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  1. #1

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    I have been looking for a mahogany sided ES-175 for some time now and finally found one online from Germany. A bit too high price, but then I thought that these are not made anymore!

    The store (Lui’s Guitar Garage in Neustad) sent it last wednesday and the guitar arrived monday. That's VERY fast action!

    The instrument is in amazing condition, no scratches, no lacquer checking.

    Now I have played it a bit. Raised the bridge a bit and boy it is a joy to play!

    It is not as 'acoustic' sounding as my ES-175 VOS 1959 1 PU or VOS 1954, but it has a brass bridge while the others have ebony ones, which might be the reason to this. Or it is because of the mahogany sides.

    The top is thinnest of the three, only 4,4 mm. My '59 has a 4,95 mm top and the '54 is 5,83 mm.

    There is only one puzzling thing: it is so quiet. I have to turn any amp about one number louder when I play it to sound as loud as the other two. I tried to adjust the neck pickup to match the other two but I can't put it so close to strings.

    Have anybody else noticed this? Are the Shaws quieter that P90s and Classic 57s? Or do the '80s ES-175s have a 300 kOhm volume pots? Seller has cleaned everything so it is not because of dirt!

    Now I just have a hard decision to make: I have decided that two jazz boxes is all I need with these skills and my pace of gigging or recording. Now I have to decide which one has to leave.

    P90-guitar will stay, I think. So then it is between the 1959VOS and 1984Mahogany... Both look and play beautifully...

    Gibson ES-175 Nat Mahogany 1984-img_2544-jpg

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Congrats.

    Being the owner of three 175's myself, I would say keep them all. It is money in the bank. This is an iconic Gibson guitar. Probably a good hedge against inflation and an investment that you can enjoy far more than cash or securities.

    Try a wood saddle on the new member of the harem and see how you like it (it does change the tone. I prefer the tone of a 175 with a rosewood saddle to a TOM myself). The volume difference may be related to the heavier build, the PUPs or the pots. It is nothing that I would worry about.

    May she inspire your playing for many years to come!

  4. #3

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    Quite the 3 some. Minty score indeed.

  5. #4

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    There are a nice trio you have done well. I much prefer the sound of the ebony or rosewood saddle. The beauty is that with the TOM on now set the intonation and then get a saddle that is carved within those parameters. Years ago I was not much of a 175 type of fan given I was around carved top guitars. We in the shop tended to think of them as something less than a real jazz guitars. Lucky I was much younger and not nearly as wise because really a Gibson 175 right now seems to just hit on all the buttons. They are not terribly expensive, they play great mostly, and are very marketable if you decide to part with the guitar. You made a wise choice given it will be awhile or maybe never that Gibson will produce another one.

  6. #5

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    If this guitar has had a good rest at an aging German collector's harem, just playing it may increase the volume. The bridge has been zoomed on. What about the strings? The thinner top begs to be louder than the other two.

  7. #6

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    i'd get rid of the new one!! haha...the p90 one wouldn't go anywhere...and the single pup one is super cool...

    keep'em all

    if you have to use a tuneamatic then the blonde is the right one for it

    congrats & enjoy


    cheers

  8. #7

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    A beautiful trio.

  9. #8

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    Thanks everybody!

    I am a bit amazed how different all these guitars are. I thought that the humbucker powered ones would be more alike, but no. It ain't easy to compare which one is better when they all are so unique.

    I have one spare ebony bridge to test with, I'll start with it.

    I am usually a hopeless tinkerer and tweaker so I had already thought that this time I don't change anything, I'll keep this untouched. But here it begins again...

  10. #9

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    Congratulations on your 'new-to-you' '84 ES-175! And welcome to the Mahogany back/sides 175 club.

    Your model appears to be the first year of post-Norlin builds according to this very informative link. If you are concerned about the low volume in your neck pickup, maybe its an early Shaw or late T-Top. Either way, unless it bothers you, I wouldn't mess with it. Some boutique winders sell 'low-wind' paf clones. Maybe yours is just a lower output Gibson p'up. Who knows?

    The Gibson ES-175 - History, Buying Tips & Price Guide

    Play it in good health.

