GIBSON LES PAUL ARTISAN, 1977
I bought this guitar used from "Honest Ron`s" in Oklahoma City because I had fallen in love with that inlay! It had an non original gold Bigsby and that mini-switch was already there. The original switching was gone. The toggle works as it would on a normal Les Paul and the mini switch brings in the middle pickup, switches it off or combines it with what is coming from the toggle. There is neither a volume nor a tone control for the middle pickup. Not really a perfect solution.
The guitar is quite heavy and has sustaiiiiiiiiin for ages. It has very powerfull pickups and screams and roars. The maple neck and the ebony fretboard make it`s sound pretty bright, fresh, tight and punchy.
I don`t use it a lot. It makes me play boring heavy rock stuff only, which is not my cup of tea anyway. I don`t like this very thin neck.
I don`t like these very flat and wide Gibson frets and I don`t like the nut either, that both contribute to bad intonation.
I don`t like the wiring and the place where the pots are. I`d like to have a master volume pot and a master tone pot only.
I don`t like the three piece maple top either and all that walnut color everywhere...
So, either there are many mods to be made or I`ll have to sell it...
GIBSON LES PAUL STUDIO `50s TRIBUTE, 2011
This was a Thomann exclusive model for approx. 700 Euros only!
I just had to buy it... an US Gibson that cheap!!! A modest but beautiful version with a chambered body and a fat neck.
Why it was so cheap became apparent as soon as it had arrived. The fretjob was a desaster. The thing was practically unplayable since the protruding fret-ends would rip my hands open. Also the un-bound body edge was too sharp to rest my right arm on. So I just did some sanding there...(Don`t panik, it`s just a cheap guitar... Yeah, it was US-made, but it still is pretty cheap - and cheaply built! I`m sure there are japanese and korean Epiphones with a much higher build quality...) But apart from that this is a very, very nice guitar! And it sounds like a real Les Paul. More so than my Les Paul Artisan...
After I had done a nice fret-end-job I started to like it a lot because it has a meaty 50`s neck, a natural mahogany back, a beautiful goldtop and now it plays very well.The fretboard is made from genuine rosewood (unlike with newer Gibsons). The funny thing is that the body is made from FOUR pieces of mahogany. Newer models by Thomann come with a black back to hide this. I would never have bought a black back though. Gibson / Thomann also offer a `60s version with a skinny neck and a model with P-90s.
These pickups here are hotter than PAFs, a 480R (with alnico 2) at the neck and a 498T(alnico 5) at the bridge. The pots are mounted on a PCB.
So there are some options for upgrading here as well.
But already without any modifications I like this guitar a lot better than my Artisan which cost three times as much.
In case you want to see more of this
PRS SE Korina 2
WHY AND HOW I RUINED MY
GIBSON LES PAUL STUDIO `50s TRIBUTE, 2011
I saw a picture of a beautiful Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul with natural sides and back and an opaque top in dark blue. I fell in love with it.
I decided to spray my Goldtop this way and I admit that I regret it now!
Then I made another mistake: I trusted a shop assistant when I wanted to buy that blue color in a spray can. He said it was perfect over nitro...
Then I made a third mistake: I didn`t test it first.
I simply didn`t know where to...
Then I sprayed it and had to learn that it didn`t work.
The new blue color just did`t dry properly.
Everytime you touched ( after days!) something of the blue would peel off ...
The next mistake: I didn`t try to peel the blue color off carefully in order to save the gold underneath. Maybe it would have been possible...
I took all the finish off. Front, back and sides.
I`m an Idiot: Instead of respraying the top, I was so fed up that I oiled it.
(but I kind of like the natural look, too)
UPGRADING A CHEAP LES PAUL
Since I have always disliked the Gibson pot layout and the fact that 2 volume and 2 tone pots are way to much for a single brain like mine, I decided to go all the way: I tore out all the electronics
and upgraded the gutar with this:
vintage taper CTS pots
an oil cap
50`s wiring (but only 1 master volume and -tone)
Gibson Burstbucker 1 (neck)
Gibson Burstbucker 2 (bridge)
ABM bell brass T-O-M bridge
ABM alu taipiece
Is it a fantastic guitar now that so many expensive parts are aboard?
No, but it is a good one and I like it a lot better.
