Posted on 16th May 2019 by Callum
Gibson are back, and they mean business. The legendary brand installed a new CEO in November and undertaken a much-publicised overhaul of its entire core range, marking its 125th anniversary. These are the guitars people have been begging for, giving players the classic design features and hardware that make the guitars the legends they are. And to sweeten the deal even further, advances in manufacturing have massively improved the quality AND brought down the prices! Almost unbelievable? Click here to read more about what’s happened at Gibson in the last 12 months, or continue below to check out our full Gibson Core range overview…
The Gibson Les Paul is undeniably an icon of music. This guitar is a constant in popular music history, always at the forefront and maintaining fame and desirability throughout. Much of the rock revolution was Gibson-powered, from Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top through Def Leppard and Guns ‘n’ Roses. Not to mention the thousands of guitarists who play and cherish their Les Pauls today!
Its an inspiration, often imitated and has set the blueprint for guitar design and rock music as we know it today. So ever since Gibson announced their huge overhaul, we have been counting down the days to get our hands on them! These Les Pauls tap into the revered history, and above all give players what they have been asking for. Steeped in tradition and built with modern manufacturing and quality, which has massively brought down the prices, these are possibly the most exciting Les Paul guitars ever…
The Gibson Les Paul Standard was nothing short of a revolution when it was released over 60 years ago. Played by masterful artists, creating generations of inspirational music. Guitars like Gary Moore’s Les Paul Standard have become a legend in themselves, becoming part of musical folklore. Now Gibson release two new versions, paying homage to that Golden Era! This is the model most Gibson fans are excited about, and it represents the archetype of the range.
Answering the prayers of Gibson fans the world over, the Les Paul Standard 50s is a modern-day replication of that particularly famous guitar. The traditionalist’s choice, Gibson’s rich DNA flows through this instrument. A solid mahogany body topped with maple, a set mahogany neck with a vintage 50s profile and a rosewood fingerboard. A pair of Burstbucker pickups replicate the original P.A.F. humbuckers that debuted in the Les Paul in 1955. Available in a choice of classic colours, this is every bit the original Gibson Les Paul!
The next breed of Les Paul Standards came to life in the 60s. This model set the precedent for many years to follow. It features a solid mahogany body with an AA figured maple top, as well as a slim taper mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The Burstbucker 61 pickups give a vintage tone, and use Alnico V magnets for a more fiery output. The colour options give you all the traditional flavour you could ask for.
The most versatile Les Paul in the range, the Modern continues from where the HP editions had left off. This is a player-focused guitar that gives you tonnes of features demanded by today’s guitarists. The slim asymmetrical taper neck has a compound radius ebony fretboard allowing for supreme playability. There’s ultra-modern weight relief to make for a more manageable instrument you can comfortably rock night after night. Rounding things off, the Burstbucker Pro and Pro + pickups give you a traditional tone with a punchy kick. There’s a choice of three classy colours, with the sparkling burgundy being especially pretty!
The Les Paul Classic combines the time-honoured tradition of a 60s Les Paul with some modern player-focused features. You get the mahogany body and slim taper neck, as well as a maple top and a bound rosewood fingerboard. Gibson have used their 9-hole weight relief to make this a more manageable guitar. Stylish zebra Burstbucker 61s give you cool looks and brash tone, and the addition of coil taps, pure bypass and phase push/pull controls open up a stack of new tonal possibilities.
Les Paul Special: TV Yellow
The Les Paul Special delves into the history books to recreate this classic design that made it first relevant back in the early 50s. When you want that vintage rock n roll sound and feel, this is the ideal choice. There’s a fat 50s style neck made from mahogany, set onto a slab mahogany body. The wraparound bridge and P-90s complete the period-correct features, giving this guitar undeniable authenticity.
Although having a lower price tag than other models, the Les Paul Studio is every bit the genuine article! This range has been made since 1983, and these new guitars look great, with their glossy range of finishes. They play great too, thanks to the slim taper mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard and ultra-modern weight-relieved mahogany body. The pickup pairing of 498T and 490R with coil-tap gives you plenty of scope, from doomy rock tones through to sizzling leads. This is a serious guitar that will stand up to relentless use, a great-sounding workhorse guitar.
Making things even more affordable is the Les Paul Tribute. These lean on the traditional side, using a similar set of features to the Studio. There’s ultra-modern weight relief, mahogany construction, and the same 490T and 498R humbucker pairing. The neck is chunkier however, using a rounded profile for beefy riffing. The Tribute also features a satin finish, which feels great to play and will pay dividends at those smaller, sweaty venues!
