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Thread: Three reasons why SE's beat all the other imports

  1. #21
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    I'll give PRS the benefit of the doubt that my Mira's scarf is not detrimental to the tone.

  2. #22
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    I avoided the SE line for a few reasons. Number one, I typically purchase what I consider "mid-range" priced guitars ($1000 ~ $1500), such as the US built Gibson and Fender product lines. Number two, I always pegged the SE line as being comparable to the Epiphones, which I mostly found uninspiring to play. A few years back, I considered a SE Santana, but the ones I played also reminded me of an Epiphone LP. Fast forward to a few weeks ago... I accidently stumbled upon my new Bernie SE. This guitar stood miles above that Santana I played back in 2012. It felt more like a Gibson LP Standard than a Chinese built Epi LP Standard. Granted, the pickups leave something to be desired by some, but overall it's value far exceeds the price that I paid. The day I bought my Bernie, I was fully prepared to buy a $1200 guitar. In that process, I found a great guitar at nearly 1/3 the price. I'm not sure if the other "newer" SE models share the same quality that I've found on my Bernie, but I can tell you that there's not an Epiphone or Chinese built Fender that can touch it. To me, it simply boils down to the fact that PRS probably cares a bit more about quality of the guitars that they have built in the far east. It's also the PRS design that plays a huge factor. I've never played ANY guitar with a stoptail bridge that is as nicely intonated as my Bernie. Period. And that has to be attributed to design and quality of manufacture. Plain and simple. In my mind, that is why the SE line beats all the other imports.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JStarr View Post
    I avoided the SE line for a few reasons. Number one, I typically purchase what I consider "mid-range" priced guitars ($1000 ~ $1500), such as the US built Gibson and Fender product lines. Number two, I always pegged the SE line as being comparable to the Epiphones, which I mostly found uninspiring to play. A few years back, I considered a SE Santana, but the ones I played also reminded me of an Epiphone LP. Fast forward to a few weeks ago... I accidently stumbled upon my new Bernie SE. This guitar stood miles above that Santana I played back in 2012. It felt more like a Gibson LP Standard than a Chinese built Epi LP Standard. Granted, the pickups leave something to be desired by some, but overall it's value far exceeds the price that I paid. The day I bought my Bernie, I was fully prepared to buy a $1200 guitar. In that process, I found a great guitar at nearly 1/3 the price. I'm not sure if the other "newer" SE models share the same quality that I've found on my Bernie, but I can tell you that there's not an Epiphone or Chinese built Fender that can touch it. To me, it simply boils down to the fact that PRS probably cares a bit more about quality of the guitars that they have built in the far east. It's also the PRS design that plays a huge factor. I've never played ANY guitar with a stoptail bridge that is as nicely intonated as my Bernie. Period. And that has to be attributed to design and quality of manufacture. Plain and simple. In my mind, that is why the SE line beats all the other imports.
    Note that the current santana is a very different guitar that the first SE santana. Not sure which you played, but the one i have is new and it's anything BUT in the epiphone league. I know what epis are like having had several and even have one now that also doesn't compare to the santana at all. But as i've said, the PRS designs are what really set them apart due to the sound and playability.

    As to the rest of the points made about scarf joints, you all make good points but i'm looking at it from my perspective. And even the taylor guitar example from MY perspective doesn't work for me. Taylors have IMO never had the traditional acoutic sound. They don't have the same warm mids and round treble and woodiness to *my* ear that a martin or gibson has, and to me they don't compare at all. They also have necks use bolts to secure them which is not a common design among the big names of the boutique makers that try and emulate them and better them. So i get your points, but they just don't make me feel any different about scarf joints. If you take a guitar with a SJ thats otherwise top quality build with a great design, a scarf joint isn't going to hold it back. But the fact is it IS a cost cutting design and the makers that use it are for the most part using it on thier import lines. So the point again is, whether or not it matters, people generally prefer not to have it and that fact should be obvious by how fe top line guitars use it compared to cheap imports. I think we can agree the percentage difference is huge. And again, the point was that it IS a cost cutting design that is used on epis and most other imports but now on the SE, which just speaks to the quality and the agenda behind the SE line. All bets on what it does sonically if anything at all aside, I personally don't like a scarf joint. There are many cost cutting designs in guitars that are debatable as to whether they are detrimental in any way with no solid proof at all that they are. And i don't know about you guys, but build a guitar with lots of those design aspects and i don't care how it sounds i'm probably not going to be trying it in the first place.