  11. #10

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    How much are you using that bridge pickup?

    Also, what was the price of BTC when you pulled the trigger vs right now? Gibsons are cool but not something I speculate on, especially jazz boxes built in a time when hair metal and new wave dominated the radio.

  12. #11

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    Lack of volume could be the pots or the switch or even the jack.

    My 1999 ES-335 looked pretty unmolested until I had a peek inside.

    The replaced pot was bad (go figure, why that one?), a ground wire was not attached and the switch contacts were filthy.
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson ES-175 Nat Mahogany 1984-es335-controls-jpg 

  13. #12

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    Very cool.

    #1 on my list of Gibsons I'd want to own.

  14. #13

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    That is a Very beautiful guitar.
    You did good!
    Enjoy it forever.
    Joe D

  15. #14

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    Nice score! Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  16. #15

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    A comment and a question.

    First, congratulations! I just got a (new to me) ‘88 mahogany 175, and will vouch that it is a well-made, almost perfect tool for jazz. I wouldn’t have minded a blonde at all!

    One minor thing I’m trying to get used to is the position of the end of the fretboard and the pickups. The way the 175 is positioned on my leg as I’m sitting, I naturally want to pick right over the pickup. This results in some unwanted clicks. I don’t notice this with my other guitars. Will just take some more time with the instrument.

    (I don’t know how others deal with different guitars—it takes me just 20” or so to get used to a different scale length, action, etc. when playing a new guitar, but it takes weeks or months to really get to know the guitar intimately.)

    The comment is that your bridge is positioned a bit higher toward the neck than the other guitars which might affect the intonation and volume. I am thinking about trying a rosewood bridge. There’s also this one by Stew Mac which I have used on a few guitars...should be a brighter sound, I don’t know if more “acoustic”. Might be worth a try.

    Archtop Bridge with Bone Saddle | stewmac.com

    The question has to do with the fact that the neck joins the body at the 14th fret and the pickup is positioned 1.5” or so from the end of the fretboard. How does this affect the sound, vs a longer neck and pickup right next to the fretboard end (as with my 135)?

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Congrats.
    Being the owner of three 175's myself, I would say keep them all. It is money in the bank. This is an iconic Gibson guitar. Probably a good hedge against inflation and an investment that you can enjoy far more than cash or securities.
    Try a wood saddle on the new member of the harem and see how you like it (it does change the tone. I prefer the tone of a 175 with a rosewood saddle to a TOM myself). The volume difference may be related to the heavier build, the PUPs or the pots. It is nothing that I would worry about.
    May she inspire your playing for many years to come!
    Thank You! Oh man, so there is something in it to have three ES-175s!

    That is bad omen for my economy: I have calculated that just now I have money to buy a new guitar – if I sell one soon away. Not sure if I can own a new guitar. There is a difference!

    I put an ebony bridge in the 1984 and it sounds good with it, too. Learned also that the brass TOM bridge ain't original, the stamp under says 'Made in Germany'. Seems to be older, not new. Schaller, maybe? Or have Gibson used German bridges in '80s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    If this guitar has had a good rest at an aging German collector's harem, just playing it may increase the volume. The bridge has been zoomed on. What about the strings? The thinner top begs to be louder than the other two.
    The strings are brand new Thomastik Swing .013's, just my current brand – although last years I have preferred .012's. And yes, the top two strings were louder. A bit adjusting the pickups corrected it.

    The bridge only looks like a bit funny, with it the guitar intonated perfectly. Now I put an ebony bridge so now it intonates just 'close enough'.

    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    i'd get rid of the new one!! haha...the p90 one wouldn't go anywhere...and the single pup one is super cool...
    Well, that is one likely alternative. I hoped that the Natural would be as cool as 1PU, but I don't know... And the 1PU has super sunburst! The 1954RI is not even close!

    The 1959RI is the most resonant of these all. It also means that its thin strings sound a bit... thin. But when I just changed the 1984's bridge to an ebony one, I changed the 1959RIs bridge to a ABM bell brass TOM bridge and now they sound a bit thicker. Hmm...

