Other Guitars

The MOJO of Used Guitars?

1

Something I've wondered/thought about for years is the idea that an instrument is ultimately imbued with some of the MOJO of it's previous owner(s). You can test this theory with a friend's instrument as an example. It always seems to me that any instrument that has been played or even just set-up by a fellow guitarist tends to have a special 'feel' or vibe attached to it. Even if the player is not that great. Certain instruments in particular (hollow or semi hollow bodies) seem particularly susceptible to this. I'm just wondering if any of you have ever noticed this phenomenon, or am I just projecting? Have you ever owned such an instrument? Do you covet some instrument a friend has because it seems to hold a special quality? Should I be wearing a white suit?

2

Many years ago I owned two 1960 Cadillac Sedans. I was hanging out with a co-worker and he was playing a 1967 Hagstrom Viking Deluxe. It was so nice! I traded my green Cadillac with 34,000 miles on it for the Hagstrom. I had to have it. I love this guitar! It got some serious mojo. I think that I got the better deal. It just feels good in my hands.

3

i think some do, some dont. The two Clubs had a little mojo, but it was subtle. The Super Chet had tremendous powerful mojo, even though i couldnt bond with the instument. the Tokai has strong mojo but needs some healing... it is in rough condition cosmetically, like it was played hard and not well taken care of. So it speaks and sings and wants to be loved. The LP doesnt have much mojo -- not surprising since its dead mint and has hardly been played -- but interestingly enough, i feel it lurking, like its ready to give and get a lot of mojo when its ready. Look out!

Both my sarods I had, had great mojo. And the oud,... well, the oud.... wow. Both older ouds ive had the pleasure of owning have huge , huge vibes to them, particualrly the one i have now. A Turkish one i had didnt have that strong a vibe to it. A lot of good tone, but not that strong a presence.

4

I am insensitive to "mojo" - I don't know why some guitars feel and play better than others. This variation applies to new as well as used guitars within the same store, so I don't know that there's anything particular going on with used guitars.

5

Mustafa, your comment about your new LP brings up another interesting point. That of any instrument's latent vibe. Mojo waiting to happen, if you will. I think that one reason I've been generally more drawn to new(er) instruments later in my career (my Tele & my Gent were purchased new), is that I've wanted to imbue/find in them my own personal vibe. Like your LP, my Gibson Tal had been barely played when I bought it. However, I bonded with it almost instantly and our journey together has, I feel, been one of discovery and enjoyment (for me at least :) ). "Presence" indeed. A great word for this topic BTW...

6

This is always a wacky subject, because y'know, the term mojo comes from voodoo, which is spooky and magical and hard to prove in any objective manner whatsoever...

That said, I'm a believer.

Mostly because I have played maybe a half dozen or so guitars -- more often used ones, but sometimes newer ones -- that just have an intangible something in them. Some sort of extra kick, or magic spark. Curt's '58 Club has it big time; JB's '59 6120 also has it for sure. In these and a few other cases, the guitar seemed to me to have an aliveness that caused me to play with deeper conviction, brought on from a really powerful connection with the instrument.

It's wood and wire, but it's not.

Old guitars are in addition odd -- so I also believe matching the 'mojo factor' of any one player to any one guitar can be a bit hit or miss. Some connect forever, some don't. Some stay, some fade away and are gone.

In some ways mojo is the holy grail. It is slippery and elusive but I think when you pick up the guitar and it speaks to you, you know it. It can be new or old, but more often it's the old ones.

My '56 6120 has a great spark for me, it's a bit like voodoo and in a way hard to talk about.

7

Voodoo? Yikes! I hope Bear doesn't tune in... 8-o ;-)

8

Many years ago I owned two 1960 Cadillac Sedans. I was hanging out with a co-worker and he was playing a 1967 Hagstrom Viking Deluxe. It was so nice! I traded my green Cadillac with 34,000 miles on it for the Hagstrom. I had to have it. I love this guitar! It got some serious mojo. I think that I got the better deal. It just feels good in my hands.

– Unclegrumpy

Many years ago I owned two 1960 Cadillac Sedans. I was hanging out with a co-worker and he was playing a 1967 Hagstrom Viking Deluxe. It was so nice! I traded my green Cadillac with 34,000 miles on it for the Hagstrom. I had to have it. I love this guitar! It got some serious mojo. I think that I got the better deal. It just feels good in my hands.

– UncleGrumpy

Grumps, that Hag must have had some SERIOUS mojo indeed. Great story!

9

Still got it. It's with Curt awaiting some binding repair.

10

Ha! Betcha that Caddy has long since bit the dust. :)

11

Wooden fibres as well as the pores between the fibres must 'loosen up' with use. This is especially noticeable in a 'played in' acoustic, but less so in a solid body.

