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Transition year guitars '16-'17


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Curious what your take is with the guitars from '16-'17 when the company sold, but before all the changes (facility clean up, plekking, employee turnover, etc.) were made. 

 

I have a 2011 and a 2018 which are both great.  Is there anything to worry about with these transition years?  Should they command the same price point as pre/post transition years?

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I have seen more consistency in the last few years.  PLEKing is a plus.

My opinion is that every year produced superb guitars.  Every year.  There were some average and below average guitars as well.  I evaluate each instrument on its own.

I hear people point to trends they identify about soldering, neck characteristics, finish quality, etc.  There are so many exceptions that if I were to buy an instrument, I'd not assume anything based on the year.

Humans like to think that there are good batches, runs or years in a lot of things, particularly guitars.  I would not trust that.  For example, I had a Super Eagle with P-90s that the pickup routing was skewed slightly.  Pete Moreno corrected it fairly easily.  I asked him how that could happen.  He told me that the guy who did the routing had a drinking problem.  There are many Heritages in which the tuners are not lined up exactly right or the stinger is off center.  These small defects have occurred for decades on otherwise perfect instruments.

No matter what my experience is, I'm sure I will read about what someone thinks is a bad or a good year.  I can't agree unless there is really strong evidence.

Regarding PLEKing, I like it.  The instrument will be adjusted to a certain tension of strings though.  Further, PLEKing is an attempt to mimic good filing and leveling based on what a skilled luthier would do.  There is math and physics involved, for sure.  You can get the job done by hand or by machine.  I'd opt for the latter from a factory build.

My two cents.

  

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I have 2 transition Heritages.  
 

535 custom and a Millennium DC

Keep in mind, neither one of them were retail store instruments.   But both are great players and both have great tone.   

A06D254C-CF54-4597-AD56-E581CAB49595.jpeg

2FF2DC24-CA9F-4D61-8710-021DD3607DFB.jpeg

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My somewhat limited experience is as follows:

I have a custom-order 2017 H-555 from new, and it plays and sounds great. The build quality is excellent; the nut is perfectly cut, the ebony board is smooth, no fret filing marks on the fingerboard, etc. 

I have only played one other transition-era model, and that was a 2017 H-150. I didn't buy it (I had three great LP-type guitars at the time), but it was very well made, and played very nicely.

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Most of the instruments I played leading up to the transition had badly cut nuts, but other than that, they seemed pretty well made. Lately I've been practicing cutting nuts, and for the life of me, I can't see how a company can't get this down to a high quality repeatable procedure. It's a fairly straight forward job.

 

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4 hours ago, rockabilly69 said:

Most of the instruments I played leading up to the transition had badly cut nuts, but other than that, they seemed pretty well made. Lately I've been practicing cutting nuts, and for the life of me, I can't see how a company can't get this down to a high quality repeatable procedure. It's a fairly straight forward job.

 

I have to agree with you.  I learned to file slots on nuts and bridges along with doing a setup.  I found this to be a useful skill with other brands too.  But Heritage seemed to nearly always benefit from this.  

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59 minutes ago, MartyGrass said:

I have to agree with you.  I learned to file slots on nuts and bridges along with doing a setup.  I found this to be a useful skill with other brands too.  But Heritage seemed to nearly always benefit from this.  

It just saves so much time when you don't have to bring the guitar to a tech/luthier to do this. Many new guitars come with a "safe" nut height that allows for a buzz free action, but they are typically a bit high, and when you fret a note at the first three frets you seem them going sharp on your tuner!

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That is so true.  When I adjust bridge height and the truss rod tension, I often have to put a capo at the first fret to eliminate the nut slotting factor.  I then file the slots down.  The hardest part of doing that is to not take too much off.  Often you do a little, replace and tighten the string, assess, remove the string then take a little more off.  Getting the nut slots cut right for the strings you use does make a big difference.

Some of the wooden bridge saddles are not 12" arcs.  Usually its the middle string slots that need to come down for more even action.

