Posts Tagged ‘gibson’


Saw this on Facebook and had to share it. Here’s the accompanying blurb:

Gibson Custom has reformulated its Goldtop finish to match the original’s deep, dark, gold luster. The Goldtop’s back is also reformulated to match the original from the 1950s.

In the case of the updated Gold, you will notice a deeper, richer finish with a slightly “greener” caste. On the guitar’s back, you will see a noticeable increase in the visibility of mahogany grain and a more severe effect on the final color that comes from the wood’s individual personality. As it was in the 1950s, each guitar back results in a very individual look, based on the use of vintage finish formulations and application techniques, and the characteristics of each individual piece of wood.

That’s pretty awesome if you’re into Les Pauls, and a part of me is saying, “Oooh. I want one.” But the more pessimistic side of me is peaking out and saying, “Nice. Now let’s see what surcharge they’ll apply to these…”

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Just read this in today’s Gibson email feed in my inbox. Great story behind the history of this particular guitar. In any case,  the custom shop has made three versions of this guitar, which you can view here. There will be 50 hand-aged and signed guitars, then 100 hand-aged guitars, and 150 VOS models. Oy-vay! That’s a pretty guitar. Prices seem to be around $13k for the aged/signed, $10.3k for the aged, and $7.3k for the VOS. Hmm… a bit better priced than the Jimmy Page #1 re-issue that I saw in a shop for $27k. Oh well, wtf… I don’t think I’d ever spend that kind of money on a guitar even if I had it. I’m not a collector. But it’s sometimes okay to just drool… 🙂

My ’59 replica is finished with a “Perry-burst,” plus has a similar grain pattern to the plain top. Despite the fact that I’d never buy a real Joe Perry, I can attest to the fact that it is a great-looking guitar. The “Perry-burst” is not quite as blonde as a standard tobacco finish. It has a bit of an orange hue to it. Quite lovely.

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Back in 2011, Gibson got raided – twice – by the government for allegedly violating the Lacey Act, and in August of this year settled with the government for $350,000 so it could continue to import woods from India and Madagascar. There are lots of arguments on either side of what transpired, and I’ve done a lot of reading on the issue since it happened. Despite Gibson’s claim of innocence – and there are some circumstances surrounding the investigations that Gibson may not be as culpable as proponents may think – and the government’s seeming zeal in pursuing this case, I’m a bit on the fence on the whole situation. Here’s a great blog post that I found that has some lively and mostly intelligent discussion on the issue.

No matter the events of the Gibson case, I’m mostly in support of the spirit of the law, though I have commented that the Lacey Act can be a bit ambiguous when it comes to the transportation of exotic woods (I’ve read the law), for the most part, I think it does a good job to help ensure that manufacturers of products that use exotic woods are getting them from legal sources. Where the law gets murky is that it is quite possible that end-users can get prosecuted if they attempt to transport an instrument made of exotic woods and the wood sources are not documented. Can you imagine if you owned a rare, antique guitar and it was confiscated by customs because it didn’t have documentation of its wood sources? Granted, that’s extreme, and it’s highly unlikely that a single person would be prosecuted, but the possibility exists; it’s also a reason that the law is regularly reviewed and amendments have been made. But despite that murkiness, I do not agree that the law should be repealed as some representatives in Congress are proposing. To me, the solution to the issues in the law isn’t to abolish it, but provide due process to amend the law so that it’s fair to all.

No doubt, this issue is complex, not only from the manufacturers’ standpoint, but from the buyers’ perspective as well. There are those folks who refuse to purchase anything that isn’t made of exotic wood. Me? My answer is “it depends…” The reason I say that is simply this: If it sounds great, and I can express myself with the guitar, I really don’t much care about what it’s made out of. But then again, I’m not really a collector, so trade value is far less important to me than someone who knows they’ll sell eventually sell a guitar.


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Oooo…. nice…. I’ve always loved 12-string guitars. There’s nothing like the strum sound of a great 12-string, be it acoustic or electric. But a Les Paul 12-string. OMG! I need to play one! Here are some quick features:

  • Solid mahogany body (weight relieved)
  • Grade-A Maple neck with 60’s profile
  • Grade-A Rosewood fretboard (wonder why they didn’t use Richlite on this)
  • Classic 57’s for pickups (I dig these pups)
  • Mini Grover tuners
  • Comes in Heritage Cherry Burst, Goldtop, or Ebony
  • PLEK’d neck.

From what I can tell, street prices for these are around $2199. That’s actually not a bad price at all. In all honesty, though I’d love to play one, I’m not sure if I’d ever get one. But that all depends on what ideas I could come up with once I play it. That’s really the deciding factor for gear for me. Does it inspire me to play? That said, I don’t think this guitar is gimmicky at all. But I do believe any 12-string is a sort of niche guitar.

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I have admittedly been so damn busy with work that I’ve been a bit remiss about surfing around for gear. Feeling that I haven’t been keeping this blog current with gear, I went looking, and came across this guitar on the Gibson web site, the L6S, a reissue of the original 70’s L6S, which was itself a solid-body version of the venerable L6. But like the 2009 Nighthawk reissue, this new version sports some pretty cool features.

