Price paid: £ 1599
Purchased from: GuitarGuitar
Features: Well it's a bit like a Les Paul really, it has the usual LP features, high gloss finish, flamed maple top, mine is a 2011 Classic Plus model, so where it does differ is the neck. Mine has the '60s style slim neck with Gibson's new Baked Maple fretboard. HOT 496r and 500t p'ups with individual controls, Kluson deluxe tuners etc. Came with a nice case, inside which were all the paperwork for the warranty, owners manual, truss rod tool and the pickguard and all fixings. GuitarGuitar also kindly gave me a strap too. We all know what a Les Paul does and based on the fact that I wanted a Les Paul for that sound/feel it can only be a 10 lol. // 10
Sound: I play a lot of different stuff, like really different. From blues, classic rock etc to more obscure stuff and a bit of pop. Just for a little insight, my last gig's set list included "Little Lion Man" (Mumford And Sons), "Brown Eyed Girl" (Van Morrisson), "Comfortably Numb" (Floyd), "All Your Love" (Gary Moore) just for starters. It suits me very well to be honest. Obviously there are some things that only a Strat or similar can do, and that's why I have one of those too. I use a 30 watt Marshall amp, with the tiniest bit of reverb. The Classic's ceramic p'ups are a little hotter than we're used to in our Les Paul's but with use of the volume and tone knobs you can still get the old fashioned tones we all know and love.
If anything they add a little versatility as it's possible to push them a little harder than the standard PAF clone. They really scream if you want to but roll back the gain and back off the volume a little and you get a nice crunch. Cleaned up, they really sing, the neck pickup is very mellow and really sings beautifully. The bridge pickup is a lovely bright pickup clean, and in the middle position you get a lovely bright, clear sound, and it's even possible to get a bit of twang if you use your fingers a bit. Now where this one differs is in that it has a baked maple fretboard. This doesn't sit well with some purists, but I love it, it has the smoother feel and slightly brighter sound of ebony without making the tone harsh, just a little clearer, but mine is quite dark in appearance and looks like Rosewood. I love it. I am aware that the pickups and board are not to everyone's taste so I'll give an 8, however it's near perfect for me. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: This guitar plays beautifully. It was set up by Gibson's PLEK system, which basically finishes the frets and sets the action specific to a particular guitar. Does a lovely job too. The action is nice and low, but not so low that it buzzes and chokes. The action is very light for 10 guage strings too, so very easy. Haven't had to touch a single thing on it... Hell I haven't had to tune it since the day I got it. It's just so stable. It went out of tune a few times the day I got it while the strings were breaking in but since then it's been fine. Had it about 8 weeks now... Amazed. The finish is beautiful, it is a high gloss Vintage sunburst (like tobacco burst) with a stunning bookmatched AA flamed maple top. The chrome hardware is all bright and shiny. The ONLY flaw on the entire thing is a small file scrape on the binding between the end of the neck and the front pickup, very small and not really noticeable. If it weren't for that it would literally flawless. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I've only had this guitar 8 weeks, but I haven't had any teething troubles at all. All the hardware is solid and has a real quality feel to it, although I do have concerns over the plastic jack plate, purely because of it's position. If it ever breaks I shall just replace it with a metal one though so no biggy. The strap buttons are solid, but due to their position I do use Dunlop twist locks on them (the guitar is worth more than my car so buying another isn't an option). I would never gig without a backup, as I'm not a fool, but I could if I had to. The finish is very nice but as it's early days and it's the first guitar I've had with nitro laquer I can't comment on the longivity of the stuff. I don't have any concerns though. // 9
Overall Impression: I have already stated the huge variety of music I play and apart from the times when only a Strat will do, it is a superb match for my style. It can do the good old fashioned Les Paul thing beautifully but really crank it up and it will do a good High gain Gary Moore sound, or cut back and go glassy clean. Brilliant. I have been playing for 9 or 10 years now and have also been doing setups for a long time. Currently I also own a Vintage VS6 (SG copy) and if you want genuine Gibson SG tone and quality but without the price tag and the Gibson logo try one out... Mine is 8 years old now and is still good as new. I also own one of the Mexican made limited edition Fender Stratocasters with the deep Satin paint which is 7 years old now, and that is another very good guitar. I use all my guitars through the 30w Marshall, and a Peavey Bandit 112 in the studio. I use minimal effects, just a volume pedal, and very occasionally a wah pedal.
When I started looking for a Les Paul I had a clear picture in my head of how it should look and feel and sound. It had to have a slim neck, had to sound chunky yet clear, and it had to be heavy with a nice flame top. I am fortunate enough to have played an original 1960 Les Paul burst as a friend has one, and my pal's dad had an unusual Les Paul which looks like a standard and has trapezoid inlays but bizarrely on an ebony board and with a heavily quilted maple top. I was fairly sure I'd be looking for a Les Paul Standard, but no. The 2008 and 2012 Standards felt too light, I didn't like the asymetric neck profile and they sounded a tad weedy. I liked the Traditional Plus but no-one local to me had one with a 60s neck. I liked the classic custom a lot but alas no flame top. Then I spotted the very guitar I bought, the top caught my eye. The girl in the shop pulled it off thew rack and handed it to me and it felt immediately right. The weight was there, the neck was perfect and the sound was immense. What can I say, I fell for it. It was exactly what I was looking for. And when you take into account it's about 300 cheaper than what I was prepared to spend it seems something of a bargain too. If anything happened to it I'd be gutted as I can't afford another and I have a very strong bond with it... I am going to insure it so that it will be replaceable in that sense, but the bond I have with it is irreplaceable. It would have been nice if Gibson still threw in the care kit and strap like they used to, but I got a free strap anyway and I can overlook that minor omission. All things considered, I am one very happy camper. // 10