Gibson Les Paul De-Luxe
The present de-luxe model is fitted with individual enclosed Kluson machines, with Pearloid "Tulip" buttons, and well finished metal parts plated with nickel, rather than the more common chrome. (I have always felt that nickel looks better with 'woodey' colours: unfortunately, it is rarely used on electric guitar fittings outside the U.S.)
The nut is not ivory or plastic, but appears to be the fibreglass-reinforced composition which I mentioned in a previous article. It is very resistant to wear and should last as long as good ivory. The grooves in the nut are so shallow that the second and third strings tend to slip out of place if "bent" near the nut. However as the strings were also a little too high above the frets at the nut end, deepening the slots would solve both problems. I am not certain, but I believe that the "DE-LUXE" legend on the truss-rod cover is not engraved, but hot printed onto the surface. I hope it does not tend to wear off easily.
While the cream binding on the edges of the fingerboard is well finished where it covers the ends of the frets (the important bit), there is a distinct ridge where it meets the lacquer on the sides of the neck. One can still see file marks where it was cut down level with the fingerboard, and the fingerboard edge position-markers project noticeably from the binding in which they are set.
The guitar is fitted with the wider Gibson fretwire, and some effort has obviously been made to level and smooth the frets. Unfortunately, some are rounded on top and some flattish, and the fine satin finish on the tops of the frets partly conceals some fairly rough areas which will not be polished smooth by lots of string-bending practice. The rosewood fingerboard is of reasonable quality, but looks much worse than it is because of its uneven surface-finish and lack of a suitable dressing for the wood. Even a little raw linseed oil (as used on cricket bats) would improve the colour and "slip", and a specific fingerboard oil such as "Boogie Juice" or neat Lemon Oil (which now costs as much as some perfumes) would be even better.
The fingerboard inlays are Pearloid and most of them are loose on the side nearest the body. This is in no way typical of most new Les Paul models, but I have found it common for one or two to come loose after about three years playing.
Pick-ups are of the smaller Humbucking pattern which are commonly referred to as the old Epiphone type, but they appear to have a much higher output than similar units from some years back. Gibson claim to make over 20 models of Humbucker; I think it would be a useful exercise in customer relations and goodwill to identify precisely which pick-ups were and are fitted to which model of guitar, and how these are related to the humbuckers which are on sale as replacement parts.
Fittings on the review sample are made from good materials and well finished, with the exception of the bridge support screws which are bent forward by about ten degrees, and appear to have been fitted at this angle.
The sunburst finish is done well, with none of the spray "Splatter" which often defaces both new and old sunbursts. I would find it hard to fault the quality of the finish.
There is nothing really wrong with the internal wiring, except for the absence of any sort of screened lining to the body cavity. I cannot understand why the amount of screening in guitars seems to decrease in proportion to the gradual increase in onstage electrical interference. However, what is wrong is the tone controls. I have been unable to find any amp/pre-amp combination which causes either of the tone controls on this guitar to give any intermediate settings. The treble is full on from 10 to 3 and full off from 3 to 0.
In spite of these faults, the instrument sounds and feels undeniably like a Gibson, and although the action cannot economically be made very low, you may find certain subtle, but significant advantages in buying the real thing, and having it privately adjusted. To put it bluntly, if you buy a copy it is just as likely to need adjustment, and is unlikely to have the tone, balance or sustain of the original.
Retail Price £337.60
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