    I do not know yet the answer but I have been here before and somehow I know that one morning I know which one will go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler
    Congratulations on your 'new-to-you' '84 ES-175! And welcome to the Mahogany back/sides 175 club.[IMG]file:////Users/pasiheikura/Library/Group%20Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/TemporaryItems/msohtmlclip/clip_image001.png[/IMG]Your model appears to be the first year of post-Norlin builds according to this very informative link. If you are concerned about the low volume in your neck pickup, maybe its an early Shaw or late T-Top. Either way, unless it bothers you, I wouldn't mess with it. Some boutique winders sell 'low-wind' paf clones. Maybe yours is just a lower output Gibson p'up. Who knows?
    The Gibson ES-175 - History, Buying Tips & Price Guide
    Play it in good health.
    Thanks for welcoming to the Club! And for the link, there is interesting new things although I have read about ES-175s a lot.

    The pickups are 1983 made Shaws – according the pic that seller had took. I have not checked for myself, thou.

    Gibson ES-175 Nat Mahogany 1984-es175mahog1984pups-jpeg

    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos
    How much are you using that bridge pickup?
    Also, what was the price of BTC when you pulled the trigger vs right now? Gibsons are cool but not something I speculate on, especially jazz boxes built in a time when hair metal and new wave dominated the radio.
    I do not use the bridge pickup. But every scholar of thunk-ology says that the secret of the jazz sound of the ES-175 is two pickups. How much will it affect is one thing that I am now learning.

    I too don't believe in economical speculation on guitars of this price class. At best a trusted brand and a known model will keep its value better than others, but I have learned that not always.

    And here in Finland the supply and demand for jazz guitars are in a quite a good balance: no supply, because of no demand! Luckily specially two pickup ES-175s are blues and rockabilly guitars too, so there is maybe ten times more demand for them!

    "Year of hair metal and new wave"... oh, good reminder...! It was also the year of debut album of Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Run DMC!

    And I was listening Chrissie singing... still valid:


    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    That is a Very beautiful guitar.
    You did good!
    Enjoy it forever.
    Joe D
    Thanks!

    Oh, I wish, I wish...

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    A comment and a question.
    First, congratulations! I just got a (new to me) ‘88 mahogany 175, and will vouch that it is a well-made, almost perfect tool for jazz. I wouldn’t have minded a blonde at all!

    One minor thing I’m trying to get used to is the position of the end of the fretboard and the pickups. The way the 175 is positioned on my leg as I’m sitting, I naturally want to pick right over the pickup. This results in some unwanted clicks. I don’t notice this with my other guitars. Will just take some more time with the instrument.

    (I don’t know how others deal with different guitars—it takes me just 20” or so to get used to a different scale length, action, etc. when playing a new guitar, but it takes weeks or months to really get to know the guitar intimately.)

    The comment is that your bridge is positioned a bit higher toward the neck than the other guitars which might affect the intonation and volume. I am thinking about trying a rosewood bridge. There’s also this one by Stew Mac which I have used on a few guitars...should be a brighter sound, I don’t know if more “acoustic”. Might be worth a try.

    The question has to do with the fact that the neck joins the body at the 14th fret and the pickup is positioned 1.5” or so from the end of the fretboard. How does this affect the sound, vs a longer neck and pickup right next to the fretboard end (as with my 135)?
    Oh, You too, there is apparently mahogany in the air! Congrats for You too!

    The ebony bridge I put in it did maybe raise the acoustic volume a bit. I am getting used to the volume drop with it, I just have to raise the volume from the amp.

    I have had no difficulties with the playing balance of ES175. I use the strap always, it helps even when I play sitting. And with the band I play standing. But I play Les Pauls too and I have no problems with them either, so YMMV!

  18. #17
    Very nice! Congrats, HNGD and play her in good health!

  19. #18

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    Very nice find! I also picked up a 1984 mahogany sided ES-175 with Shaws but in sunburst. I really do enjoy it. I did find that the volume was a bit lower than my ES-165 with a Classic 57 even after adjusting the pickup height. I was not sure that I liked that at first but it quickly grew on me as the Shaws do sound quite nice and I just ended up adjusting the volume a bit.

