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 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 sleeve… 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 Les 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 shoulder-friendly 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.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Grade AAA flame maple top
• Mahogany body
• Mahogany neck
• Rosewood fingerboard
• Burstbucker Pro humbucking pickups
• Very versatile pickups and switching
• Super comfortable neck
• Beautiful top
• None, unless you’re a traditionalist
Australis Music Group
Ph: (02) 9698 4444