gear blog

This King Les Paul-shaped, dual-humbucker guitar isn’t simply shiny. It also plays well and sounds good enough to make it a keeper—and an eye-catching hit at jams.

A classic-shaped 6-string catch of the day.

I love unusual guitars. That's a given. And from my vantage point, there's no shortage of unusual guitars out there. Just when you think you've seen it all, one will surprise you. This guitar came up when I looked at a favorite seller's items on eBay. It's a Les Paul-shaped guitar made by King, a company I wasn't familiar with.

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With a P-90 in the neck position, this guitar built from a modified Squier Affinity body speaks a language blending Gibson and Fender.

When you find a guitar that’s been modified exactly how you like, buy it.

Every now and then I see a guitar that's been modified just the way I would do it, only better. This guitar was selling on eBay a few months ago. The seller was very up front about the fact that it actually was a Squier Affinity body and neck that he'd modified. For starters, the body has a handsome blonde butterscotch finish topped off with a cool-looking tortoiseshell pickguard. The neck pickup is an Epiphone P-90 measuring around 9k, and at the bridge is a hot Fender Mexican ceramic Tele pickup measuring 10k. The 3-way switch puts both pickups in hum-cancelling mode in the middle position, so this guy obviously knew his stuff. The seller also upgraded the capacitor with an orange drop .022 µF epoxy cap for smoother tone response. To top it off, he stuck a Fender Telecaster decal on the headstock (something I don't recommend), with plenty of layers of clear-coat finish to make it look really good.

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The potential sources of noise are both maddening and many—lying in wait along every step of the signal chain, and beyond.

Illustration by Philippe Herndon

In the real world, noise happens.

After being a player, tech, and “industry observer" for 30 years, one of the things I've come to grips with is the cyclical nature of trends. Shredding is in, then very much out, then back in but with an ironic smirk, then out again in purported service of the song or ideals of good taste, then back in again. The same back and forth could be said for big amps, skinny jeans, floating tremolos, offset guitars, dotted eighth-note delays, and a host of other aesthetic and sonic considerations.

Lately the trend on the upswing is concern about noise. With all those Jazzmasters and fuzz pedals on social media gear pages, I thought this was on the downslope, but the most prominent worry or concern we hear from customers is noise. Is this pedal supposed to be this noisy? Am I using this incorrectly? Why is this noisy with my rig?

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