  20. #19

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    I only have one guitar with Shaws. A little difficult to compare to my ES-175 with 490s.

    Gibson ES-175 Nat Mahogany 1984-shaw-pickup-v-korina-jpg

  21. #20

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    Oh boy, seems like I made my decision: the coolest one (the 1959 with 1 pickup) is leaving.

    The P90 guitar and the mahogany humbucker guitar are a good pair. A bit brighter one and a bit darker one.

    If You are interested in a nice guitar, see You in the Sales department!

  22. #21

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    I have an 84 as well. It is by no means low output. I would give that wiring harness going over.

  23. #22

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    In case you may want a reason to keep all three, put a set of TI George Benson round wound strings on that P-90 guitar. Makes it a beast!

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove
    I have an 84 as well. It is by no means low output. I would give that wiring harness going over.
    Ok, thanks for the information. Does it have the original Shaw pickups?

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Betz
    In case you may want a reason to keep all three, put a set of TI George Benson round wound strings on that P-90 guitar. Makes it a beast!
    When I got the RI '54 with P-90s about a year ago I realised that with roundwounds it would serve quite well in my rock oriented bands too. But I have two Les Pauls (RI '56 GT and RI '58) for those occasions so that side is well covered. But if they will some day be too heavy, there is a solution!

  26. #25

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    As to the pickup volume - how close to the strings is the pickup? Pickup height has a definite effect on volume. The tone also changes to some degree as the height changes. It's a subjective decision as to which tone is better, it requires some experimentation and a Phillips screwdriver to find out which you prefer. I would try raising the pickup, lowering the polepieces if necessary, and see what results. It's all easily reversible by just turning the screwdriver in the opposite direction the required number of revolutions.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    As to the pickup volume - how close to the strings is the pickup? Pickup height has a definite effect on volume. The tone also changes to some degree as the height changes. It's a subjective decision as to which tone is better, it requires some experimentation and a Phillips screwdriver to find out which you prefer. I would try raising the pickup, lowering the polepieces if necessary, and see what results. It's all easily reversible by just turning the screwdriver in the opposite direction the required number of revolutions.
    Yes, the height adjustment is familiar for me. As I wrote in the #1 mail, I can’t get the pu’s so close to the strings to match the volume of my other ES175s.

    I read somewhere that the Shaws require 300 kOhm pots, interesting!

    But at the moment I have learned to live with the volume of this guitar, so I have no plans to change anything.

  28. #27

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    So you like the mahogany 175 better than the RI?
    I actually had the same experience.”

    Better...? Rather ’different’. They are both great instruments, and VOS looks astonishing too. But at the moment the P90 one and the mahogany one feel like supplementing each other.

  29. #28

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    300K is not very far from 250K, and is Gibson's way of being different. The 300K just let a little bit more treble through. If it were mine, I would put 500K pots in it. I have no idea what is installed now. Some pickups are just hotter than others, either by design or by accident. Not much can be done for weak pickups other than turning up the amp volume. With hotter pickups, you can roll off the volume on either the guitar, the amp, or both, to alter the volume and tone to taste. I have no actual experience with Shaw pickups.

  30. #29

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    many guitar pots have a tolerance spec of +/- 20%...even premiums may have 10%...

    so using better +/- 10%, a 250k pot could be 275K, and a 300k pot could be 270k!...actually lower

    provided the wiring is correct, the difference in pickup volume could be the magnet strength..alnico II &III have less gauss than V....also the magnets could have been slightly degaussed over time...

    what makes a pickup hot is many winds of wire around the bobbin (a high k) and strong magnets...why hot humbuckers typically have 15k+ resistance winds and use ceramic magnets...

    of course loud volume and good tone are different matters

    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 03-04-2021 at 07:24 PM. Reason: cl-

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    many guitar pots have a tolerance spec of +/- 20%...even premiums may have 10%...

    so using better +/- 10%, a 250k pot could be 275K, and a 300k pot could be 270k!...actually lower

    provided the wiring is correct, the difference in pickup volume could be the magnet strength..alnico II &III have less gauss than V....also the magnets could have been slightly degaussed over time...

    what makes a pickup hot is many winds of wire around the bobbin (a high k) and strong magnets...why hot humbuckers typically have 15k+ winds and use ceramic magnets...

    of course loud volume and good tone are different matters

    cheers
    I read somewhere that ’the secret’ of the Shaws is the Unoriented Alnico 5 magnets. Strength and sound somewhere in between A5 and A2.

