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2021 HERITAGE CUSTOM CORE H150....DEEP THOUGHTS


brentrocks
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I was fortunate to find this 2021 Custom Core H150 used....I'm so glad i did.   I have gone through this guitar inside and out...played it plugged and unplugged, and I'm going to give you my honest and complete review of this new model from the Heritage Custom Shop.

PRESENTATION...

I was impressed with Heritage's attempt to make this a "special" model.   The case is VERY nice and heavy duty.  The bound certificate is a nice touch as well.   I also found the CS keychain a nice touch.   A lot of these pleasantries, somewhat mirror the Gibson CS...like the sticker on the pick guard....but considering that this model is going head to head with the Gibson CS R9, I can see the reasoning.    

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FIT AND FINISH...

I have to say this was the most surprising part of this guitar, to me.    The finish on the guitar is like a lightly aged/overly polish swirled....I would call it a close comparison to the VOS finish on CS Les Pauls.   Its gloss...but not completely gloss.   It caught me off guard...I was expecting a super glossy, super shiny finish.   Nicely aged binding...looks like smoky bar binding.   All of the routes, holes, attached pieces and parts all fit right and look great.   Neck joint and neck pitch are perfect.  The bone nut is cut perfectly!

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PARTS AND ELECTRONICS....

From what I'm seeing, it look like Heritage used all premium parts on these CC 150s.   CTS pots, Orange drop caps, Switchcraft toggle and jack, Tonepros bridge, lightweight aluminum tailpiece and all vintage style braided wiring.   I'm not sure what band the HERITAGE stamped tuners are...they seem to be ok, although, the D and G tuner nuts are striped out on my guitar (wont tighten down to the headstock) I'll have to email Heritage and see if they will send me a couple replacements.  

 

THE WOODS...

Typical LP construction.   One piece mahogany body and neck.  Highly figured maple top.   Rosewood fretboard with mother of pearl traps.   The headstock has an inlaid veneer with the Heritage logo.   I cant believe how light this guitar is!!!!  Just under 8 1/2 lbs!   Its lighter than my 2020 H150 Standard.

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NECK CARVE....

Heritage really nailed the necks on these!  Its a rounded C shape which measures .895 at the first fret and .982 at the 12th fret with a moderate amount of shoulder.   Not baseball bat-ish.  I find it very comfortable...its very similar to the neck on my 2017 Heritage 535 custom.

 

SETUP AND PLAYABILITY...

This H150 is PLEKed...all new Heritages are now.   So, I was expecting a low action with minimal neck relief.   Well, I got it!!!   I use 10-46 gauge strings.  The Custom Core 150 sets up with a super low action which makes it play like butter all the way up the neck!!   Almost effortless chording and wonderful sustain.   

 

TONE....

Heritage is putting their own 225 Parson Street Pickups in these Custom Core models.   I'm not sure who winds these...I'm guessing someone in the Kalamazoo local?  The 225 pickups remind me of a cross between a CS Duncan 59 and Seth Lover.  The Bridge pickup tone is crisp and articulate.   Great note definition.  Not ice-picky.  The neck pickups tone is very warm and creamy.  Also very articulate.  Very fat when pushed with some moderate OD.   Overall, I feel the tone of this guitar is right up there with some of the best Les Pauls I have owned.  I'm probably gonna try some different pickups in it, just because, thats what i do...lol.   But out of the box....The Custom Core H150 sounds fantastic!

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PUTTING A BOW ON IT....

I can honestly say I'm very impressed with what Heritage has done with the Custom Core H150.  Heritage has shown, with this model that they can play with the big boys.   I'm not out to start a HERITAGE VS GIBSON DEBATE....NO!!!   Its all personal preference.  You want a CS Gibby, buy a Gibby.   You want a Kalamazoo made CS LP...buy the Heritage....its that simple!!!   I honestly think the Custom Core H150 and the Gibby Custom Shop R9 are of equaly quality and playability.  (i know im gonna catch a lot of flack for that statement)  The street price on the Custom Core H150 (non artisan aged) is $3799.   Artisan Aged $4299.  If you are looking for a top shelf Les Paul, made in Kalamazoo, Michigan....the Heritage Custom Core H150 is your guitar!!!

