twelfth fret

Fender Stratocaster Diamond Dealer 40th Anniversary Model Limited Edition. This beautiful guitar is 1 of just 150 made by the Fender Custom Shop in 1994 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster which was launched in 1954. The gold-plated pickguard is hand engraved with scroll work and ‘1954 -1994 40th Anniversary Stratocaster. It has a highly Flamed 2-piece bookmatched maple top in 2 tone Sunburst on a light weight swamp ash body. The soft V shaped neck is highly figured birds eye maple with gold leaf ‘Fender’ and ‘40th’ logos on the headstock. The fingerboard is made from highly figured birds eye maple with ‘1954 -1994’ banner inlay at the twelfth fret. This guitar is fitted with Custom ’50s Pickups and the accessories include the Diamond Custom Shop Ring, SKB Flight Case and Custom Shop Tweed Gigbag. 

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2009 Epiphone 1962 Wilshire USA Reissue.

I have been waiting for one of these for 3 years.  If you have the patience to scroll backward through my archive to the summer of 2011 you will see I posted a shot of one of these guitars that was being sold at The Twelfth Fret in Toronto.  At the time I didn’t know too much about Epiphone electric guitar models (I mean “real” Epi models - the ones they had before Epi became Gibson’s budget brand making cheaper versions of Les Pauls and SGs!) and I was intrigued by it.  But, as you can see in that post from over 3 years ago, the price was around $1800…which I thought, not knowing Epi as anything other than the aforementioned budget brand for Gibson models, was WAY too expensive.  I went home and Googled it, and fell in love…but by the time I got back to the shop, it had been sold.  

Fast forward to October 2014, and I FINALLY found one (and one that was not stupidly overpriced either!) on a trip to New York, and I am happy to report that it is everything I hoped it would be.  It’s under 7 lbs, and is loud and resonant, even unplugged.  And it has the most sustain of any guitar I have ever owned.  It was worth every penny…all 260,000 of them!  ;)

PS:  Here is the photo I took at The Twelfth Fret waaaaay back in 2011.  It seems that my photographic skills have improved over the last 3 years…I wish my playing had improved that much also.  ;)

Now it’s time to play “VoV?”

What’s VoV?  It means “VOS or Vintage” and it’s the exciting new TV game show that’s sweeping the nation. Kind of like “Numberwang”.  

The object is to look at a photograph of a guitar and using your guitar-looking skills, determine if the instrument is a real vintage guitar or a cleverly deceptive reproduction (aka “VOS”).

First up:  This lovely Gibson ES-335.  

The evidence:  

Hmm, let’s see.  It might be Mid-60s?  With the block inlays, pre-1968 style knobs and nylon saddles.  

So what do you say?  VOS or Vintage?

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I am more of a 6 string guy, but every now and then I like to get bass-y with it.  Some good from a recent trip to The Twelfth Fret, Toronto:

  1. 1964 Fender Precision bass.  Wow.  Makes me want to raise about $7,000, buy this thing, and learn to play bass properly!
  2. ‘64 P-Bass
  3. Headstock on the '64 P-Bass.  The logo is interesting…it’s sort of like the “transition” logo, but it’s silver instead of gold.  The only other place i have seen this logo (or one much like it) is on my 1987 and 1988 American Standard Stratocasters.  
  4. Rickenbacker 4001?  4003?  4005?  4000103u323ubr?  (I know next to nothing about Ricky basses, so apologies that I cant tell you what it is!)  :\
  5. Lefty Rickenbacker 4001?  4003?  4005?  4000103u323ubr?  (I know next to nothing about Ricky basses, so apologies that I cant tell you what it is!)  :\
  6. Jetglo Ric 4000-and-something (reprise)
  7. Fireglo Ric 4000-and-something (reprise)
  8. Hofner Union Jack bass with jetglo Ricky
  9. Hofner UJB (reprise)
  10. More Ricky!  They should make a green guitar and call it the “Lime Ricky”.  Just a thought.
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Some shots from my last trip to The Twelfth Fret, one of Toronto’s best used and vintage guitar shops:

  1. There’s a lot in this photo, but let me draw your attention to the 1952 Les Paul gold top on the right.
  2. 1972 Gibson ES-345
  3. A couple of pretty lefty Les Pauls.  At left is a rare and pretty 1970s Gibson L5S
  4. 1968 Fender Telecaster (right) and a 1961-ish Stratocaster behind it.
  5. 1961-ish Stratocaster - note the sunburst doesn’t have much yellow in the area above the pick guard
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Back to bass-ics.

