by Jef | 3,0 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
Gibson Custom Burstdriver loaded Les Paul in Amokey Quartz, HAvana Fade and Amber Ale VOS finishes

Gibson Custom Burstdriver loaded Les Paul in Smokey Quartz, Havana Fade and Amber Ale VOS finishes  ·  Source: Gibson

Gibson Custom Shop BurstDriver Les Paul

Gibson Custom Shop BurstDriver Les Paul  ·  Source: Gibson


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?


Les Overdrive

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.

Gibson Custom Burstdriver

Gibson Custom Burstdriver with recessed inaccessible controls. · Source: Gibson


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.

Gibson Custom Burstdriver

Gibson Custom Burstdriver · Source: Gibson

Les Paul

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

Gibson Custom Shop BurstDriver Les Paul

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7 responses to “Gibson Custom ‘Burstdriver’ overdrive loaded Les Paul – Why?”

    TheRealMortamus says:

    Gibson went down the drain many years ago

    Michael Breingan says:

    Gibson turns to Cibson.

    PapaBud says:

    I love my Gibson guitars. My concern with buying an “overdrive loaded guitar” (of any brand for that matter) would be 1) what if I don’t like the sound of the overdrive? Do I have the option of plugging in another overdrive circuit board (i.e Tube Screamer versus Fulltone OCD versus numerous others) or am I locked into Gibson’s choice for an overdrive tone? 2) what happens if I like the overdrive tone but suddenly there are circuit issues with the overdrive, I lose my guitar so it can have the overdrive repaired?
    I’m sure there are many other pitfalls that Gibson owners can come up with, but I’m sure Fender, PRS, et. al. are pleased with the Gibson R&D group.
    Case in point, one of my guitars is a Gibson Custom Inspired by Warren Haynes ’58 Les Paul that has a built in CAE Sound preamp, which after constant 9V battery changes, dealing with noise when flipping the mini toggle switch, I disconnected it. LOVE the guitar now, it is my number one.
    What are the odds that there will be many of these OD Les Pauls with disconnected circuitry, or no battery installed, not long after product launch?
    Good Luck…

      Jef says:

      Yes, I think they have made ‘yet another’ mistake with this design. Essentially spoiling a really nice guitar, with a circuit nobody actually wants (or needs).

    Rod says:

    Wow! Did you actually look at the spec for the guitar before you ripped it? Non weight relief body (which Gibson generally uses their best woods for these guitars without weight relief.). Flame maple top with hot hide glue. Long Tenon neck again hot hide glue. Rosewood fretboard hot hide glue fit, custom buckers, ABR-1 bridge. Basically true 50’s spec. The overdrive isn’t really adding anything to the price as you can spend a lot more for a similar spec Les Paul without the built in boost. The effect is completely bypassed wghen off too. So, not detrimental to the sound.

    Now, the most important concern. How does it sound? It looks like you saw the pics, read the specs (but didn’t really understand all of them, decided you didn’t like the idea, and ripped the guitar like you have a well formed opinion others should consider.

    Anyone out there who is considering a Les Paul in this price range definitely listen to it and make up your own mind. Don’t listen to someone who goes off half cocked and does a review over some pics and a paragraph of text.

      Jef says:

      Rod, we just have different opinions on what makes a good Les Paul and I’m afraid I think this is ‘just another’ nothing special model with an unwanted circuit thrown in. I own a few Les Pauls myself, everything from an R7 to Norlin Custom and have owned more than I can remember in my years. The spec on this guitar is essentially not worth paying any sort of premium for and I disagree with your opinion. You may love it, I get that. Just I don’t and I’m not impressed by it at all.

      William Paxson says:

      Jef called it right, it’s been a dead dog (and a bit of a joke) over here in the States for almost a year now and at a current MAP of $6199 USD there’s plenty that dealers would be overjoyed right now if you would come and take off their hands (personally I would wait for the traditional end-of-the-year Gibson half-price blowout which has sort of become a seasonal event over here in the States). And one well-known “high end” vendor has had a nice used one for 6 months now for sale and just dropped the price again down to $3999 USD which is really what the guitar should have RETAILED for new. Personally I don’t consider a 35% devaluation of a $6K+ limited edition Gibson guitar a very good point in it’s favor.

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