Price paid: $ 529
Purchased from: MusiciansFriend
Sound — 9
The guitar sounds great for blues, blues-rock, classic rock, and even the little bit of country that I play. I mostly play it through a Vox VT20+ or a Fender Mustang I. People are complaining about the P-90s being hotter than expected, but guess what - there are these things on your guitar called volume and tone knobs, and contrary to popular opinion they don't have to be left at 10 all the time. You can get plenty of variety in tone with just minor adjustments to your volume and tone controls. These pickups are very responsive to both these controls and variations in your attack. Simply put, they sound great. There is some slight hum (as with any single coil), but last time I checked there is no sin in some noise in the background of rock and/or blues music.
Overall Impression — 9
Some final impressions - again disagreeing with many other reviewers. I really appreciate the chambered body. Les Pauls are heavy, but this one is far lighter than many I have played - a big plus for my aging back and shoulders. I don't notice that this hurts the sound even a little. The baked maple fretboards are a huge improvement over the rosewood. They feel far more firm and result in a much lower tendency for the sound to muddy up - always an issue with LP's. I love the 60's neck taper. My last Paul had a 50's neck and it was like a baseball bat. This is far more comfortable and easy to play. While I would have liked a hardshell case, Gibson has definitely improved its gigbags. This one is very nicely padded and has a very clunky zipper that looks like it will last forever. Kudos also to Gibson for going back to including a trussrod wrench with their guitars. Getting rid of them a few years ago was a STUPID idea. Final note - If anyone's wondering about the price - Thanks to MusiciansFriend for their 150% price match guarantee. I know some people lament that sites like this have killed local guitar businesses, but MF is an awesomely honest seller. Overall, this is a great guitar and I got it for an even better than great price.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Everything is solid and well built, but this is a Gibson, and you just know it's one drop away from a snapped-off headstock, so I would be lying if I went higher than a 7. Like I said, other than that, it's fine. Neck is solidly inserted into the body, bridge is as stable as it would be if it was inserted in concrete, and I am a huge fan of the green tuners (in fact, if I ever got a Les Paul with any others, I would immediately switch them out - Les Pauls only look complete with the green tulips on the headstock).
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I was very surprised at the set-up, because I have not been pleased with other Gibsons out of the box. This one was ready to roll immediately. Action was low, intonation was very good, pickups were well balanced, and the frets were perfectly pleked (Gibson is now putting all their guitars on the plek machines, and it's a real plus). Those who are complaining about the neck pickup overpowering the bridge should try some Ernie Ball SuperSlinky 9's on their guitar. The lighter gauge vibrates more freely and helps eliminate that problem. These strings also open up the sound on virtually any axe (yeah, I know, some of you are going to rip me for using unmanly strings, but sound is more important to me than impressing other men with my steel cable gauge strings that sound muddy and rip up my fingers. Superslinkys are IT when it comes to tone and playability.) I also like the finish (satin ebony) and all parts fit perfectly. I always thought the upscale Les Pauls were a little ostentatious for rock and roll anyway. Isn't it supposed to be raw and raunchy? Besides, who ever decided that surrounding beautiful tonewood with a strip of cheap plastic somehow made a guitar more classy? I can understand people loving the natural wood binding on PRS's, but the plastic stripping on Gibsons? - I never got the attraction.
Features — 9
Mine is a 2011. Made (as all Gibsons are) in the good old USA. 22 medium jumbo frets on a 60's slim taper neck. Mahogany body and neck with a maple cap on the body and a baked maple fretboard (contrary to what many believe, Gibson isn't putting rosewood on most of its guitars any more). Satin finish (officially "worn nitrocellulose) with a stopbar and Tune-O-Matic bridge and 2 P-90 pickups. 3-way selector with separate volume and tone controls for each pickup. Grover Kluson style green tulip tuners. The guitar came with the "deluxe" Gibson gigbag.