 

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Excellent review, Brent. 

Interesting that you compare it to a Gibson R9.  They retail for around $6k - up.  Yikes!!

Comparing the top of the line Heritage Custom Core street price of $3,799 makes it even more desirable.

 

Oh, and one more thing......Dibbs!  :laughing7:

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Great review

I'd prefer a wooden pickguard like the old days, but otherwise that axe is outstanding!!

Careful with that axe, Brent!! :)

Edited by bolero
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In my humble opinion, (with the exception of Heritage not using real Mother of Pearl inlay anymore) THAT is exactly how a Heritage H150 SHOULD be made. What I don't currently understand (to compare Heritage against Heritage) is what is the difference between a $2499.00 H150 and a $3799.00 H150? A standard H150 versus a Custom Core H150, and does that justify the cost difference? In other words, why aren't they ALL Custom Core models? What's the big difference?

 

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26 minutes ago, HANGAR18 said:

In my humble opinion, (with the exception of Heritage not using real Mother of Pearl inlay anymore) THAT is exactly how a Heritage H150 SHOULD be made. What I don't currently understand (to compare Heritage against Heritage) is what is the difference between a $2499.00 H150 and a $3799.00 H150? A standard H150 versus a Custom Core H150, and does that justify the cost difference? In other words, why aren't they ALL Custom Core models? What's the big difference?

 

Apologies for not having written more extensively on my Custom Core 150.  I just haven't been free to.  But rest assured, Brent, who's had more Heritage guitars pass through his hands than any five of us, has rendered a spot-on appraisal.  As I said, I don't have time to address the differences between, for example, my '06 20th Anniversary and the Custom core.  For example:  There is no measurable dimension on the CC headstock that's the same as on the 20th Ann (or my '96 535).  Jack placement is completely different (much lower on the bout of the CC).  the cutaways are different, the CC's being shallower, with a more relaxed radius.  The heel on the CC is much more robust than that of the 20th Ann.  I could go on.  They are not the same guitar.  The attention to aggregate details (fit and finish everywhere) on the CC, as Brent alluded, results in a superior instrument, and I've owned $6K Custom Shops.  I suspect Edwin Wilson and Pete Farmer got together and, with their vast experience, decided how they wanted to dot every minute "i" and cross every little "t" on the Custom Cores to make the very best Les Paul type guitar they could conjure.  Sure enough did!   

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1 hour ago, yoslate said:

Apologies for not having written more extensively on my Custom Core 150.  I just haven't been free to.  But rest assured, Brent, who's had more Heritage guitars pass through his hands than any five of us, has rendered a spot-on appraisal.  As I said, I don't have time to address the differences between, for example, my '06 20th Anniversary and the Custom core.  For example:  There is no measurable dimension on the CC headstock that's the same as on the 20th Ann (or my '96 535).  Jack placement is completely different (much lower on the bout of the CC).  the cutaways are different, the CC's being shallower, with a more relaxed radius.  The heel on the CC is much more robust than that of the 20th Ann.  I could go on.  They are not the same guitar.  The attention to aggregate details (fit and finish everywhere) on the CC, as Brent alluded, results in a superior instrument, and I've owned $6K Custom Shops.  I suspect Edwin Wilson and Pete Farmer got together and, with their vast experience, decided how they wanted to dot every minute "i" and cross every little "t" on the Custom Cores to make the very best Les Paul type guitar they could conjure.  Sure enough did!   

I wonder do the Custom Core models sport the tube around the truss-rod, and tite-bond instead of hide glue in the neck joint and the fingerboard. I ask that because I think Les Pauls started sounding consistently better since those changes. What are the bridge and tailpiece metals (and studs)? Those would be things that I would do while going about dotting i's and crossing t's. Also I would use less plasticized lacquer while shooting new finishes. I'm not a reli'c fan, but I also don't like rubbery finishes. I would like to see a nice non-aged custom core gloss finish. I know some people like the satin look of the custom cores but I like gloss.

That said, I personally like the changes in the Custom Core, I love the headstock shape, the pickups are sounding great from what I can tell, and that alone is a great move for Heritage. And I like that he's sourcing lighter weight mahogany for these guitars. H150s, more than not. are heavy guitars.

