Gib­son USA Les Paul Stan­dard

WITH NEW AUS­TRALIAN DIS­TRIB­U­TOR­SHIP AND THE DE­TER­MI­NA­TION TO PULL IT­SELF OUT OF A FI­NAN­CIAL ROUGH PATCH, GIB­SON KNOWS IT HAS TO RE­ALLY MAKE ITS FLAG­SHIP LES PAUL STAN­DARD COUNT. WORDS BY

Australian Guitar - - Contents - PETER HODG­SON.

The Les Paul Stan­dard is the flag­ship of Gib­son’s sto­ried and di­verse fam­ily of gui­tars – the pin­na­cle of Gib­son USA’s his­tor­i­cally revered (for good rea­son) gui­tar craft. Gib­son knows that if you want a ’59-style Stan­dard, you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to be shop­ping in its Gib­son Cus­tom range, so in­stead it treats the Gib­son USA Stan­dard as a way of re­flect­ing what they see as the stan­dard right now, not the stan­dard as it was meant to be in­ter­preted as a con­cept in the ‘50s.

So what you get here is not a re­cre­ation of those iconic ‘bursts – if that’s what you’re in the mar­ket for, the Les Paul Tra­di­tional is much closer to that con­cept. Rather, this is a gui­tar with clas­sic Gib­son tone but modern playa­bil­ity.

WEL­COME TO THE FU­TURE

The Stan­dard fea­tures a Grade AAA flame maple top on a ma­hogany body, with a ma­hogany neck with rose­wood fin­ger­board. Fin­ish op­tions in­clude Blood Or­ange Burst, Her­itage Cherry Sun­burst, Mo­jave Burst and the beau­ti­ful Cobalt Burst (which is what’s shown off in that slick promo shot above).

Th­ese fin­ishes all look in­cred­i­ble, and it’s all a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence which takes the cake, but it’s gonna be a tough de­ci­sion for a lot of play­ers. The fin­ger­board is com­pound-ra­dius (ie: it gets flat­ter as you move higher up the neck and curvier as you head to­wards the head­stock) and the tuners are pre­mium Grover lock­ing units (which look cool, but are more func­tional and smoother than vin­tage tuners). The nut is made of Tek­toid, and the 22 frets are nicely pol­ished.

The gui­tar comes strung with .009-.046 gauge strings, which hon­estly wouldn’t be my first choice for a Les Paul. The gui­tar seems much more at home with a .010-.046 set – but then again, this gui­tar is aimed at play­ers look­ing for com­fort, and some play­ers find .010s a bit too much even on a 24.75-inch scale gui­tar like this.

The elec­tron­ics con­sist of a pair of Gib­son Burst­bucker Pro Rhythm and Lead hum­buck­ers (up­graded PAF-style pick­ups with vin­tage-style out­put), vol­ume and tone con­trols for each pickup, and a three-way pickup se­lec­tor switch.

This gui­tar also has a trick up its slee ve… Well, four tricks up four sleeves, ac­tu­ally: two of the knobs act as push-pull coil splits for the hum­buck­ers, while there’s also a Pure By­pass switch which routs the sig­nal di­rectly to the out­put jack, and a phase rev­er­sal switch for honk­ing vo­cal tones a la Peter Green.

THE PAUL THAT DOES IT ALL

The Stan­dard has a lit­tle more sting and ver­sa­til­ity than the more sweet-sound­ing Tra­di­tional, al­though it’s still a vin­tage-voiced gui­tar at heart. That said, it’s ca­pa­ble of some pretty heavy tones with some coax­ing, as well as some very con­vinc­ing shred lead sounds. But the care­fully voiced pick­ups and clever switch­ing make this an in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile gui­tar for the likes of rock, al­ter­na­tive, blues, jazz, and even coun­try.

It’s pretty much the ul­ti­mate cover band gui­tar, be­cause it’s light enough to play all night, yet it still sounds like a Les Paul, un­til you want it to sound more like a Strat or Tele.

The out-of-phase sound is also a great as­set to the Les Paul Stan­dard arse­nal (which is prob­a­bly why it’s been a con­sis­tent fea­ture for quite a few years now). It has a very soul­ful, haunt­ing qual­ity that has to be heard to be be­lieved. It’s sort of dis­tant and re­verb-y with­out ac­tu­ally having any na­tive re­verb. It’s hard to de­scribe, but re­ally emo­tive when used in the right con­text.

It also sounds great when com­bined with the reg­u­lar mode in over­dubs, es­pe­cially for dou­ble-tracked melody lines played over walls of power chords.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

If you’re a fan of the looks and tone of a L es Paul, but you’ve never got­ten along with the necks or the con­trols, this high-class piece of kit is right up your al­ley.

The flag­ship Gib­son USA Les Paul Stan­dard takes what was al­ready an ex­cep­tional gui­tar and ups the ante even more with a more shoul­der­friendly weight, a deep res­o­nant tone and a look that show­cases even more of the beau­ti­ful Grade AAA top wood choice.

You’ll al­ready know if you’re a Les Paul tra­di­tion­al­ist, or whether you pre­fer some­thing a bit more modern, and this is ev­ery bit the Les Paul that a player from the 1950s might imag­ine the design would evolve to.

It doesn’t feel like, say, an ESP Eclipse or other sim­i­lar shred­di­fied Les Paul-style gui­tars; it feels like a Les Paul for today, with a dis­tinctly modern (yet un­doubt­edly Les Paul) design and fea­tures that best rep­re­sent what’s pos­si­ble for a gui­tarist in 2018.

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