Custom Shop 1959 VOS Reissue review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 8.1 (95 votes)
Gibson: Custom Shop 1959 VOS Reissue
11

Price paid: £ 3200

Purchased from: Andertons

Sound — 5
I mostly play straight-up classic and hard rock music, little bit of blues, little bit of pop, little bit of metal occasionally. I usually play through old Fender half stacks and combo amps, and I choose to get most of my overdrive from pedals rather than the amp or the guitar. This particular guitar is perfect for that. It delivers exactly the tone I've always thought a Gibson 1959 should have. Output on this particular one is medium, enough to Drive even a low-gain amp to breaking point but it won't naturally go into hard rock or metal levels of overdrive. It's a little on the noisy side since the pickups aren't wax-potted (this is on purpose to replicate the nature of original PAF pickups which also weren't potted). Pickups are very responsive. Even unplugged, this guitar is very bright-sounding (much more than most Les Pauls) and resonate. Sustain for days, as you would expect. However although this particular one suits the sound I want perfectly, I can't score the sound highly because I've tried over twenty of these specific types of Les Paul now and every single one has sounded completely different. This is the best sounding one I found and I couldn't ask for more, but at the same time I've also played ones which sounded worse than some cheap LP copies from Asia. So although I would rate my personal one a 10/10 no questions asked, I can't in good conscience give these guitars any more than a 5/10 for sound since they do vary so much.

Overall Impression — 5
I've been playing a little over three years now, mostly straight-up rock music as I said previous. Though I consider myself more of a guitar collector and enthusiast than 'a player'. I've owned three Gibsons before this (and borrowed and played many others), I previously owned an American Fender Stratocaster, and I've owned many other guitars on the cheaper and intermediate level (a Japanese-made bass and Strat, Korean-made Les Pauls and SGs, a couple of hollowbodies, an average Ibanez RG, etc etc etc), as well as owning a couple of Warmoth guitars. I've also spent some time as a guitar tech for some local players. I really can't say whether or not this guitar is good for you all to go out and buy or not for two reasons. Firstly, since I am more of a collector than a player myself, I went looking at these Custom Shops to fulfill my fascination with wood quality and so on, though I know that for most more active players that doesn't matter so much and they'd be just as happy with a regular Gibson that costs half the price. Secondly, as I've said throughout this review, there is no 'Standard' with these guitars. Just like real 1959 Les Pauls, these guitars vary a lot. Some I've played have had necks slimmer than 'slim' Fender necks, some I've played have had necks so thick I can't get my hand around them. Some have weighed 5.5lbs, some have weighed 12lbs. Some sound incredible, some sound awful. So no matter what score I gave mine, it would be useless to anyone reading this as just because mine happens to fit me perfectly doesn't mean every one does. You absolutely have to go out and try these guitars for yourself and just try to keep searching until you find the one that fits you. I played exactly 18 1959 Les Pauls, 4 1958 Les Pauls and one 1960 Les Paul from the Gibson Custom Shop plus about four regular Gibson Les Pauls before I finally found this one that fit me; all the others were massively 'wrong' in some way. So go out to a store, try them in person, when you find the one that fits you, you buy that specific one. Don't even think about buying one of these online or used without trying it first (the exact one you'll be buying), and don't expect to find a good one quickly. So again, although for me personally my guitar is a 10/10 to me, I can't really hate this higher than a dead-average 5/10 because there are so many variations and it is so personal. And finally, the question everyone has to answer... if it was lost or stolen, would I buy another one? My answer would be no, simply because I know I would probably never find another one that sounded as good or played as well as this one does for me, so there'd be no point even trying. Though for what it's worth, when you do find that magical one that fits you perfectly, it really is something very special.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This is easily the most reliable guitar I've ever come across. Had it for a little over three months now and I've not had a single problem, not even one single second of crackle from the pickup selector or anything. Everything seems like it will last longer than I will, and it would certainly withstand regular live use. The finish is very scratch-prone, but that's the nature of these thin nitro finishes. It's the fact that they're so thin that makes these guitars sound and play so well, so you can't complain about that; the faster this finish wears down, the better. The only thing I'd knock is the strap buttons. They're good as far as strap buttons go, but with a guitar like this, you can't take chances; you're going to have to replace them with proper strap locks.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Guitar was set-up well, though I couldn't honestly tell if this was Gibson's doing or the store's doing. The shop had only gotten this one in a week before and it was already very out of tune when I picked it up, so I imagine Gibson themselves didn't set it up very well. Pickups are set very low, and they have to be. I tinkered with raising them slightly and it threw the sound way off, I reset them to where they were and it all sounded fine again. These pickups definitely have a 'sweet spot' you have to keep them in. The top isn't well bookmatched. In fact this is one of the worst bookmatch jobs I've ever seen, which is a shame because the flame maple itself is some of the best figured maple I've ever seen. Ultimately though this doesn't bother me much. The rest of the finish is as flawless as you can get. In case you're wondering, no it is not sticky on the back of the neck. It was sticky for roughly the first hour I played it, but that went away literally within the first hour of playing and now it's got a very sleek feel. The neck itself isn't as thick as some 1959 or 1958 necks, though it is a little thicker than the '50s' neck Gibson put on their regular Standards and it's certainly thicker than the typical Epiphone, Squier, and of course Fender. This is by far the most comfortable neck I've ever come across, and was the main reason why I went for this specific guitar. Anyone Who says you can't play fast on thick necks is talking rubbish; my hand is more comfortable than ever with this neck and thanks to that I'm playing faster and cleaner than ever before. That said I played some of these that had even thicker necks that I could barely get my hand around at all. Neck size varies a lot so you need to go try the guitars out in person. Body is pretty light, I've even had alder Strats that have weighed more than this. That's the beauty of high-grade one-piece bodies though. A couple of these I tried were made with two-piece bodies instead and were far, far heavier. Weight varies a lot with these guitars. Apart from the dodgy bookmatching attempt, there are no other flaws with this guitar. Everything is built as solidly and smoothly as you could ever hope for. That's pretty much all you need to know; the weight and necks of these guitars vary a lot, but other than that they're as flawless as can be. Again though, I am knocking some points off this score because so many of these aspects come down to personal preference, I know many people would think this guitar played very poorly, so there you go.

