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Comprehensive Guide to Different Years?


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Hello all,

I am not a Heritage owner but wish to be one. Played one of the newer Artisan Aged H-150s at Guitar Center and really liked everything about it, although I personally prefer unpotted pickups. It needs to be said that I absolutely LOVE the headstock and it's kind of a selling point for me!

I've been perusing the Used market for deals with certain criteria: lightweight, no pickguard preferable, and a more substantial neck profile.

Is there a reference anywhere online that roughly outlines what can be expected of a Heritage guitar of a particular year? For example, I've read that the earlier instruments (like from the 90s) are more inconsistent than newer ones. I also know of the walkout/firings of 2018... Are those pre-2018 instruments coveted for their craftsmanship? It seems like the current team is killing it too. I've also heard they're using CNC machines more. When did that start? I don't personally have any issue with that, just wondering about the details and net impact.

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I won't speculate on what might be expected from particular years, as, no matter what you hear, you'll find exceptions to someone's opinion.   

But I can comment on the CNC thing.....at the last PSP factory tour, it was made pretty clear that only the Harmony guitars built there used CNC-made parts.

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It was posted here that they are using the CNC to rough in necks.  I have trouble believing they shape Heritage necks by hand any longer.  Why would any company invest that much money in a machine and not utilize it.  Shaping necks is time consuming and expensive relative to a CNC.  They have the machine, tools and working knowledge to program the work.  The machine is right there in sequence with the build process.  Add the fact that they fired the talent with the experience to be efficient at shaping necks.  Simple logic has my BS meter ringing at full tilt.

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Steiner, my CNC comment relates to the last PSP, which was in the summer of 2019, so their methods may well have changed since then.  So maybe not BS, just outdated information.

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46 minutes ago, Steiner said:

It was posted here that they are using the CNC to rough in necks.  I have trouble believing they shape Heritage necks by hand any longer.  Why would any company invest that much money in a machine and not utilize it.  Shaping necks is time consuming and expensive relative to a CNC.  They have the machine, tools and working knowledge to program the work.  The machine is right there in sequence with the build process.  Add the fact that they fired the talent with the experience to be efficient at shaping necks.  Simple logic has my BS meter ringing at full tilt.

CNC would certainly take out any inconsistencies in neck shaping! Still, back in the day, it was a marvel to watch Marv hand roll a neck!

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25 minutes ago, LK155 said:

Steiner, my CNC comment relates to the last PSP, which was in the summer of 2019, so their methods may well have changed since then.  So maybe not BS, just outdated information.

I too heard what was said.  I also noticed perfect smoke ring farts immediately following...

I'm not disputing your memory; 'tis impeccable my good man!  What I dispute is that I didn't see an area carved out in floorspace to hand produce the sufficient volume of necks.  Things that make me go hmmmmm...

 

14 minutes ago, ElNumero said:

CNC would certainly take out any inconsistencies in neck shaping! Still, back in the day, it was a marvel to watch Marv hand roll a neck!

There's a LOT to be appreciated about the woodworker/wood interaction!

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4 hours ago, LK155 said:

I won't speculate on what might be expected from particular years, as, no matter what you hear, you'll find exceptions to someone's opinion.   

But I can comment on the CNC thing.....at the last PSP factory tour, it was made pretty clear that only the Harmony guitars built there used CNC-made parts.

This is true until recently. They are using CNCs on their new Custom Core models. I saw one in person the other day. I'm excited about them!

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The good news is that there will be consistency in the necks.  They may make several styles of necks, but each in that given style would be basically the same.  That's the Gibbons, Fender, G&L way.  The harsher news is that the days of ordering a custom roll seem gone, and there probably will no longer be any point in trying out several H-150s from the same year to decide which neck you like best.

Not long ago playing Heritages was like going to a barbeque festival.  Each meal had it's own special sauce and preparation recipe.  Some were better than others and none were identical.

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To go back to the original post....

One thing that in consistent from before 2016... .NOTHING Heritage made was consistent since everything was hand-made.  Every guitar was built to order, essentially, all were custom shop guitars. This includes neck shaping.

Quality is debatable here, mostly because the methods used and the environment they were produced in varied week to week, month to month year to year.  Between different builders and their individual interpretations of look/feel mixed in with the lack of climate/humidity controls, Quality varied.

Now if you're like me and love the larger heck profiles, nearly all from the 80's through the 90's are rather thin, D-shaped.  There are exceptions, but the neck profiles changed with the market tastes, in the past 10 years, the necks have been thicker.  Safe to assume older Heritages will be thinner.

I prefer the newer stuff.  But I have been able to cope, if not enjoy, playing some of the thinner, rounded neck shapes.

As far as CNC's go, its not surprising, as they have been producing CNC built Harmony guitars since the name-brand was acquired.  I find it a bit disappointing, but to get necks to feel exactly the same build to build, CNC is a must.

 

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1 hour ago, DetroitBlues said:

To go back to the original post....

One thing that in consistent from before 2016... .NOTHING Heritage made was consistent since everything was hand-made.  Every guitar was built to order, essentially, all were custom shop guitars. This includes neck shaping.

Quality is debatable here, mostly because the methods used and the environment they were produced in varied week to week, month to month year to year.  Between different builders and their individual interpretations of look/feel mixed in with the lack of climate/humidity controls, Quality varied.

Now if you're like me and love the larger heck profiles, nearly all from the 80's through the 90's are rather thin, D-shaped.  There are exceptions, but the neck profiles changed with the market tastes, in the past 10 years, the necks have been thicker.  Safe to assume older Heritages will be thinner.

I prefer the newer stuff.  But I have been able to cope, if not enjoy, playing some of the thinner, rounded neck shapes.

As far as CNC's go, its not surprising, as they have been producing CNC built Harmony guitars since the name-brand was acquired.  I find it a bit disappointing, but to get necks to feel exactly the same build to build, CNC is a must.

 

Interesting!

I got a chance to play a 90s 535 next to some new ones, and indeed the neck was considerably slimmer.

A seller on Reverb has two H150s, a 2014 and a 2017. Unfortunately he’s not returning my messages for more info.

The 2014 one is listed at 8 lbs 3 oz, so I’m tempted to just jump on it.

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I don't want to start this debate again, but......

-I have owned over 14 Heritage guitars, all before 2010.   

-I have played many of the newer ownership Heritage guitars made since 2016.

-I am not going to tell you which are better, because I certainly can't tell.  Each guitar is unique to it's self. 

But I will give this advice... If you listen to many here that have NEVER played a newer ownership Heritage but claim the quality control is universally better than pre-2016 Heritages.... you are doing yourself a disservice.  Judge each Heritage on it's own merit and let yourself be the judge.  

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16 hours ago, Kuz said:

I don't want to start this debate again, but......

-I have owned over 14 Heritage guitars, all before 2010.   

-I have played many of the newer ownership Heritage guitars made since 2016.

-I am not going to tell you which are better, because I certainly can't tell.  Each guitar is unique to it's self. 

But I will give this advice... If you listen to many here that have NEVER played a newer ownership Heritage but claim the quality control is universally better than pre-2016 Heritages.... you are doing yourself a disservice.  Judge each Heritage on it's own merit and let yourself be the judge.  

I agree.  Well said.

The older days were more interesting because, well, the guitars were like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get until you play it.  And that's the truth.

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On 11/20/2020 at 9:12 AM, MartyGrass said:

I agree.  Well said.

The older days were more interesting because, well, the guitars were like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get until you play it.  And that's the truth.

That's great a long as you don't get the one with the raspberry nougat center!

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