Les Paul Junior: Vintage Tobacco Burst
Originally introduced as an affordable model for students and beginners back in 1954, the Les Paul Jr quickly gained a reputation of its own. Its charm lies in the stripped back, simple aesthetic. There’s a single slab mahogany body, uniquely shaped pickguard, single dog-ear pickup and a classic compensated wraparound bridge. When you need rock-solid punky tone and a classic aesthetic, look no further!
The Les Paul Jr Tribute DC is an authentic and great value instrument. It uses much of the specification from the Les Paul Jr and shares the same bare-bones aesthetic. This model has a double-cutaway for improved access, and a slim taper neck profile for more comfortable playing. It even has the trapezoid blocks inlays, a feature missed on previous Tributes. There’s also a silky satin finish, making for a dreamy feel and playing experience!
The Gibson SG has maintained its reputation as a truly modern guitar. Introduced in 1961 as an alternative to the Les Paul, the SG gives an alternative angle to your guitar work. Whilst keeping much of the warmth of the Les Paul’s sound, the SG gains guitarists’ appreciation for a snappier tone and extra treble response. These are typically lighter, smaller instruments and give players huge upper-register access. These features combine to make the SG a players’ dream, and since adopted by countless rock guitarists as their weapon of choice!
The Les Paul’s brash younger sibling, the Gibson SG became a legend in its own right after being adopted by some of the most influential players in rock. Tony Iommi, Angus Young and Frank Zappa have all toted the SG, among many other famed musicians. This model offers you that sought-after late-60s look and features. The SG is known for its lightweight feel despite its solid mahogany construction, giving it a unique playability. The 490 humbucking pickups in this model provide all the tone you need to rock! There’s a choice of two traditional colours, meaning this latest edition could be the only SG you’ll ever need.
SG Standard ’61: Vintage Cherry
When only the original will do, Gibson offer the SG Standard ’61, one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the whole range! This is a close recreation of the embryonic early SG from 1961. This version retains the authentic styling including a slim taper mahogany neck and a bound rosewood fingerboard. The thin mahogany body is deeply sculpted and is topped with a traditional 5-ply teardrop pickguard. A pair of Gibson 61 pickups complete the vintage appointments, giving you all the character, tone and feel of the first-edition SG.
Gibson serve up some real eye-candy with these two models. Following the traditional specification choices of the SG Standard ’61, Gibson treat us all to a pair of vibrola options! Maestro and Sideways Vibrolas add vibrato functionality in a uniquely Gibson manner. Available in vintage cherry, we think these are the pinups of the whole range!
The SG Special has the vibe and tone heard on countless rock recordings. This version keeps the signature double-cut body shape, slim taper neck bound rosewood fretboard. The differences begin with the compensated wraparound bridge, and P-90 pickups for a characteristic vintage-informed tonal character. There’s also your choice of Faded Pelham Blue and Sparkling Burgundy finishes – unique and supremely stylish!
SG Junior: Vintage Cherry
Released as a lower-priced version and original discontinued in 1971, the SG Junior is back! Embraced by musicians for its simple aesthetic, this model uses a solid mahogany body, slim taper neck and a single P-90 pickup. This is the dog ear design of the original release and combines hand wired controls with Orange Drop capacitors. When you want stripped-back, raw vintage tone and style this is the SG for you!
Much like in the Les Paul offering, the SG Tribute similarly distils the essence of the SG into a player-friendly affordable model. There’s a rounded profile neck, solid mahogany body and rosewood fingerboard. The pickups are a pair of 490 humbuckers, giving you powerful sound when you need it.
Known as the Designer Collection, these are basically solid-body guitars that aren’t a Les Paul or an SG. This is the home for the out-there designs, the likes of the Firebird, Explorer and Flying V. These guitars are design feats, and have pushed the boundaries of what you can expect from an electric guitar. They have rightly earned their place in the annals of rock history, and Gibson pay homage with these latest releases.
The Firebird was born in 1963 after then-president of Gibson Ted McCarty hired in car designer Ray Dietrich to design a fresh guitar shape. The mid-50s automobile influence is plain to see, with its curved lines and retro character. The Firebird was Gibson’s first neck-through solid body, and packs a lot of unique features that make it a favourite for outlaws and alternatives everywhere!
This new version uses all the components that made the Firebird famous. The original design 9-ply mahogany/walnut neck with neck-through construction gives you rich tonal warmth and big sustain. The slim taper neck and bound rosewood fingerboard give you a fast, smooth playing experience. The trademark Firebird mini humbuckers give you the bright, raw sound the Firebird is known for.
Back in the late-50s, Gibson wanted to add more futuristic designs to their stable. This is where we were first treated to the Explorer and the Flying V. Like all the best things, the Flying V divided opinion and still does to this day. Its angular body shape has granted it cult status, and almost every well-known rock guitarist has been spotted playing the V.
