Challenger review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 5.6 (28 votes)
Gibson: Challenger
0

Price paid: $ 800

Sound — 9
This is really a great instrument to critique this because mine is in mint condition, all stock and virtually untouched. Being that this guitar was built when Norlin owned Gibson says a lot. Many say that when they owned the company the quality was at an all time low. They basically bought this company knowing very little about guitars and moved from Kalamazoo to the current Nashville location. The neck joint has gaps and the fret edges were poorly filed. The silver finish was done well, however the laquer is slightly streaky in the right light as if it was applied by a paintbrush. The nut is a little rough. These are things I have seen on new high end Gibsons. So being that this is a Norlin Gibson and knowing that this was intended to be an entry level Gibson I will rate this quite high.

Overall Impression — 8
I have been playing for twelve years and the last five professionally. I own several electrics as well as two amps. I simply bought this because it was an excellent buy for its condition, feel, and look. This guitar isn't a workhorse, but rather it's fun to play and looks cool with its silver finish and black pickguard. My favorite feature is the vibe.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I can definitely depend on this guitar. Own several electrics as well as two amps.I simply bought this because it was an excellent buy for its condition, feel, and look. This guitar isn't a workhorse, but rather it's fun to play and looks cool with its silver finish and black pickguard. My favorite feature is the vibe.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Have not used this guitar with my own equipment since I disassembled it to study. However before I purchased it I tried it on several amps at the music store. The pickup is hot and very punchy and very bright. With others in the store playing I couldn't hear any overbearing noise, but up close I do not know yet.There is limited tonal variety with this instrument unless you alter tone via volume/tone knob or alter your picking attack. I know this guitar lacks a multitude of tones, but to me it's like a cool eighties tribute to a Junior or a Melody Maker. Definitely something different than the norm.

Features — 8
My Challenger was made in 1983. It is an American made instrument that Norlin marketed to be an affordable beginners alternative to the higher priced Gibson models. It features a 22 fret(thin) rosewood fingerboard with Dot inlays over a five piece maple neck. The nitrocellulose laquered Les Paul shaped body is a two piece which appears to be mahogany. This guitar only has one bridge position pickup but is routed to accept a neck position as well. The stock electronics consist of one passive bridge pickup as I mentioned which I have been told was manufactured by Bill Lawrence, but this I cannot prove. It features one volume knob and one tone knob. The bridge is a bizarre German made(Schaller)Tune-O-Matic style with no tailpiece. The neck is similar to the 1960's Gibson slim taper style.

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Poopr
    Sure. Gibson's affordable beginners guitar costs 800 dollars(?)(?)
    danielsyte
    I assume that a vintage guitar is something with value. A 1959 Les Paul is a vintage guitar. A beginner's guitar from 1983 is NOT a vintage guitar, is just an old beginner's guitar, and should cost no more than 200 dollars, if we want to add something on its value because it has the "magic" of 27 years. I wish someone would turn the brain on before trying to sell at unbeliavable prices those guitars. I mean, if you like how it plays, it may have no price. But I strongly doubt that in 1983 it was costing the equal value of todays 800 dollars. IMHO.
    exos308
    NickGiovanni wrote: $800 Gibson < $400-$600 ESP/Ibanez It's that simple people.
    Poor guy never played a Gibson. I've played both, and Ibanez suck, most aren't made in America. I'm not sure if any are. In conclusion- 800$ Gibson> 2400$ Ibanez
    senecakraut
    I made a mistake....my challenger 2 was actually made in '84 not '82; my apologies.
    senecakraut
    I own one of these challengers. Mine, however, was built in 1982, has two humbucker pickups, two volumes, one tone and a three-way switch. I bought it for $75 from the second owner in 1992. It was my first "real" guitar but I never really played it....that is till about a week ago. I changed the strings, (same ones that had been on it since '95), plugged it into my peavey classic 30 tube amp, and let 'er rip! I couldn't believe how well it played and sounded. The pickups have that heavy metal punch one might expect from a "vintage" 1980's humbucker and mind-blowing sustain thanks to the mahogany body. I currently own twelve guitars and I enjoy playing the challenger more than any other guitar I have.....including a $4000 - '76 Les Paul Deluxe. So in the end as long as the fit, feel, sound and needs are met it really doesn't matter what it costs.
    exos308
    Yeah, more expensive Ibanezes are good, like the high end ones. but not like Gibsons.
    OXL
    Yes cheap gibsons don't exist, that's why I dont't own one : But Ibanez really doesn't suck that hard. I actually think they're pretty good for guitars in the 500-1000 euro price range. Nevertheless, still hoping to get a LP once.
    Jadena
    celticstorm84 wrote: Didn't anyone read it's from 1983? So maybe it's value went up over time as sort of a collectors piece? So it's likely that it didn't cost that much back then? So maybe comparing it to other makes/models is kinda irrelevant? Meh...
    Thank you for using your brain unlike the rest of the comments here
    SLonergan
    NickGiovanni wrote: $800 Gibson < $400-$600 ESP/Ibanez It's that simple people.
    I disagree. I got my Ibanez S570DXQM for $650...and its better than my $2000 Gibson.
    JEM9311
    I liked how the guitar was in mint condition and then he totally disassembled it after playing it Way to destroy any value it had
    celticstorm84
    Didn't anyone read it's from 1983? So maybe it's value went up over time as sort of a collectors piece? So it's likely that it didn't cost that much back then? So maybe comparing it to other makes/models is kinda irrelevant? Meh...
    Project Pat
    Who gets a Gibson when they're first starting out anyway, unless it's a Gibson 'Maestro'? People tend to start out with Squiers, Epiphones, I'll even say low-end Ibanezes or Deans.
    Panasonic3
    if anyone read THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE, they would see its vintage from the 80's, hence the high price.
    bustapr
    WOW, first time I hear that a beginners guitar cost 800 bucks. With that money I can get an ESP Eclipse, or a BCRich Deluxe Jr V(awesome), or even a good epi lp. If I want a beginer guitar to mess around with Im not going over 200 bucks.
    M4RK3H
    HoddiDarko wrote: Yeah, I don't see what you think is wrong about that... If you want a cheap "Gibson", then get a Epiphone.
    LOL! they got told.
    HoddiDarko
    Yeah, I don't see what you think is wrong about that... If you want a cheap "Gibson", then get a Epiphone.
    crazyhorse174
    Poopr wrote: Sure. Gibson's affordable beginners guitar costs 800 dollars(?)(?)
    Was thinking the exact same thing!
    mark_elrod70
    @NickGiovanni: My first electric guitar was an '83 Challenger. It didn't cost $800 back in '83. Maybe the price has gone up because they are rare, nowadays. A couple of years back I was feeling nostalgic & I saw one on eBay, that I got for about $500 with shipping. The pickups are weak (original Bill Lawrence pickups, but weak). So, I am going to stay with Bill Lawrence pickups, but install some L-500XLs in it.