New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Squirrel » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:45 am

Challenger?

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:55 am

Challenger it is!

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Baby Henry loves a Challenger!

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So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy. Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life...

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:56 am

The only other guitars I know that are similar era are all 2 pickup models. I'm stumped, but dying to know!
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http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=104282&p=1438384#p1438384

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:57 am

Damn, missed it by that much. Haha. That's awesome!!!! I love the silver too!
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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Gavanti » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:00 am

Hunting for that one was a history lesson in 70s-80s Gibsons. Congrats on the Challenger! Looks like a fun guitar. Great color too.

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:01 am

Sorry for the crap pictures, it was kind of rushed to get a couple up here.

I'm super happy with this guitar. I didn't know exactly what to expect out of it, but it's basically that era's version of the Les Paul Jr, and I could see it easily making me forget about my Jr that I had to sell. It's the exact same body profile, very light, nice Norlin era neck with the big, wide frets on there.

This thing is basically unused, also. I guess no one ever played it much. There is finish crazing all over it, but no actual wear on the headstock, back of the neck, nor the body. It's like someone just put it under a bed since 1983.

There is some problem with the electronics, I guess, so I can't really talk about that pickup or how it sounds much. I'll have to go under the hood and straighten out whatever ground/shielding issue I'm having. Not a big deal, that was always going to happen.

I had kind of thought that these were made out of older 70's parts, which I didn't care about, I thought that they might be a Marauder body. But no, it's just a straight up slab, narrow, it's exactly what a Les Paul Jr is (although the routing in the body is different).

A total winner. Could not be happier with my little guitar. I will totally recommend to anyone looking for a Jr type guitar, give these Challengers some consideration, you can get them cheap- $380 in this case- if you look around a bit. Probably a ceramic humbucker in here (it's a little hard to know exactly what the pickups are), but a quality Bill Lawrence one and from what I heard past the buzzing, very good sounding, nice cleans to it.
So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy. Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life...

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by mbene085 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:14 am

Nice! That looks amazing. You're right, it's a real case queen.

So that Bill Lawrence humbucker came stock? Bill's pickups are always winners in my experience, so it should some amazing once you sort out the buzzing.

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:36 am

Yeah, they're the same pickups as on the Corvus and were all designed by Bill Lawrence.

Or so I think, frankly, there's not a lot of information out there about these guitars and even less about these pickups that I'd consider to be concrete. I might try and back up that with some actual knowledge soon.

Edit: I'm going to not say "Bill Lawrence designed" pickups any more, because while I've read that, I can't actually back it up in any way. "Bill Lawrence era"? I don't even know what that means.

I don't know very much about the pickups in them at all. I looked, too. I can't get a handle on them. Maybe someone knows but it isn't me.

Since I'm going under the hood, I'll take a bunch of pictures of the pickup while I'm in there. It might mean something to someone. I did read a lot about the guitar today, and "noisy" is a word that popped up a couple of times. Who knows. I'll put up shots of the thing, one reason I bought the Challenger was to learn about them a little more and pass it along.
So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy. Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life...

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by mbene085 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:35 pm

Reading up on these - I'm quite ignorant regarding this era of Gibsons.

Apparently Gibson pulled a "Swinger/Custom" style move to get rid of spare parts, and offered a mongrel they called the Challenger III.

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Maybe Fender was in such a weak position in the early-mid '80s that they thought a triple-singlecoil bolt-on Les Paul Jr. could take on the strat?

Your Challenger I is a whole prettier, and more coherent of a design, though.

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:01 pm

Well, so about the Norlin years.

You've probably read that they were using up old parts on the Challengers, but I don't know if I really believe that. I might have, before yesterday, but you usually hear that they were using up old Marauder/S-1 bodies, but I can now verify that those were not the same bodies at all. The bridges on the Challengers and such were those Schaller wraparounds, and those are the same as the "harmonica" made bridges that dominated the 70's.

I can also tell you that the "harmonica" bridge as well as this wraparound bridge (both made by Schaller) are light years better than the fucking Nashville hunk of shit that Gibson went to after the Norlin years and still use today. That's the worst bridge they've ever made that I'm aware of. Garbage pot metal cheaply produced in Asia loosely propped up on even cheaper components.

So it's not like Gibson was using cheap stuff. They were actually concerned with making a good product. And while the Challenger III might have been using the same single coil pickups that were on the earlier S-1*, they were very good pickups so why not? It's not like Fender hasn't been using the same Alnico 5 pickups over and over also, and why should they not? There's really only so many good pickup designs possible and that's a great one.

But anyway, some years ago I got my hands on a Norlin era Les Paul Deluxe and was just blown away by it. Then I got my hands on some other Norlin stuff and was also blown away by that. There's a playablity to the Norlin years that totally works for me, and I had no idea. Basically, they went heavily with Gibson's earlier "fretless wonder" design, with broad and low frets, and a fairly narrow neck carve. Fairly different from what Gibson had been doing, and different from the "return to classic quality" of the Juskiewicz years. I like them all, but shit, Norlins play great.

And yeah, Gibson was definitely trying to peel people away from Fender, the Marauder was a great attempt to compete with the Telecaster Deluxe or whatever it was, and the S-1 was an attempt to out-compete the Stratocaster. But they didn't just rip those guitars off, they came up with entire new designs to be their own thing and yet be "better".

This was kind of natural at the time, and here's my favorite thing about some Norlins: their pickup designers wanted to have guitars with more high end sparkle and clarity, like what you find with Fender. They were moving away from the PAF sound- and this was a terrible time to be doing that- and since I don't really love the creamy, mid-range, compressed PAF sound this is right up my alley.

