Price paid: $ 900
Purchased from: Some guy from Craigslist
Sound — 9
I play metal, metal and more metal. There are a lot of guys out there that say that a Les Paul is not a "metal" guitar, especially this particular model. I beg to differ strongly. Anyone that says that a Les Paul "can't do metal" is full of crap and needs to stop playing their Deans long enough to see the world beyond their ridiculous pointy headstock. Obviously, the addition of EMG active pickups are going to instantly "metalize" any ol' guitar but in this case, the marriage of these pickups to the BFG is a huge winning combination. My amp of choice is Peavey 3120 with a 6505 4x12 straight cab. Not sure what speakers it has in it but I am sure that they are the stock 75-watters. I also previously used a Peavey 6505+ as well but I liked the 3120's sound much better, especially the cleans. For effects, I am using primarily MXR/Dunlop fx (Carbon Copy Delay, Black Label Chorus, Micro Flanger, Zakk Wylde Wah), Boss Tremolo and an ISP Decimator noise suppressor which is essential for the Peavey 3120/6505 series. I am very happy to say that after years of buying/selling/trading gear, especially guitars, over the years that this BFG is my main weapon of choice. Before this, my other main guitar was a Les Paul Studio Platinum (also with the EMG 81-85 combo) but as I'm getting up there in age (40), the Studio was starting to get quite heavy on my back and over the years she has gotten very battle damaged so I needed to find a good replacement that wouldn't kill my back or my tone. Since the BFG is chambered, it's very light compared to the other Les Pauls. In fact, I will go so far as to say that this guitar is the lightest of the bunch but still packs a huge wallop in the tone department. As far as tones are concerned, I had mine modified to suit my metallic style of playing but this guitar overall is extremely versatile to handle many different types of music. It will do metal just as well as rock, punk, country, jazz and pretty much anything out there.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing guitar since I was a wee lad (1978) and I couldn't be happier with this guitar. Of course, there are always going to be one or two things that you wish your guitar had but in reality, that's an impossibility. The lack of features on this guitar actually puts more of the focus on your playing and less on the the guitar itself. If it were lost/stolen, I would search the ends of the world and find the dirty bastard that had the balls to put their grubby little paws on my weapon and violate them anally with a meat cleaver. And if I had to buy it all over again, I would do so in a heartbeat (or if my bank account/wife would allow me to do so...) On the surface, it would appear that Gibson was merely looking to suck more money out of our wallets by featuring a guitar that looked like it was simply cobbled together with leftover parts but that's actually a plus here in quite a number of ways. The guitar is definitely not a museum piece nor is it one of those "holy grail" type of guitars where you put it in a climate controlled vault in the hopes of it fetching thousands of dollars half a century from now. No, this guitar was meant to be played and HARD. You can't ask for a more "battle ready" axe and if that isn't metal, then I don't know what is.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have played many shows with it since I purchased/modified it and it has never let me down once. Never even broken a string. I could walk onto any stage and never worry that it won't give me 100% every time. Not only can I depend on it for playability, I can also depend that it will always get attention. I always get at least 2-3 guys to approach me after a gig and they specifically compliment me on my BFG and it's tone. I can't think of this happening with any other guitar I've had before. As I mentioned above, I have an ESP LTD Viper-300FM for a backup, but rarely ever do I have to pull it out of it's case. I have never even broken a string with my BFG and it stays in tune very well even after the abuse I put it through show after show. This guitar has also survived its shared of cold Michigan winters where it sat in the back of a frozen van with really bad shocks and suspension and after letting it warm up in the case for a bit, it comes out swinging. The same can be said for the blistering HOT summers it's played through as well as my hotter than Hades rehearsal room with me sweating like a whore in church over it. It may look like it's been through Hell but that's the charm here. I see so many guys take an expensive guitar like a PRS and they're afraid to play it with total conviction because it might get scratched, dinged, dented, sweated on, etc. This is not one of those guitars. It may not be pretty and granted, Gibson guitars are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination and the BFG can seem quite pricy for a guitar that isn't "finished" but you can rest assured that this guitar will take a knocking and come out rocking every time. You don't even have to worry about scrubbing and buffing it with lots of solvents and cleaners because there isn't any shiny surfaces to be concerned with here. I simply take a terry cloth and give it a good wiping after playing it and I'm good to go. Definitely built to last for the long haul.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I play in "Drop C" tuning so this guitar can handle high gauge strings (I use GHS Boomers, .52-.10s) and it doesn't sound muddy or farty whatsoever. In fact, my notes are more crisp with definition than they had ever been before, especially at such a low tuning. Start/stop/stacatto riffs now sound effortless. Even my backup ESP LTD Viper-300FM, which also features EMGs, doesn't even sound this good and that is definitely a "metal" guitar. I had the action setup quite low and although it's not a "shredder" guitar, I can bust out a solo and not have it fret out or have choked notes (which my Viper is infamous for, especially the 13th fret on the G string). As far as the little cosmetic changes (i.e. knobs, truss rod cover, strap locks, etc.), that was a no-brainer. A guitar should be aesthetically pleasing to you and never a source of embarrassment, which those wooden knobs definitely were. It might run you a little bit of coin to make the mods that will suit your needs/tastes but considering that your guitar is an extension of your creativity, it should also greatly reflect your personality as a player. As far as any flaws on this guitar, for once, I couldn't not find any. The lack of finishing adds a special cosmetic touch and charm to the guitar. Many people have checked out my guitar and commented that it looks like a "snakeskin" type of finish and it really gets people's attention, especially since it's a silverburst. It might take you a moment to get used to a neck that doesn't have inlay markers on it but not to worry. There are little dots on the side of the neck so you won't lose your way at all, even in low light settings. Speaking of the neck, it might feel a bit rough at first but once you get the feel for it, it's super fast, zero dead spots or fret buzz and very comfortable to play. Even now, I will find myself practicing for hours and not even realize the time of day.
Features — 9
My BFG is a Silverburst model, made in 2008 (USA of course) and I purchased from a private seller on Craigslist in 2011. As far as Les Pauls go, this particular model is about as bare bones as one can get. It is a chambered body style with an unsanded carved maple top, mahogany back, 1950s style rounded mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard. The scale length is 24-3/4" with 22 frets, Hardware includes: distressed black chrome (trans black finish), stopbar (distressed) tailpiece, Tune-O-Matic bridge. It has two volume knobs and one tone (wooden knobs, which I quickly replaced with speed knobs). Other features include distressed Grover tuners, mini toggle switch for pickup selection and a "kill switch" toggle (which is probably the coolest feature on a Les Paul ever). When I bought the guitar, it originally had a BurstBucker3 passive humbucker in the bridge (hard mounted without a pickup collar) and a P-90 single coil in the neck. Impressive sound and tone if you're playing punk or hard rock, but since I play metal, the tone was a little too light for my taste so I had the pickups replaced with an EMG 81 in the bridge with a pickup collar installed and an EMG P-85 active single coil in the neck. It came with a Gibson hardshell case as well. What it lacks in features, bells and whistles is a charm here. This is not your father's or your granddad's Les Paul. Word of advice: take the standard strap pegs off immediately and install locking guitar straps right away, especially Dunlops. They will make life so much easier for you.