Various basses I have seen in my travels lately.

  • Brand new Rickenbacker at Long & McQuade, Burlington, Canada
  • New Gibson Es semi hollow bass, also at Long & McQuade in Burlington.
  • 1973(?) Fender Mustang Bass, at The Twelfth Fret Guitarists Pro Shop, Toronto Canada
  • Hofner Union Jack Violin Bass, also at The Twelfth Fret, Toronto
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Guitar shooping in Toronto at The Twelfth Fret, on Danforth Ave. just east of Woodbine:

  1. Brand new Gibson Custom ES-335 in a lovely light blue finish with plenty o’ figuring.  To the right is a nicely preserved 1970 ES-335.  Ironically, the vintage guitar is several hundred dollars LESS than the new one.  What’s wrong with that picture??  :\
  2. I didn’t get the memo, but apparently it was 1930s vintage Gibson archtop and flattop tenor guitar day at the shop!
  3. Very nice 1970/71 ES-335 in walnut.  The most “70s” of all Gibson finishes (even though it was introduced in the late 60s…)
  4. Incredible vintage Gibson Byrdland.  I believe it was a ‘59.  I did not ask the price because I did not have my heart medication with me!  :D
  5. The least expensive guitar in this set.  Not vintage, but I would not refuse it if you bought it for me as a gift (hint hint…) 
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More shopping fun at the Twelfth Fret Toronto:

  1. 1979 Fender Stratocaster Lefty - I love the way the decal is applied.
  2. 1978 Fender Jazz Bass.  Under $2,000 CAD and really purdy!
  3. Gibson ES-339 and Silvertone Something-Or-Other (that’s not the model’s name…I just don’t remember what the name was!)
  4. Guitar shopping is tough, hot, sweaty work.  Time for a beer break!!  I only drink beer in small plastic shot glasses, BTW.  :D
  5. Here is a vintage Fender Bass VI in a new photographic technique I have cleverly named “upside down photography”.
  6. An antique shop in Toronto’s Distillery District,  Man I wish this was my home!
  7. The 1979 lefty Strat again.  Love the grain.
  8. Another look at the Silvertone “Whatchamacallit" 

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This is FUN! (Picture #2 confirms it).  

12th Fret, Toronto:

  1. Where do I even start?!?
  2. See?  Told you this was fun.
  3. 1952 LES PAUL!   You can’t get any better than this…with the possible exception of a 1954 Stratocaster…or a 1950 Broadcaster…or a 1959 Flying V…or a 1959 ES-335 (with the too-big pickguard…that’s how you know it’s an early one!)…or (for me anyway…) a white 1961 Les Paul (SG) Custom (without the sideways vibrato, if possible).  Some people might also suggest a 1959 ‘burst Les Paul.  I don’t have any fundamental argument with your choice - there’s no question about the importance of this particular instrument….it’s just too heavy (in weight I mean) for me!  ;)
  4. Maybe not as cool as a '52 Les Paul…but still very pretty.  And a LOT less expensive.
  5. 1995 Rickenbacker 360V64.
  6. An ancient Epiphone arch top.  I don’t know my pre-Gibson Epis very well…so not sure what it is.  Trivia question:  do you know why the company is called Epiphone?
  7. Looks like a house.  A house where they boil things.  Apparently.
  8. Greco.  Pretty.  Heavy.  
  9. Trussart Tele.  Expensive, but lovely.
  10. 1995 Rickenbacker 360V64.