Features — 10
Made in 2008 in America. Basic spec run down is: - solid one-piece mahogany body (some are made with two-piece bodies though) - full flame maple top, I've had this one inspected and it seems to be AAAA - mahogany set neck, long neck tenon - rosewood fretboard - 22 frets, what Gibson calls 'medium jumbo' (in reality these are some of the lowest frets I've ever played) - typical Les Paul electronics, two volume and two tone with bumblebee capacitors, 3 way Switch. - Gibson USA BurstBucker #1 pickup in the neck and a #2 pickup in the bridge - tune-o-matic and stopbar bridge - tuners are what Gibson simply call 'Vintage Gibson tuners', a Kluson style design. - Bone nut - thin nitro finish, with the gloss worn off. The chrome hardware is also smoked up and the creme binding is darkened. It's not a 'relic job', but it purposefully doesn't look Brand New either. Included are an old-styled hardcase, basic cable, certificate of authenticity, etc. The same stuff every Gibson Custom Shop guitar has to be sold with. All-in-all, exactly what you'd expect and want from a top-end Gibson Les Paul.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bambi89
    good review. 1 thing though, i didn't know the 59 replicas had been about for over 3 months, i thought they'd only come out in 09, hence the 50 year anniversary of it, but that might just be me not getting my facts right.
    Zombie Inc.
    I also have one of these guitars and absolutely love it. However, I will agree with MrFlibble in that these models vary a lot. I had to visit several guitar shops before I found the perfect '59 Reissue. Some of them were had necks that were too thick, didn't sound too great, or just didn't appeal to me in some way. But, I soon found the one I have now, and it is absolutely perfect. I can't find one thing I dislike about it really. It did come at a cost though; about $5300 with tax.
    MrFlibble
    Iliaz wrote: If i'd be planing on getting a reissue of a 59 and those replicas were out i'd buy one since their almost the same streetprice, but what differs them from a regular VOS model exept the name's nimbus and the predicted rise in value?
    Not entirely sure what you mean. The VOS Reissues are the 'replicas' of the original '56/'57/'58/'59/'60 guitars.
    Iliaz
    If i'd be planing on getting a reissue of a 59 and those replicas were out i'd buy one since their almost the same streetprice, but what differs them from a regular VOS model exept the name's nimbus and the predicted rise in value?
    MrFlibble
    tom_martin_123 wrote: why do they all sound different? they are all the same guitar with the same specs. Thats why its a VOS..... vintage old spec!
    Well, every piece of wood is going to be different even if it's cut from the same tree. That's the main reason. On top of that every one of these VOS series is made by hand, and it's not like there's only one person churning these out. There are a number of people making them and of course the way each person makes them is going to be slightly different (even if they intend them to be the same), so that will effect tone too. Thirdly the BUrstBucker pickups these use are made in the same wa PAFs used to be made - they're made with unmatched bobbins which causes every single pickup to be slightly different. They try to get them in the same rough ballpark but no two pickups are ever the same anyway, especially these. There are a few other reasons too, but those are the main reasons why each one will sound and feel different. Also, VOS stands for Vintage Original Spec, not Vintage Old Spec.
    tom_martin_123
    why do they all sound different? they are all the same guitar with the same specs. Thats why its a VOS..... vintage old spec!
    LGSP90
    Great review,The point of trying many guitars is so true no matter what price range you are shopping in.
    Zombie Inc.
    kvltpolice666 wrote: great review, but you have to be insane to pay that much for just a les paul or any guitar.
    I had the option of getting a '59 Reissue that was absolutely perfect for $5300 or another vintage re-issue Les Paul that I didn't like as much for $3500. Needless to say, I went with the '59 Reissue because I figured if I'm spending that much money anyway, I might as well get the best. I'm very glad I got the '59 instead.
    MrFlibble
    kvltpolice666 wrote: great review, but you have to be insane to pay that much for just a les paul or any guitar.
    When you find a guitar that fits you perfectly and has everything you've been wanting for years... price doesn't really matter.
    Conformist
    Finally, a review that didn't have 10/10 across the board. Awesome guitar. Price, de nada.
    sabbathfan4life
    I bought an 08 59 VOS and its the best. I bought it from Guitar Gallery in Pa. and save 1300 from musicians friend or soem online website.
    kvltpolice666
