Explorer review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.3 (230 votes)
Gibson: Explorer
4

Price paid: $ 1363.35

Purchased from: Coda Music

Sound — 10
Lets start by eliminating this myth - the Explorer is not just a hard rock/metal guitar. It is versatile. You can get a nice blues sound, clean sound, classic rock sound, mild distortion and hard metal distortion, it all sounds good. Think who've used this guitar and embraced it; Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), The Edge (U2), Rivers Cuomos (Weezer), Wayne Static (Static-X), Metallica (pre-AJFA) and many others. This guitar is a nice guitar for most styles, though it's shape immediately suggests rock. The 496R is nice, sounds good for blues and rock. Sometimes to bassy, but the tone/volume knobs can calm it down. Same with the 500T which is uber-hot, but still useful in certain styles particularly dirty sounds. And single notes ring nicely with an attack for blues runs. With a three way pick-up selector you can use 3 settings; 1)496R 2)496R + 500T 3)500T. I tend to use option 1 and 2 for cleans. Option 3 for just about all of my dirty sounds. If you roll all the knobs to 10 and crank up the gain you can get a nice metal crunch. Roll em back and its more rock n roll. It's a gorgeus pick-up combination. I play bits of everything; blues, classic rock, and some modern rock (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Filter, Nirvana) and some softer stuff (Counting Crows, Coldplay, Starsailor). This guitar suits most of those styles. Though you can't get any sounds remotely like single coil sounds, so i struggle to get any Chili Peppers or Starsailor sounds. I don't gig or play my own music, I play for fun. If you play soft/clean stuff exclusively, look away from this and consider a s/c Fender, if you want buckers, a Les Paul or SG might be better.

Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing 2 years. I'm no shredder or guitar Prodigy, I just play what I hear and like. My favourite band is Foo Fighters, but I also dig the sounds of RHCP, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Filter and softer Indie bands like Starsailor, Coldplay and Radiohead. I play through a Line 6 Flextone II which suits me fine. This guitar sounds good with any number of effects too. I also own an Ibanez RG320 which is alright, but I only have it because I wanted a Strat. Silly me should have bought a Strat and upgraded it. Oh well. I also have a Washburn D10CE Electro acoustic. I've also owned in the past a sunburst Squier Strat and a Fender Telecoustic. This is one of my favourite guitar models. Now if only I could get a HSS config Strat and a Flying V to put alongside it. :D I love this guitar because it goes where I want to go. It plays easy. I can do lead/rhythm/freaky stuff all on the same guitar. Looks okay too.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Gibson finishes are amazingly thick. Had to get straplocks installed. YOU MUST GET STRAPLOCKS! One strap button is on the back of the guitar, without straplocks the guitar comes off the strap. Could be goodbye headstock. Had to get it set up again soon after purchase because I had issues with fretbuzz, but I'm sure it was to do with me accidently changing the bridge height while changing strings. All fine now.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
No dents. A couple of minor scuffs from nearly a years' playing it. Well finished, no sharp frets or bent parts. All solid as a rock. Pickup selector sometimes gets noisy, but its easily fixable and doesn't bother me. Action nice and low.

Features — 10
American made. 1 Tone knob, 2 Volume knobs. 496R pickup in the neck, 500T for the bridge pick-up. It's got an ebony finish, chrome hardware, tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece. Came with a lovely hardcase. Built in 2001 but purchased in 2003. Everything you need - tuning stability, decent pickups, solid finish and a good quality body. No whisltles and bells like trems or effects. Supposedly rosewood fretboard, looks ebony, but it could be a heavily dyed rosewood.

