Les Paul '56 Goldtop Reissue
There is a lot to say about the Gibson Guitar Company over the years, and they have received a ton of negative press lately. In 2015 they came out with the LP 100th anniversary guitar and were met with a ton of outrage. The new guitars came with a G-Force tuner attached to the headstock, which were supposed automatically tune the guitars, but did not perform as planned. The average word on these guitars were that they were poorlymade even without the disastrous tuners. The frets were rough and the necks were too thick. The guitars dropped thousands in price quickly after being released. I would argue that the recent Bankruptcy notice from the company was somehow related to the 2015 issue and the setback that ensued. Even so 2105 was only a nail in the coffin of a guitar company which overwhelmingly had one issue: quality control.
There is still plenty of reason to go back to Gibson, even with such an unreliable history. When they get it right, they get full marks. There is no particular model that is better than the others, it is more a matter of finding those individual special guitars. These individual guitars might be hanging on the for sale walls of different big box superstores, or sitting in a vault somewhere, but they all have a playability and tone in common that is absolutely unattainable by any other brand. These are the guitars that have become the benchmark or Gibson's reputation no matter how many pieces of trash among which these gems are hidden.
I came across one such gem during the sessions for my upcoming EP "Stone for Stone." This guitar lives at Grand Street Recording in Williamsburg, NY. I highly recommend this studio for a million reasons, but that is a separate discussion. Let's get to the guitar.
The guitar is a Goldtop which traditionally has p90s, but this one is outfitted with some Gibson PAF Humbuckers. The pickups are extremely versatile, I was able to get some dirtier country tone out of it before plunging into full on overdriven chords, filled with feedback and chaos. The treble is absolutely pristine one moment and with a little bit of pressure can crunch beneath your fingers. The bass is sharp and warm at the same time. The sustain is breathtaking and frankly a little intimidating to wield. I jokingly called this The Dr. Guitar, because it is the type of thing only a non full time guitar player could afford, but that everyone who plays guitar would like to own.
My absolute favorite thing about this guitar was the neck. It was the thicker 50's neck but still played fast. The action was low but still resonated beautifully. The bridge was close to the body of the guitar, making it easy to rest a hand on. This gives the player a little bit more of an ability to play 16th note based funk rhythms, something harder to do on other LP models. To me, guitars break into two different styles, slow and powerful, or fast and light. This guitar has elements of both. The body was chambered so it was lighter than many Gibson's i've held, but still had all the tone of a heavier guitar. It held a tune forever. Bravo Gibson, you have done it again. To hear some of these tones stay tuned for my EP coming this Fall 2018, and grab a ticket to my single release show at Rockwood on 9/12. Hit the link at the top of my website for info.