    The question i have is how many of you would opt for a scarf joint if you had that option? If you were buying a $3k LP and you could have it either way, would you choose it? If not, then i think you can see why i consider it something that sets the SE line apart, and the reason i listed it in those 3 top reasons is that unlike tuners or pickups, nut, etc etc, you can't mod a scarf joint out of the guitar.

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    The question i have is how many of you would opt for a scarf joint if you had that option?
    From a good builder? I would. But then again I also like maple necked Les Pauls and volutes.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    Note that the current santana is a very different guitar that the first SE santana. Not sure which you played, but the one i have is new and it's anything BUT in the epiphone league. I know what epis are like having had several and even have one now that also doesn't compare to the santana at all. But as i've said, the PRS designs are what really set them apart due to the sound and playability.

    I have two of the original Santana SEs - the ones with the arm comfort bevel on the top where your forearm rests. The first one I bought is a D series (2003) and it is my second most played PRS after the HB spruce gold top. I'd put the SE up, unmodified, against any guitar costing 4x as much.


    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    As to the rest of the points made about scarf joints, you all make good points but i'm looking at it from my perspective. And even the taylor guitar example from MY perspective doesn't work for me. Taylors have IMO never had the traditional acoutic sound. They don't have the same warm mids and round treble and woodiness to *my* ear that a martin or gibson has, and to me they don't compare at all. They also have necks use bolts to secure them which is not a common design among the big names of the boutique makers that try and emulate them and better them. So i get your points, but they just don't make me feel any different about scarf joints. If you take a guitar with a SJ thats otherwise top quality build with a great design, a scarf joint isn't going to hold it back. But the fact is it IS a cost cutting design and the makers that use it are for the most part using it on thier import lines. So the point again is, whether or not it matters, people generally prefer not to have it and that fact should be obvious by how fe top line guitars use it compared to cheap imports. I think we can agree the percentage difference is huge. And again, the point was that it IS a cost cutting design that is used on epis and most other imports but now on the SE, which just speaks to the quality and the agenda behind the SE line. All bets on what it does sonically if anything at all aside, I personally don't like a scarf joint. There are many cost cutting designs in guitars that are debatable as to whether they are detrimental in any way with no solid proof at all that they are. And i don't know about you guys, but build a guitar with lots of those design aspects and i don't care how it sounds i'm probably not going to be trying it in the first place.

    The question i have is how many of you would opt for a scarf joint if you had that option? If you were buying a $3k LP and you could have it either way, would you choose it? If not, then i think you can see why i consider it something that sets the SE line apart, and the reason i listed it in those 3 top reasons is that unlike tuners or pickups, nut, etc etc, you can't mod a scarf joint out of the guitar.
    Preferences, perceptions, assumptions and prejudices can be so debilitating. Taylor is all scarf joint necks, and yes, bolted on necks, and this disqualifies them in your view. That's fine, it's your money. You get to buy what you want based on whatever evaluations are most important to you, as we all do.

    My point to you is that just because you believe scarf joints make an inherently inferior guitar, that is obviously not true for everyone. I also suggest that you not decide before hand that something is inferior by reading it's specifications instead of giving it a try. We saw that when the S2 line was announced. People couldn't wait to dismiss them as crap. And no one had even touched one yet.

    And I do want to emphasize that you get to decide for yourself what is important. But you do yourself a disservice to dismiss things without giving them a hands-on evaluation.