112 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jthm_guitarist
    "It sounds awesome when it's plugged in. When it isn't it's quite noisy, and a pretty harsh buzz comes from the neck pickup, which is unnoticable when plugged in. It also has mini humbuckers, which can be fun to play around with as theres alot you can do with them." HOW CAN A PICKUP BE NOISY WHEN IT'S UNPLUGGED? DOES ANYONE ELSE UNDERSTAND THAT UP THERE??
    Herrjames
    This is an excellent guitar. Great for what I play which is mostly Megadeth style metal and I turn the gain down for some sweet blues. The action is a little high for my taste, but my fingers got used to it and I can shred quite smoothly on it. Overall a great guitar for the money (I only paid 400 dollars for it in a private transaction!). I recommend it.
    nalapoke
    I love explorers, Claudio shreds with explorers and he rocks, so what else is there to say?
    Ismail93
    I've had mine for almost a year now. It has 22 frets. 22. Not 26. It is beautiful. It is black with a white pick guard.
    ralleymonkey
    Hey i need some help . a couple ppl i know say these guitars are really bulky, body heavy and weigh a tone. iv never played one but someone who owns one can u plz help me with some answers to solve my delema cheers
    Mr Lordi
    michael angelo batio has 28 frets so its not unbelievable I NEED AND EXPLORER cept I cant work still too young xD
    tornoutlaw
    whoops, I mean he used to use Gibson's, before the ESP's (sorry if that wasn't clear)
    tornoutlaw
    He used to, pre ..and Justice For All (I believe, I could be totally wrong). I totally fell in love with this guitar after watching Claudio from Coheed and Cambria playing one. Hopefully I will get one in a few months, when I have saved up a couple of hundred quid more.
    stafford5150
    H, Omitted wrote: James Hetfield, rhythm guitar/vocals for Metallica uses Explorers.
    doesnt hetfield use esp's? considering he is endorsed by them
    chancevalentine
    Explorer is a great guitar. I had one for a few years until I got a Jackson RR3 Rhoads V, then I never played it anymore and sold it. It is an awesome guitar, just not my style anymore.
    Timus
    EMG pickups go well with this, otherwise its brill on its own; unfornately I don't own one but have heard it played. Les Paul beats it though ...
    metal jello
    The explorer is most comfortably standing, but sitting isn't like torture. The tail fin makes it hard to rest your picking arm comfotably while playing, but it's not that bad. Just sit on a tall bench and keep your feet on the floor. You would be like, half standing and half sitting, with the guitar still staying low. That's a more comfortable way to rest while playing.
    doug789
    Im hoping to get one soon. Does anyone no if the guitar is awkward to sit down and play?
    GreekRockr9
    I'll be getting a natural finish Explorer here in about a month. I'm really really excited! I've only played them a couple times but they're amazing!
    j2112c
    2 questions: Can you get similar sounds to a Les Paul out of an explorer? Anybody who has a white one... how does the finish last as I hear they can discolour and the wood colour can bleed through is this a major issue? (This is one reason the main importer states in the UK for not holding stock of white ones).
    techmetalftw
    I got one of these badass guitars in Heritage Cherry. It's been my main guitar for almost a year now and I have no complaints.
    GiR 2.0
    I gotta get me one of those babies. I've always wanted 'em, so I try to get the Ephiphone Explorers. They're cheaper, but they back the same punch. But man, I would love to have this guitar. I'd be like James Hetfield or that fat kid who couldn't play guitar. Dammit, why didn't I steal and take it to the gypsies! I could've set fire to the gypsies and escaped with that damned guitar. CURSE YOU GYPSIES!!!
    GiR 2.0
    i bleed metal wrote: 26 frets? thats bull, unless he customized the neck, its 22
    WELL, THANKS A LOT I BLEED METAL. You SOB. You ruined my dreams. YOU RUINED MY DREAMS!!!!!
    \m/Torin\m/
    the explorer is an amazing guitar but the price is too steep for me. but i'd kill to have one!
    metal jello
    The most amazing guitar EVER!!! Metallicious baby!!! My best guitar and the best guitar I could own. You NEED to get one.
    uninsane_guitar
    the most frets i have counted on a guitar was 24, and i have seen quite a few guitars, but he must be from some far off planet where they add two to everything
    EpiPaul
    whoever posted 26 frets is a noob. and whoever posted that it has mini buckers and a "yellow" finish is even more of a noob. the wood is yellow... it's korina remember? anyway this guitar is perfect for any rock - awesome stage prescence and a great tock sound. and it has 22 frets...lol
    Metallicaxp
    ralleymonkey wrote: Hey i need some help . a couple ppl i know say these guitars are really bulky, body heavy and weigh a tone. iv never played one but someone who owns one can u plz help me with some answers to solve my delema cheers