Pickups are a 490R in the neck and 498T in the bridge. Some folks don’t like these, but I’ve always liked these pickups (though I might like the 57’s a bit more). Body is solid maple with a maple neck. The guitar comes in either an Antique Natural finish with a maple fretboard (as shown to the left) or a Silver Burst and a baked maple fretboard. Kind of a basic guitar, but the kicker on this is the 6-position chicken-head pickup selector. Here’s what each position does:

Selector Position:

  1. Bridge Humbucker
  2. Bridge Single Coil
  3. Both Single
  4. Both Humbucking
  5. Neck Single
  6. Neck Humbucker

Very, very intriguing, that’s for sure, and convenient. I suppose it could be argued that push-pull pots would do the trick, but to get these different combos, you’d have to manipulate two knobs. This is a simple turn of a dial. Quite nice. I’m very intrigued by this guitar – enough so to try to find one to play. Good thing I don’t have the money right now because I’m intrigued enough that I would buy one just to try it. 🙂

For a little history, Santana played an original back in the 70’s, as did Rich Williams of Kansas. Here’s a video of Rich Williams playing an original back in 1975:

Street price for this is not bad at $1599-$1699. I bet you could find a used shop version for even less. Nice.

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The Venerable Gibson ES-175

I was in Guitar Center last week, trading in my Gibson Nighthawk for my wonderful DV Mark Little 40. While I was talking to Nick , the trade-in guy, a gentleman walked asking if he could play an ES-175 that was hanging on the wall. This particular one was a vintage 1952 ES-175, and it was gorgeous. After the guy was done playing it, since Nick was trying to get an appraisal, he placed the guitar on the padded desk in front of me. Of course, I couldn’t help myself. I picked it up and started playing it. It was A LOT lighter than I expected – much like an acoustic, and the action was fantastic! I didn’t get a chance to plug it in, but it had a nice, natural voice from what I could hear from the dude that was playing it before me.

I didn’t think I’d like an archtop, but I was really digging playing that guitar. There was a certain vibe about the guitar, and being that it was 60 years old, really added to its charm. It was in truly great condition! In any case, it had a super fat, gorgeous sound. If I had the $4k to buy one of these gems, I’d jump at the chance.

Here’s a great example of the sound of an ES-175:

By the way, the guitar being played above is a two-pickup version that didn’t come out until 1953. The one I played was a 1952 with a single P-90. Here’s a history of the ES-175.

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One of the guitarists in my church band recently got a Carr Mercury, which is a great little amp. In addition to sporting vintage styling, it has some great power scaling from 8 Watts down to 1/10 Watt, a three-position boost to vary the drive to the single EL34 power tube, and a very nice and liquid reverb. All in all, it sounds pretty killer. Add my bandmate’s Barron Wesley custom guitar, and it’s a great tone combo!

But as he plays next to my rig, which consists of a Les Paul going into an Aracom PLX18BB Trem (“PLX”) which is a clone of the very simple Marshall 18 Watt Plexi, I felt the Carr’s tone paled in comparison to the tone my rig produces. Mind  you, the Carr sounds  killer. But in comparison to the PLX, its attack is much faster, and there’s noticeably less sag from rectifier than the PLX, so my perception is that there’s not much sustain with the amp..

Granted, I realize this is purely subjective, but there is something very special about the PLX. Perhaps it’s due to that classic “Bluebreaker” tone – hence the BB designation of the amp – that Clapton made so popular while with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. The Les Paul/Plexi combination is absolutely magical. Perhaps it’s also due in part to the absolute simplicity of the 18 Watt Plexi’s circuitry. Or perhaps it’s due to how the amp sags that gives it this almost reverb-like tone. Whatever it is, it’s a tone with which I completely identify.

I realize that I probably mention the PLX in this blog more than any amp that I have or have tested. But it has become my “go-to” amp. As the title of this article says, some rig combinations just never get old.

In front of the PLX, I have just a few pedals because I like to keep things simple. Here’s the complete chain:

Les Paul R8 -> Timmy Overdrive -> TC Electronic Corona Chorus -> Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay (handwired) -> DigiTech RV-7 Reverb -> Aracom PLX18 BB Trem -> Aracom PRX150 Attenuator -> Fane Medusa 150 12″ speaker.

I typically only use the  delay and reverb when playing clean, which is actually quite a bit.  But when I’m  playing driven, either with the Timmy or with the amp cranked, I just let the amp speak for itself. 🙂

I mentioned the sag of the PLX. It’s not so saggy that you get a lot of crosstones. But Jeff Aragaki (amp builder) did find a sweet spot in setting up the rectifier that balanced the classic responsiveness of the original Plexi with enough sag in the rectifier to make the amp absolutely expressive.

I made some modifications of my own in the way of tubes. I have gorgeous 1959 RCA grey glass pre-amp tubes in it to drive the pre-amp. I actually kept the original JJ EL84 power tubes in the amp because they compress quite nicely when driven without over-compressing into mush. Then to add fatness, I dropped in the gorgeous, super-sensitive (103 dB) Fane Medusa 150 12″ speaker. Combine that with a large 1 X 12 combo cabinet, and you’ve got a nice resonating chamber for the speaker which adds further depth to the tone.

Upon writing the above, I think a huge reason why I love the tone of this amp so much as compared to the Carr probably has a lot to do with the size of the cabinet, which can also easily house 2 10″ speakers.  That extra room for the sound to bounce around creates a lot of complexity.


In any case, that particular combination of gear never gets old to me. Even though I have lott of other guitars and amps, when I gig, I go to that setup. Now if only Jeff will build me my FlexPlex 50… 🙂


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