Agent 99: The 1999 Custom Shop '61 Les Paul Reissue.

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by SG Champagne, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I had a crush on the following lady TV stars from my grade school years: Barbara Feldman, Elizabeth Montgomery, Sally Field, Anne Francis, Barbara Eden, Yvonne Craig, lee meriwether, Julie Newmar, Susan Oliver and many good looking women that appeared on Star Trek Original Series.
     
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  2. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Update on the status of my Agent 99.

    Agent 99 is resting comfortably at the Gibson Restoration and Repair shop in Nashville, TN. I sent her there because I was very annoyed when I discovered that my 1979 SG Standard with Schaller "harmonica" bridge held tuning and intonation exponentially better than my 1999 Custom Shop guitar, Agent 99. Also, for some reason probably related to intonation issues, the original owner flipped the Tune o Matic bridge so that the intonation screws are facing the direction opposite of that which was installed by the factory.

    It won't be cheap to fix Agent 99 but, I believe that if the Gibson folks can't fix it to perfection, nobody can. I'm told that it will be at least two months before they can get to it due to backlog.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  3. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    well, I certainly hope the guys at the Factory can put this guitar right.
    I'd like to hear the continuing story when they get to it.
     
  4. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    How ashamed must they feel to know that a lowly NORLIN 1979 SG Standard was equipped with more durable tuning keys and bridge than the creme de la creme of Gibson -- a Custom Shop product? Surely they will fix up Agent 99 with a determination to retrieve their tarnished honor. To be bested by a NORLIN???? Their names will be changed to protect the guilty.

    :rofl:
     
  5. RedMastiff

    RedMastiff Active Member

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  6. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    well, there's no reason to believe that there's really anything wrong with the OPs guitar. His complaint, if I read it right, was that
    he needed to tune his guitar before and/or after each song. To me, that's normal and I am used to doing it with all my guitars
    not just my SG. Every guitar needs that IMHO. I just always do it, using a stomp tuner. I pick up my guitar, tune it, then stomp the
    pedal and I'm live. I do that before every song, in practice and onstage... acoustic or electric. There's nothing wrong with my guitars.

    There are so many reasons why any given guitar might seem unstable, most of which can be cured by a simple setup job done by a local luthier. If Gibson maintains a guitar shop, they will hopefully set the guitar up properly and that will solve the problem. It's worth it to have your guitar set up by someone who knows how.

    How many posts do we see on this forum where somebody new comes aboard wondering why their SG won't stay
    in tune? IMHO, most of these problems seem to be solved in the usual way. I'm hoping the OP's situation gets resolved
    just as easily.
     
  7. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Champ,,,,,,,,,,, go to Backstage,,,,,,,,, I am pretty sure you might find some nice posts in the Hot Chicks thread regarding at least a few of those fine ladies you mentioned.

    Not sure who Anne Francis, Julie Newmar or Susan Oliver are,,,,,, but I am quite familiar with the likes of Sally, Barb Eden and Feldman etc.

    Hope you enjoy.

    Now about your Norlin Custom Shop killer,,,,,,,,,,, Not all Norlins were Dogs,,,,,,,,,,,, just as not all Custom Shops are Rodin's Kiss
    Best of luck getting her sorted out at Gib
     
  8. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I have some thoughts about why a well-made Norlin guitar may, in some ways, be better than an expensive Custom Shop True Historic model. My main thought is that the Les Paul/SGs of 1961 to 1963 came with some characteristics that could be and WERE improved on in the next decade of Gibson: the Norlin decade.

    Why did Gibson start with volutes? Strengthened the neck where the headstock joins it. Why did Gibson switch to the Schaller Harmonica bridge? Better bridge than the Tune O Matic. The Tune O Matic design is flawed in some ways. String pressure bends it towards the fretboard. Doesn't offer optimal intonation. Not durable. What about tuning keys? Why did Gibson switch to Grovers? Well, I have Grovers from 1979 that work fine. I also have Agent 99 with those Tulip tuners and the Gibson repair shop informs me that they are failing and need replacement. Why did Gibson decide to use the Tarbacks? Well, the first humbuckers were not potted and many were not durable for that reason. Also the switch away from Alnico was because players wanted a hotter pickup, so, Gibson put a hotter ceramic Tarback in the next decade of Gibsons.

    Gibsons with True Historic features are great, but, these legendary Gibsons from the years of 1957 to 1967 indeed DID have design flaws and weaknesses in some of their components.

    I own two Gibsons and Agent 99 is in the shop, so, I have in my possession now only one Gibson. I would offer an important thought to consider for anyone in the market for a vintage SG or other Gibson. Don't be surprised if many of the parts on your recently acquired vintage Gibson needs many parts replaced. IMHO, this seems to be a characteristic of Gibsons.

    I cut my teeth on the 1979 Norlin Gibson SG Standard and a Fender Re issue of their 1952 Telecaster. The original Tele design was quite robust and not as delicate as the legendary Gibsons.

