The new 2016 range from Gibson is proving very interesting, it seems that Gibson have really looked into their past to find a new approach to their future. Is that a bit too Yoda-ish? REad on and find out….
Do you think that Gibson executives wake up and say “2015? it was all a dream!”? Gibson had a torrid time in 2015 – their attempt to redefine what a Gibson was led to warehouses full of unsold stock (and a lot of bargains for the crafty shopper). But whisper it, the 2015 Gibsons weregenerally very good, and some were astonishing value for money.
So Gibson have gone back for the future, and done the sensible thing in giving auto tuning and magic nuts as an option. But their core range for 2016 is the T range. Solid, traditional designs at a very reasonable price.
And I played the Studio- and was mightily pleased. But then I am generally pleased with cheaper Gibsons. They may look a little rough but they sound right and tend to have bags of character.
But spend rather more and what do you get? If £650 gets you a rather nice Studio, what can you expect for £1,699? Well, what you get is the Gibson Les Paul Traditional. The buzz on this model is very, very good so lets see how it matches up.
Well, some of that money gets you a very nice Gibson case – a nice old brown design that is very pleasing and certainly much nicer than a gig bag.
Moving onto the body you get the traditional lump of mahogany with a maple top. The Heritage Cherry Sunburst I’m playing has an AA grade top – not the most flamed I’ve seen but it is still very pleasing to look at – the level of flame also fits in with the whole “traditional” vibe, it;s pretty, but does not look like a boutique piece. The 2 piece mahogany body has a pleasing density but is not too heavy. The quality of the finish is far beyond the Studio and is immaculately applied. Gibson QC has really improved in recent years, improved in that there now actually appears to be some.
The one piece mahogany neck has a nice slabby one piece rosewood board – thank god gibson has stopped messing with alternative fingerboard material – the 50s rounded fingerboard fills the hand nicely and the set up is fantastic. Frets are glassy smooth with not a hint of roughness, binding is flawless and that piece of rosewood is really very nice indeed. This is a neck to dig into, to savour every note you play – but more of that later
The whole thing is topped off with a nice, traditional headstock. No auto tuners, no squiggles – just a very tasteful headstock with very pretty green tuners. At the other end there is a nicely chromed tune-a-matic bridge. rather more attractive than the 2015 satin hardware. There are no fancy electronics here. 57 Classic pickups, 4 knobs and a selector switch and there you go.
What do you want, its a Les Paul. Solidly put together without being too crushingly heavy. It balances well and that neck feels very comfortable – now I quite liked the wide 2015 neck but I think this slightly slimmer version with a 12″ radius might be more approachable for some. It is stunningly beautiful and with that restrained maple top just looks like every Les Paul fantasy I had when I was 15 and still trying to save up for an East German Strat clone.
Tomorrow I’ll be playing the thing, see you then.