And Gibson also decided to "improve" on the classic designs and that's probably what fucked them. For some reason, they thought that they were an innovative company capable of producing guitars that would be classics along the lines of their 60's models and no one wanted that. To make matters worse, they changed their classic designs a whole lot, which people really resisted.

Gibson added a neck volute for extra strength in order to reduce headstock breakage, for instance. You'd never know it was there, but people hated it.

They made a lot of changes that don't really make a lot of sense, either. I've been looking at a 70's Les Paul Deluxe for some time, and you find tons of them having been routed out for humbuckers.

"Silly 70's people," I thought. But the fact is, Gibson barely made Les Paul Standards then, so for a lot of people, if you wanted a Les Paul with humbuckers routing out a Deluxe for humbuckers was what you had to do.

So Gibson was turning out original models that didn't really out-compete what they were supposed to be competing against, and weren't all that well received, and they were also turning out versions of their classic guitars that were sharply different (if not really worse) than the guitars that had come before that everyone still wanted.

Oh, they also did some insane shit. So, the Sonex that you might have read about? That wasn't a guitar model- that was a whole line. Kind of. The original ones read "Sonex by Gibson" and there were Custom and Deluxe models, and there were supposed to be more, and that was the entry line.

And then there was a middle lineup, the Firebrand, which was slightly less expensive models of the Gibson family (those are great guitars), and then Gibson was the flagship. Epiphone was chugging along in Japan. But the point of the Sonex and Firebrand was also to get Gibson products into music stores that weren't Gibson dealers. There was to be a guitar at every price point and branded as such for upward brand mobility.

But they never actually did that, well, kind of, for one year, maybe, or maybe not, then they immediately reversed course, deciding everything was a Gibson more or less, re-branding all this stuff, no one in the music store had any idea what was supposed to be going on with this or why there were so many weird models out there and why were none of them what Eric Clapton played and was that one fucking some kind of plastic?

Long story short, they tanked.

But, good for me, because the Juskiewicz era Gibson was happy to say that the used guitars from the Norlin era were garbage, and why not? Their new guitars were competing most heavily against used Gibson guitars then same as now. And plenty of other people said so, also. I was raised to think that Norlin era Gibsons were garbage my whole life and I only found out about how good they are recently. I feel like an idiot for not snapping then up in the 90's when they were super cheap.

But I know now, so I'm going to get them. They're wonderful. My Marauder really was the proof of concept there, original pickups that appear on no other guitar, it has it's own sound. Great hardware on it, super playable necks. What's not to like?

Every time I see an article talking about how bad Norlins are I get a little happier.



*Actually the S-1 had the pickups all sealed up in epoxy, which was a Bill Lawrence trademark, as well as had a straight bar across so that you didn't lose note volume if you bent the string in between the pole pieces. The Challenger III and such were just normal single coil pickups, I misspoke there.

If you want to know more about the Norlin era, check out Scott Grove videos. I know, I know. But he knows his shit with these guitars, even better, he's a country player so he tends to play clean, which is where these guitars shine. Listen to that S-1 and tell me that's not a good sounding guitar.
So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy. Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life...

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:25 pm

Here's a thing I wouldn't be in a hurry to post typically but it does have my Marauder as the main guitar on it.

Although I think I play my Firebird on there also. There's another guitar. I'm not going to claim it's any incredible guitar sound or anything, you could get this sound out of any guitar. But it was fun. Bear in mind it's not like a finished song or mix or anything and I doubt it'll go any further than this, with the exception of I do end it up with a good old fashioned rave up (at 2:30) and I do always like that little technique, it's fun to end a song with more intensity than it started with.

There's also some bullshit at the end, so no need to listen much further.
So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy. Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life...

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by mbene085 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:27 pm

Wow, that was very educational. I've always shied away from most Gibson designs (except the Firebird), because I find both PAFs and P90s to be too mid-heavy. Your description of the trend in the Norlin years is intriguing, and I like small and narrow necks. I'll have to keep an eye out for something locally to try out.

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:32 pm

Well, watch out, most Norlins that I've seen don't really have small or narrow necks if you mean across the nut, but there are some that do. I forgot about my old SG that I had back in the day, hated that fucking thing, couldn't play it at all because of the narrow nut.

I see that I wrote "narrow" neck carve. I shouldn't have, I should have written "shallow" or "flat", probably.

I wish I had never sold that SG, though. I think I bought a fucking Carvin with the money.

Actually, this Challenger is pretty much approaching modern Gibson more than Norlin. There's no neck volute in '83, not on here, anyway. There is one on my '81 Sonex.

This Challenger feels much more Juskiewicz era than anything else, still the flat and wide frets, though.
So you have to ask from mother, "Who is my father?" And if she says, "This gentleman is your father," then it is all right. It is easy. Otherwise, if you makes research, "Who is my father?" go on searching for life...

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by MrFingers » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:12 am

It's absolutely hideous... I love it! Almost as quirky as the Gibson 20/20

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Re: New guitar day- anybody want to guess?

Post by mbene085 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:34 pm

Ok, now you've done it. I found the Norlin oddball that calls out to me.

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It's those insane V-shaped pickups with the split coils, along with my fascination-from-afar with flying V's in general. I have an obsession with Electric XII/Z-coils/any split-coil design that cancels hum but sounds like a single coil (even if it's hidden).

These pickups look like they're upset about something.

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