Price paid: $ 520
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
I had a MIM hss Strat for 5-6 years before getting my LP. Don't get me wrong, the MIM Strat is a great guitar but there were things that really annoyed me like, it never stayed in tune quite right and there was a lot of fret buzz. I was debating getting a used USA Strat until I picked up the gibson. Yes there are sounds that can only be gotten with a single coil but once I heard that thick, meaty, mellow Gibson tone, I was in love. Playing jazz thru the neck is just soulfood. There's no hum at all at least until I turn up the gain on my Boss md2. I'm not a huge fan of the bridge pickup clean. I think it's a little too punchy too much attack, but not much. I love it with effects/distortion. Playing Tool on my Fender was quite frankly a joke but when I tried it with the gibson, again: thick and ballsy. The bottom end is just so thick, and the top was a lot more manly than my Fender too. To give a classical example of what all this "thick and meaty" means its like having one cello play an open 5th or having a cello and bass section playing an open 5th. If you're looking for something to play in a pink floyd cover band, this isn't for you because the sound is completely different (I'm a big floyd fan) but I do love it for everything else. After a month I put on D'Addario chrome xl, jazz lites I think (.11-.50or.52). They're flatwound and very mellow on the neck pickup. Very smooth too. I didn't expect them to be good under distortion but gues what. They are. I love them except they're so thick and tight, bending over a step is veeerrry hard.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a very versitile guitar. One minute you could be serenading a hotty with jeff buckley and then go to a gig with you're metallica tribute band, followed by a session at Blue Note. If you like the thin Fender neck or have small hands, this may not be you're thing, but as always, play it to see. I think the tone is marvelous but I do miss the sound of a single coil sometimes. It can be played hard w/o going out of tune and for the price you get all the Gibson goodness. You can change tunings easier than a Fender can and for where I am in my playing, it's great, Definatly the bridge between MIM or a epi lp std and a $2000 guitar of any kind.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It will definatly last. I take good care of all my instruments and this will be not exception, but accidents to happen. What seems to happen the most is if hit or dropped hard, the headstock snaps off which is a problem. If you look on ebay, there's a lot of lp's (gibson and epi) with re-attached headstocks.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory set up was great, not buzz, .10 guage strings. Life is good. Unfortunatly when I changed strings (ernie ball .10) I got frett buzz all over the joint. I was getting sick of this, tried to raise the bridge which helped a little. After taking it to a guitar store, we discovered the buzz wasn't comming thru the amp. When I put the xl chromes on, there was no more buzz, apparently because the xtra tension pulled the neck up a little and the strings got a little further away from the board. The tuners and knobs are nice and smooth. Everything was very well put together. I do understand that this is the "bottom" Gibson guitar but I really wish it wasn't chambered.
Features — 9
Carved Maple top, chambered mahogany body Gibson 498t and 490r Mahogany neck w/rosewood fretboard, corian nut Tuneomatic bridge volume/tone for each pickup (4knob) Would rather it came with a hard case and not a (very nice) gigbag