But the way that a new strat neck and body speaks for example, may be very different to the voice of a strat neck and body which have been vibrating together in sympathy for years.

A used guitar has probably had pickup, intonation, action, and other fine adjustments made, to allow the pickups to 'speak' the guitars voice better, and to allow improved playability and sound.

Maybe these are all part of the indefinable 'mojo'.. (ie. a proper set up and lots of 'playing in' ) :D

12

I think it works in two ways. A well played instrument, especially one that was played by someone you know, has a certain mojo in that this knowledge can affect one's relationship to it. It's both imaginary and real. If someone handed me Lennon's casino or Strummer's tele or Woody Guthrie's Gibson, it would not only sound different to me than another instrument of the same model and vintage, I would make it sound differently even without trying. But there isn't anything particular about these instruments with regard to physics and chemistry, unless the players in question were also talented in selecting particularly good instruments.

But to follow Ritchie's post, there are definitely tonal qualities in older wood fibers. Not every Stradivari or Guarneri built violin will sound equally as good, but the age of wood and varnish contributes to the tone.

Check out Rick Kelly's Carmine Street Guitars. He builds telecaster based guitars out of wood reclaimed from old NYC buildings. These guitars certainly carry some mojo that comes from knowing one is playing the 'bones' of a great city and its history. But my guess is that there are verifiable tonal assets in this wood, due to its age and 'experience.'

http://www.kellyguitars.com/

13

Yep. Found an old Japanese electric on a wall in a studio. Worn out, dirty and hand painted. It's a mess. There's something about it.

15

As Mustafa says, some do, some don't.

The most obvious example of one that does is my '66 ES-335. Very well played. The frets were badly worn, almost unplayable. But first time I picked it up, the guitar was completely alive in my hands. Between all that playtime and the inherent vibe of the instrument, something going on. Much later, with new frets and playable again, this "mojo" was unmistakeable. MD

16

If someone handed me Lennon's casino or Strummer's tele or Woody Guthrie's Gibson, it would not only sound different to me than another instrument of the same model and vintage, I would make it sound differently even without trying. Strummerson.

I think that like bespoke or tailor made clothes, a guitar can be very comfortable, and can 'fit like a glove', but beyond that, for me, it's entering 'projection of human attributes onto inanimate matter', and imaginary 'I wish- fulfillment' territory.

Like Bear said, playing Duane's geetar doesn't make him sound at all like Duane, and me playing 'The Wind Cries Mary' on one of my strats sounds just as good (or just as bad) as it would if I played it on a pre-owned Hendrix one..

psycho-acoustics covers a lot of mistakes and weedy tone:D

17

Mostly agree. Except I think the projection often alters one's experience of the object, and that experience colors the interaction, which can alter the outcome. I don't think it's magic. I don't believe in mystical vibe and mojo in that sense. I just think that our engagements with tools are often colored by the significance we ascribe to them, and that can alter use and what we produce with them.

I can't imagine human experience without wishes. I know some Eastern traditions emphasize this as the way to enlightenment. And there are all sorts of fatalistic and ascetic traditions in the west. But I don't think that wishes and desires need to function as delusions or as impediments.

18

Curts old Green Gretsch has a ton of it!

19

I like this thread. I don't feel Mojo coming from my old used instrument however. Feel sadness for my old Kay,however,how could anyone cause it to get into the condition in which I found it.

20

That's called BAD Mojo, Lonnie but you are on coarse for returning it to it's former glory so you are readjusting it's mojo, or recreating it...whatever.

21

The smell, the feel & the look of a used instrument can bring huge attitude. The way the fretboard is rolled over from hours & hours of use, the stink of a 100 night clubs in the lacquer & case, the belt buck rash & wear spots in the finish all seem to add the the distinction & personality of a guitar. None of these can be truly replicated by a MFG. If you want something close, you need to buy an instrument built by a skilled artisan who shares your desire for a comfortable guitar with a thin skin & throw a couple cigar ashtrays full in the storage compartment of your case & let them age together for a couple weeks 8-)

22

Thanks Superdave that makes me feel better. I love this old thing. It's the largest guitar I have ever seen. It's huge I've never seen one larger or as big as far as that goes. I got it off of ebay from a guy in Oklahoma. I emailed him a couple of times and he gave me a brief history of it. I got the impression he had owned it or new it's history for a very long time. I really don't know how it could have gotten in the condition it was. Unless it lived in a barn in a swamp around a bunch of thieves. One good thing it didn't stink. No odors. Thank God for little green Apples.

23

I was trying to find a young/old picture of Keith Richards. That would be a good representation of Mojo. IMO.


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