Price paid: £ 500
Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 8
Right, quick note here. I'm not such a fan of active pickups. However, I have no problem with others using them, I just prefer the dynamics and warmth of good set of passives. So if I say anything bad about actives, don't take it personally. Anyway, the bridge pickup provides a nice bright clean sound and rolling off the tone control provides it with a bit more warmth. However the neck pickup is where you really get your warm clean tones. I play a lot of cleans when I'm writing so I don't have to borrow an acoustic so this should suffice. Now, my style of music varies, I play a lot of classic rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Thin Lizzy), some modern metal (BFMV, A7X, Black Veil Brides, Slipknot), Modern Rock (Alter Bridge, Theory Of A Deadman) and then technical stuff like Muse and InMe. I use a Fender Mustang II amp so depending on what I'm playing I will use a different amp model. So for the classic rock it sounds perfect. I mean, a lot of that stuff was played on Les Pauls so go figure. It can do the bluesy overdriven feedback tone perfectly. The first thing I played on it was "Whole Lotta Love" and it soudned brilliant. For the modern metal stuff it also works, I haven't put it in anything lower than Drop C# So I have no idea if the pickups will get muddier as I go lower. I just change amp models and adjust my Effects pedals accordingly. The modern stuff also sounds great. The passive pickups really make every note as clear as the last, and they really respond to your picking, for example, I was using a very HOT Marshall-esque preset on my amp, and all I had to do was pick lighter and lower the guitar's volume slightly and it cleaned up just like that. The neck pickup isn't so great for dirty sounds, but you don't really ever expect that.
Overall Impression — 7
This guitar compliments my style of music very well. It's my 4th guitar but my first one that I would call "high quality", the last one being a Dean Baby V and then 2 knock off Strats. If it was stolen I would kill the guy that did it. Or failing that buy it again. I love almost everything about it. The weight is a slight issue but I'm not exactly a small guy so I'll manage. The visual blemishes are also a bit of a letdown, but for 500 I got a made in the USA Gibson Les Paul. And owning one of them has been my dream since I started playing.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Right, the hardware seems solid. The tuners hold tune perfectly and unless I want to change tuning, once a day seems okay. The bridge hasn't given me any troubles and the frets are nice and even. It's one heavy beast of a guitar, and it's weight relieved! I can't imagine if it was 100% solid. I'd assume it would withstand gigging, I put Schaller Straplocks on it so I would gig with it. I could rely on it without a backup. The finish seems like it will last but age tastefully over time. I'd give it more but there really isn't anything else to say. It's just a solid, heavy, roadworthy workhorse.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Right, now here's where I have a few issues. As far as playability goes, the guitar is great. The 60s slim taper neck is perfect for me. I have a double jointed thumb so I can't play on really thin necks, but this is thin enough to play and thick enough to keep my thumb in place. The neck joint is solid and well done. The action is fine and the finish on the body, headstock and back of the neck is perfect. But it is very obvious they have stained the fretboard darker. When I looked a lot of the frets were a strange orange/brown colour on the sides. I was ready to send it back as I thought they were rusty. However I scratched some off and it was just like varnish, they also got some on the side of the nut. So I cleaned up all the frets and they're fine now. The only other issue I have is that a few of the frets are slightly yellower than the rest. So those few cosmetic blips aside, the guitar is still great.
Features — 8
*This is not the "Les Paul Studio Satin"* My Uncle got me this guitar as a joint "Birthday/Christmas/Doing Well in exams" present a few weeks ago. From the information on the back of the headstock it was made in the USA in 2012. It has the standard Les Paul body shape. The body is made of Mahogany and has a solid maple cap. It isn't flamed or anything but the guitar is covered in a satin ebony finish so I really couldn't see the point in using flamed or book-matched maple. The neck is also made of mahogany, a wood I have never had on a guitar neck before but I already love it. It feels a lot smoother than maple, in my opinion of course. The fretboard is baked maple. I know a lot of purists seem to dislike the baked maple but honestly it looks like rosewood and I had to check the specs online because I honestly couldn't tell the difference. It also has 22 frets, they feel like medium jumbo. The neck has a satin finish so that makes it incredibly smooth to play. The bridge is the standard Gibson Tune-o-Matic with the stopbar and it comes with the Kluson Deluxe Vintage style machineheads, which stay in tune remarkably well. It also has a pair of Gibson passive pickups, the 490R in the neck and the 498T in the bridge. They sound great. But I'll get onto the sound later. The controls are fairly standard. A volume and a tone for each pickup and a three way pickup selector switch. It also came with a very high quality padded gig bag, but I ordered a Gator case for it so the gigbag won't get much use.