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  1. #1

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    It's been a while since I recorded with my 125 but I did today and I think the guitar is just marvellous. I did ask myself why the ES 125 is not more popular. I know there are a few guys here that own one but ... it's mostly 175 and even more L5 right?

    I own a few very nice guitars but I realise I could easily live with only the 125.Mine is from 1964 and is the second one I own. I sold a 51 earlier. It's not a fancy or luxurious guitar but the vibe of the 125 is just so cool. They are light, responsive and with the P90 produce classic Gibson sounds. They are not THAT different from a 1950s P90 equipped ES 175 by the way. The differences are mainly cosmetic IMHO. For half the price of a 1950s ES 175 you could get one. Somewhere in the 2k realm and you are the owner of a genuine vintage Gibson P90 equipped guitar. Best vintage bucks money can be if you ask me.

    Martijn van Iterson plays one. But he's an exception.



    DB
    Last edited by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog; 07-07-2019 at 05:06 PM.

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  3. #2

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    DB,

    Mine was a '62. IMO it was every bit as delicious sounding as any P90 equipped ES175 that I have played. It was simply a great jazz guitar. Why don't I have it still? Idiocy.

  4. #3

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    125's rule. All killer, no filler. Guitars for people who play em, not just look at 'em.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  5. #4

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    I've never played a 125. I played a 150, but I really wish it was one with CC's instead of the P90s.

    That said, I think that non cut away look is SO COOOL. I think it screams sophistication more than a 175--and because the 175 is apparently "the jazz guitar", if you play a 125, you'll visually standout among the crowd. I think you could bring a 125 or 150 to a black tie affair and no one would question your coolness. It's just smooth, no points on the body--I don't like the look of florentine cutaways.

    I think that's why the Godin Kingpin also looks like a cool guitar.

    And the 125 is cheaper than a 175--that means more young musicians can get their hands on a Gibson--I like that idea a lot.

  6. #5

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    The longer I play, the more I realize having no cutaway still provides access to 99% of the best tone a guitar has to offer.

  7. #6

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    Sunday afternoon on the back porch with my '56 and battery powered DA5. I learned about Greg Fishman from another thread and was practicing his approach to building diminished scales from dominant chord extensions... which I think is brilliant.

    The tone of the guitar, even with an 8" speaker 5w amp, is inspiring.

    The Gibson ES-125-img_20190707_175229-jpg

  8. #7

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    Marc Ribot agrees! (Although his is a thinline cutaway like mine.)

    The Gibson ES-125-ribot125-jpg
    On the Turntable: Steve Reich - Phases (box set), Fred Frith Guitar Quartet - Ayaya Moses
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  9. #8

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    I have been hunting for the right one for years but when there is a guitar in the radar I have no money and when I have money there is no guitar on the radar.

    One big reason for the popularity of the ES175 vs ES125 is that all the ES125s are vintage guitars. And buying a vintage guitar is not as easy as buying a new or say 15 years old guitar. You have to look broken necks, possibly collapsing deck, cracked rims, broken truss rods, fake pickups etc etc.

    I think that Gibson should have been making ES-125s all the time, both thins and full bodied, with cutaways and without. But this is only my opinion.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    125's rule. All killer, no filler. Guitars for people who play em, not just look at 'em.
    Well said. Zero snob appeal. Mojo to the max.

    DB
    Last edited by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog; 07-08-2019 at 06:16 AM.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    The longer I play, the more I realize having no cutaway still provides access to 99% of the best tone a guitar has to offer.
    True. You get used to the non cutaway very quickly and the 99% seems accurate.

    DB

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie View Post
    One big reason for the popularity of the ES175 vs ES125 is that all the ES125s are vintage guitars. And buying a vintage guitar is not as easy as buying a new or say 15 years old guitar. You have to look broken necks, possibly collapsing deck, cracked rims, broken truss rods, fake pickups etc etc. I think that Gibson should have been making ES-125s all the time, both thins and full bodied, with cutaways and without. But this is only my opinion.
    I read somewhere that the ES 125 was the most produced archtop to come from the Gibson factory. So that makes it a highly succesful model. By no means a rare guitar so not collectible and releatively inexpensive therefore. Even over here in Europe there's always one for sale somewhere.

