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I'm just to the south in NM; it's awful, smell of smoke and haze from the fires everywhere (we have two burning now, but people don't give a **** about us, and we accept that in return for the privacy).
Climate change is upon us, and a huge swath of the heartland is burning.
How can you NOT form an opinion? You have a " picture" that you have formed on each regular poster. Some will be right - others completely wrong, but you will have formed them.
Of course, you'll have them. I'm just saying, they're not always fair or warranted. I prefer to judge people based on their direct words and actions, not what I might infer about their personality from what they're saying about various gear or music.
I would like to make clear my position on gear since this is a gear forum.
There are so many great deals in gear these days that I think we've lost perspective. A few hundred bucks can outfit you with a pro-level kit that is perfectly giggable. That wasn't true when I was in my teens and 20's. The knock offs were of poor quality until the Japanese started making decent gear, but amps were always too big and too expensive. The affordable transistor amps sounded horrible and we never took Fender Champs seriously (we should have!).
Guitars at any price point can be great, especially if you know your way around a soldering iron. But the big difference in 2013 as opposed to 1983 is that you can buy a killer tube amp for less than $500. The other big difference is that you can get after market parts to mod your gear--parts that were not available in the 80's.
I happen to like Gibson guitars--not every Gibson, mind you --but I like to shop in person and pick out something that fits my playing style. Les Pauls are my all time faves, followed by Gretsch guitars with Filtertrons. There are lots of good ones out there, but ordering from the web is problematic because what's acceptable for one player may be a problem for another; for example, a nut that's cut too high or a ragged fret end up at the 21st fret.
I buy as much as I can used, demo, or scratch and dent. It makes no difference to me if a pickguard has a few scratches or if there's some excess glue near the neck joint if I'm getting a great deal.
Finally, I play my guitars a lot, and I mean A LOT. 6-8 hours/day in the summer. I pick 4 from my collection and spend a couple of hour with each of them. I've had only very minor issues with my UK, USA and Japanese gear. Chinese stuff has given me headaches over the years (Danelectro, Hofner, Vox, Marshall). But that won't keep me from purchasing far eastern gear. My Vox AC15h1tv is incredibly toneful and gig worthy. My Pod HD500 is amazing!
So, I say get out there and play! Your Epi or LTD single cut will sound as good as my Les Paul r8 thru a decent amp under most conditions. If you want to hear what a custom shop reissue brings to the table, listen to Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, or Joe Perry. It gives me a lot of pride and joy to be holding a replica of a guitar that I so often lusted over when I was younger, even if it's a reissue. But what gives me the most satisfaction is finding a really good production line guitar like a Les Paul Classic from around 2000 and customizing it to make it my own!
So, I say get out there and play! Your Epi or LTD single cut will sound as good as my Les Paul r8 thru a decent amp under most conditions. If you want to hear what a custom shop reissue brings to the table, listen to Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, or Joe Perry Rock on.
I don't know if you realize this, but this is where you come off bad.
I know you're not directing this post at anyone in particular, but it sounds like you're assuming that a lot of your haters have budget gear.
I own two Gibsons, one which is a rare antique. I own a Rickenbacker 620/12; I sold my 360 two years ago. I have other guitars, American and otherwise. Many members have nice guitars. It's not about your nice guitars. It's how you present yourself and the guitars.
I hope you can understand my, and others, point of view.