I don't think any of this is bad to have to do.  There is a book called the Zen of Motorcycle Repair.  There an involved true story in that book, but an important difference discussed in the book is that some riders let a mechanic handle the problems and adjustments of the bike while others believe a good rider needs to know how to fix his bike.  There are two types of motorcyclists.  The philosophical difference is important among the characters.  To a degree I believe it's true with guitars.  It's good to be able to do so work on the guitar to make a deeper connection with that instrument.

Maybe that's woo-woo, but it's good woo-woo.

 

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I appreciate all the responses so far,  and while I definitely agree with @MartyGrass about good vs bad years being somewhat man-created myths we tell ourselves I am also aware that in any business there are tangible reasons behind changes that are deployed.  These reasons are often surrounded by the product being created just before the changes are implemented; hence, my hesitancy for the transition-era guitars.

 

It seems from the responses that I shouldn't be overly concerned.  And, per usual, the try before you buy adage reigns supreme.

 

I was kinda hoping you all would tell me to stay away.  My wife and wallet would be happier with that advice...

 

 

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30 minutes ago, SeattleMI said:

"I appreciate all the responses so far,  and while I definitely agree with @MartyGrass about good vs bad years..."

He is right on the mark with his comments.  Most guitars, no matter what year, came out of 225 Parsons in playable condition.  I never had that type of nut problem but I tweak most guitars after I get them.  I would buy any  year Heritage and not be worried about it.  The older ones are just as good as the new ones. 

My first Heritage was a black H-150.  I think it was a '89.  It had the older cut away.  I ordered the guitar and they had it in stock.  They told my dealer they had built two of these guitars because Roy Clark wanted one and they gave him two to choose from.  I got the other.  One night I saw him playing it on Hee Haw.  I doubt Roy Clark would buy a brand of shit guitars.  He had a few Heritages.  Here is my guitar with me wearing a jacket I found in the dumpster.  That guitar has heavy!

black-150.jpg

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Roy Clark was one of the best guitarists ever.  He would not take crap guitars.  May he rest in peace.  Ren Wall worked on Roy's personal instruments, at least one solid body, two different styles of his namesake hollow/semi-hollows, and probably more.  Apparently he was quite a character, according to Marv Lamb.

Here he is playing a difficult piece.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxDQQDF6j0Y

Here he's playing the same thing on the TV set of The Odd Couple.  There's nowhere to hide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xssnp7R51A

Lastly, here he is playing his Heritage Roy Clark with the master Joe Pass.  That Roy Clark model didn't get the attention it deserved IMO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoRq1JAwHJg

 

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On 4/3/2021 at 9:58 PM, MartyGrass said:

Regarding PLEKing, I like it.  The instrument will be adjusted to a certain tension of strings though.  Further, PLEKing is an attempt to mimic good filing and leveling based on what a skilled luthier would do.  There is math and physics involved, for sure.  You can get the job done by hand or by machine.  I'd opt for the latter from a factory build

  

I am actually about to have my first PLEK job. It took me years to find a luthier I felt I could trust with my guitars when my normal guy moved. That's sort of the thing. PLEK, like a hand file, is just a tool that's only as helpful as the person using it. I remember when CNC was a bad word. ...until people found out that PRS did it. They'll be doing my Fender and incoming Gibbons first. If they do a good job on those, they'll get their hands on my Heritage H575 and my vintage Gibbons and Gretsch. 

Edited by barrymclark
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11 minutes ago, barrymclark said:

I am actually about to have my first PLEK job. It took me years to find a luthier I felt I could trust with my guitars when my normal guy moved. That's sort of the thing. PLEK, like a hand file, is just a tool that's only as helpful as the person using it. I remember when CNC was a bad word. ...until people found out that PRS did it. They'll be doing my Fender and incoming Gibbons first. If they do a good job on those, they'll get their hands on my Heritage H575 and my vintage Gibbons and Gretsch. 

Barry,

 Can I ask who in Atlanta you feel comfortable with?

Last plex I did required a trip to Nashville / Joe Glaser, 500 mile round trip. 

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Mr. Clark I have had all of my guitars pLeKed at The Guitar Gallery in Highland Park Illinois and they all turned out Fab. Some were Heritage and some were Fender Custom Shop. The exception was the last Heritage guitar I bought, the Millie Super light, which was pLeKed at Heritage and it also turned out Fab.

