Sonex 180 Custom review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 7.2 Good
  • Users' score: 7.6 (56 votes)
Gibson: Sonex 180 Custom
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Price paid: $ 279.99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 8
Read an Les Paul review for the sound, I liked it better than any other guitar I played that day. It's smooth and wavey, the sound lasts forever.

Overall Impression — 8
This seems to be a guitar that likes to be played more softly than hard. I was considering a new Fender Telecaster, but it just didn't have the sound I was looking for, it just seemed to play the note then die. The only other guitar I regularly played was a Tele of about the same era as this Gibson, but it was about $500 more. If I had the money I would have got it but this is what minimum wage gets you. This sounds great when you play some old Floyd or Zep. I don't play metal or punk or anything yet so I couldn't tell you what that's about. I love old stuff, I love ugly colors. I love this guitar, once I clean it up it should rival anything else I've played.

Reliability & Durability — 8
It's a Gibson, it will do fine. If it's this old and looks this good now, it will last another 20 years at least. It does however need the pots and switches cleaned or replaced.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I have no idea what this guitar was like off the shelf, it's older than me. It's straight, it's solid. But there is alot of crackling with the adjustment knobs, it's going to need new pots and switches.

Features — 6
The Gibson Sonex 180 Custom was a guitar made in the USA from 1980 to 1982. Made for those who could not afford a Les Paul. Besides the neck, all parts until were made in the USA until late '82, when Gibson put Japanese necks on the Sonex. The early necks were Rosewood, the Japanese made neck is a ebony bolt on, has 22 frets with dot inlays. The body is multi-phonic, wood core with a resin layer on top. This particular model is a satin off white with a black pick guard and ebony neck and head. Available colors included ebony, white, candy apple red, silverburst, or antique fireburst finish. Tune-O-Matic bridge, 3-way selector Switch, volume and tone knobs, with 2 exposed-coil Velvet Brick humbucking pickups. Mine didn't come with anything because it was used and over 20 years old, I kind of expected it.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ugotlucky
    Bought mine in 1980. Heaviest guitar you will ever play- Not designed for stage antics! Good sound. Coil tap switch on the hum buckers was a good feature as it allowed me to cover various rock band's songs back in the day. (Sometimes you needed that screeching single coil sound.) It still plays well and still holds my original set-up. Could use new frets of course. One tough, dependable guitar
    Nickthefish
    I bought a sonex on Sunday without knowing a lot about it. I do this kind of thing. I spent 2 hours annoying the guys in the shop playing all their stock, and to be honest it was best in its price class. Brand new American strats were slightly better, epiphone les pauls were not as good, particularly with sustain, and in the end I fell in love with the ugly duckling. It IS ugly but it IS cool. Get over it!! The cest guitar I was allowed to play in the range of 200-2000
    brianjfoster
    I've had my Sonex 180 since 1984 and it still sounds great. Got it for free from a friend of mine who needed the amp that came with it. Have played and recorded with it and it is easily the nicest playing guitar I've had.
    dangerawaits
    just bought one for my birthday and I am already very happy and for a USA made gibson I think the price is great value although yeah it is the heaviest guitar ever. I dont think it is ugly I prefer the les paul style to my strat anyday
    MylesPetro
    I own one of these, it's actually a really good guitar. And yes, it is pretty damn ugly. But it looks cool at the same time. It's like a skin and bones Les Paul.
    davideisaura
    I bought a 180 Custom in a NYC deaklership over 20 years ago, but abandoned it after about ten years when the head split. I recently decided to fix it, and when I sanded it down I discovered that the neck is made of various different bits of wood glued together. Not what I would expect from Gibson.
    Blash
    Really? You guys think they're that ugly? I think they're beautiful; plus, I'm getting one for my birthday along with a Kay archtop. Anywho, I saw a silverburst one somewhere on the Internet before. It looked amazing, wish I could find it again.
    stevenpollock
    Blash wrote: Really? You guys think they're that ugly? I think they're beautiful; plus, I'm getting one for my birthday along with a Kay archtop. Anywho, I saw a silverburst one somewhere on the Internet before. It looked amazing, wish I could find it again.
    Mine is silverburst