    As with all vintage guitars, you have to be careful and look out for sunken tops, fretboards that need to be planed and refretted or guitars that need a complete neck reset etc.

    DB

  13. #12

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    I looked for a good ES-125 for years on and off. Plenty around. My luck was not great. Found affordable ones, but mostly with issues I did not care to address. Came across some real beauties in excellent repair. Either absurdly over-priced, or just lacking whatever the "it" is that appeals in old hollowbodies. The one exception was a magic ES-125TC I found for a friend. Great guitar. He loves it.

    The good news is, I realized that Guild's X-50 is similar to the non-cutaway, deep-bodied ES-125. Not quite as deep. Found one and could not be happier. Spectacular sound, not quite the same as the ES-125. I'd still love to own an ES-125.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by mad dog View Post
    I looked for a good ES-125 for years on and off. Plenty around. My luck was not great. Found affordable ones, but mostly with issues I did not care to address.
    My exact 125 quest so far, either beat to hell or in pristine shape but just more $ than I had...I'll find the right one at the right time someday
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  15. #14

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    I'll only part with mine if you pry it from my cold, dead hands......


    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  16. #15

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    Very nice, Little Jay!

    I've been playing this '66 ES-125 CD (full depth, Cutaway, Dual pickup) with set bridge for a little over 10 years now. It is far from being pristine, has scars and upgraded tuners, but it was totally worth its price.



    Both early Jim Hall and Marc Ribot were influential in this purchase, but it ultimately did not work out: I still sound like myself

    I own some other cool guitars, some much fancier than this one, but if there had to be only one... well, the ES-125 might just be it. As my forum handle might suggest.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ES125er View Post
    Very nice, Little Jay!

    I've been playing this '66 ES-125 CD (full depth, Cutaway, Dual pickup) with set bridge for a little over 10 years now. It is far from being pristine, has scars and upgraded tuners, but it was totally worth its price.



    Both early Jim Hall and Marc Ribot were influential in this purchase, but it ultimately did not work out: I still sound like myself

    I own some other cool guitars, some much fancier than this one, but if there had to be only one... well, the ES-125 might just be it. As my forum handle might suggest.
    A beauty! Maybe I've asked before already, but how is the top supported in these? Is there extra reinforcement to support the posts of tunematic bridge, now that those go directly into the top?

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    I read somewhere that the ES 125 was the most produced archtop to come from the Gibson factory.
    <snip>
    As with all vintage guitars, you have to be careful and look out for sunken tops, fretboards that need to be planed and refretted or guitars that
    need a complete neck reset
    Old Gibson guitars turn up regularly at shops here in the upper right corner of the USA (New England). Same with 100-year-old Gibson mandolins.

    Regarding the ES-125 and the general case of goods built by hand, some work and some don't for me. I've played a few 125s where the neck profile and low frets made it impossible (for me) to get a clean chord up the neck. A refret might have helped in those cases. It's a case of play before you pay for sure.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    Maybe I've asked before already, but how is the top supported in these? Is there extra reinforcement to support the posts of tunematic bridge, now that those go directly into the top?
    .

    I can’t say that I’ve wondered much about this before! If it is working...

    I just had a look, and cannot see or touch anything other than the usual parallel bracing... which prevents me from seeing or touching directly under the bridge.
    One thing I immediately noticed when I got the guitar, though, is that the bridge is way lower than your standard floating bridge. I assume that this is associated with a shallower neck angle (?), and less pressure on the top. There are also discs (like washers) at the base of the bridge posts, so that the pressure is not applied on a single point.

    To be honest, I never even tried to see whether the bridge is fully fixed or only pinned. Maybe at the next string change.

    If anyone has more info...

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    It's been a while since I recorded with my 125 but I did today and I think the guitar is just marvellous. I did ask myself why the ES 125 is not more popular. I know there are a few guys here that own one but ... it's mostly 175 and even more L5 right?