    well ive played em, and there really nice, not bulky persay, yea the tail finn is big but not in the way so ui cant play big, while stiing is not that hard (different style of playin i guess) but it doesnt weigh any more than a les paul...
    Slovak_Ghost
    first all mookieman..... you name all of these people playing explorers.....
    Think who've used this guitar and embraced it; Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), The Edge (U2), Rivers Cuomos (Weezer), Wayne Static (Static-X), Metallica (pre-AJFA) and many others.
    know what you are talking about....Wayne Static and James Hetfield both play esp guitars.....dumbass
    tragicpunk
    i love mine, had it for bout 8 months, after just randomly seeing it in a store. just to help the curious: i) its definitely not uncomfortable to play sitting down ii) its actually lighter than my strat... iii)its def 22 frets iv) i got mine for bout 800, although it is b-stock
    NorfIrIon
    I demand pointyness and 30 frets, then this guitar will be, infact, perfect.
    Cliff_lives
    The first reveiw guy has a Gibson Explorer, and a Freakin Jackson Soloist but runs them through a 15watt amp!! What the hell!! great reveiw but stop spending your money on sweeeeet guitars and buy a bigger amp...thats all im sayin....
    luke-bassist
    the firebird wasn't made from an explorer. The firebird originally non-reverse body, but it wasn't selling thats why its different now. anyway explorers suck eggs. my friend has one and it has a crap sound and the neck feels slow and slimy.
    Ringtone
    I think explorers are possibly the ugliest guitars in existance. I don't care how amazing they sound, they're hideous.
    Ali-b912
    GiR 2.0 wrote: I gotta get me one of those babies. I've always wanted 'em, so I try to get the Ephiphone Explorers. They're cheaper, but they back the same punch. But man, I would love to have this guitar. I'd be like James Hetfield or that fat kid who couldn't play guitar. Dammit, why didn't I steal and take it to the gypsies! I could've set fire to the gypsies and escaped with that damned guitar. CURSE YOU GYPSIES!!!
    James plays an ESP most of the time. but the gibson wins points for originality. but how i love the ESP's spikes..
    Dean-Junkie
    jthm_guitarist wrote: "It sounds awesome when it's plugged in. When it isn't it's quite noisy, and a pretty harsh buzz comes from the neck pickup, which is unnoticable when plugged in. It also has mini humbuckers, which can be fun to play around with as theres alot you can do with them." HOW CAN A PICKUP BE NOISY WHEN IT'S UNPLUGGED? DOES ANYONE ELSE UNDERSTAND THAT UP THERE??
    I think he meant when he turns the volume knob down.....even tho im not sure, actually.
    MESAexplorer
    EpiPaul wrote: whoever posted 26 frets is a noob. and whoever posted that it has mini buckers and a "yellow" finish is even more of a noob. the wood is yellow... it's korina remember? anyway this guitar is perfect for any rock - awesome stage prescence and a great tock sound. and it has 22 frets...lol
    Gibson made an Explorer Studio version that can come in a yellow finish with mini humbuckers noob. They do have 22 frets though, so basically you can disregard just about all the reviews,it's just BS. People are probably writing fake reviews of stuff they've never played but they think james hetfield is cool so it deserves 10s across the board.
    Thewolf_and_man
    "On that guitar I can play stuff that I like back in the day like Led Zeppelin and '80s bands like Skid Row and stuff like punk like NOFX and Green Day to hardcore bands like As I Lay Dying and Throwdown." Six 'like' in that sentence...
    HavokStrife
    Man... This guitar doesn't have 26, 21, 16, 8, 77, 125, or 3 frets, it has TWENTY-TWO. I know, cuz I just bought one. And in case anyone is wondering, it totally disproves just about ever Gibson rumor there is. There's just one thing though, it's a '92. Newer Gibson's probably do have the finish problems and such that they're known for. But as far as -mine- goes: Perfectly balanced, not as heavy on the shoulder as you'd think, plays better than just about any guitar I've ever played, sounds better than just about any guitar I've ever played (still swapping the pickups though, gotta.), and, of course, reach to the 22nd fret (on the 6th string )isn't too hard, because the neck is actually, *gasp* on the thin side. Despite the haggard decals or whatever on the default picture, the Explore is a totally badass guitar.
    dwal11
    I'm planning to buy an explorer and need to know has anyone had any trouble with playing at the 21st-22nd fret on their explorer on account of the horn bit with the pickup selector on it? It looks like it gets in the way with fitting your hand between that and the fretboard
    acdc1
    love mine only down falls are it only has 22 frets and the case i got is huge, everyone thinks its a base
    acdc1
    hetfield used to use one also a flying v but he he switched to esp