A while back I mentioned in a post about how my desire for new guitars had been somewhat tamed. Well, in the last month, two guitars I had been dreaming of crossed my path. The first was the JTV-59 Variax I mentioned yesterday, which I actually bought a few weeks ago and played it in church twice. But so far there just hasn’t been a connection. It’s cool, but for me a guitar has to touch my emotions; I want to get lost and escape while playing some blues improvisation to a backing track or with the band. The JTV doesn’t get out of my way enough to let me get there.
Last night, another special (to me) guitar crossed my path. It had just been traded in at the shop where my wife takes bass guitar lessons, where I’ve also bought 3 guitars and an amp or two over the years. They see me often, and her every week. It was an Epiphone Casino, seemed like a 2011 based on the serial number but it had a Nashville sticker on the inside and an odd headstock. They said they needed to do some research because they’d never seen one like it. In about 15 minutes I figured out what it was thanks to modern mobile internet technology. I spent a few minutes noodling around, and it felt great, and looked great.
I told them what it was, what they seemed to be selling for, and they offered it to me if I wanted it. Then we went to band practice, and between jet lag and things just going wrong – including my pedal board power jack breaking – I eventually just played my Telecaster straight into the amp. And it sounded glorious. So I started thinking maybe simpler is better.
So as we drove home, my wife asked what was bothering me. I told her I felt bad about buying the high-tech Variax and not loving it, and now a 50th anniversary reissue of the 1961 Epiphone Casino was available at the same price. Eventually we decided I should go ahead and buy the Epi, and then move either it, the JTV-59, or something else out of the collection and on to a new owner.
I picked up the Epi today – for $40 less than they originally said with new strings and a full set-up. Turns out it did have a hardshell case with it, even though last night they said no. More importantly, it had the original Certificate of Authenticity – it was #169 out of a limited run of 1,961! The owners and the salesguy were all chattering about how nice the guitar was. They knew it was something different, but hadn’t looked it up, so they were happy it was going to someone that appreciated the uniqueness of it since they are a huge Gibson house and took it in on trade for a Les Paul. And I always check out every Casino they get in.
Anyway, my ears are ringing because this thing seems to let me sound like what I’ve been trying to sound like. It’s got amazing tonal range, and there’s a chime or layer of harmonics from the amp that I’ve never heard before. Almost like a harmonic reverb that is perfectly in tune, which I can only guess is coming from the hollow body of the guitar. Sounds great at all volumes, but especially LOUD.
Absolutely loving it right now. I’ll try to get it in the rotation at church in a week or so. Thankfully it’s more of a tan burst than the red in all the sales literature. I guess a zebra can’t change his stripes – at least not that fast. But because I sell one guitar when I buy one, the total cost should only be $100-$200. Not too bad to upgrade to a rather limited edition Epiphone Casino from my very first guitar.