    I own a few very nice guitars but I realise I could easily live with only the 125.Mine is from 1964 and is the second one I own. I sold a 51 earlier. It's not a fancy or luxurious guitar but the vibe of the 125 is just so cool. They are light, responsive and with the P90 produce classic Gibson sounds. They are not THAT different from a 1950s P90 equipped ES 175 by the way. The differences are mainly cosmetic IMHO. For half the price of a 1950s ES 175 you could get one. Somewhere in the 2k realm and you are the owner of a genuine vintage Gibson P90 equipped guitar. Best vintage bucks money can be if you ask me.

    Martijn van Iterson plays one. But he's an exception.



    DB
    That guy could make a twig with a string sound great. I don't know where I've been, but MVI is one of the best, period.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    (Gibson ES-125, Fender Blues Deluxe)
    Nice playing and lovely tone. Flatwound 12s on there?

  22. #21

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    The 1959 Gibson 125 I got last year put 2 things to rest: my quest for a 175 and my crave for an affordable vintage Gibson!
    ...every note has an origin and a destination...
    - Tal Farlow

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinlander View Post
    The 1959 Gibson 125 I got last year put 2 things to rest: my quest for a 175 and my crave for an affordable vintage Gibson!
    The 1965 Gibson 125 I got last year put 2 things to rest: my quest for a 175 and my craving for an affordable vintage Gibson. Mine is all original, in excellent condition, bought at a great price, but with no pickguard--which I didn't want anyway.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky View Post
    Nice playing and lovely tone. Flatwound 12s on there?
    Yup! Thomastik Infield Swings .012

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  25. #24

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    I don't know if we are allowed to discuss prices here (some forums forbid it, for unknown reasons), but what's a "good price" be for an ES-125?

    I guess we need a couple of categories:

    All-original, well-kept (not collector's/museum grade)
    All-original, shows wear (checking, wear, but no damage)
    Good condition, but not original (I see one for sale that has obviously been re-fretted, and has an SD Antiquity P90 in it...)

    I realize a "good price" is "what I'm willing to pay" lol, just wondering what the market is these days...

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
    I don't know if we are allowed to discuss prices here (some forums forbid it, for unknown reasons), but what's a "good price" be for an ES-125?
    Over here in Europe asking prices are mostly between 2 - 2.5k euro. In the US (sometimes way) under 2k dollar I'd think. Reverb shows a price range that seems ridiculously low to me.

    DB

  27. #26
    That guy could make a twig with a string sound great. I don't know where I've been, but MVI is one of the best, period.
    Never heard him earlier? He's BIG. Pete Bernstein loves him and plays with him regularly. Russell Malone came to see him play at Birdland a few weeks ago.

    I have written about him a lot on my Blog.

    DB

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    Over here in Europe asking prices are mostly between 2 - 2.5k euro. In the US (sometimes way) under 2k dollar I'd think. Reverb shows a price range that seems ridiculously low to me.

    DB
    Hmm... well I do see several under $2K US... but others up at $4K, for no apparent reason! But I seem to see this with ALL items in recent years.... a $200 pedal being sold used for $100, and also new for $400.... it's nonsensical!

    But yes, it seems $2K to be about the "going rate" here for one in good shape, and all-original. Which doesn't seem ridiculous, considering you can't buy a new one, and so many new guitars these days are WELL over $2K...

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
    ... but others up at $4K, for no apparent reason..
    I agree that $4k seems overpriced, but the value of a musical instrument to a player can never be accurately assessed from photos and a spec sheet.

    I'm an amateur old-time fiddler and in the violin community the violin that has had cracks cleared and the pegbox filled and redrilled is often the better musical instrument than the pristine "all original" fiddle. Why? Because it sounded so good previous owners played the hell out of it and thought it worth repairing.

    Note in the video of MVI above... that guitar has replacement tuners that don't even try to look original!