    I have used UOA5s in some pickup in some Les Paul before and remember liking them.

    Now I have learned to turn the amp louder and I enjoy the sound of this guitar very much.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    many guitar pots have a tolerance spec of +/- 20%...even premiums may have 10%...

    so using better +/- 10%, a 250k pot could be 275K, and a 300k pot could be 270k!...actually lower

    provided the wiring is correct, the difference in pickup volume could be the magnet strength..alnico II &III have less gauss than V....also the magnets could have been slightly degaussed over time...

    what makes a pickup hot is many winds of wire around the bobbin (a high k) and strong magnets...why hot humbuckers typically have 15k+ winds and use ceramic magnets...

    of course loud volume and good tone are different matters

    cheers
    Degaussing...I like that theory! I remember from my childhood that magnets would mysteriously lose their strength. Why couldn't that happen to guitar magnets? In fact one is surprised old magnets have any field left at all. (Disclaimer, I'm not an engineer, just won the high school Physics award at my high school, where we didn't even study magnets. So I really don't know any more than what I read on Wikipedia.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    I read somewhere that ’the secret’ of the Shaws is the Unoriented Alnico 5 magnets. Strength and sound somewhere in between A5 and A2.

    I have used UOA5s in some pickup in some Les Paul before and remember liking them.

    Now I have learned to turn the amp louder and I enjoy the sound of this guitar very much.
    Interesting! Now that I'm reading about Shaws (another thing I know virtually nothing about) I am feeling much better about my '82 175 purchase!

  33. #32

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    I bought a Norlin 72 or 76 175 cheaply about ten years ago. I found that the magnet in the neck pickup had degaussed to the point where it hardly made any sound, while the bridge pickup was fine. No obvious reason why..it was simply solved by disassembling the pickup and carefully inserting another A5 magnet, making sure to get the polarity right. It's a bit fiddly, but a quick job and little risk of damaging anything so long as you push the old magnet out with a wooden stick and not a screwdriver .

    So, magnets do lose their charge, sometimes for no apparent reason, and this can cause an unusually low output pickup. No need necessarily to change the pup..a new magnet is cheap enough. Worth trying?

  34. #33

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    what the alnico grades do (for pickups), is signify maximum gauss possible...but many pickup makers deliberately don't charge their magnets to maximum...they might have played a slightly degaussed vintage pup that they loved the tone of, and charge their new magnets to similar spec..a reliced magnet pickup if you will

    so theoretically you could have an alnico v that's charged weaker than alnico II....

    here's a chart


    you can see that alnico II can be more powerful than III & IV

    cheers

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz 1997
    I bought a Norlin 72 or 76 175 cheaply about ten years ago. I found that the magnet in the neck pickup had degaussed to the point where it hardly made any sound, while the bridge pickup was fine. No obvious reason why..it was simply solved by disassembling the pickup and carefully inserting another A5 magnet, making sure to get the polarity right. It's a bit fiddly, but a quick job and little risk of damaging anything so long as you push the old magnet out with a wooden stick and not a screwdriver .

    So, magnets do lose their charge, sometimes for no apparent reason, and this can cause an unusually low output pickup. No need necessarily to change the pup..a new magnet is cheap enough. Worth trying?
    Alnico Bar Magnet | stewmac.com

  36. #35

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    I hear that once Keef plugged his guitar cord into a poorly grounded amp. There was an immediate electrical burst from the amp to the guitar. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt, but when he plugged his beloved Tele in another amp it hardly made a noise.

    Keef said, ”F***in’ amp flash, it’s degaussed-gaussed-gaussed.”

    Mick overhead his outburst, and immediately thought of the lyrics to a hit song. And the rest, as they say, is hysteria.

