Hey, what do I know? I loved those slightly mad 2015 Gibson, with the auto-tuners and and that mad brass nut. But I understand why so many did not like them and why there was relief when Gibson went forward to the past with a run of restrained, Cooly designed guitars for 2016.
I’ve not reviewed a guitar for a while but thanks to the excellent Mansons of Exeter, I’ve had a little time to play with the 2016 Gibson 1950s Les Paul tribute.
If you have ever read any of my reviews before, you will know I have a certain fondnes for the cheaper end of the studios and specials. Simple and stripped down they may be, but there is an honesty there, with the money spent on the things you need and not on cosmetic frivolity. But saying that, this 50’s Tribute has a lovely gold top, with a nicely applied finish. PRS might not lose sleep over the quality of the thin nitro finish, but it all feels so much warmer and nicer than the poly finish you might expect at this price point.
The neck is a cracker, thicker than most Les Paul’s, but very comfortable. There is a nice slab of rosewood on top and well seated and polished frets, Gibson have automated much of the set-up process with their
Plek machines but in this case it appears to work very well.
You get 6 machine heads which is handy and hardware is generic but does the job.
Pickups are the well-established 490 & 498 combo – my own choice would be the burstbucker pros but these, together with the slightly thinner than a standard body give clean and dirty tones with a degree more bite, clarity and definition than many les Paul’s, perhaps even a touch more SG in tone.
Too much distortion can make things go a little muddy, but played clean or with a degree of dirt it sounds faboulous, different to a Standard, but I would hesitate to say worse in any way.
So a proper US Gibson that is absolutely, positively gigable. It is not really a 1950s type guitar but is a solid little guitar with bags of character. Perhaps my own inclination would be for the P90s of the 60’s Tribute but that would just be a matter of taste. Even in post-Brexit Britain with the Pound worth about 3 used matches, you can pick one up for £650. That has to be a bargain, and another great cheap Gibson.