LES PAUL VOODOO
the Gibson Les Paul has represented the holy grail of guitar
greatness. Manufacturers have attempted to imitate the smooth
round curves and unique single cutaway but have never really
quite ‘got it right’. The sweet sound coming from those patented
humbuckers is the equivalent of the full-range singer who
can hit the high and bass notes equally well.
But, in my opinion, the only issue
was the finish. The classic sunburst or gloss finishes have
never really done it for me and I’ve always been on the look
out for something different. In 1998 Gibson designed a ‘platinum’
LP. It was certainly different, but to be honest it was a
bit naff. Then there was the Zakk Wylde signature model with
its ‘circle zebra’ finish, but that was a little too different,
and well out of the average price range.
Then came the Voodoo range. Gibson
hit the nail on the head- what a finish! Swamp ash wood smoothed
over with matt black lacquer and a red wax to pick out the
natural ridges, a red pearl skull in the middle of the fretboard
and those special black magic pick-ups.
The sound is slight little rawer
than the average LP, and that is the intention. The absence
of chrome plates protecting the pickups from the strings mean
a rougher edge to the high gain end, a pumping bass note and
an ear-splitting treble: this guitar is meant to be heard,
at last a LP designed for the heavier sound! Nonetheless with
a little bit of knobbing around you can also get those velvety
clean sounds the LP is famous for. And just you hear it with
a Hendrix Wah!
The real bugger with this guitar,
as with any other Gibson, is that it’s needs to be played.
You’ll have to wrestle with the neck for a while to get your
fingers round it, not ideal for lightning-fast solos. Furthermore,
it weighs a tonne, even though it’s allegedly 10% lighter
than other LPs. Halfway through your gig you’ll be crying
out for a chiropractor to sort out your spine. The only consolation
is that I suppose once you’ve got used to this guitar, any
other guitar will be a doodle to play.
The drawbacks are a small price
to pay for the ‘feel good’ factor this guitar gives you. It’s
got a great look and, for a Gibson, its excellent value for
By Jonathan Sacramento