But I think they could have went further, Edwin Wilson knows how the originals were made, I'm sure his hands were a bit tied with by the bean counters at Gibbo, so I hope he allowed/encouraged to let it all out in the evolution of the custom core line, and I'm hoping they will move more and more towards the vintage spec guitars.

I think it would be great if standard H150 represent the best modern version of the LP, while the custom core gives us the vintage specs.

Edited by rockabilly69
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Rob brought up some great points that I overlooked.   The jack placement….I noticed it right away the first time I plugged in!!!

The heel.   Yes…much bigger!!

A $3800 price tag on the CC seems robust, but IMO, compared to the $6K+ cost of an R9, IMO, the CC is a much better option.  

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8 hours ago, rockabilly69 said:

II think it would be great if standard H150 represent the best modern version of the LP, while the custom core gives us the vintage specs.

That brings up a great point. I would LOVE to see a STUDIO version of the H150 model. Before I started buying Heritage guitars, I personally went through this Studio Model Phenomena (which I hear others go through too) where you have a perfectly great looking and great sounding Les Paul Studio model guitar, but then your brain thinks that you would do better to pay more money for a version of the Les Paul which has binding on it and then somehow you will be happier. So you sell the perfectly good Gibson Studio model (which has the same pickups in it that the Les Paul Custom Shop models use) and you buy a "higher end" Les Paul with body binding, only to discover that you don't like it as much as the Studio model you had.

In similar fashion, I used to look down my nose at guitars from those other guys which didn't have any body binding but cost a LOT more money. But then I started buying those fancy-pants lawyer guitars and then realized that I really didn't have a problem with buying a guitar without body binding AS LONG AS EVERYTHING ELSE WAS SPOT ON.

So, I see no reason why Heritage can't make a middle tier price point guitar like a H150 Studio model with their Custom Shop pickups in it.

Edited by HANGAR18
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ps I'd be careful to not load up the fingerboard with too much fingerboard treatment oil. I had a repair shop guy tell me once that he got a lot of repair jobs where too much oil caused the frets to lift out of place.

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4 hours ago, HANGAR18 said:

That brings up a great point. I would LOVE to see a STUDIO version of the H150 model. Before I started buying Heritage guitars, I personally went through this Studio Model Phenomena (which I hear others go through too) where you have a perfectly great looking and great sounding Les Paul Studio model guitar, but then your brain thinks that you would do better to pay more money for a version of the Les Paul which has binding on it and then somehow you will be happier. So you sell the perfectly good Gibson Studio model (which has the same pickups in it that the Les Paul Custom Shop models use) and you buy a "higher end" Les Paul with body binding, only to discover that you don't like it as much as the Studio model you had.

Ha! I went through the exact same thing. I had an incredible ‘06 Studio (pre weight relief) that was easily one of the very Les Pauls I’d ever had. Sold it cuz I just had to have a Standard. Sure regret that move, as I still think about that Studio model a lot.

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9 hours ago, HANGAR18 said:

That brings up a great point. I would LOVE to see a STUDIO version of the H150 model. Before I started buying Heritage guitars, I personally went through this Studio Model Phenomena (which I hear others go through too) where you have a perfectly great looking and great sounding Les Paul Studio model guitar, but then your brain thinks that you would do better to pay more money for a version of the Les Paul which has binding on it and then somehow you will be happier. So you sell the perfectly good Gibson Studio model (which has the same pickups in it that the Les Paul Custom Shop models use) and you buy a "higher end" Les Paul with body binding, only to discover that you don't like it as much as the Studio model you had.

In similar fashion, I used to look down my nose at guitars from those other guys which didn't have any body binding but cost a LOT more money. But then I started buying those fancy-pants lawyer guitars and then realized that I really didn't have a problem with buying a guitar without body binding AS LONG AS EVERYTHING ELSE WAS SPOT ON.

So, I see no reason why Heritage can't make a middle tier price point guitar like a H150 Studio model with their Custom Shop pickups in it.

A stripped down, lower priced Heritage 'Studio'?

What a great idea!!! 

The former H-140 was a slimmed down H-150, but still had body binding.  A no frills, but high quality version of either would sell in my opinion.

