibson Brands Incorporated, the manufacturer of the legendary Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  A lot of people, including myself, wondered how and why this could have happened. How can such an iconic guitar company with such notable players such as Jimmy Page, Slash, Zakk Wylde, and many more, go from multi million dollars in sales to having to file for bankruptcy?

Many people blamed the high prices of Gibson guitars. A top of the line Les Paul is often priced between $5000 to $10000, sometimes more. A mid priced Les Paul goes for about $1000 to $3000. These guitars aren’t cheap for sure, but people forget that Gibson owns the Epiphone line of guitars which sells Epiphone Les Pauls in the $100 to $500 price range. In fact, it’s these affordable Epiphone Les Pauls which account for most of the company’s sales.  So I don’t think this is the problem.

In my opinion Gibson’s downfall goes far deeper than just a pricing issue. It signifies the death of Rock as a cultural force. The term “Rock Is Dead” has been said for years but this time it’s really happening. Well, it’s not exactly “dead” but like Jazz, it’s become a niche. It will keep it’s core audience which grew up on Rock but it’s not exactly growing armies of new listeners.

Gone are the days like when I was younger, when you would hear bands like Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Metallica, etc. on mainstream radio. You not only heard them on radio but they were also pushing pop culture and selling multi platinum records while selling out stadiums. Rock just isn’t pushing popular culture anymore.

The new generation just isn’t into Rock for whatever reason. There’s just too many other things these days for a kid to get into, whether it’s video games or a newer form of music like Hip Hop. Sometimes you’ll meet a kid who will like Rock when they hear it, but as said before, it isn’t pushing popular culture anymore. Most kids these days don’t know Eddie Van Halen from his elbow. And there’s no guitar hero that’s going to bring Rock back to become a cultural force again. Time marches on. Sinatra never came back after the world heard Elvis.

Thinking about all of this brought me back to my younger years when me and friends knew this older Jazz guy named Tom who would play Jazz guitar and collect old Jazz records. We would laugh about how he was just so into this old style of music and really be into it.  This was his niche. We looked at him like he was some kind of dinosaur.

What comes around goes around. Now some youngster is probably amused by my taste in music with my collection of old Rock cds. This is my niche.

Now I’m the dinosaur.

-Roz

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I love electric guitars. I’m not that great of a player nor do I have a goal to become the next Hendrix or some big Rock star, but it’s been one of my favorite personal hobbies and past times that I’ve enjoyed for years.

I love all kinds of guitars too: from Stratocasters to Telecasters to Metal axes, you name it. But I’d have to say my all time favorites are Gibson Les Pauls. There is just something about them- the gorgeous finishes, the chunky neck, and that unmistakable fat Les Paul tone. There’s nothing like the feeling of having a Gibson Les Paul in your hands running through a distorted amp cranked to 10.

Some of my favorite players play Gibson Les Pauls as well including:  Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads,  Jimmy Page, Joe Bonamassa, the list goes on. And let’s not forget before Eric Clapton switched to Strats, he made the sound of a Gibson Les Paul through a Marshall stack famous with the band Cream. Just listen to any Cream song  (Sunshine of Your Love, Strange Brew, etc. ) on Classic Rock radio and you’ll hear a great example of that sound.

For me, there is one problem with Gibson Les Pauls: they are expensive. To buy a top of the line Gibson Les Paul, you’re looking to spend a few thousand dollars. You can find some lower than $1000 on the used guitar market but when you’re spending less than $1o00 on a Gibson Les Paul it’s usually a model that’s not considered top of the line.

I used to own a black Gibson Les Paul Studio model and it cost me $1000 with the case included. The Studio model isn’t considered top of the line but with a few modifications like changing the pickups, I turned this thing into a fire breathing beast. Sadly, before I moved to Florida from Seattle I had to sell it. I just didn’t have room to take it with me.

