Im Currently in the market for a p90 hollow body guitar with out spending a shit load of money which I realize is quite a challenge as there isn’t great deal of options here.
Recently I discovered the Epiphone zephyr blues deluxe which has 3 p90s. Anyone have experience with these? they discontinued them a wile back I believe so I would have to buy a used one. Generally they run around $1100 us which is an ideal budget for me. Im just not sure about buying an Epiphone to be honest. I have only played a few casinos and I felt the build quality and playability was poor on all of them.
Other guitars I have considered are the espanada by silvertone\harmony if I could find a nice one. And Ive read some good reviews about the Eastwood Tuxedo. Is there anything else out there to consider you guys know of?
Tommy you can just mail me over your 175 if you like! haha.
The zephyr is a cool guitar, but you really gotta like 3 pickups in my opinion. I think the middle gets in the way. The Loar just released a thinline single p90, like the gibson 125 thinline. I’d check that out. There are good casinos out there. I picked up a used 50th anniversary about 6 months ago and it is really a good guitar, and all gibson electronics. But it isn’t the off-the-rack model. It was way under your budget. Loar also has full depth p90 guitars.
If you read the wiki page on howlin wolf, then you can call up subway guitars and ask “Fatdawg” (shop owner) to make you one to your specs. Look up some info on what he does ( he takes pre-made body blanks and lets you spec them out and puts them together). You gotta go through his quirkiness, but if you make it through you’ll have a cool guitar for about half of your budget. I speak from experience. But have a good night sleep before you call–he’s a little out there. The thing about Howlin wolf is that he ain’t gonna sell you over the phone unless he thinks you’re hip. And he is a huge wolf fan so he will ask you 50 questions before he gives you the okay. And then Forget the next day just to put you through the ringer again to see if you really want to buy the guitar.
I’m not a huge howlin wolf guy so that guy sounds like he would grill me pretty bad! I spoke to guy just before who had a zephyr and sold it he didn’t recommend it to highly. He did recommend the guild 175 which I had never seen and it looks really cool. I found out also the zephyr has a slim neck which I can’t along with. Will have to look into it more but the guild looks like it could be a cool guitar.
I have no axe to grind with Epi, but I did play a Wildkat that a friend picked up and it was…..bad sounding. Totally lifeless and muted. Might have been just a lemon, but I wouldn’t take a chance on a new Epi low or mid line guitar without spending some time with it first.
I can recommend the Gibson ES-135 in that price range. It’s not a complete hollow body though. The build quality on mine is excellent and is a no frills guitar. It’s a mid 90s. Mine came with Lollar P-90s which are a little tame for P-90s and was in pretty mint condition for $1350 but I’ve seen them cheaper with stock P-100s. It has a good acoustic tone unplugged. It has a 50s rounded neck profile but it not quite so thick as some I’ve played. It’s a little on the heavy side to me but it’s probably because I normally play Telecasters. Another one that I own is a Harmony H-60 from the early 50s. Kinda like an Espanada but with only a neck pickup and it’s also a cutaway body. The P-13 is pretty sweet and gets a little of the Charlie Christian tone with a small amp. I very rarely play it since I got the ES-135 but it’s still a great guitar. I think I paid $850 for it and it came with flatwounds which was nice. I’m going thru gear purge so it may be for sale soon. I agree with Craner about that middle pickup getting in the way on the Zephyr but I think it’s something that one could adjust to. There’s a Zephyr on ebay that’s been there for awhile that is real eye candy. A real beauty. I completely respect Japanese build quality but I once had a Tokai ES from 1981 that developed a neck twist. Probably a humidity issue rather than build issue. I live in Arizona. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a made in Japan guitar.
You might find a used Eastman or Lohr for that price, or if your lucky and patient, a nice older Guild.
The best thing to do is get a Grez. Might be awhile for me but still in my sights.
Totally agree with Mikemc about 80’s MIJ guitars.
I personally like all things Guild and you can find used ones from the 50’s-60’s, with Franz pickups which are their version of P-90’s, in that price range. Their Deramond Dynasonic type pickups are killer sounding as well. Guilds are killer guitars, and a steal. In the same build quality as the vintage Gibsons, but I personally have always liked them better. All Guilds from Hoboken NJ, to Westerly RI, to the recently re-released are all nice. their humbuckers are worth the look even if you are looking at P-90 type pickups. Guild’s humbucker is one of my all time favorite and unlike Gibson humbuckers. They are very versatile. You can get them warm and jazzy and nice and twangy like P-90’s They make killer roots music guitars. See if you can find any Starfire III or CE-100’s. very nice neck Shapes and always play well. All the same price range as you will find the Espanada, and other similar Kay and Harmony guitars.
I personally think the Espanada is a waste of money. I know people like the tone, and they are cool, but there is so much more guitar to get out there for the same price. If you like that Harmony tone look at some of the Rockets they made with the DeArmond Gold Foil pickups. Very cool sounding and you the same build quality of something like the Espanada for $400. I have a friend with the Eastwood version of an Espanada and really liked it. Good build for the price, and nice sounding pickups. The Tuxedo is also very cool sounding.