  30. #29

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    Amongst the younger generation jazz guitar students in my area (Netherlands: Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam), the ES-125 is quite popular. I know at least 5 conservatory students or recent graduates playing one. Martijn is probably responsible for that ;-)

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  31. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    Amongst the younger generation jazz guitar students in my area (Netherlands: Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam), the ES-125 is quite popular. I know at least 5 conservatory students or recent graduates playing one. Martijn is probably responsible for that ;-)
    Quite so. That was already the case in 1998 when I bought my first ES 125 at the String in Amsterdam. The owner of the store told me the 125 was popular among jazz guitar students ... I sold this one later.

    I bought my second one in the same store by the way. He often has one for sale.

    DB

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    Quite so. That was already the case in 1998 when I bought my first ES 125 at the String in Amsterdam. The owner of the store told me the 125 was popular among jazz guitar students ... I sold this one later.

    I bought my second one in the same store by the way. He often has one for sale.

    DB
    The String has a '54 for sale at the moment: https://www.marktplaats.nl/a/muziek-...reviousPage=lr

    €2.295, which is not a bargain I think, but it´s what the market seems to dictate.

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  33. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    The String has a '54 for sale at the moment: https://www.marktplaats.nl/a/muziek-...reviousPage=lr

    €2.295, which is not a bargain I think, but it´s what the market seems to dictate.
    I paid:
    1998 1136 euros
    2017 1800 euros

    These days they are all 2k+ in Europe.

    DB

  34. #33

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    I paid mine 2200 canadian $ in march last year which translated to about 1700 us$ at the time.
    Original electronics and P90, I only had the input jack changed as it was having bad contact.
    It was also missing the pickguard and the TP was not original, fretboard had been planed and freshly refretted by luthier. It is in excellent playing shape and cosmetically quite nice.
    Since then I could source an original TP and have a pickguard made for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky View Post
    Note in the video of MVI above... that guitar has replacement tuners that don't even try to look original!
    Unless mistaken, I recall having read somewhere MVI's 125, which use to belong to Wim Overgaauw, was a '56 .
    It appears the original tuners have been changed for Kluson Deluxe double rings and the fret board probably was planed as its dot inlays appear bigger than usual
    ...every note has an origin and a destination...
    - Tal Farlow

  35. #34

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    Any of you buy them online (sight unplayed)? Or MUST they be played, to be sure of playability, etc?

    Forgive me, I'm used to solidbody electrics, which are much more forgiving, and higher-end NEW electric archtops (like Gretsch) where QC is consistent. As for vintage gear, I've played gems and I've played DOGS. As much as I'd love to jump on an ES-125 someday, it's a bit scary to buy sight unplayed.... I realize certain things can be a given... perhaps it needs a fret dress, or a new nut, or maybe the 70-year-old volume pot is scratchy... but I'd hate to get on that maybe needed a neck reset or something...

  36. #35

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    I keep coming back to the simple, no bs, ES-125. It's got the sound. This one is very clean with very little wear and is set up well. Over the years many guitars have come and gone but this one stays... within reach. Everything is original other than the warped guard, replaced with a spare I had for my old same-size L4 trimmed around the pickup, and the knobs are bakelite pointers. I run it through a rehabbed vintage '65 PR, which to my ears is a great tonal combination for the right size venue.

    The Gibson ES-125-gibson-es-125-copy-jpg
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints...

  37. #36

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    She's a beauty! And I love those knobs, look much better than the original ones, imo.

  38. #37

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    The Gibson ES-125-1867d28d-6763-48f7-ba26-429ec87f0c7d-jpg

    The mahogany ones are especially sick.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos View Post
    The Gibson ES-125-1867d28d-6763-48f7-ba26-429ec87f0c7d-jpg

    The mahogany ones are especially sick.
    What’s going on with the fretboard inlays? Never seen a 125 without dots. Really nice!

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    What’s going on with the fretboard inlays? Never seen a 125 without dots. Really nice!
    Between 46-48 they had trapezoids!

    Those later returned shortly on the ES-135 (not the later reincarnation).

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  41. #40

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    Love this thread. For me this has to suffice, at least for the time being, but this thread has given me serious GAS.
    Thanks, DB.

