Purchased from: Online
Sound — 10
Ok, the stock Explorer comes with the 496R/500T ceramic pickup set. Very hot. Really. A little too hot for me actually. I like metal, but I prefer a chunkier sound than the normal high gain stuff. These 57's are the bomb. If the regular Explorer is a flame thrower, the gotw edition is a Howitzer. Loud, punchy, very clear. I Switch over to lower gain settings on the amp and I'm playing Chuck Berry with no trouble at all. The trem is a nice gimmick, I don't use it much. You can't really dive bomb a Maestro like you can a floyd, you're not supposed to. Would probably work once or twice before the arm snapped off. But it's for warbling the pitch and it works reasonably well at that. My other explorers sound just as good unplugged but once I amp up, they sound a little too scooped by comparison.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm thrilled to bits with the new guitar. It takes what I though was alread a great guitar and just sonically broadens it's capability and impact even more. I use it for metal, rock, and such with the band, folk, rock and some other stuff for my own enjoyment. This one jumped out at me and it was worth the wait. I'm seriously considering pickup retrofit to the rest of my explorers now.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I haven't played this one live yet, but I've played its twin live and had no issues. This one seems jsut as solidly built. Unfortunately, Gold plating likes to wear off so I'm sure that will become an issue later on. I changed out the knobs (personal preference, replaced black speed knobs with amber tophats and pointer washers) and added schaller straplocks. It's be kinda stupid not to put straplocks on and I've found if I don't use them, the strap will wear swirl marks around the button. I expect this guitar to take anything I can dish out and sound better as the years go by for probably the remainder of my natural life barring fire, flood or some other catastrophe.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar needed a truss rod adjustment when it arrived. A couple partial turns later, all was perfect. It rings and sustains like it should. I looked it over and I couldn't find even any minor blemishes. Furthermore, the transparent amber finish they used makes the neck and body the same color which I've seen a lot of variation on with natural finishes.
Features — 9
2007 Gibson Explorer with Short Vibrola. 22 frets, 24 3/4" scale, 2 volume, 1 tone, yadda yadda. You've all seen an Explorer, but what made me buy this was that it cam from the factory with 57 Classic pickups (neck-57 Classic, bridge 57 Classic Plus) and a vibrola. I figured I'd try something with a trem. Standard fare. Typical good construction similar to the other Gibsons I've owned. And since it's a slab of mahogany, you won't see Gibson wrecking the weight distribution/balance by chambering it for weight relief anytime soon I suspect. It has a nitro finish, which means it'll take some care early on until the lacquer fully cures. Small price to pay for it's longevity.