Gibson has just announced a new Custom Shop Les Paul for 2017 and it is loaded with a Gibson Custom Burstdriver. That’s an internal (!) analogue overdrive pedal incorporated into a classic ’50s single cut guitar design. But why?
It seems to me that Gibson has been clutching at straws with their recent announcements. This latest one certainly falls into that category. Let me explain my thoughts on this to you.
For a start, if you are spending in excess of $5k on a guitar I believe the chances are you will already own a decent amplifier and quite possibly a good quality overdrive pedal as well.
Why would you ever need an overdrive pedal built into your Les Paul? Surely, most Gibson players are more concerned with the guitar’s natural tone and would want it untouched and as pure as possible? After yesterday’s embarrassing marketing failure, has Gibson finally lost the plot?
This analogue overdrive circuit is built into the back plate of the Les Paul and you can only set the controls using the tip of a plectrum or a small screwdriver, as the controls are recessed. Straight away, this makes using it awkward.
You have to tap the push/push tone knob to engage the effect. Again, not exactly handy when you are playing and need to boost. I am sure it is far easier to use your foot on a regular overdrive pedal.
I honestly believe that Gibson is making many mistakes of late, as the last few years have been pretty poor in terms of business decisions and players like myself now see the brand as failing.
It would have been a smart move to hook up with a cool boutique pedal builder and make a pedal tuned to the guitar’s pickups and include it as a regular pedal that comes exclusively with the guitar.
But to put it ‘inside’ the guitar, in my opinion, is a dumb idea and should never have got off the drawing board. Vox had guitars with built-in effects the 1960s and they failed. Many companies have attempted it before and they all failed. Why? Because guitarists are fickle and want to build their own tones and that involves finding amps and pedals that work for them and not being forced into using a ‘built-in overdrive’ that will take away from this idea of being an individual.
The guitar is available in Smokey Quartz VOS, Havana Fade VOS and Amber Ale VOS. Apart from the ridiculous Burstdriver, it has standard specifications. If you want a Les Paul, avoid these or wait six months and they will have to give them away at heavily discounted prices!
For a Custom Shop guitar, you could do a lot better and this one is highly overpriced for such a cheap gimmick.
What is really sad for me is that I love Gibson guitars and own a few, some of my biggest guitar heroes are famous for playing them and they appear on some of my favourite recordings. I just wish that they could get back to doing what they do best and stop wasting time and money creating these crazy, pointless guitars, as it is killing their brand for many of us players that love them.
RRP USD 5699
Gibson Custom Burstdriver Les Paul product page