Price paid: C$ 1484
Purchased from: Long and McQuade
Sound — 9
The Explorer fits into the category of the Metal and Hard Rock that I play, the thin fast neck is extremely nice for shredding and the likes; however its not the greatest for chords as the lack of a neck to fill you hand is a little meh. I play this guitar through a Marshall Haze 15W class A tube amp, with a MXR fullbore metal, MXR OD and a Crybaby From Hell. It feeds these effects no problem. I am not 100% sure if its the guitar or my amp but it does have a bit of a dark tone to it, I feel this might be the V1 tube in my preamp. The bridge pickup can scream and I find can have a little too much gain at times, but for playing metal and hard rock its ok. Its certainly not like a Les Paul and can not cover as wide of a range of music but if you want a rock and roll powerhouse the Explorer should be on your list. 9/10 Aside from its lack of musical diversity this guitar can do everything I could have wanted from it. A future pickup change could probably further help it out.
Overall Impression — 9
As mentioned I mostly play metal and hard rock and it fits the bill perfectly, I think Gibson advertises the guitar as "The most coveted powerhouses of screaming rock and roll" and there is no short comings to that statement at all, she screams and she LOVES screaming. I have been playing off and on for 12 years and the Explorer was my first purchase at a quality guitar, I have been through the standard MIK $200 guitars which did the trick for learning but it was time to step up and stand out. If this guitar was lost or stolen I would drink away my tears for a couple days, then try and find the bugger that stole it, and if all else fails I would buy a new one without hesitation. I love everything about it, it took me almost a year of mucking around with guitars to conclude what I wanted to purchase and it came down to the Explorer and a Les Paul, sadly the Les Paul I had my eye on was like three times as much so the Explorer came out on top. Now there are a couple things I do not like about the guitar. The biggest one is the strap button on the back of the guitar, I use a Planet Waves locking strap and it doesnt work too well on the guitar as you have to spin the strap around and it gets all twisty (I know thats a little anal retentive!) Lastly is the neck its a God send yet a pain at the same time, I love how it is for shredding but I dont like it too much for chords I wish it had a fatter neck to fill more of my hand (remedy is to buy a Les Paul to compliment the Explorer!) I KIND OF wish this guitar had a Floyd Rose and I am kind of glad it doesn't. Other then that I spent so long looking at guitars that I already knew what I was getting into. I would highly recommend this guitar to anyone, not only for playability but for some reason people are drawn to the body shape, I have seen plenty around so it seemed common place but most people that check out my guitar are like "WHOA! thats a cool shape" (other peoples insight on this?) heck even if ya have to get the Epi to save some coin it still looks freaking AWESOME! Rock On Good People! 9/10 Aside from what I mentioned in this section this guitar met all of my requirements and even surpassed some of them. I consider it my first real guitar purchase (infact it was my first with my own money) and I have no regrets at all and think I made a Stellar choice.
Reliability & Durability — 10
+ Will this guitar withstand live playing? YES + Does the hardware seem like it will last? YES + Are the strap buttons solid? YES + Can you depend on it? Would you use it on a gig without a backup? YES + Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing? YES 10/10 I promise I will come back and comment if I find anything that makes my mind sway otherwise. But I have yet to be given any indication that this guitar could be a lemon. Its a Gibson and the quality is synonymous with the name, I am not a brand whore but I can certainly say there is a difference in quality between this guitar and a Epiphone Explorer, not saying the Epi wont be a quality guitar but its certainly not up to par with Gibson, that old saying "you get what you pay for" really came into play here. At first I was unsure if I wanted to spend that kind of money on a guitar but I am glad I did, I am confident this guitar will be around for a very long time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
You may think I am lying but this guitar came setup from the factory PERFECTLY, aside from tuning it back up from it's travel it was a dream to play, sadly it's in need of a tune up but that was my fault when I was cleaning it up I had the bridge and tailpiece off and screwed up the settings. I couldn't find any flaws with the guitar I checked it thoroughly before I even accepted it, I had only put a deposit on it for them to bring it in as I specified I had extremely high standards it had to meet, I passed up on three other in store models because of dents or dings. The wood is matched extremely well the body and neck of the guitar resonate almost identically when tapped (yes this does matter) 10/10 I guess this is where spending the top dollar on a guitar comes in, as I took this out of the Gibson cardboard box, tuned it to Estandard and have been playing it ever since. 7 months down the road and its pretty much still like a new guitar.
Features — 8
My Explorer is an ebony 1976 reissue, made in Nashville in late 2010. It has 22 frets, 24.75" scale with medium/jumbo nickel/silver alloy fret wire on a rosewood fretboard. Standard solid top, solid mahogany body, no maple cap, no veneers just plain jane finish that means serious business. The neck is also made out of Mahogany and is a hybrid between the classic 50's style neck and the more modern 60's neck its very slim tapered rounded neck that is a dream to play, I honestly haven't felt another neck like it. Its got an ebony nitro finish to it, standard Gibons finish nothing too special, it has had a long lasting mirror finish to it and has required little maintaining to keep it that way. It comes with a fancy shiny tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece and Grover mini tuners to keep her in tune and singing out long notes. The electronics are the standard Gibson passive electronics from the factory. The Explorer implements the 496R and 500T pickups, both of which are fairly high output pickups, the 500T and the Dirt Fingers are the two highest output pickups from Gibson. It has independent volume knobs for the pickups and a master tone knob for both, with the standard Gibson three way selector switch. Accessories included: Gibson Hard shell case. 8/10 - I would have been a little more impressed if the guitar came with more case candy then it did. I got nothing in the case with this guitar except a quality control check list and the Gibson tag. For $1500 they could have included a cheapo Gibson strap or something, also I never recieved the Free Gibson t-shirt I was promised when I purchased the guitar.