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11 hours ago, HANGAR18 said:

That brings up a great point. I would LOVE to see a STUDIO version of the H150 model. Before I started buying Heritage guitars, I personally went through this Studio Model Phenomena (which I hear others go through too) where you have a perfectly great looking and great sounding Les Paul Studio model guitar, but then your brain thinks that you would do better to pay more money for a version of the Les Paul which has binding on it and then somehow you will be happier. So you sell the perfectly good Gibson Studio model (which has the same pickups in it that the Les Paul Custom Shop models use) and you buy a "higher end" Les Paul with body binding, only to discover that you don't like it as much as the Studio model you had.

In similar fashion, I used to look down my nose at guitars from those other guys which didn't have any body binding but cost a LOT more money. But then I started buying those fancy-pants lawyer guitars and then realized that I really didn't have a problem with buying a guitar without body binding AS LONG AS EVERYTHING ELSE WAS SPOT ON.

So, I see no reason why Heritage can't make a middle tier price point guitar like a H150 Studio model with their Custom Shop pickups in it.

Like the old H150 P?

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I had a 150P for a bit. Fantastic guitar. It was beat to hell so I didn't care if I abused it a little more. Sadly, I had to sell it. I would really like to get that one back.

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1 hour ago, brentrocks said:

Like the old H150 P?

Maybe, but the H150P models had binding. Binding takes a HUGE amount of time & labor, boosting the monetary cost of production which then gets passed on to the guitar buyer. If Heritage could make a H150 without binding, and without sacrificing structural build quality, and compete with the Gibson Studio line, I think they would REALLY be on to something. (They should contact me for some production cost savings ideas for a Heritage Studio model line. Seriously.)

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18 hours ago, HANGAR18 said:

That brings up a great point. I would LOVE to see a STUDIO version of the H150 model. Before I started buying Heritage guitars, I personally went through this Studio Model Phenomena (which I hear others go through too) where you have a perfectly great looking and great sounding Les Paul Studio model guitar, but then your brain thinks that you would do better to pay more money for a version of the Les Paul which has binding on it and then somehow you will be happier. So you sell the perfectly good Gibson Studio model (which has the same pickups in it that the Les Paul Custom Shop models use) and you buy a "higher end" Les Paul with body binding, only to discover that you don't like it as much as the Studio model you had.

In similar fashion, I used to look down my nose at guitars from those other guys which didn't have any body binding but cost a LOT more money. But then I started buying those fancy-pants lawyer guitars and then realized that I really didn't have a problem with buying a guitar without body binding AS LONG AS EVERYTHING ELSE WAS SPOT ON.

So, I see no reason why Heritage can't make a middle tier price point guitar like a H150 Studio model with their Custom Shop pickups in it.

First off a studio with custom shop pickups still has the crap rocker joint instead of a proper neck joint, and most had weight relief, also they had nashville bridges and heavyweight tailpieces, so I never found them to be particularly good guitars without modding. Not that there aren't some good studios out there,  but if I want a stripped down gib-son I'm buying a used historic junior or special. And the pickups in the studio line weren't the same that were in the historic line, most studios used the 490 498 pair which may be good for hard rocking, but for the vintage tone I like I find them muddy. Some used the burst buckers but were not the same as the custom shop versions, and studios NEVER used the custom-buckers which are in most of the historic models now, and are my absolute favorite Gibson pickup.

That said, I would like a stripped down H150, but I would more like to see a custom core with hide glue in the joints, no truss-rod sheath, a proper ABR, PIO caps  and kluson style tuners. It would cost them very little to add these specs, and I would think they could woo more Gib-son custom shop buyers to heritage! 

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Made a few small mods to it last night.  The Heritage tuners were crap and did not tighten down to the headstock very well. (2 of the 6 were stripped out) I’m a fan of locking tuners anyway.  


The 225 pickups were good, but I had a set of double cream THROBAK ER customs that I thought would be a good match for this guitar…I was right, they sound FABULOUS!!!


Also, I went with a traditional pick guard, poker chip and truss rod cover.   


…and a HRW switch tip as a little tip of the hat to the “good ol days” of Heritage.  


https://flic.kr/p/2mm7w2a

https://flic.kr/p/2mma6WS

https://flic.kr/p/2mmbfi5

https://flic.kr/p/2mm2npj

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