    The answer to your last question is that I have several very expensive Taylors and I am satisfied with them, so no - the scarf joint is not an issue for me. I'm (dangerously) guessing that by "LP", you mean a Gibson LP. It is highly unlikely that I'll be buying a Gibson of any neck joint configuration because their general build quality disqualifies them for me. If they somehow got their act together and increased their QC to that of PRS and Taylor, I might consider one. I DO look at them from time to time, but I continue to not be interested in actually purchasing one.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 05-15-2014 at 10:39 AM. Reason: dak
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  6. #26
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    As far as the SE necks go:

    SE's with mahogany necks (24.5 and 25" scale lengths) = 1 piece mahogany
    SE's with 24 frets and models with longer scale lengths = Three piece necks (usually maple)
    Korina is harder to find in chunky neck blank-sized blocks, so it's typically three piece necks as well

    All US made "core" models utilize single piece necks. S2 necks are scarfed to save wood and make the guitars more affordable.

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    I don't do myself a disservice at all. First of all, yes, i dismiss taylor because i don't like thier sound. I had one and the thing to my ear was more like a cheap plywood import. You hit it hard and they break up. I have a chinese import today that i would wager good money would sound better than that taylor to anyone that played them side by side. In fact, to me it's nite and day better. Is that because of the scarf joint? The bolted neck joint? i dunno....i don't care. I dislike the sound ! And if you read further back you'll note i said that i don't know for sure that a SJ will sound bad, but that all the mediocre tilt back headstock guitars i've owned that WERE mediocre had them. That, the way i feel about taylor sound....i still won't testify a SJ is why. But the fact is it IS a cost cutting measure. Look at shawn's last post. does that say it all or what? It is exactly what i said earlier....the s2 line uses it because in the USA manufacturing costs are far greater and thats how they are able to make that line as inexpensive as they needed them to be. Note they don't use it on the core models....why is that? Thats a question i'd like answered if i'm just being foolish about this. Whereas in korea costs are so low they could afford not to scarf them. It's really all very simple....it's a cost cutting measure that *may* harm tone or may not, but whether or not it does are you going to choose the guitar with it over one without if they are otherwise exactly the same? If your answer is no, then we agree....the SE line is extremely uncompromising compared to most others in the range and is a detail that cannot be upgraded away, which is what i was trying to point out initially but seems to have gotten lost. No, i'm not saying it makes for a lousy guitar. I never said it did, i said we don't know. And unless you hear a guitar w/o it, then cut and splice the head back on with several guitars neither of us will ever know. But thats not even the point.

    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    I have two of the original Santana SEs - the ones with the arm comfort bevel on the top where your forearm rests. The first one I bought is a D series (2003) and it is my second most played PRS after the HB spruce gold top. I'd put the SE up, unmodified, against any guitar costing 4x as much.




    Preferences, perceptions, assumptions and prejudices can be so debilitating. Taylor is all scarf joint necks, and yes, bolted on necks, and this disqualifies them in your view. That's fine, it's your money. You get to buy what you want based on whatever evaluations are most important to you, as we all do.

    My point to you is that just because you believe scarf joints make an inherently inferior guitar, that is obviously not true for everyone. I also suggest that you not decide before hand that something is inferior by reading it's specifications instead of giving it a try. We saw that when the S2 line was announced. People couldn't wait to dismiss them as crap. And no one had even touched one yet.

    And I do want to emphasize that you get to decide for yourself what is important. But you do yourself a disservice to dismiss things without giving them a hands-on evaluation.

    The answer to your last question is that I have several very expensive Taylors and I am satisfied with them, so no - the scarf joint is not an issue for me. I'm (dangerously) guessing that by "LP", you mean a Gibson LP. It is highly unlikely that I'll be buying a Gibson of any neck joint configuration because their general build quality disqualifies them for me. If they somehow got their act together and increased their QC to that of PRS and Taylor, I might consider one. I DO look at them from time to time, but I continue to not be interested in actually purchasing one.
    Last edited by dazco; 05-15-2014 at 12:10 PM.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    I don't do myself a disservice at all.
    Perhaps. It is right here in what you wrote earlier:

    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    …build a guitar with lots of those design aspects and i don't care how it sounds I’m probably not going to be trying it in the first place.
    So, there are guitars that you won’t even try because they have build problems. They may be fantastic guitars with just the tone you are after, but you will never know. Is that not a disservice to yourself?