A couple of years back I was missing my black Gibson Les Paul. I wanted another one but I didn’t want to dish out a thousand dollars to get another one. So I surfed the net for some alternatives and ran into Agile Guitars. Agile guitars is owned by a company called Rondo music which is in New Hampshire. They have their guitars built in Korea and sell them direct through the internet. You can check them out here: http://www.rondomusic.com/

Agile guitars has quite a following so I wanted to check out what all the hype is about.  Their most popular models are the AL2000 through AL3200 line which are basically Les Paul copies. The body and headstock are shaped a little different than an original Gibson Les Paul but it’s not that big of a deal to me. But all the ingredients for a Les Paul are there: single cut shape, mahogany body and neck, humbucker pickups, 24 3/4 neck scale length.

I was fortunate enough to get an Agile AL2000 at a dirt cheap price. The AL2000’s are considered Agile’s base models and they will run you $225 if you buy one brand new. I found one for $185 from Rondo Music’s ‘B Stock’ department. I will admit I was very skeptical at first because never in my life have I spent less than $200 on an electric guitar and found something of high quality…..until now.

The guitar arrived and it was gorgeous. I have the honey sunburst finished one, very similar to the finish on Duane Allman’s famous Gibson Les Paul. It has the fat humbuckers, all mahogany body, and it’s built like a tank.  It sounds amazing.

I’ve seen people ask, “if it’s so good than why is it so cheap?” Well, for one you’re not paying for the brand name”Gibson.” Gibson has been around for many years and has a reputation, so anytime you buy one of their products you’re also paying for the name. Also, Rondo music sells their guitars direct to the consumer from the internet which means there is no mark up going to a middle man. This alone saves a lot of money.

So does Agile guitars deserve the hype. I can honestly say YES. It is amazing to me, actually mind-blowing that you can get a guitar of this kind of quality for $200. You have to have one in your hands to understand. Is it better than an original Gibson Les Paul? In my opinion, over all probably not- but it comes close to being as good as some of the ones that I’ve played.  And I’d have to say they are probably better or equal to some Epiphone (A subsidiary of Gibson) Les Pauls that I’ve played.  This is all my opinion of course. One thing I must note is that the owner of Rondo music, Kurt Zentmaier is always a pleasure to deal with and will provide a hassle free purchase.

There is a debate among Agile guitar owners of whether they are better than original Gibson Les Pauls. I don’t really care about that. One day I’ll get a Gibson, I still like their guitars.  But right now, all I know is that I am perfectly happy with this $185 Agile AL2000 and I’m not missing the Gibson anymore that I had to sell one bit.

 

A few examples of Agiles in action:

 

 

 

 

 

–Roz Abellera

 

 

 

“Thru The Eyes Of Ruby”

 

Wrap me up in always, and drag me in with maybes
Your innocence is treasure, your innocence is death
Your innocence is all I have
Breathing underwater, and living under glass
And if you spin your love around
The secrets of your dreams
You may find your love is gone
And is not quite what it seemed
To appear to disappear
Beneath all your darkest fears
I believe in never, I believe in all the way
But belief is not to notice, belief is just some faith
And faith can’t help you to escape
And with this ring I wed thee true
And with this ring I wed thee now
And with this ring I play so dead
But no one’s asking for the truth, so let me tell you
If you spin your love around
The secrets of your dreams
You may find your love is gone
And is not quite what it seemed
To appear to disappear
Beneath all your darkest fears
To the revelations of fresh faced youth
No one will come to save you
So speak your peace in the murmurs drawn
But youth is wasted on the young
Your strength is my weakness, your weakness my hate
My love for you just can’t explain
Why we’re forever frozen, forever beautiful,
Forever lost inside ourselves
The night has come to hold us young
 
 
SMASHING PUMPKINS lyrics are property and copyright of their owners.
“Thru The Eyes Of Ruby” lyrics provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

I love electric guitars and Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitars are some of my favorites. This is a video showing how they are made.

PRS guitars to me are like a hybrid of a Strat and a Les Paul. It has the classic and traditional look of a Les Paul with the comfort and ergonomics of a Strat.

If you like electric guitars and have never seen or played a PRS guitar, you must. These guitars sound amazing and are drop dead gorgeous. They are truly a work of art.

–Roz Abellera
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