Cheaper overseas guitars I like the Dean Palomino. You can get a three P-90 variation that is wired to a 5 way like a Strat. I own one and really like it, and always get compliments on it when people hear it. The Loar’s people mention are good as well. The Godin 5th Avenue line has some cool 2 P-90 guitars as well and good quality. I was very impressed when I played the Reverend Pete Anderson model. Very well playing, versatile, and very feed back resistant. I agree with the others in that I would avoid the Epiphones unless it is there Joe Pass.
Like I tell all people buying a guitar. Don’t look at what is on it, and just sit and play them. There are a lot of sleepers out there, and guitars that surprise you from all manufacturers. Sometimes a killer guitar, from what is considered a cheap company, slides through. Also sometimes what you think is going to give you the sound in your head, and what people tell you you should look at, doesn’t give it to you and vice versa. Always play the guitar before you buy it. Every guitar is different, even being made by CNC computers, and all wood sounds different even when cut from the same tree.
Thanks great info there. Will do some looking into it. The problem I have is I’m in aus so it’s hard to try the guitars mentioned. I think I need to plan a gear buying Holliday to the states
Better yet Dan figure out what you want and we can fly over their and deliver it to ya. I agree with the old rockets. I think they are awesome sleeper guitars. They aren’t to expensive and I dig the tone. I also liked the dearmond x135. I don’t think they make them but they are around. My buddy here has a good sounding zephyr he’s selling. He put some work into it to make it better, rosewood bridge etc. The extra p90 is like flying an airplane, I never really got into it, really pretty though. I do think the more you cut into the wood the more you kill what it natarully wants to do. Grez can tell you more about that. I played a double pickup 175 from about the same period, mine just spanked it. Old gibson 125’s are around just gotta look. Man, I was lucky I bought my gibson’s when I was a kid. They were alot more approachable. I flew everywhere with my 330. I played byron bay with it! I wouldn’t dream of doing that now. Their is nothing like a hollowbody guitar. I get close with Dan’s but hollow is hollow. Plus the chicks dig it. I designed my grez to make me look like a Tiger Beat cover model. lol!
Man the es125 looks like great value! Its got me thinking. At the moment im trying to cull all the gear I don’t have a purpose for. Basically at the moment I play every song on our set with my r6 goldtop which is getting close to 60 songs sometimes we play nearly 4 hours so it would be good to have some variation. In my head I wanted to still play mostly on the gt but have a hollow body for jump blues and another guitar for swing. I have a rutters pine tele body and tk. c.c pup on the way to cover the swing base. I think I should just keep saving my gig money for a holiday and go shopping. The guild ce100 also looks really nice.
Check this guy out. Its in a vintage store close to me in Aus crazy prices though I could never afford this. Im a real sucker for a natural finish and p90s though sheeeshhhh.
I have a 1953 ES-125 and can testify that it is a great guitar. I managed to find it on EBay for around $1200 a few years ago…it even came with the original purchase invoice. Mine is all original, and the only knocks I have on it is that the neck is a little thin for my taste and the frets are pretty low which I think is typical for old Gibsons. It sounds and plays great, though. I think you can still get them for under $1500 in the US, which is pretty absurd for a fifties Gibson.
I have fooled around with the comparable Loar and they are nice guitars as well. The neck on the Loar is a little thicker and the frets are a little taller. Huh, maybe I need to get ahold of one of those too.
The ES-125 is a nice sounding guitar, and wouldn’t talk anyone out of it. I love mine. One thing to consider with the Gibson Es-125, vs the Guild Ce-100. The Es-125 was an entry level guitar for Gibson, where the CE-100 was a guitar designed to compete with the Gibson ES-175, and other higher end Gibson’s in the market. The Es-125 and the CE-100’s with the Franz style P-90’s sell in the same price range on the vintage market. So in comparison it is like you are buying a ES-175 for a ES-125 price. So that is something to consider if you are on the fence. Now one common misconception with people and Guild is, people write the Guild of as a Gibson knock off. This is not the case. They have their own little mojo to them, and construction on a lot of them were different also.
I own all of these guitars that have been discussed, except the Loar. So I decided to make a video for you so you can hear the tonal differences in them. I thought this might help you narrow down what you want because they are all nice guitars, and good suggestions. I play the same riffs through all of them, and stick to the playing style that has been talked about in the forum. All guitars are played through the same amp,and same settings (An Ampeg Jet II). All guitars also are played with the volume and tone controls rolled all the way up, that way we can take volume and tone alterations out of the equation. Questionable playing aside, I hope this will give you a good idea of the guitars in question.
Enjoyed that very much, well done. I agree that Gretsch can be more than people think. I have a Country Club that is totally hollow with Dynasonics and it just great all around, not a full on jazz box tone, but good all around. But, any of the Gretsch pro line stuff is out of the stated budget and I don’t know much about their lower line stuff.
One point about the ES-125, great as it is, the guitars in the $1,200 price range tend to be non-cutaway and single pickup. I always feel nervous pushing someone to a guitar with these limitations unless they really love the instrument and are OK with the lack of flexibility.
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