    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    First of all, yes, i dismiss taylor because i don't like thier sound. I had one and the thing to my ear was more like a cheap plywood import. You hit it hard and they break up. I have a chinese import today that i would wager good money would sound better than that taylor to anyone that played them side by side. In fact, to me it's nite and day better. Is that because of the scarf joint? The bolted neck joint? i dunno....i don't care. I dislike the sound ! And if you read further back you'll note i said that i don't know for sure that a SJ will sound bad, but that all the mediocre tilt back headstock guitars i've owned that WERE mediocre had them. That, the way i feel about taylor sound....i still won't testify a SJ is why.
    You have a false equivalency here. You had mediocre guitars with scarf joints, so all guitars with scarf joints must be mediocre. Your conclusion is not supported. There are just way too many other things that probably really contributed to your other guitars being mediocre.

    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    But the fact is it IS a cost cutting measure. Look at shawn's last post. does that say it all or what? It is exactly what i said earlier....the s2 line uses it because in the USA manufacturing costs are far greater and thats how they are able to make that line as inexpensive as they needed them to be. Note they don't use it on the core models....why is that? Thats a question i'd like answered if i'm just being foolish about this. Whereas in korea costs are so low they could afford not to scarf them. It's really all very simple....it's a cost cutting measure that *may* harm tone or may not, but whether or not it does are you going to choose the guitar with it over one without if they are otherwise exactly the same?
    Actually, I can clear that up for you. It’s about the wood, not the joint. In order to make a neck without a scarf joint, a luthier has to start with a LOT thicker neck blank. It is carved out of that one piece, including the angled back headstock. A LOT of wood comes off and a LOT of wood is wasted.

    But using the same grad/quality neck blank that is only half as thick and scarfing the headstock saves quite a bit of money because the half thickness blank is significantly cheaper than the thicker blank. The savings is offset a little by it ironically taking more labor and more time to create the scarf joint (not to mention a whole new set of gluing jigs - I saw them) than just putting a thicker blank in the CNC machine for a carve. It is a savings in MATERIALS cost that allows PRS to use high grade lumber for the S2 necks and still keep the cost down.

    The reason the Korean line doesn’t have to use scarf joints to keep the cost down is they are using a slightly lesser grade of neck blank. And the maple and korina SE necks are 3 piece - again to save on materials cost because thinner blanks cost less than thicker blanks of the same quality.

    Prove it to yourself. Go to Home Depot and head into the craft wood section. Compare prices on blanks that are twice as wide or twice as thick. The big trees are gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    If your answer is no, then we agree....the SE line is extremely uncompromising compared to most others in the range and is a detail that cannot be upgraded away, which is what i was trying to point out initially but seems to have gotten lost. No, i'm not saying it makes for a lousy guitar. I never said it did, i said we don't know. And unless you hear a guitar w/o it, then cut and splice the head back on with several guitars neither of us will ever know. But thats not even the point.
    What makes the SE line uncompromising is Paul’s design, specifications and the QC. If it comes to pass that SEs or even the core line guitars get scarf joints because of the ever dwindling supply of tone woods - even the lesser grades - you can bet PRS will make sure the joint is strong and does not affect the tone or quality of the instrument. The S2 line is proof of that.

    I don’t argue with your points 1 and 3. And there are a LOT more reasons SEs are such good instruments. You just need to let go of point 2. It is unsupported.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 05-15-2014 at 02:36 PM. Reason: found a typo...
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    Well, I'm not going to debate this any longer because unless face to face it could go on forever trying to explain it in type. But all i need from you is to just answer my question. 2 guitars, both exactly the same except one has a SJ. Same price, everything. Which will you buy? Your answer will either show you agree with the original point i was making or you don't. If you want the one that jointed then a wanna know why Paul doesn't use that on the core models. Maybe he can answer you better than I.