Today’s Antique Natural version is as close as you can get to the original ’58 version, with a mahogany body, slim taper neck and rosewood fingerboard. There’s two BurstBucker pickups installed, which recreate the vintage flavour.
The B2 Flying V is aimed at those taking a trip to the dark side. An all-black finish, stripped-back controls and a duo of super high output Dirty Fingers + pickups ensure that we certify the B-2 as a shred-friendly metal monster!
Brethren to the Flying V, the Gibson Explorer was also released in 1958 to push fresh guitar shapes into Gibson’s lineup. It’s one of the most striking guitar designs ever, and after a frosty initial uptake, it has since been played by rock and metal heroes for decades.
We are treated to a similar combination as the Flying V. The Antique Natural model is a nod to history, recreating the 1958 original in sound and aesthetic. The B-2 edition lends itself to heavy metallers with the satin ebony finish and Dirty Fingers + pickups. Both are staggering guitars, and certainly add that extra-special something to any guitar player’s arsenal.
This is the prefix Gibson use for their semi-hollow range of electric guitars. Whether you’re playing jazz, rock, blues, country and everything in between, the striking appearance and special tone of a Gibson semi-hollow takes some beating. In previous years, the variations and options have grown to the point of confusion, but now Gibson offer 3 distinct semi-hollow guitars. The classic 335, the smaller 339, and the inspired 235.
The definitive semi-hollow guitar, the ES-335 is used by practically every famous player when they want the warm sound and great looks of a semi-hollow guitar. It straddles the ground between jazz, rock and blues perfectly, and fits the bill for almost any genre. The longest-running model of any of the ES range, and for good reason!
The latest range contains a number of Dot, Satin and Figured top models. These cracking instruments use traditional 3-ply construction and use MHS II pickups combined with Memphis Tone Control Plus circuitry. This gives you the most authentic sound available, and ensure that you get true Gibson tone and character. Gibson have also added a Studio model to the range, which uses 57 Classic pickups and is a more affordable edition. It’s difficult to see where they have cut the price, as this is still an immaculate guitar. The ES-335 is set to continue its place as the king of semi-acoustic guitars!
The smaller-bodied semi-hollow. The ES-339 captures the look and feel of the legendary 335 yet uses a slimmer, smaller body. This makes it in part more manageable and lower priced, but also offers a subtle tonal difference. Dressed with high-end appointments like MHS II pickups and tone circuitry, majestic body binding and rosewood, these models are special. There’s beautiful figured models as well as cheaper gloss finish versions.
A brand new semi-hollow design from Gibson, the single-cut ES-235 is the lowest priced of the offering. It features a surprisingly slim body, and a vibe that leans heavily on the classic side. It’s based on the likes of the ES-125, but also the Les Paul, with a cutaway to improve upper fret access. Elegant body binding and a fine choice of finishes makes this a likely candidate as the unheralded star of the semi-hollow range.
Perhaps Gibson aren’t the first name you think of when mentioning electric bass. But think again and you will realise they are right up there with the best, and offer a unique appeal! The short-scale SG bass is a unique instrument with its own glittering history. The Thunderbird Bass requires practically no introduction, and the Les Paul Jr DC Bass joins the ranks.
With a 30.5” scale length, the Gibson SG Standard Bass offers a different character to your standard bass guitar. Comfortable in size and giving a strong fundamental tone, this is a great option for any guitarist moving to bass. It gives you an unmistakably thick vintage sound, which sits great in a power trio setup – just think Jack Bruce playing in Cream! Classic appearance, chunky rounded maple neck and a pair of calibrated SG bass pickups gives a bass that looks, plays and sounds great.
Originally introduced in 1963 as Gibson’s first neck-through-body bass design, the visually striking Gibson Thunderbird quickly cemented itself as an icon of the bass world. The traditional 9-ply mahogany/walnut neck-thru provides huge low-end response, as well as epic levels of sustain. With a narrow nut width and rounded neck profile, the Thunderbird gives a fast, intuitive playing experience. Two T-Bird calibrated humbuckers using ceramic magnets deliver the thundering low-end voice for which the Thunderbird is best known.
Adapted for modern players with a host of new features, the Les Paul Junior Tribute DC Bass is a tribute to the classic EB-0 bass from the 1950s. With a short scale length, many players will enjoy the strong fundamental tone and recording-friendly sound of this bass guitar. A mahogany double cutaway body and mahogany neck along with a rosewood fingerboard balances this instrument perfectly. Simple and straightforward, a chunky LP BassBucker pickup with single tone and push/pull volume control to scoop the mids gives you a surprising degree of tone-shaping scope from a single pickup!
Related: 6 Reasons Why Gibson Are Back
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