Melody Maker Explorer review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.1 (7 votes)
Gibson: Melody Maker Explorer

Price paid: $ 300

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 10
You know what I think about this guitar's pickup? It's odd, Seymour Duncan designed pickup that I've never heard of before in my life? The one that I have trouble finding another one, unless it's stripped off this guitar? It's the best f--kin' pickup I've ever owned or heard. This thing is technically a "high output" pickup, some state that it's close to a SH6, I haven't personally owned a SH6, but know that both are high output pickups. This should technically suit the guitar towards metal or hard rock, but it's cleans aren't too fat or two chimey, low distortion sounds great, and it handles high distortion like a champ! This guitar has a sort of "boominess" to it, not bassy, but the notes just kind of boom off of it in a way that I can't really describe. For a cheap guitar, this thing really sounds good.

Overall Impression — 8
I play prog-rock and punk, this guitar is great for punk and does the job well for prog. I play it through my Peavey Ultra Plus. If someone stole it, I'd find them and beat them over the head with it, take the drugs they were probably going to trade it for, pull the pickup out of my now destroyed guitar, sell the drugs, buy an Explorer and put the old pickup back. Or buy another one in white. It plays as well as some of the lower end Gibsons I've played, better than most Fadeds in my opinion. I think my Epiphone 1958 Explorer plays better though. I wish it had a tone knob. Video from YouTube:

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Reliability & Durability — 8
She's a solid guitar, there's no doubt about that. It weighs next to nothing, but still feels solid, expensive, I don't see it breaking down. Heck, the electronics on this model are so simple, I doubt they'll ever break down. Like all guitars, the strap buttons are iffy, buy locks. This guitar would be my backup, but I'd totally go with this as my primary without a backup, it's a good enough guitar to not fear it going down. The finish is thin, after many years I doubt it will hold up in pristine condition, but refinishing it isn't out of the question for me.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Gibson is infamous for having horrible factory set ups, this was an exception, in my opinion. This may be because of the wrap-around bridge. The action was decently low, and the guitar has zero fret buzz. It's perfect in that aspect. The finish is a nice see-through satin black, but it's paper thin, if you happen to buy one of these, try and be careful with it. She holds a tune pretty well in my opinion, certainly not on par with Grover-equipped Gibsons or solid locking tuners, but it does it's job as intended.

Features — 8
- Solid Maple body available in three Satin finishes - Unique "Melody Maker" neck profile - Maple fingerboard with dot inlays - Seymour Duncan HB-103 ceramic humbucker with volume control - Vintage Kluson-style tuners with white buttons This guitar is designed to be stripped down, this is fine as it's a "no bullsh-t" instrument, it's supposedly meant to be a player with solid tone and no unnecessary bells and whistles added on. I'm find with this, but I have a few minor gripes: - There is no tone knob, yeah, it's not 100% necessary, but how much does that potentiometer legitimately cost Gibson? I guarantee they buy them in bulk for dollars each, the exclusion seems idiotic to me, and limits the sounds available for the instrument, and forced me to play with my amp a lot. - The headstock is the "Spear" variant, I think that the good ol' hockey stick headstock would have been a better choice, but that's a personal gripe. - The input jack is poorly placed, if you're jamming on some chords, you might hit it if you have a large strumming radius, but this is easily remedied by a 90 degree cable. - As a Gibson lover, I know that we all pay a little bit to have the name on the headstock, the name is only on the truss-rod cover on this guitar, some will hate this. On the bright side, it's neck is grand.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It doesn't have a Seymour Duncan (us) pickup. It has a Duncan Designed (asia) hb-103 which is modeled after the Sh-6 duncan distortion. I have the hb-102 in my esp explorer and it sounds phenomenal.