A turn to the dark side….
Or a Gibson Les Paul review from a Fender player’s point of view.

Most guitarists stick to one brand, or even or particular instrument for most of their careers, hence the associations tied between certain guitars and their players.  Then again as variety is the spice of life, something a little different can be at times welcome.

With this in said I approached the purchase of my latest guitar with an open mind. During a recent vacation in Los Angeles I had the chance to test several instruments in stores located within their famous “Guitar Row” from Custom Shop Fenders, to Gibson’s both Les Pauls and SGs.

As now seems usual it was the first guitar I tried that I liked best. A Gibson Les Paul Studio Plus, which I eyed as soon as I walked into the store.

Finished in Desertburst, which is inspired by the colours of Baja from 30,000 feet, the guitar features a carved and figured AA grade maple top whilst the rest of the instrument is made of mahogany.

The body and neck are finished in black and contrast the superb top, with gold plated hardware featuring throughout the instrument to give it that touch of elegance.

The neck is a '59 Rounded Les Paul, with a rosewood fingerboard; classic pearloid trapezoid inlays adorn this.

After been used to playing Fender style instruments, a Les Paul is definitely a different animal. The first thing you notice are the lack of the body contours and the instrument is heavier that you are accustomed to.

After a warm up though the guitar feels comfortable and has a nice balance when played in a standing position (unlike an SG I tested later that was neck heavy). The neck although meatier than a Tele’s or Strat’s is very playable and also string bending is easier with heavy gauge strings thanks to the guitars short scale neck.

The sound coming out of the Marshall tube stack used I used to test all the instruments is warm and creamy and has a slight treble edge when I use the bridge pickup. The neck pickup is warm and mellow, sort of jazzy when clean and dark when overdriven.

The playing position itself for the right hand is very comfortable and the stop piece is smooth for damping.

On arriving home I was please to find out that the Les Paul also sounds great through my solid state Marshall with a thick creamy overdriven tone full of bottom end. Also a few weeks later after playing several functions with the instrument it is quite comfortable to play standing and in my opinion dismisses the myth that all Les Paul’s are very heavy.

Modifications? None needed apart new strings and the installation (I do this to all my guitars) of Dunlop Straplocks to ensure the guitar doesn’t fall off!

A great guitar indeed.

By Ernest H Slade