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    Shawn, want to take a crack at that one?

    Personally I like SJ with mahogany necks.
    Last edited by NomadMike; 05-15-2014 at 02:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    Well, I'm not going to debate this any longer because unless face to face it could go on forever trying to explain it in type. But all i need from you is to just answer my question. 2 guitars, both exactly the same except one has a SJ. Same price, everything. Which will you buy? Your answer will either show you agree with the original point i was making or you don't. If you want the one that jointed then a wanna know why Paul doesn't use that on the core models. Maybe he can answer you better than I.
    Well, I was done, but you asked.

    I thought I was clear - I do not agree with your second point.

    The presence or absence of a scarf joint is NOT a deal breaker for me. In the choice of 2 "identical" guitars save that one has a scarf jointed neck, I'll take the one that sounds,feels,looks,plays,smells better to me.

    And I don't know how to explain it any differently than in my posts above. But I'll try.

    The cost savings is about the wood, not the joint. Thinner blank = significant savings. Thicker blank = costlier. PRS is happy with the core line price point, and obviously have an ample supply of pricier thicker blanks, the market is buying, WHY CHANGE?

    The S2 line is aimed at people who want Maryland Made with Maryland grade materials. The scarf joint gives them a Maryland grade neck from a thinner and less expensive blank.

    Add in the idea that the glues PRS and Taylor are using are designed to be used in instruments - they are engineered not to harm tone.

    I'll ask you a question...

    You are all jacked up about the glue joint in a scarf joint neck possibly killing tone, but you completely gloss over the glue joint at the neck/body. If the scarf joint is killing tone, why is the neck/body joint not doing the same thing? And there certainly is a lot of glue between that maple cap and the body, not to mention the layer of glue for the veneer over the maple cap. Or under the nut. And those acoustics- isn't the bridge glued on on most of them?

    By your reasoning, you should only own either neck through guitars or ones carved from a single piece of wood, neck, body, headstock and all.

    You don't HAVE to have 3 reasons, the other 2 might be enough...

    Last edited by rugerpc; 05-15-2014 at 03:03 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    You are all jacked up about the glue joint in a scarf joint neck possibly killing tone, but you completely gloss over the glue joint at the neck/body.
    I skimmed your post and wasn't even going to reply, but....really? really? You're going to cite a detail that is and always has been a part of the tonal recipe forever as a example of why i'm jacked up about the scarf joint/ Seriously? How about this....have a guitar made with a 10 piece neck and 12 piece body. Would that be ok with you? I assume yes? Where do YOU draw the line. Is 9 piece ok? how about 6? Furthermore, and the last thing i'll say on the subject, again and again you fail to see the original point which has nothing to do with tone, it's about wanting quality and peace of mind that it absolutely doesn't change the tonal recipe thats been used forever and.......the fact the SE line doesn't compromise like the others. But then i'm a jackass for appreciating that. Done...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    I skimmed your post and wasn't even going to reply, but....really? really? You're going to cite a detail that is and always has been a part of the tonal recipe forever as a example of why i'm jacked up about the scarf joint/ Seriously? How about this....have a guitar made with a 10 piece neck and 12 piece body. Would that be ok with you? I assume yes? Where do YOU draw the line. Is 9 piece ok? how about 6? Furthermore, and the last thing i'll say on the subject, again and again you fail to see the original point which has nothing to do with tone, it's about wanting quality and peace of mind that it absolutely doesn't change the tonal recipe thats been used forever and.......the fact the SE line doesn't compromise like the others. But then i'm a jackass for appreciating that. Done...
    Probably a good thing. Please do me a favor in the future. Read my entire post as I did yours and every other post I intend to reply to on this forum. It is the respectful thing to do. Replying to my post without having read it is like reading texts on your phone while we talk face to face - it's just rude.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 05-15-2014 at 03:33 PM.
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    Hey Daz, they're merely disagreeing with you. No need to take that as a personal afront.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    all i need from you is to just answer my question. 2 guitars, both exactly the same except one has a SJ. Same price, everything. Which will you buy?
    The non-scarf jointed one.
    I mean, I'm sure the S2's are nice guitars but I'm not really in the market for one based purely on their features.


