Price paid: £ 860
Purchased from: Musicroom
Features: I bought this 2009 Gibson USA model this year, got a good deal with the hardcase and few Rotasound string packs thrown in there for 860. This guitar has a great quality maple body with a satin gold finish but no binding around the top as is representative of it being a Les Paul Studio. The Raw Power has 22 Jumbo-Frets on a Grade 'A' Maple fingerboard, a 12th fret Acrylic trapezoid inlay and acrylic Dot inlays elsewhere. Needless to say it looks beautiful, I have thought about removing the black pickguard that sits on the gold body but it adds to the character of the guitar overall.
The headstock is equipped with either Gold-plated Grover Kluson-style green-button tuners with a 14:1 gear ration, once i stretched the new strings out they have never gone out of tune. The Keys feel solid to tune up with, they hold the tuning well and i wouldn't replace them at all. This Raw Power came fitted with Gibson Brite Wire strings .010-.046.
The Bridge is the Standard tune-o-matic, gold plated and is again a quality bridge. It provides solid sustain and altering the action is pretty easy to do should you want to. It is accompanied by the 'stopbar' tailpiece, gold plated again and it does what it says on the tin; what more could you ask?
The Raw Power utilizes a pair of active '57 classic humbucking pickups, I'll talk about them more in the sound part of the review and I have a lot to say about them. To round up the features part, the 3 way selector is hard wearing (even using it as a killswitch like buckethead), the volume and control knobs are black speed knobs and are beautiful to roll back and forth, and the headstock is complete with the antique bell truss rod cover and a gold Gibson logo and 'Les Paul Model' signature.
The guitar looks great which is a big thing I look for when picking a new guitar. The other finishes available are Yellow, White, Blue/Platinum, Trans Ebony, Olive Green, Natural, Aquamarine and Platinum. Although it can be hard finding some of these finishes in stock. // 9
Sound: I play a hard rock style, but I also branch into blues, metal, ska and other rock styles of playing. The 57 classic pick ups are outstanding, I had heard Slash had considered switching his alnico's out for these in some of his guitars and I can see why. I know everyone will fight to say how good their pickups are but truely the diversity of sound these can provide is great.
I had tried the SG Raw Power, a Les Paul Classi and a Les Paul Standard and put them all through a Marshall JCM 800, 4x12 Marshall 1960 cab. This guitar sounded the best out of them all for my style of playing, its rich full sound from even the high E string makes me want to play one note every 5 minutes to hold onto the sustain and search the variety of intonation you can get from just plucking the string once.
The 57 Classics provide an outstanding quality of depth and clarity. In the neckposition its easy to get a rich, warm, vocal tone, while in the bridge position this pickup can change from bright to crunch cutting and powerful. If you play hard rock I couldnt recommend any better pickups apart from if you were looking for Slash's signature tone. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: I think I got extremely lucky with this guitar, its handbuilt and I had read of some poor/rough finishes on frets on some of these guitars. But for the most part all the models in the shop were finished to a very high standard.
As soon as I played the generic riff I usually do to get a feel for a guitar I knew this was a quality guitar. It plays better than the Standard les pauls, the action is perfectly setup not too high and not too low. Speed isnt a problem should you want to play fast shred licks, but also you can get huge range of tones from one string on one fret which allows for such a diversity in creativity. Each player would get a different sound from picking up this guitar, its so individualistic yet it sounds great to any advanced player.
For a starter it may be a bit daunting to learn to play on. Jumbo frets can be hard to master, the neck is a bit harder to reach and move around than say a Fender model. But if you know your way around, reaching the 22nd fret with speed is no problem.
The neck is so smooth and true, the strings glide to your touch and I can't express how great this guitar is if you can't tell already! // 10
Reliability & Durability: I thought at first glance, this guitar may fall to pieces if you gigged it hard. But treat it well and it will last you a good while no problem.
The finish isnt easy to scratch, the strap buttons are firm and hold the weight perfectly balanced, and the simplicity of the bridge and tailpiece mean they wont be breaking anytime soon either.
For Live playing, I'm so glad the tuning keys are as good as they are; they'll stay in tune through temperature changes, wild string bends and general playing through long sets. The strings haven't broke on me yet, even though I've dug right into the B string many a time. I'd have no lack of confidence gigging this guitar, it lasted me a short half hour set full of a variety of styled songs and I didn't need to tune once. // 9
Overall Impression: I previously had a Fender Strat but I didn't feel totally comfortable with the action nor the sound that it produced. Although it was useful to learn to play on, I wanted something more suited to the hardrock that I play.
Naturally I sought to get a Gibson Les Paul, I wasn't totally sure which model although I did manage to play a Slash appettite model Epiphone and Les Paul prior to their release date! For the money, the Epiphone wasn't worth it and I didn't quite fancy paying for the Gibson Slash model either.
So I picked out a few SG's, a Les Paul studio, a stuido Raw Power, an Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty, a Les Paul Standard, a Les Paul Classic and the Raw Power shone out by a mile amongst those.
I've been playing 7 years and I've played a fair few types of guitar and for the money (860) this Les Paul Raw Power is well worth the money. If you're looking to spend 600-1000 and play a hardrock style I'd say you should try this before buying anything else.
If it were stolen I'd buy another one, without hesitation. There is only one thing I would change and that is the finish, I got the satin gold finish. If there was a sunburst or appettite finish I would have got that instead. But I've grown to love the finsih all the same.
As a big fan of Slash, I would buy alnico pro 2's for the signature sound for when I play covers but for my personal sound I'd keep the 57 classics as they are so diverse and beautiful through a marshall.
Overall, Raw Power is an underrated underdog. Ignore the 'Studio' truss rod cover and enjoy the playing. I did and I love it. The Only reason it isnt a 10 - I can't help but feeling the 'Studio' and lack of binding makes it feel a little les of a Les Paul even though the sound betters the LP Standard and Classic models. // 9