Price paid: £ 1849.99
Purchased from: Sound Control
Sound — 10
The sound of this guitar actually surprised me a great deal, I must say. As someone Who owns an Epiphone Les Paul Standard, which has PAF copies installed in it, the Burstbuckers they put in Les Pauls now sound nothing like PAFs. Which, in turn, kind of means that they don't sound like Les Pauls. I've found that knocking the tone down a quart to 7 or 8 makes it sound close to PAFs, but still different. The pickups themselves are pretty bright, and quite powerful. Not muddy at all. The bridge pickup is really good for high-gain stuff. The neck pickup is actually quite juicy. Doesn't sound as fat as a neck PAF. In fact, when on clean it's almost, dare I say it, slightly Strat-ish! They're brighter and punchier. They deal well with most styles I've tried. Which I hate saying, as that's what everyone always says in guitar reviews. It's true though, in this case. They're more distinct than PAFs (which are muddy, though I love them), and have a lovely bell-like sound when clean. Especially the neck pickup, which I am in love with. I've spent a lot more time playing my guitar clean since I got this Gibson, they just sound so lovely. There is not an issue with microphonic feedback. Harmonics, both natural and pinched, come easily with these Burstbuckers. I use a variety of amps and effects, and the guitar sounds great through everything I've tried it through. Overall, they aren't what I was expecting, and I was initially going to swap them for some PAFs. However, I've grown to like the sound of the Burstbuckers. They're versatile pickups which respond really well to the guitar's controls. Rolling back the tone fattens the sound (rolling it back to 5 or so really flattens the sound, and gets you in that lovely Jazz territory) somewhat. The sustain is great on this guitar, as you want from an LP.
Overall Impression — 4
I've been playing just over three years (laugh if you want, but I was unemployed for two and just wasted all my spare time playing guitar, so got good fast), play various styles of music, most recently going from Jazz/Fusion into experimental composition. Les Pauls are by definition of their simplicity, well-suited to many different things, and excel at a couple. They are of course perfect for generic Blues/Rock and Hard Rock stuff, but the new pickups I feel lend themselves well to other genres, and allow you to make some sounds and achieve tones which you wouldn't really associate with the Les Paul. It of course has the downsides and upsides inherent in the classic design, which I'm sure you all know of. Difficult upper-fret access, general weight and bulk being common downsides which are cited. Not issues for me, but I can certainly understand why people don't like the guitar for these reasons. Of course there's the upsides- lots of sustain, the guitar has a big, powerful sound on it, it's great for Jazz (Les Paul himself is a Jazz man, don't forget), has a versatile electronic design, while being a very mechanically-simple guitar. While the guitar is easily a 11/10 now, that's not why we're here, is it? I cannot look past or excuse the fact that this guitar was set-up so terribly that it was actually unplayable when it was Brand New. These were not small issues inherent with all new guitars, either. These were pathetic troubles which you'd associate with bottom-of-the-barrel beginner guitars, not high-end premium, limited edition instruments. I've heard a lot about Gibson's quality control being bad these days, and while I disagree with the "all Gibsons are weight-relieved", I have to agree with the quality control. It just isn't acceptable. I feel Gibson owe me the money it cost me to pay for a professional luthier to give the instrument what Gibson should have given it when it was made. When people play my guitar now and go "Wow, this guitar is *expletive* amazing!" I always inform them of the hell I went through to get it there. I also always advise them to stay the hell away from Gibson. As a guitar, it lives up to what it was supposed to be after some heavy work. Which would be acceptable for a cheap guitar. However, it's a cardinal sin in this case, and so I give it a 4, in terms of overall impression I had when it was Brand New. Another lesson, kids, is not to buy a guitar from mail-order or the internet. Make sure you go to a shop and play the one you're buying. The shop I got mine from wouldn't give me a refund, stating that those are manufacturer's issues, not theirs. If you simply 'must' have a Gibson, then get a pre-owned one, the previous owner of which has already had to go the the costly misfortune and misery of correcting Gibson's awful quality control issues. Alternatively, just don't buy Gibson. While I love my guitar to pieces, it also taught me a valuable lesson. I won't be buying Gibson ever again.