    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn@PRS View Post
    As far as the SE necks go:

    SE's with mahogany necks (24.5 and 25" scale lengths) = 1 piece mahogany
    SE's with 24 frets and models with longer scale lengths = Three piece necks (usually maple)
    Korina is harder to find in chunky neck blank-sized blocks, so it's typically three piece necks as well

    All US made "core" models utilize single piece necks. S2 necks are scarfed to save wood and make the guitars more affordable.
    Great to know! But dammit! Now I want a Santana more than ever.

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    dazco you keep talking about cost cutting measures, you do understand that the whole idea of the Korean line is a cost cutting measure don't you? By your logic you probably shouldn't buy one as they're obviously inferior!

    Before you start flaming me I'm going over the top to make a point. There is no way in a blind test where you were handed two identical guitars you could tell the difference between one which had a scarf joint and one that didn't. If they're both built properly with quality materials and the same pickups and hardware the difference would be so small you'd never be able to hear it or if you could it'd be the emperors new one piece neck. Pickups, hardware, quality woods all make a big difference to the tone but a scarf joint? Not likely. I refer to my earlier point on a les Paul which has had a professionally repaired headstock break, the joint at the headstock will actually be stronger than it was before the break and will sound exactly the same as before. My R7 had an accident at a gig several years ago, I had it repaired and it felt and sounded as good as it always did.

    As to your points on Taylor you personally might not like the tone of them but don't compare them to a cheap chinese plywood import that's a ridiculous statement to make. If having a bolt on neck is such a bad thing then my PRS ce 22, my tele and my strat must junk!!!

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    Every mediocre guitar I ever played all had Gibson, Fender and Gretsch on the head stock. There for all of those are mediocre?

    I applaud PRS for coming up with ways to build a quality US guitar at a good price point. Given today's economy and resources used to build guitars I think rethinking how you manufacture a guitar is pretty forward thinking.
    wow, I just used the word "think" three times in one sentence.
    Last edited by NomadMike; 05-15-2014 at 05:16 PM.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by NomadMike View Post
    ...I also like maple necked Les Pauls and volutes.
    Dang, you and I think alike. I prefer Gibbys with maple necks (and preferably volutes). The best LP I ever owned was a Norlin-era monster LP Custom that had a 3-piece maple neck (5 if you count the wings), a giant volute, and a pancake body. Just cos a bunch of pieces were glued together in a "non-tradition" way didn't make it a bad guitar and I still kind of regret getting rid of it.

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    Great minds think a like gball. I turned my Deluxe in during the late 70's, early 80's modding craze as I just couldn't stand the idea of taking a router to it. It was also the MIJ craze so I used the money from the Deluxe and picked up a really nice setneck LP Standard plain top copy, Dimarzios, pots, caps and a lot of brass bits. Of course the MIJ has a 3 piece maple neck with a volute too. I think these days we guitar players get too caught up in tradition. I love LPs but they aren't the best design from both player and manufacturing stand points, heck they weren't even a great design back in the 50's. But you'll never hear me say that out loud.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    .

    As to maple caps on a few epis, i not only know that but when i was looking for a LP i investigated those specifically because they were the only cheaper guitar with caps. But those are only a limited edition epi and the street cost is actually the same or more than the SE's.
    Well, not to be picky, but in your original statement you clearly inferred that all other imports by other companies don't use maple caps. Some do. I agree with your overall viewpoint which is that SE's are just great guitars that are made to the highest qualities. I love them.
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    Lessons, covers, backing tracks, etc...www.youtube.com/mikegarveyblues

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