Price paid: $ 1100
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
I play a lot of different kinds of music, anything from progressive rock/metal to classic rock. The guitar is amazingly versatile, and can pretty much play anything you want it to. I play through either a Marshall MG100HDFX and 4X12 Marshall cab, or and Orange Rockerverb 100. For effects I have an Ibanez Vintage Tubescreamer Reissue, an MXR Pedal Phaser, MXR 10 band equalizer, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail reverb, among other things. The guitar handles all this madness so well, which is pretty amazing, because it is pretty obvious that I like to experiment with effects. Without effects though, the guitar sounds badass through my Marshall, and absolutely stunning through my orange.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar more than handles every type of music I play, considering I play everything from prog metal/rock to jazz, that is quite a feat. I have been playing for 5 years, and play about 3-4 hours a day, sometimes I skip homework so that I can play longer, I don't recommend that, but I digress. I own a Fender players Strat, an Epiphone Les Paul Custom, and Martin and Ovation acoustics. This is the guitar I play the most by far, this is my favorite, my baby. My favorite feature of this beast is the neck, butter soft and blindingly fast, after I lowered the action a bit, it was perfect for what I wanted. This guitar will beat anything in the price range. I directly compared it with equivalent Strats, Musicman's, Jacksons, ESPs, everything, and this thing trounced them all. Don't bother spending the extra money for any other guitar, buy this, you definitely will not regret it. Don't bother to buy the 61 reissue, it's cheaper just to buy the '57 classic pickups and retrofit them on this guitar like I did.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have gigged this guitar without a backup numerous times, without hesitation. After putting the strap locks on the guitar, I have had absolutely no fear of the strap falling off, which makes for much more worry free playing at the gigs. The hardware is real nice, though on the nickel pickup covers, something seems to be slightly building up. Besides this, everything has exceeded my expectations. This is the first guitar I have ever trusted enough to gig without a backup, which is saying quite alot.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory settings were not bad, though I lowered the action a bit, and adjusted the bridge to my pretty exacting specs. The pickups were not bad, though I replaced them a little later with a pair of '57 classics, but kept the original pickups just in case I wanted to change back. The original pickups were nice, but with the '57s this things screams, absolutely positively screams. Because this is a Gibson, none of the little things were done wrong, and overall I have no complaints about the fit or finish of the guitar. I have to say that the finish looks like it will age quite well, and that is something that I look for, because I can promise I will be keeping this guitar for quite some time.
Features — 9
The features on this guitar are pretty nice right out of the box. Handmade in the US just like all Gibson guitars, you can tell right away that this thing was meant to be played. I have the faded cherry finish, which is absolutely gorgeous. The Tune-O-Matic bridge is pretty nice, though I had to adjust it a little bit to get it how I wanted it. The strap buttons are kind of iffy, and I didn't decide to gig it until I put strap locks on it. Besides that, the guitar was pretty good stock.