    great review, but you have to be insane to pay that much for just a les paul or any guitar.
    jean_genie
    Remember that these are hand-shaped and sanded, so there will be a lot of variations in the necks, even if they are all '59 reissues.' Of course, there was plenty of variation then too. Regardless of the why, always play as many Gibsons (or any brands' USA custom shop) as you can get your hands on. I strongly prefer one of our '57 or '58 VOS Goldtops (I forget which, but we only have one year in stock now). My coworker prefers the other. Doesn't really affect your review any. Just saying you won't like each one equally.
    MrFlibble
    guitarshreeder wrote: i remember a guitarist who had a guitar the same as this one..ummmmm..... oh yeah that was SLASH!!!
    Um, no. He had a copy of a Les Paul made for him that was made with a neck roughly in the same ballpark as '59 but he had very different pickup in it and aside from the neck profile and the body shape the two guitars have little in common.
    guitarshreeder
    i remember a guitarist who had a guitar the same as this one..ummmmm..... oh yeah that was SLASH!!!
    MrFlibble
    bambi89 wrote: good review. 1 thing though, i didn't know the 59 replicas had been about for over 3 months, i thought they'd only come out in 09, hence the 50 year anniversary of it, but that might just be me not getting my facts right.
    The 50th Anniversary model only came out this year, just as there was a 50th Anniversary of the 1958 last year. However the 'regular' 1959 VOS LP has been out for over a decade now.
    theacousticpunk wrote: Are you sure that the 20 or so Les Paul's you played were all the exact same model? Unless you were buying from the factory itself, it doesn't make sense (from a business point of view) to have 20 of the same model guitar that is that expensive. Just a thought. But beyond that little thing, very well written review. I've played on of these, and absolutely loved it.
    They were all the same except for one which was the 50th Anniversary edition of the 1958 LP (which has the exact same spec as this except the hardware isn't as aged. Seriously that's the only difference, on paper at least). I'm not sure what you mean about it not making sense to have so many guitars because obviously they make hundreds of these a year. If you meant it doesn't make sense for a SHOP to have so many then you're right. I went to three different stores to try all these out. Also I perhaps should mention, not only did I try out many of these '59s and the one Anniversary '58, but I also tried out a couple of '60s models, a regular '58, and a lot of normal production (not Custom Shop) Gibsons, and my results with all of them were about the same. Basically there was no consistency, they were all very different regardless of what model they were supposed to be, and you have, have to try before you buy to make sure you're getting a good one. Thanks everyone saying the review was good, I actually thought they weren't posting it because it was too long. I just felt that with a guitar like this that you're spending thousands on and you expect to be perfect, what's the point of only writing a couple of lines and slapping a blind 10/10 rating on it? Might as well give it a proper review.
    Shread_6009
    bambi89 : good review. 1 thing though, i didn't know the 59 replicas had been about for over 3 months, i thought they'd only come out in 09, hence the 50 year anniversary of it, but that might just be me not getting my facts right.
    most products in general release their aniversary guitars a few months before the actual date. kinda like how games like madden 09 and new 09 cars are already out by october
    theacousticpunk
    Are you sure that the 20 or so Les Paul's you played were all the exact same model? Unless you were buying from the factory itself, it doesn't make sense (from a business point of view) to have 20 of the same model guitar that is that expensive. Just a thought. But beyond that little thing, very well written review. I've played on of these, and absolutely loved it.
    -Collapse-
    ayreon37 wrote: This is probably the most comprehensive review I've read on this site. Nicely done, writer.
    If I'd just spent 3200 pounds on a guitar, I'd be driven to write some damn comprehensive reviews too. there'd be no square millimeter of that guitar I wouldn't have examined to the detail. :p:
    ayreon37
    This is probably the most comprehensive review I've read on this site. Nicely done, writer.
    lao123
    tom_martin_123 wrote: why do they all sound different? they are all the same guitar with the same specs. Thats why its a VOS..... vintage old spec!
    Also, the machines they used in the 50's to wind to pick-ups weer very inaccurate. Some underwound, some overwound. Also because they are hand sanded.