These new limited editions of Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Standards were announced a while ago, but are only now becoming available to buy here in the UK. They come in an ‘exciting array of rainbow colours’, according to the Gibson site. These Modern versions feature volutes and chambered bodies, plus some eye-catching new finishes.
The Gibson Custom Shop is known for making limited runs of guitars and this year has already made some eye-watering decisions on colours. The latest offering from the Custom Shop is this new Modern Les Paul series and they, in my view, will probably divide player opinion greatly.
Volutes and Chambering
Noticeably, they have a volute on the rear of the neck to help with strengthening this known weak point on the ’50s guitar design. By adding extra mass they should avoid any nasty breaks or cracks. Then you get a chambered body should help alleviate any weight issues and hopefully make them nice and resonant as well.
Both of these decisions are ones I feel will divide Gibson fans, as on the one hand, they remedy known Gibson issues of neck breaks and heavy ‘boat-anchor’ guitars and on the other, they aren’t exactly traditional.
Light and Strong or Traditional?
Here lies the problem for Gibson. It seems as though they are damned if they do or damned if they don’t keep to tradition. Personally, I think the volute is a sensible addition, as it adds strength to a known weak spot. But on a £4000 Custom Shop guitar that, they could have chosen better quality woods to use and avoided chambering altogether.
Of course, they could just change the headstock angle and avoid having to use a volute completely. Perhaps the Custom Shop should make a break from the constraints of tradition to fix this design fault.
This is purely a matter of personal taste. Your opinion could differ vastly to my own. But I feel that a shell pink Les Paul looks a bit strange. I would maybe have gone with something a bit more classic. I think Fender can get away with pink on Stratocasters, as they have always had custom colours. That means that when we see a Shell Pink Stratocaster, we feel reminded of the 1960s, but of a guitar that’s been around for a while. Gibson isn’t really associated with these types of colours, so I think they just look a bit out of place.
The hardware on these Custom Shop Modern Les Pauls is a bit underwhelming and I think the pickup choice is a little bland. There’s a BurstBucker 3 in the bridge and a BurstBucker 2 in the neck position. They aren’t wired in any way to split or tap the coils and I would have preferred something a bit more flexible on a ‘modern’ guitar myself.
Everything else is pretty traditional. It is an odd model to label as ‘modern’, in my opinion. Unless you count having weird colours as being new. They are hitting Europe this week and so hopefully we shall start getting some reviews in from owners soon.
Available in Trans Black, Trans Blue, Trans Green, Pearl Coral, Trans Red, Trans Purple and Trans Amber.
RRP: USD 3999 / GBP 3899 incl case and Certificate Of Authenticity
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