I prefer humbucker pickups with lower output over the screaming monsters that came stock. I wouldn`t say that these acclaimed bustbuckers are totally amazing but the guitar sounds way better than before. But I`m a bit disappointed by the acclaimed 50`s wiring. I think I`d still prefer a treble bleed cap.
GIBSON ES-335 DOT FAT NECK ARD, 2011
The guitar is a bit dusty but this doesn`t mean that I dont play it. I like it, I love it, I play it very often and it is a very well made, beautiful and versatile guitar. But I can`t gig it because I`m to stupid for the Gibson way of wiring guitars... In a live situation I just can`t cope with four pots that are this far away from the strings... I don`t get along with volume pots that don`t have a treble bleed cap either and I don`t like that this guitar hasn`t got a cover on the back where you could easily reach the electronics in order to improve that old fashioned Gibson wiring...
So, you can guess what I`m after... there are some modifications to be made ... ouch! ... if I`ll dare, that is.
I took off the scratchplate because I`m thinking about some scratchplate-mounted mods in order not to spoil the guitar. Maybe a master volume pot (with a treble bleed cap, of course!) and a mini-toggle as a replacement for that far-away big one... We`ll see.
The guitar has a huge `59 neck. Some purists say that it is way to big campared to the real thing. But I love it just the way it is.
Gibson says the body is a little bit smaller and thinner than on other models ... but who gives a f...?
GIBSON S-1, 1977
The Norlin era is said to be the darkest chapter in Gibson`s glorious history. If anybody needs proof for that this guitar here delivers.
I had to buy it nonetheless because I`ve always loved the way it looks.
That pickguard shape on a Les Paul body, the Flying V headstock, the crazy pickups with see-through covers...
The gutar hit the shops around that time when I started to play guitar and rave about guitars. My schoolbooks are full of guitar drawings. I learned that there are two religions, the Fender and the Gibson camp...
And american guitars were so damn expensive over here in europe. Twice the US-price - at least. As soon as I saw one of these I fell in love with it. To pay tribute to that I had to buy it many, many years later although I wasn`t very convinced of it`s qualities...
It is a special Gibson guitar indeed in that it has a Fender scale of 25.5", a bolt on maple neck (three pieces, good qualitiy and pretty thick) and these three singlecoil pickups made by Bill Lawrence. Clearly an attempt to make a hardtail Strat. The wiring however is typically Gbson - too complicated and the volume knob is too far away. You have a 4-way rotary switch and a 2-way toggle instead of a 5-way selector like Strats have.
The bevelled Les Paul-style body is said to be alder or mahogany - I`m not sure but I think it must be alder dyed in a mahogany colour.
The gap between the neck and the neck pocket is really remarkable. Wide and deep enough to stick in as many plecs as you need to play a three hour gig. Not the greatest build qualitiy! The thick finish on the neck must be polyester, I`m not sure about the body...The frets are typical old fashioned Gibson - very flat and wide. I hate that. Playability isn`t that great. The bridge feels a bit unsubstantial. But I adore these beautiful nickel tulip tuner knobs.
The sound is weak and liveless and a bit sterile.
Yes, this is definitely a guitar that requires some serious modding...
GIBSON SG 50`s TRIBUTE, 2013
Since I was 13 and dicovered a young Aussie Band called AC/DC
I wanted one! My school books were filled with drawings
of this iconic body shape!
Later I discovered Pete Townshend and even later
The guys at Gibson USA try to build cheap guitars now. So they cut costs. You`ll get no pickguard with this beauty. That means less beauty. But you can retrofit one. 5-play. 30 bucks. Of course it will not fit exactly.
But what the f...?!?
The most important fact for me: Finally a SG with a fat neck!
all the rest can be modded...
But I don`t dare
replacing these P-90s
because this guitar screams and sounds extremely good!
If you want to know more about the
difficult to tell...
Try to buy both.
The Gibson SG 50`s Tribute
is cheaply made
(for an US-made model)
but still very nice!
The fret ends are terrible and will hurt you! But you might love to sacrifice one or two fingers for this guitar!
It is "the real thing"!
I don`t know why Gibson hate their customers and what they are punishing them for with this kind of "built quality" Or is it cynicism that they think "No matter how ridiculously lousy our fret ends are, people will still buy our guitars"
What about "Made with pride in the USA"?
