Price paid: € 700
Purchased from: www.thoman.de
Sound — 9
This guitar is surprisingly versatile. It is my singular work horse guitar for this year. I play mainly metal in my spare time, and have started playing with the local swing band. By rolling off a little tone and volume and switching to the neck p-up, I find it suitable. The p-ups are noiseless, which is a feature that is to me: invaluable. But the real beauty of this guitar is bridge humbucker, full volume and tone. Coupled with this guitar's solid and beefy construction, it is tonally brilliant. The sound can get a little muddy, but I think that is more the amp (Roland Cube 30 - ancient). Even acoustically, one can hear this guitar's tonal qualities. Despite it not being one piece of wood (I think it's 5 (+ the neck)), it sounds lovely and bright, with good sustain. This guitar has no hard lacquer which really "lets out the sound".
Overall Impression — 10
As I said before, nothing speaks better for this guitar's versatility than the fact that it will be my only guitar for a year. I have been playing for 5 years, and own a Fender Jaguar Special and a middle of the road Ibanez SA260FM, and naturally this guitar is my favourite (electric, my Taylor is a thing of great love and beauty). I play mainly through a little Marshal 30 Valvestate - which is a great amp, and I'd consider running it through a cabinet, it sounds very nice. I have no regrets about this guitar, and I would replace it if it were stolen. I also love the look. This guitar is so metal, yet I don't feel that I will scare old ladies with it. It is subtle in its symmetry and simplicity. It is a the best looking guitar I have ever owned (and Jaguars look pretty awesome). I have nothing to compare it to, it is my first HH guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is made for live playing. There is no finish to worry about, and in my opinion, and hard played and worn guitar (that you have made yourself by playing it for years) is very sexy. Apparently, this guitar is more prone to fading, but the colour is already "Faded Cherry", so one could say it would only be an enhancement. Another advantage of it being un-lacquered is that it cannot crack due to temperature or humidity change. The hardware is the same as any USA Gibson guitar, and if you can't trust them, the world is a sad place. I replaced the strap buttons with looking strap buttons (durrrr), and there was no problems with installation (I had read that one hole was too big, but it wasn't a problem with my model). As I said, there is no finish to wear off. I have no gigging experience with it yet, but it will be my solitary guitar for one year (I am currently abroad), and I plan on doing parties, as well as jazz in a big band. But I am confident that this guitar will last. Another good point to note that this guitar is deceptively light, and I feel I could stand with it for a big set just fine. It is not too awkward when sitting, but don't expect to be able to lean back in your favourite armchair and still play it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The factory set up was a little disappointing, but if you buy from a store, that should all be corrected there as part of your purchase. The nut is far too shallow, and I cannot get the strings close enough to the fret board without getting buzz. At the moment, the bottom E is maybe 6 or 7 mm off the 12th fret, which is not good. Another problem with the filing is that the difference between pressing the bottom E string against the first fret and against the fret board is perhaps a quarter tone. I discovered this when playing Opeth's "Blackwater Park", which is tuned in drop D, and it sounded horrible. As for the p-up's adjustment, I had to move them a little, but it really isn't hard to do at all and shouldn't be a deciding factor on purchasing this guitar. I had to adjust the truss rod, as the neck was slightly convex, where slightly concave is correct. This compensates a little for the incorrect nut filing, the action is only too high between the 9th and 15th fret. The wood is bookmatched superbly, I only found it was not one piece by reading the specs. Other than what I have mentioned, the guitar was set up perfectly, and there is nothing that a guitar tech couldn't fix with ease. Let me now move on to the true beauty of this guitar: THE NECK. It is superb. It fits the hand so well, it is nice and round at the nut, and nice and flat and thin towards the join to the body (or at least for a Gibson). Though I had been mainly looking at more "metal" guitars; Jackson, Ibanez, ESP, I find this neck profile much more comfortable, and it's nice and chunky to cling on to the get great bends. Even with the terrible action, I can play just as fast as I can with my Ibanez (it is an SA series, with an even faster neck than the RG series). Another advantage endemic to the "cheapo" un-lacquered Gibsons is that the hand does not stick or grip with the finish on the neck. I have heard that Gibson's quality control is going out the window, but there is nothing wrong that isn't fixable. Just for the neck, this guitar deserves a 10.
Features — 8
This is the typical, un-laquared, bottom of the line USA made Gibson. But don't let that deter you, it is affordable and doesn't have all this crazy new stuff that Gibson have gone mad with lately. Here is some copypasta from the Gibson site: Body Body StyleFlying V Body SpeciesMahogany Hardware Plating FinishChrome TailpieceGibson Stop Bar BridgeGibson Tune-O-Matic TunersGrover Kluson Style Green Keys Electronics Neck Pickup496R Bridge Pickup500T Controls2 Volume - 1 Tone - 3-Way Toggle Control KnobsBlack Tophats with Silver Inserts Neck SpeciesMahogany NutCorian Nut WidthStandard Gibson: 1.695" +/- .050" Truss RodGibson Adjustable Truss Rod Truss Rod CoverFlying V cover, stamped with Gibson Logo Fingerboard Fingerboard SpeciesRosewood InlaysAcrylic dot Number of Frets22 Scale Length24 - 3/4" Case TypeFlying V Gigbag Case InteriorBlack Case ExteriorBlack SilkscreenGibson USA Logo It came with no tools, and seeing it is still a USA made Gibson, a hard case would be nice.