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Durability-wise, this guitar is solid. It's a big hunk of mahogany, and the electronics show no signs of crapping out on me. There has never been any issue with noisy pots, or any scratching sounds when using the pickups selector. The tuning heads are nice and tight, and the volume and tone nobs aren't doing anything they're not supposed to do. One area of malaise was the rubbish strap buttons they put on the Gibson. Tiny and useless, is what they are. Why equip such an instrument with such pants strap buttons? I replaced them with Schaller strap locks, which are awesome and would heartily recommend to everyone, but that doesn't change the fact that their should have been better ones on there. Once again, comparing it to my Epiphone, which has massive strap buttons, which I've yet to bother replacing because a strap has never slipped off of them. It just seems silly. Surely they know that a guitar of this price is going to be a considerable investment to anyone Who's buying it. So then, common-sense must say that equipping this investment with such crap strap buttons which see the investment slipping off of it's strap and hurtling towards the floor, damaging the investment, is going to be a point of considerable annoyance to the investee? It's obvious to me, and probably obvious to you. Not obvious to Gibson though, apparently. For such a heavy guitar, as well. You might get away with such strap buttons on a really thin Ibanez guitar which has also had a large amount of the body hollowed out for the Floyd Rose making it really light. My Les Paul is really heavy, and such strap buttons were not apt. After a couple of hours of a new strap being put on, the strap had incurred enough weight-related stress to the point where it was flexing freely and coming off. The irony is, Ibanez and other manufacturers of light, super-Strat type guitars tend to equip them with strap locks as Standard. Gibson need to start doing that. Aside from the strap buttons, it's solid, and I have gigged it without a backup, nor fear of needing one. It's a dependable guitar (once being set up). The finish is your typical nitro-cellulose finish. Very beautiful, allows the guitar to resonate lots, but also very susceptible to damage. After installing the strap locks, I have no particular worries. But then, I wear my guitar really high. therefore, I've never really had an issue with 'buckle rash' etc. It has a few small dinks here and there. I'd have to point them out to you for you to see it, though. However, if you're one of those pillocks Who insists on hanging his guitar so low that it's round your ankles pretending to be Slash, then it will get knackered really quickly, I'm afraid. This is just a natural downside to nitro-cellulose, though. It's not specific to this guitar. So, I'm only going to mark it down on the useless strap buttons.
Action, Fit & Finish — 1
Here's where it all goes downhill. The guitar's set-up from the factory was absolutely terrible. It played like absolute crap. Buzzing everywhere, constantly went out of tune, the intonation was god-awful,, the high E made this terrible whining sound when plucked open, etc. I couldn't believe it. I can do most basic set-up tasks myself. I adjusted the action, did the intonation, even adjusted the truss rod. After I did this, some of these problems lessened or went away. Some of them refused to go away, though. Notably, the weird high E issue, and the tuning problems. I phoned Gibsons hotline, and was giving "Just play your guitar for a while, it needs settling in. Like a new pair of shoes" as an answer. Thanks. So anyway, even though that sounded like an outright lie, I did what the Gibson guy told me to do. After some considerable amount of time, the guitar was showing no improvements over what Ihad done myself by setting it up, so I did what any intelligent person would have done at this point, and took my guitar to a professional luthier (not a shop, a guy makes a living setting up guitars). This cost me a bomb, and when you've just spend nearly two grand on a guitar, was not funny at all. Turns out, the nut was very badly cut, and the frets were garbage. After this guy did some major work on my guitar, replacing the nut with a new one (matching the old pure white one, of course), shaping that properly, and re-shaping all the frets, all the problems were gone, and it played like a dream, better than I ever imagined. Stays in tune perfectly, now (the tuning issue was to do with the badly cut nut, according to the luthier). All in all, I think Gibson should be ashamed and embarrassed that a guitar which is supposed to be a premium instrument, and not only that, but a limited edition one, could be so woefully set-up at the factory. The Epiphone LP which I bought for 120 has none of these problems. This is further compounded by the guy on the Gibson helpline being the complete opposite of helpful, and just lying to me. It now plays as great as it looks, but that is no thanks to Gibson, that's just thanks to a local guitar technician, Who incidentally charges a lot of money. After this, I would never buy a Gibson guitar again, unless it as pre-owned, and had already been set-up etc by the previous owner. Gibson's quality control is non-existant, and you better believe it. I shouldn't have had to have spent an extra 200 to make the guitar into the one it should have been from the start. For this reason, the set-up on this guitar, and Gibson as a company, get a 1. I would give them a 0 if it were an option. It is simply unacceptable for such a high-end guitar to have such pathetic issues. If some Korean guy getting paid a penny a month can cut a nut properly on my 120 Epiphone Les Paul Copy, then whoever is doing it for the 'real' USA version, and a high-end limited edition one with Custom appointments that costs 1849.99, doesn't have any excuses. "It needs playing in, like a new shoe". No it doesn't mate, it just needs setting up properly at your god-forsaken factory.