  37. #36

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    Thanks for everybody for inspecting the issue!

    The vol drop is not so big that it would be because of the degaussed magnets. It might be just the 'warmness' of the mahogany in the body compared to the maple that makes it sound mellower, softer – and thus giving an impression of lower volume?

    Magnet swapping used to be a hobby of mine! Then I sold the old Les Paul, bought a better one and now I have had same pickups in it over five years.

    But I still have a DIY Mustang with a Seymour Duncan '59 hb with A3 magnet in it. Makes it perfect for that guitar. And some extra A4 magnets waiting to be sold or used.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    Thanks for everybody for inspecting the issue!

    The vol drop is not so big that it would be because of the degaussed magnets. It might be just the 'warmness' of the mahogany in the body compared to the maple that makes it sound mellower, softer – and thus giving an impression of lower volume?

    Magnet swapping used to be a hobby of mine! Then I sold the old Les Paul, bought a better one and now I have had same pickups in it over five years.

    But I still have a DIY Mustang with a Seymour Duncan '59 hb with A3 magnet in it. Makes it perfect for that guitar. And some extra A4 magnets waiting to be sold or used.
    I think the odds favor your mahogany vs maple idea. My ES-175 55th Anniversary Edition has a mahogany neck and maple/poplar/maple back and sides. With its '57 Classics, it sounds just perfect to my ears.

  39. #38

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    Hmm.

    I have had a busy month with work (and cross skiing, while we still have snow here!) and I have had not much time to play a bit longer time with these guitars. On weekend I played and noticed weird thing.

    When I played the 1984 ES I had to use my left hand fingers very precisely and with an extra effort to get the things played correctly. With my other two ES-175s the playing the things I know is easy. With the 1984 I am a poor starter, with the others I am a virtuoso!

    Seemingly there is nothing wrong with the guitar. The strings are low but nothing buzzes. Single notes are easy to play and sound nice.

    All I could think was the frets.

    I took my calipers and was surprised. All were about 0,5 mm (0,023 in) and the lowest were under that, even 0,43 mm (0,016 in). Then I compared to the frets of my 1959VOS and 1954RI, which were about 1 mm high (0,04 in).

    So when monday came I took the guitar to my tech to install new frets in it.

    I should have noted this thing earlier, but I have never had any problems with frets. I even don't know am I right or wrong with this diagnosis. That makes me feel quite amateurish... or let's say straight: stupid. Did I just spoil "all original" guitar and spent about 300€ in vain? We'll see...

    Gibson ES-175 Nat Mahogany 1984-img_2773-jpg

    Gibson ES-175 Nat Mahogany 1984-img_2772-jpg

  40. #39

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    Beautiful guitars. Congratulations.

    Whatever you decide to keep, enjoy it in good health.

  41. #40

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    Hi Herbie
    frets really are a matter if personal preference, so let your fingers decide for you. Having a “heavy” fretting hand I prefer low frets for jazz (little or no bending), and medium-high for other styles
    Last edited by Ray175; 03-19-2021 at 11:50 AM.

  42. #41

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    Your caliper looks like my Harbor Freight special. IDK, maybe it’s a precision instrument, but I think the margin of error is too great at a fraction of a MM to draw firm conclusions.

    I’m sure your guitar will benefit from a fret upgrade.

    Refrets? I’ve had a few.
    But then again, too few to mention.

  43. #42

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    Frets and strings need replaced from time to time. I have never regretted paying for a refretting. Look at it this way - even if you might be refretting a bit early (and I am not saying that you are) it's something you won't need to worry about for a long time.

    As far as "all original goes" when I buy a guitar that is not brand new, and I see it shows no signs of wear, I have to wonder - what's wrong with this guitar that it wasn't played? No signs of loving use? Hmmmmn.

  44. #43

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    I definitely don't think you spent the money in vain. I bet it will play so much better after your luthier is done with it. As far as original - frets are one of the things that don't really seem to affect value. If anything I am more interested in an old guitar if has recently had the frets done correctly and well. If a guitar gets played eventually they all must be changed