What’s My Number One Guitar?

I own a handful of guitars…more than I probably should, but far less than plenty of guitarists out there. I feel like I have a guitar to cover any sound that I, or the friends that record at my place, might want to aim for.

Over the years, I’ve owned plenty of guitars. I’ve owned a lot of Stratocasters, a handful of Telecasters, a few Les Pauls, and a number of others. Somewhere around 2009, and after a number of attempts to bond with the aforementioned Stratocaster, I found myself drawn to the 24.5″ scale of the Les Paul.

A few months before, I’d picked up a Gibson Les Paul Faded. It was the dark brown version and had Burstbucker Pros installed instead of the normal 490R and 498T found in the regular Gibson Les Paul Studios, pickups that I wasn’t fond of then and I’m not particularly fond of now. It was a plain Jane guitar and I loved it for it. I’d owned a doublecut Studio back in the early aughts that I was swindled out of when I didn’t know any better. I miss that one. This Faded Les Paul was my first dip back into the Gibson line. I had it set up with .11s and I knew I’d found home.

When my wife was involved in a car accident back in 2009, we ended up with a decent injury settlement. She told me to go to Guitar Center and pick out a nice guitar because we might not be in the position to do it again. I do regret not picking up a nice Les Paul Standard or something similar then. Instead, I settled on a Paul Reed Smith SC245 Ted McCarty Soapbar, which I still own to this day. This wasn’t the typical McCarty line of PRS guitars. It featured the different Santana-style headstock that had a flame maple veneer, a 10-top in Black Amber Burst, and P-90s. I played that thing through an Egnater Tweaker 15 combo, which would lead me to buy an Egnater Tweaker 15 head and cab that I also still own.

Not too terribly long after I bought the SC245 Ted McCarty, an opportunity came up for me to get a 2001 or 2003 PRS Singlecut. That was the supposed “lawsuit” models. Oh man, that thing ripped. I’d later stupidly trade it for a Taylor 414. That’s one I’d like to have back, especially given that I lean more towards Martin than I do Taylor on the acoustic guitar side of things. The 414 was nice, it just wasn’t that Singlecut . I recorded the 2011 Watauga Sessions with those two guitars. They cemented my love for the 24.5″ scale.

It would be almost seven or eight years before I bought another 24.5″ scale guitar, but I’d go through a number of Fenders and other guitars to get there.

“Come on, man. Your title asks the question of what your number one guitar is!”

In 2017, I was itching for a Les Paul, but it wasn’t initially in the cards. I really wanted a double humbucker and settled for a PRS SE Custom 24. Through a series of trades, I’d later flip that into a PRS S2 Singlecut, which I’d trade for a Fender USA Tele that would eventually become my now-sold Gibson Midtown. Anyway, that PRS SE Custom 24 required some finagling of financing at Guitar Center. In speaking to the manager to make that happen, I made a passing comment about being done with Guitar Center for the time being unless they had Gibson financing going on. The manager said, “Oooo, we just started 48 month, 0% financing on Gibsons.” That was all I needed.

My wife and daughter tagged along and they had to give final approval. There was only one color I could get…green.

Fortunately, the 2017 lineup had a Gibson Les Paul Classic in Green Ocean Burst. That model came with Classic ’57 humbuckers, which had been my favorite Gibson pickups since having a set in the Washburn J-9 Washington I sold to John years and years ago.

We bought it and I immediately made arrangements to have a setup done. The feel was there but something was off and I knew a setup would fix it. When I got the guitar in hand after the setup was done, I strummed a cord…a G chord to be exact…and I knew that it was it. It just felt right. That G chord reverberating down the guitar and up my arms in a way that just felt absolutely, totally, and completely right.

I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to play a guitar like that. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I hope you do someday. It’s the feeling that makes you stop buying that kind of guitar. Ha! As if guitarists could stop buying guitars, but it makes you stupid wanting a similar guitar for a good while.

As I mentioned before, I had a Gibson Midtown that also had Classic ’57 humbuckers in it, so I shelved the Les Paul for a while. I recently sold that Midtown and the Les Paul has come back into play. It’s been the only guitar I’ve played. It still feels right when I play it. Funny thing? I think I played it for one track on Skylines and the Horizon but it will be the workhorse on future recordings.

I need to take a nice picture of it in the sunlight and put it in here. The pictures I have of it don’t do it justice.

I’m itching to go back and play it now, but my kid’s asleep and it’s in the same room she is. Tomorrow…at least for a little bit…I can wait. Good things are worth waiting for and that guitar, at least for me, is great.

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