You`d better write on these guitars: "The USA has nothing to do with it, blame the taliban!"
The fretboard seems to be a sandwich of two layers of rosewood. The P-90s hum terribly, even in the middle position, the pot layout is crammed and unpractical, the tuners suck, the volume pots make the sound dull if you turn them down and the toggle is hard to reach.
But this cheap guitar sounds fantastic!
Clean, crunchy and overdriven!
I `ll put a master volume pot with a treble bleed cap in it and get rid of that Schaller roller bridge again.
The Vox SDC-55
is 5 times better as far as the built quality is concerned.
The pickup sounds are very good and the switching options are more versatile.
But not "better". The pickups are just quieter.
I miss a treble bleed cap, too.
Surely one of the 14`297 most terrible mistakes I ever made:
Standard, all black,
Shoot me ... but NO PHOTO available (!)
1996, when AC/DC
went on their "Ballbreaker" tour in Europe
I took part in a competition ...
... and won it!
(Maybe the competition was already in september 1995
when the album was released.)
The first price was this all black Gibson SG Standard
autographed (by hand, with a silver pen) by Angus Young!
I got it
(not from Angus himself)
I owned it
I played it a bit
I never photographed it!
I didn`t like it
I swapped it.
...for this one:
Please forgive me, because I never will.
(click here if you want to see more of the Vigier)
Back to Gibson:
Some Remarks About Good Guitar Design:
BOTH, BALANCED AND DYNAMIC AT THE SAME TIME
I like "offset" guitars a lot, especially the first one, the Jazzmaster. But I think it is much more difficult to design a good looking offset shape
than a more symetrical one.
The ergonomic requirements of an electric guitar seem to demand and favor offset shapes a little bit. I think the greatest designs are the ones that manage to meet these requirements and still lead to belive that you see an almost symmetrical shape. The Strat, of course, is such a masterpiece of design and maybe even more so the Gibson SG does exactly that. The upper cutaway is larger and deeper than the lower one and the upper horn is a bit pointier and longer ...but it still looks pretty symmetrical and balanced although the design is aggressive and dynamic at the same time, too.
There is a fascination coming from that contrast that the shape is both, full of tension and harmonic at the same time just exactly to an extent that is perfect.
Not too wild and not too boring.
The SG even looks better with that little twist away from total symmetry than it would if it were totally symmetrical.
What an amazing design!
The pots and the pickguard contribute to this interesting tension in that they distract from the symmetry.
The lower part of the SG body is symmetrical and that way meets our urge to understand easily what we see. It brings back the sense of order
that we all like. Because oder is safety.
That`s why the Gibson SG still looks much better than it`s ESP clone which has much more "offset"-style.
Less asymmetry is more beauty.
This is something you can veryfy easily loking at people`s faces.
GIBSON FIREBIRD 2 FMT Body Project, 1982
Many guitar aficionados are not aware of the existence of this seldom seen Gibson Firebird 2 model.
We know the Firebird 1, 3 and 5 and also the ugly reverse models.
But this here is a rare bird. Not only had it "real" humbuckers and a flame maple top (FMT), but it`s construction is much more like what we know from "normal" Gibsons. No through-neck here, no raised center-section with attached body wings like all Firebirds have. No walnut.
This is an all maple flat top body routed out to get some clever Bob Moog electronices like the Gibson Les Paul Artist from that time had.
But I`m not sure about the details.
I think this is a very good looking guitar and I don`t understand why it obviously flopped in the early eighties. Probably because of theses electronics. Guitarists are very, very conservative.
Interestingly, Epiphone does offer a Firebird model today that has big humbuckers as well as a flat top and a set neck. So the origial concept wasn`t all wrong...only ahead of it`s time.
This was an Ebay find, a NOS from the Gibson factory, waiting to be frankensteined.
MORE GIBSON PROJECTS
These are two differnet Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar fretboards, both NOS.
The one on top is a limited model for a so called "Celebrity" model.
No idea who this celebrity was.
They have a Fender scale of 25,5" and 20 frets only.
Then there is this broken Gibson electric neck with the small block inlays that were on ES-335s and SGs in the late `60s and early `70s.
I always liked that look.
Below is a NOS headstock overlay for a Gibson Les Paul Artisan.