2015 is proving to be a bit of a Year Zero for Gibson, with some pretty profound changes in their classic designs. This, to say the least, is a high risk strategy when your core market tends to want those same classic designs, for example, Fender’s radical new Deluxe Strats have not exactly being flying off those shelves. But the new Gibsons are
pretty good (check out my review of the LP Studio. I liked it. A lot).
The cheapest of the new Les Paul designs is the LPM, coming in at £799. For that you get a hardcase and the electronic G-force tuning system. You don’t get bindings or bookmatched maple tops of course, but who needs such frippery? At this price, all you want to know is, can it rock?
The one I’m holding is a fetching cherry red and a pretty attractive 2 piece maple top on a mahogany body. It’s as good a piece of woodwork as the slightly more expensive Studio and I really like it. It’s restrained and workmanlike and has none of the vulgarity of an overflamed maple top. I think you’s also be less upset if the nitro finish on this was to be marked as well. The finish on this model was very well applied as well.
You get a carved top as well – it is a fairly shallow curve, but it ties in with the air of workmanlike restraint so I like it.
It is a hefty old lump of wood as well. There is nine hole weight relief in there, but these must be pretty small holes as the guitar weighs a ton. I’m a big unit, so its not a big deal for me but it is something to bear in mind.
The neck is where the “M” of the LPM comes in. Maple! I’ve played plenty of cheaper Gibsons with maple necks and they have all been pretty good necks. The maple should sharpen up the tone a tab (yes, I know that wood does not affect tone, except…..it does!). But being 2015 and a whole new dawn for Gibson, you also have a wider neck (and a decent slab of rosewood as well). The neck felt chunkier than the Studio and with the additional width makes for a pretty meaty handful. My first sense was that a 50’s afficianado would love it, but that everyone else would take some breaking in.
Fretboard and frets were well prepared and the whole feel was smooth and very playable. Gibson seem to be much better at setting their guitars up these days. The nut is brass and adjustable – certainly action on mine was as I like it, not too low. Gibson say that the new fretboard is “polished, buffed and oiled”, just like me on a Saturday night….
Tuners are….yes I know, they are just stuck onto the G-force. Some people hate the G-force, some love it. Personally I would have liked the option of old-school Grovers. But that is not how Gibson roll these days, so if you want a new Gibson, you are going to get G-forced.
You get a Zamak tune-a-matic bridge – I have no idea what zamak is. I thought it was Lebanese starter. It’s plain but it does the job.
You also get 2 61 Zebra pickups. I’ve played a few of these on the 2014 SGJ and LPM and they were absolutely banging pickups with a ton of attack. So that bodes well for tone.
So, for £799 you get a big heavy lump of wood that is reasonably well put together and with a certain charm of its own. What does it sound like? We’ll find out tomorrow. So until then peeps, farewell!