ES-137 Custom review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (95 votes)
Gibson: ES-137 Custom

Price paid: £ 2000

Purchased from: The Guitar Store Southampton

Sound — 10
I mostly play anything from blues up to the hard rock/ classic metal spectrum, and this is the sound I have been looking for. I play through a Fender Super Sonic 22 and it sounds godly. The neck is an awesome lead pickup with the varitone bypassed, it's really meaty and well rounded, while the bridge suits rhythm well by cutting through the mix with a good amount of clarity. I find the pickups really HOT and I get breakup at about 3 on my clean channel. The varitone is really useful for cleaning up the guitar, by cutting volume and bass on the neck and thinning out the bridge pickup to a real convincing single coil sound (popping the strings with my fingers with the varitone on 3 sounds very Mark Knopfler). Don't Knock the varitone until you try it, it's a great feature of the guitar. Overallthe sound is easily a 10, it's perfect for my style and heavier, it's so gritty and raunchy and the feedback howls a beauty.

Overall Impression — 10
From blues to classic metal, it fares easy with it's wicked awesome tone that you only get from a semi hollow. I have an American 50th anniversary Strat I use for single coil chimey clean that's loaded with bare knuckle slowhand pickups and it's my clean machine, but the es 137 custom has a flawless flame maple, ballsy tone and suits my heavier sounds much better than the weaker single coils. To be honest apart from the 11 month wait this guitar is my soulmate. If it was stolen or lost I'd get it back in a heartbeat. I didn't really want to make this a sales pitch but it really is the perfect semi hollow guitar. The only thing I wish it came with is locking tuners or a signature from Ted Nugent!

Reliability & Durability — 10
I've only had it for a couple of months but it seems pretty solid, and if I did, I'd not bring a backup for the specific sounds I wanted from it because it's solid an well made. I'm digging the worn look and because of the thin lacquer I hope it wears quick. The pickups are heavily lacquered with gold as is all the hardware, so should last ages.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Whoever done the fretting on this guitar should be made head of Gibson fretting, it was absolutely flawless. The action is great too, it is low and barely buzzes, unlike my Strat with a higher action. As far as I have seen, there were no cosmetic flaws, however the pickup selector clicks through the amp sometimes, but very rarely. The varitone is silent in switching, although the jack plate was a tiny bit loose. This is my first Gibson and it's amazing. Oh I forgot to mention it came with a case, but the locks are a bit scratched and oxidized, which disappointed me a little.

Features — 10
USA made 2011 cherry burst es 137 custom, grover tuners, brite wire. 10 strings, maple neck with ebony fretboard, maple/poplar/curly maple body with a mahogany centre block, '57 classic pickups, stopbar tailpiece, gold hardware, single cutaway semihollow body (just the way Ted Nugent and I like it), varitone 6 way, split Diamond inlays, binding everywhere, really thin nitrocellulose finish and so on and so forth... I loved this the moment I played it, what you get for the price (compared with say, an ES-335 of the same price) with all the cosmetics and really quality pickups which work well with the varitone. My only niggle is that the neck feels a little sticky, I think because of the finish, but should be better over time though and it doesn't really hinder my playing.

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