Features — 10
This guitar has most of the basic Les Paul features, but with some minor differences. For simplicity I'm just going to list all the vital statistics, and then afterwards give my opinion on what I like, and what I don't like about this guitar. Gibson Les Paul Standard Limited Edition in Pacific Reef blue. The guitar's serial number is 025150652, and was made September 8th, 2005 in Nashville, USA, production number 352. The neck is the Standard 24-3/4" scale, the nut width is 111/16, with the "60s" slimmer profile. The guitar has 22 jumbo frets, on a one-piece mahogany neck, with an ebony fretboard, which has pearl trapezoid inlays. The inlays are of a slightly yellowish appearance. The body consists of a carved AA flame maple top, and a solid mahogany back. The finish is Pacific Reef blue. Includes the Gibson USA hardcase. Mostly Standard modern Gibson LP electronics and hardware, Burstbucker Pro II's in neck and bridge, Tune-O-Matic bridge, 3-way pickup selector (which from the top position to bottom equals neck, mixed, and bridge), and dedicated volume and tone controls for each pickup. Nickel Gibson Deluxe tuners, which are non-locking. OK, now that is over with, I will give my opinion. I've had this guitar since early 2007, I've used it a lot, done some gigs with it etc, and so feel that I can give an honest review that isn't an "OMG I just bought a Gibson" review. As stated above, this guitar is a limited edition run, and is absolutely gorgeous. One of the best-looking guitars I have ever laid eyes on, and that includes guitars I've seen in pictures, on the television, etc. I say Pacific Reef 'blue', because I have seen one other Pacific Reef which was very green. My one is predominantly blue, with some subtle hues of green. Sort of like teal in colour, but heavily weighing towards the blue side of things. Anyhow it's beautiful to look at, and the picture above does it no justice at all. There are other differences between this and the normal Standard. This one has an ebony fretboard, like the Customs have, the single-ply binding is pure white (along with pure white pickup rings and nut), rather than cream, and the binding goes around the headstock, like on the Customs, but only with a single-ply. The truss rod cover has 'Les Paul' written on it (rather than being plain black), and instead of 'Les Paul MODEL' being printed on the headstock, there is a limited edition inlay decal. All the hardware is nickel. Nickel tuning heads (instead of the green key Kluson ones), nickel pickup covers, nickel TOM and stoptail, nickel strap buttons, and even a nickel plate on the jack input. It all looks very, very nice indeed. One major thing that you should know about nickel, is that it wears very easily, and is similar to brass in this respect. The bridge pickup quickly started to develop a brown patch on the corner where my hand sits. It's not rust, and comes off with metal polish (again, like brass). However, if you want to keep it shiny, you have to polish it a lot. It doesn't particularly bother me. I polish it now and again, and you'd only particularly notice the smears on the metal if you looked close. But it's worth knowing all the same. As for the rest, it's mostly your typical Les Paul, really. I read a lot about how modern Gibsons are weight-relieved etc. I don't disbelieve this. All I can say is that my guitar is very heavy. I don't believe that this guitar has been weight-relieved. I can't know that for sure, of course. I have tried my best to find out. None of Gibson's documentation on this guitar say it is weight-relieved, though they do state that on some of their guitars. I've also played other Gibson Les Pauls which are lighter than my one. The only one that wasn't was a friend's Custom. The neck is nice and fast, and I love the ebony fretboard. Feels like glass. I take good care of my fretboard and oil it once every month or so. It's certainly a very easy guitar to play, so long as you don't mind the Les Paul heft and shape. The hardcase is nothing new. In fact, I'm pretty sure I got the wrong hardcase from the shop. It's just a normal Gibson USA hardcase, with the little lock and whatnot. In the compartment inside the case was manual etc, but also a cream Gibson scratch plate? All the binding etc on this guitar is pure white. So yeah, wrong case I think. Not that I care. It's a great case, has a combination lock, and I feel at ease when it's in there. All in all feature-wise, it is everything it stated it was going to be. I can't fault it in this respect. It'd be nice if the bridge tone knob was instead a push-pull coil-tap, but I knew it wasn't before I bought it. Maybe I'll do that mod in future. I'm at odds over whether to mark it down for the nickel tarnishing quite easily, because it's something which people actually like about nickel. It accumulates that nice "well-played guitar" look about it fairly easily, but at the same time only needs polishing to make it look like new again. Feature-wise, you could give this guitar a zero because it's so simple. Barely has any 'features'. However, that is the hole point of this much-loved design. The one thing it does which you can't really do on most other guitars (without modification) is that, because each pickup has it's own dedicated volume and tone controls, you can set them up as a sort of gain-boost. You can set your amp wide-open for solos etc, and then set one pickups volume just with the controls on the guitar to 2 or 3. s most of you'll know, this really cleans up the sound. From here, all you need to do is flick that switch to the other pickup for a solo. You can even set up a cheap 'kill-Switch' like this. Overall, classic Les Paul design, with a few choice hardware augmentations.