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11 hours ago, SeattleMI said:

@High Flying Bird I think what I like best about that picture is the Natty Light hanging casually about your head.

 

I'm sure that was the only one consumed that evening. Lol

Yes, the only one... the only first one any way.

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On 4/4/2021 at 8:37 PM, MartyGrass said:

That is so true.  When I adjust bridge height and the truss rod tension, I often have to put a capo at the first fret to eliminate the nut slotting factor.  I then file the slots down.  The hardest part of doing that is to not take too much off.  Often you do a little, replace and tighten the string, assess, remove the string then take a little more off.  Getting the nut slots cut right for the strings you use does make a big difference.

Some of the wooden bridge saddles are not 12" arcs.  Usually its the middle string slots that need to come down for more even action.

I don't think any of this is bad to have to do.  There is a book called the Zen of Motorcycle Repair.  There an involved true story in that book, but an important difference discussed in the book is that some riders let a mechanic handle the problems and adjustments of the bike while others believe a good rider needs to know how to fix his bike.  There are two types of motorcyclists.  The philosophical difference is important among the characters.  To a degree I believe it's true with guitars.  It's good to be able to do so work on the guitar to make a deeper connection with that instrument.

Maybe that's woo-woo, but it's good woo-woo.

 

I loved that book! And yes, the connection is so much deeper when you work on them yourself. And when you get good at it, you wind up with a great playing guitar!!!

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On 4/5/2021 at 7:22 AM, MartyGrass said:

Roy Clark was one of the best guitarists ever.  He would not take crap guitars.  May he rest in peace.  Ren Wall worked on Roy's personal instruments, at least one solid body, two different styles of his namesake hollow/semi-hollows, and probably more.  Apparently he was quite a character, according to Marv Lamb.

 

Katy told me Roy was at the factory having a guitar worked on and Roy heard it was her grandmother's birthday.  He called her up and played and sang a few songs for her. 

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On 4/5/2021 at 9:10 AM, Spectrum13 said:

Barry,

 Can I ask who in Atlanta you feel comfortable with?

Last plex I did required a trip to Nashville / Joe Glaser, 500 mile round trip. 

I can't say I feel comfortable with them yet but so far I like them. This is Righteous Guitars in Alpharetta. Of course, the real proof is when the guitar is done. There's a 5 week waitlist so it isn't until early May when I take the guitar in. Before that, not this weekend but next, I am going up there to visit them with my Tele. Have them watch me play. Talk to them about what I am after. Play some of their guitars that have varying setups in the neighborhood of what I am after, and pick one. I was very happy that they were willing to accommodate my process. lol. So far, so good.

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1 hour ago, barrymclark said:

I can't say I feel comfortable with them yet but so far I like them. This is Righteous Guitars in Alpharetta. Of course, the real proof is when the guitar is done. There's a 5 week waitlist so it isn't until early May when I take the guitar in. Before that, not this weekend but next, I am going up there to visit them with my Tele. Have them watch me play. Talk to them about what I am after. Play some of their guitars that have varying setups in the neighborhood of what I am after, and pick one. I was very happy that they were willing to accommodate my process. lol. So far, so good.

Thanks Barry!   Must check them out after lockdown.  They are a Heritage dealer, who knew.

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Oddly, in Kalamazoo there's only one place to PLEK, and they aren't doing it for the public.

Ann Arbor Guitars has an excellent reputation.  They do the filing, leveling and polishing by hand.  One of the luthiers there, who's been doing this a long time, said that the PLEK machine requires someone very skilled to run it.  The luthiers at Ann Arbor Guitars believe they can match or exceed what a decent PLEK job gives.  Plus they can do more, like adjust the bridge height and cut the slots.

Elderly Instruments also has skilled luthiers.

I'm not against PLEKing.  In fact I've had great results.  But I've also had great results from Aaron Cowles and Pete Moreno.  The nice thing for those who can make it to Ann Arbor (you already missed the hash bash https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2021/03/ann-arbors-50th-hash-bash-will-be-virtual-but-smoke-in-protest-planned.html), they will do the job in four hours by appointment.

http://www.annarborguitars.com/

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