Price paid: $ 1006.5
Purchased from: MJ's Music
Sound — 10
Oh the sounds! It sounds better than anything ever! I mainly play blues (it works great because of the sustain), rock (it works great because of the tone), and metal (it works great because of the rich harmonics), but it also works for punk and I'm sure it would work fine for jazz or country or anything. I play it through either a Carlsbro Kickstart 10, which is my practice amp, or a 100-watt Fender Vibroverb if I'm gigging. I don't use many effects, just a Dunlop Crybaby and an old MXR overdrive pedal. It's completely noiseless, and on the bridge pickup setting it really sings. On the neck pickup setting it's still awesome, but gives a much chuggier sound. And when you do tapping it sounds like the best thing ever.
Overall Impression — 10
I play classic rock, classic metal, blues, and proper, Ramones-style punk. At the moment, this is probably the best looking sounding and feeling guitar for these genres. I've been playing for about 3 years, and I also have a Fender Stratocaster, a Kramer Vanguard, an Epiphone Hummingbird, and I've got an Epiphone Dot on order at the moment. If I did lose it or it was stolen, I would either buy another one or get an Explorer, because when I was buying this it was a toss up between the two. I love the style of it, I used to hate playing it sitting down, but now I've got used to it. In comparison to my Kramer, it wins hands down, in comparison to my Fender it's much better for rock, and I've played Les Pauls and I prefer it to them.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Since I got this guitar, it's been the only thing I've played with live, because it's actually been the only one I've needed. I use my Strat or my Kramer Vanguard as backup, but I haven't needed to use them at all. The strap locks are great, and the finish seems soft but durable.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar's action was great straight away, really low and really nice for bending and tapping. The pickups were set up perfectly, and the bridge (apart from two of the saddles) is great. It's easy to reach the high frets, and having mainly played a Strat, it's much easier to play solos.
Features — 9
Made in Tennessee, between 2005 and 2007. 22 Frets of wonder, really nice low action for lead work, but no fret buzz means chords sound really full and rich. It's got the Standard Gibson 24.75" scale length, which did feel quite different after I'd been using a Strat for the past year. The body and neck are mahogany according to the Gibson site, but my guitar teacher says it feels more like korina, and it certainly sounds too rich to be mahogany. The finish is very good, it lets the grain show through well. The finish does look a lot darker than the pictures on the Gibson site, but that adds a classic look to it. However, it is quite soft and so you'll probably not want to put it in a soft case to avoid damage. The bridge is a Tune-O-Matic, as on most Gibsons which makes re-stringing really easy, and increases the already great sustain. The only problem is that the saddles seem a bit loose at first so you lose some intonation. But that's nothing a screwdriver won't fix. Of course, a big selling point is the electronics. At the neck position is a 496R ceramic humbucker, and at the bridge is a 500T ceramic humbucker. The bridge pickup does come set very high, which gives two really good distinct tones, but can cause tone problems. The controls are two volume and one tone, with a 3-way switching configuration (bridge, neck or both). The tuners are Gibson Deluxe Greenkeys which hold the tuning well enough. The guitar came with a soft case, but I do suggest using a hardcase instead, because it's a nice guitar and you don't want it to break. But mine did come with strap locks on it, but I think that might have been done by the guitar shop rather than the factory.