    But finally, I'm glad that Gibson is available to work on Agent 99. She deserves this special treatment at least once in her life.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  9. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    yes, and I sincerely hope that Gibson does right by you. I think they should.
    Are you listening Henry?

    Gibson should have paid staff reading this forum and
    that other one. Actually, they should pay me to do it. I'd set 'em straight.
    I'm actually not a Gibson basher, so I'm a good candidate for fairness
    and even handed discussion of issues.

    I'm literate and steady mostly. I'd read posts by our members with an open
    mind and make clear reports about what guitarists really want, and what they don't.

    Gibson has always struggled to know what guitarists really wanted. One of the reasons
    the '70s guitars had such a bad rap for so long was that when they were made, they weren't what
    guitarists wanted. Guitarists wanted Les Pauls, and they wanted Les Pauls that were just like the
    old '59s... no Gold tops, no P-90s, No Les Paul "Deluxe" with the mini-hums... No tarbacks...Guitarists wanted
    Les Pauls with P.A.F. p'ups and Cherry sunburst... with all the right detailing, all the right dimensions
    and the decals in the right places. Is that so hard?

    But Gibson kept trying to re-invent the wheel.... trying to create the Next Big Thing while guitarists wanted
    them to build 'em like they used to. Fender did the same thing under CBS management. Modernize the plant,
    replace the old craftsmen with lower paid gorillas, and then wonder why no one wanted to buy a ten pound Strat
    with the contours all wrong.
    The same for Gibson SGs... it took Gibson actually years to teach their newer
    workmen at the Nashville plant to make SGs the way the guys in Kalamazoo used to. The management and
    bosses didn't know either. They had to buy up their old guitars and measure everything and reconfigure their
    cutting machines before they ever got it right. And some of us here will say they never did.

    So if you've got an old '70s warhorse that stays in tune and sounds great, treasure it. They never deserved
    all the dissing they got... there are good ones and bad ones in every year class.
     
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  10. Gibbo SG

    Gibbo SG Active Member

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    Very nice. That color is spot on!
     
  11. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I've been checking Reverb.com and Gbase for Norlin Gibsons for some weeks and it looks like that the time for snatching a good deal on an under-valued, made in Kalamazoo Gibson SG Standard or Deluxe has now passed. BUT they are still cheaper than new Gibson Custom Shop guitars. Almost ALL of the Norlin SGs have a healthy amount of wear from being played a lot. Sometimes an old guitar is up for sale with little wear because it just wasn't a very good example of the model. That's not the case with the Norlin SGs from the 1970s which almost all have lots of wear from being played.

    SO, if one buys a nice Norlin SG for close to $2,000, say for example, it looks to me like your "new" guitar will need new frets, so you'll have to invest more $ in your new purchase.

    I think that Agent 99 might have been refretted. If the 1961 Gibson LP/SG Custom was originally one of those "fretless wonders" and the Custom Shop re issue was made as a fretless wonder, then Agent 99 must have gotten new frets. My 1979 SG Standard was a fretless wonder but I got new frets for it about 6 years ago.

    Anybody know if Agent 99 was born in the Custom Shop as a fretless wonder?
     
  12. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Agent 99 has returned from the Gibson Repair and Restoration shop in Nashville, TN! New Kluson tuners and new ABR-1 bridge. This is a 1999 custom shop piece, so, it is old and replacing some mechanical parts was a reasonable option. Also, she deserved to have this Pro Set-up.

    Here are the ohm readings measured by Gibson on the three Classic '57 pickups that came stock with the guitar back in 1999.

    Neck: 8.01
    Middle: 8.28
    Bridge: 8.29

    The guitar was in their shop for about 30 days, but, this was a simple job.
     
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  13. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    Has the tuning stability changed now?
     
  14. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I'm probably the last one to know this, but, I think that I have figured out why the Klusons were discontinued and everyone started changing over the Grover machine head tuners: Grovers are just flat better.
     
  15. Tony M

    Tony M Well-Known Member

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    That is a very beautiful guitar and I was head over heels in love with Laura Petrie.
     
  16. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    glad you've got your guitar back, and I'd love to hear a detailed report after you've
    put her through her paces.
    annahathaway3_wideweb__470x3190.jpg
     
  17. Gibsg

    Gibsg Well-Known Member

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    More pictures please ! ;)
     
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  18. Cameron Huthert

    Cameron Huthert Member

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    Man, that guitar is really something special! I think what is so special is the bright red color, and the three pickup configuration. Normally you only see them in black or white, which in my opinion are just kind of boring, though classic.
     
  19. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Still waiting to hear about the tuning issues....
     
  20. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I have not abandoned the thread. I will post more pics. I will also report on the tuning issues. I want to take time with it before I make any judgments. My preliminary impression is that in the 1970s, Norlin put Grover machine heads and Schaller "big iron" bridges on their SG Standards to improve the model. The changes had nothing to do with using cheaper parts to improve the profit margin.
     

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