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Guitar shopping this weekend at The Twelfth Fret in Toronto, Canada:

  1. 1969 Fender Telecaster.  Blonde with Bigsby.
  2. ‘69 Tele
  3. '69 Tele
  4. Toronto
  5. Lovely 1960 ES-175.  I believe they’re asking ~$4,000 for it, which I think is a pretty good deal.  I know what you want to ask:  does it have PAFs.  And I answer with “the price tag is $4500.  PAFs ON THEIR OWN are worth a thousand dollars each.  So, no, it does NOT have PAFs at that price!”.  But seriously, the store says the PAFs were swapped out in the late 60s sometime and replaced with some later Gibson humbuckers.  Still pretty cool - PAFs or no PAFs.
  6. See #5
  7. Yet ANOTHER high-rise condo is vomited up in downtown Toronto.
  8. Here is a new, but made several years ago (i.e. it has never been sold before, but it’s an old model) American Vintage Reissue '69 Telecaster Thinline in Olympic White.  I was sad they discontinued it.  Nice guitar.  The did a mahogany-bodied one too in sunburst.
  9. Ah, the ol’ 1976 Starcaster is STILL here.  It must be about a year now since it came.  I guess the Starcaster does not appeal to as many people as I assumed it would…but if there’s no demand for a “real” Starcaster - then why would Fender reissue them?!?  Fender Marketing can’t be that dumb!  They would have done primary market research before they went ahead and created an entirely new model…it costs a lot of money to tool up for a new model..the sales potential had better be there!  And yet, it doesn’t seem to be…at least here.
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At The Twelfth Fret, a vintage guitar shop in Toronto, Canada, here’s a couple of examples of when “mods go wrong”!  ;)

The SG is a 1967 SG Special.  It has been refinished in Polaris white.  and the neck has been carved down to make it more narrow.  As a result the binding is gone.   The pickups are original but the tuners and knobs are reproductions.

The Jazzmaster is a 1959.  It has been refinished, and I don’t know if any of the parts are original.  Worst of all though is that someone decided to cut a chunk out of the lower bout behind the input jack.  That is just painful.

As a result these guitars are relatively inexpensive.  the SG is selling for $1900 CAD, which is around $1500 USD.  I believe the JM was selling for around $3000 CAD, roughly $2250 USD.

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A visit to The 12th Fret in Toronto is always chock full of fun and loveliness!

  1. Rainy day on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.
  2. ES-335 satin finish…only $1500!  When was the last time you saw and ES-335 for that price?  Exactly: NEVER!
  3. Vintage (1960s I believe) ES-175
  4. Shopping for guitars always makes me hungry…
  5. 1930s Gibson Archtop
  6. 1920s Gibson Archtop!
  7. Late 50’s Les Paul Jr. TV!  I didn’t ask the price because knowing it would just serve to remind me how poor I am…  ;)
  8. Some new and lovely instruments including a couple of ES-330 VOS (one in natural and the other cherry), a fancy new ES-390 (super light too!), an recent CS-339…or CS-336…or…well anyway, one of them Gibsons what look like a 339, but have a ton more fanciness!  Oops…almost forgot the pelham blue Firebird reissue!

1958 Gibson ES-335 At Twelfth Fret Toronto today. Wow. First year. Wow. Unbound neck…which apparently only happened for a short time on the very earliest models . WOW. I am standing in the presence of history…one of the very first “semi hollow” guitars ever made. One of the first “thinline” semi hollow guitars ever made. WOW.

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At the Twelfth Fret Toronto - another incredible vintage guitar.  This time a beautiful 1955 Stratocaster.  Original except for replaced pickguard and (possibly) knobs.  I only have one word to describe it: “wow”.  No wait, I have more than one word:   “Holy living sh*t on a stick, wow”

PS:  I believe the BMW bike in front of the store belongs to the owner.  It looks vintage too, but probably not as vintage as the Stratocaster!  ;)