    The Gibson ES-125-img_5814-jpg
    Jared

  42. #41

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    Very early post war ES-125s have some different features:
    - trapezoid position markers (until‘48)
    - open tuners (closed Klusons after ‘50)
    - a flat back braced like an acoustic (until about ‘50, but some laters have it and some earlier ones already have the arched back)
    - tapered headstock (Taper gradually disappears after 51-52 or so)
    - all mahogany laminates (until about ‘52)
    - a flat pole (non adjustable) P90 (until ‘51 or so)
    - different tailpieces before they switched to the ‘raised diamond’ type (until ‘51-52)
    - clear perspex barrel knobs without numbers
    - 19 fret fretboard (until about ‘53-54)
    - solid foot bridge

    After 1954 the ES-125 had evolved to its final appearance.

    Mine has all the early features, but the tuners have been replaced for Klusons and it came with a humbucker (now replaced by a ‘47 adjustable pole pieces P90). Bridge and tailpiece are replacements as well.

    Last edited by Little Jay; 07-11-2019 at 04:03 AM.

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
    Love this thread. For me this has to suffice, at least for the time being, but this thread has given me serious GAS.
    Thanks, DB.

    The Gibson ES-125-img_5814-jpg
    The Godin is a great guitar! But a 125 feels and sounds different.....

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    I paid:
    1998 1136 euros
    2017 1800 euros

    These days they are all 2k+ in Europe.

    DB
    I paid €1200 including a €200 Hiscox case in 2015 but I got a low price because the P90 had been replaced by a humbucker (and the cutout was enlarged) and it had an incorrect Hofner tailpiece and a (vintage) Epiphone bridge.

    I invested some €300 extra for a 1947 P90 and wiring harness, rosewood bridge and a period correct US-made tailpiece. (I really shouldn’t care for those things and just play the heck out of it.... but I can’t help myself.)

    Btw, it sounded great with the humbucker as well!
    (But I wanted a P90 guitar ;-)

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
    Any of you buy them online (sight unplayed)? Or MUST they be played, to be sure of playability, etc?
    I did. I had to fly to Arkansas for training and searched their Craigslist for one because I knew their chunky necks felt pretty great. A guy had a 1954 model and we met in a parking lot where his wife added commentary as he pointed out that it was all original and MOSTLY okay except for where the prior owner must have put out a cigarette or something (the wife was adding that the guitar had been an anniversary present and now he's selling it to her chagrin).

    The burn isn't obvious from the crowd and it looks really good. It sounds good too, though it will sound better when I get it back (currently just about everything I own is on a boat to the mainland) and set it up with flats.

    $1,400 well-spent.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    Never heard him earlier? He's BIG. Pete Bernstein loves him and plays with him regularly. Russell Malone came to see him play at Birdland a few weeks ago.

    I have written about him a lot on my Blog.

    DB
    I had heard of him, and even have one of his albums downloaded that I wasn't aware of, but he's smart enough to not over record, and he said in his interview with you that he only comes over to the US once every decade, to check out what the guys in NY are doing.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    I had heard of him, and even have one of his albums downloaded that I wasn't aware of, but he's smart enough to not over record, and he said in his interview with you that he only comes over to the US once every decade, to check out what the guys in NY are doing.
    Where is the interview? I'd love to hear it!

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66 View Post
    Where is the interview? I'd love to hear it!
    Probably this:

    Dutchbopper's Jazz Guitar Blog: interview Martijn van Iterson

  49. #48

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    Damn, Martijn van Iterson can play! Thx for posting DB!
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  50. #49
    I'm a bit surprised MVI still causes a stir. I thought every jazz guitar enthusiast would know his name by now. He's not just a decent player (there are a great many of those). Or even a good one. He's among the best of the best.

    I recorded these myself many years ago at the Crow. Been following him since the mid 90s.

    DB


  51. #50

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    Jazzerman sold me on the Tal Farlow around 2005-6 with his youtube videos...I could only make it happen in 2015!
    MVI pretty much did the same with his 125...fortunately it was much cheaper
    Both are now keepers and in my book, best Gibson value in their own respective way!
    ...every note has an origin and a destination...
    - Tal Farlow