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Finger Pickin' Good

Article from Music UK, May 1983


After only two columns written in this magazine — this being my third — you I will be thirsting for knowledge about Gibsons, written in my own insatiable stylish hand. Who better to tell you about guitars than an undiscovered guitar ace?

Today you get a bonus. Not only an action packed feature on the aforesaid Gibsons, but red hot information on Epiphone, a guitar name of considerable standing round the world. If you can't find a guitar to play from these two top names, give up real music and play the drums.

The thing I like about Gibsons is that they have evolved, from people who have been building guitars for years, rather than designed by graduates. This is not to belittle a little college education, my own academic career still brings tears to my mother's eyes, but the point is that you have to know guitars to make guitars.

The Les Paul series is the ultimate proof Les wanted a guitar that would eliminate feedback and resonance problems, and it was natural for him to tie up with Gibson, who had done so much pioneering work in pickups and hollow bodied electrics. Les wanted a solid bodied instrument — he was looking for a 20 second sustain! — and of his earliest prototype he said 'You could go out and eat and come back and the note would still be sounding".

The Les Paul range is very varied now. This is how they line up:-

Les Paul Deluxe Solid mahogany body with carved maple top. Single cutaway, Tune-O-Matic bridge, two Gibson Humbucking pickups with individual tone and volume controls plus three position switch for pickup selection. 3 piece solid maple neck, glued to the body like all Les Pauls, for increased sustain. Rosewood fingerboard with de luxe inlays and 22 frets.

Les Paul Pro Deluxe Simular spec, to the above, but fitted with cream single coil pickups and ebony fingerboard.

Les Paul Custom Body, top and cutaway style as Deluxe. Tune-O-Matic bridge. Two gold plated Humbucking pickups with individual tone and volume controls. 3 position toggle switch and select either or both pickups. Maple neck with ebony fingerboard, and pearl block inlays. The Custom has beautiful finish details, like the black finger board with white edging and the gold plated machine heads.

Les Paul Standard Same top quality body construction and cutaway style, plus the Tune-O-Matic bridge, pickups, controls and pick-up selection as the Custom! Maple neck and beautiful rosewood fingerboard. Top quality chrome plated machine heads.

Les Paul XR2 Laminated mahogany body with maple veneer top. Tune-O-Matic bridge again, 2 high output Humbuckers with coil tap. Rosewood fingerboard.


As I've said before, I play a Gibson MV2. I chose it for the balance and comfort, the fitted neck for the added sustain that I like and the coil tap switch to select, single coil or double coil sounds from the high output humbucking pickups.

The MV2 is available in a different format, as the MV-X, with three pickups and five position pickup selection.

Don't get the idea that Gibson only make guitars (and, of course, excellent guitar accessories). They make an ace bass or two — too! Today's bass player looks for an instrument that allows very fast clean playing. Guys are playing melodic bass lines like some guitar players now and the axe has to meet their style demands. It must be accurate - it must be good, it is beautifully balanced and that is one thing that bass players look for first. If you take your hand off the neck, you don't get machine heads in the left ear, or a thump in the ankle!

The Victory bass has an oversized truss rod, reinforced by two steel strips, for a rock solid neck. And the bridge is a knockout, with very fine adjustment features built in. It's a series VI11B potted humbucker with extended frequency response at high and low volumes.

Don't try the Victory Artist bass unless you are serious! Two pickups and a package of on board electronics make this an incredibly versatile instrument. The electronics work in 3 modes — passive, like the Standard, active/notched, which allows 18dB boost or cut and treble with built-in 13dB notch at 1 KHz, and an active/flat mode, without notching. This is the one!

The Epiphone name is back on the scene, now. Epiphone always had a good reputation, and they are now owned by Gibson, so that's no bad thing. They are built by specialist manufacturers to Gibson's very demanding specification, and it's possible to play Epiphone for a remarkably low price this way. There are five jumbo acoustics and four rather beautiful semi-acoustic electrics in the current range, and every last one of them looks great and handles perfectly.

They go like this:-

Epiphone Emperor A classic Epiphone, particularly loved by jazz musicians. Mother of pearl block inlays to the neck and intricate inlays to the head. Superb fast action, and good machine heads. This incredible guitar will set you back only £475, and that includes the case!

Epiphone Riviera Semi solid body gives bags of sustain and volume. Humbucking style pickups and double cutaway body. Not bad for £299 with case!

Epiphone Sheraton A beautified Riviera with multiple beading to neck and body. Lovely inlays too. Well worth the £350, to include the case.

The jumbos start from as low as £89.95 for a highly playable range using mahogany, maple, rosewood cappings, and nice machine heads. Even the most expensive one in the range, the FR25, is only £139.95 and that's for a guitar with rosewood back, sides and neck, and superb inlays and bindings. They all play beautifully, of course.

Your local stockist will be happy to show you these delightful instruments and don't forget that the Gibson & Epiphone distributors, Rosetti Ltd., are always pleased to hear from you, at their London Address, (Contact Details).

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Publisher: Music UK - Folly Publications

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Music UK - May 1983


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