Author Topic: Reverb speaks out about Gibson 2015  (Read 714 times)

KenBJammen

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Reverb speaks out about Gibson 2015
« on: March 04, 2015, 02:55:55 AM »
http://reverb.com/blog/the-2015-gibson-line-up-reactions-and-reality?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=rn030315&_aid=newsletter

What happens when you open the catalog of your favorite guitar company and you don’t like what you see? This was the gut reaction of many players when news broke of the Gibson 2015 line-up.

As musicians, we're a fickle bunch: we love trying new things, but cherish vintage and vintage-inspired gear. We love innovation, but hunger for things from the “Golden Age” of electric instruments of the 1950s. This conundrum can be found all over the gear world and 2015 Gibsons are a prime example.

We all rolled our eyes at the earlier notion of the robot tuners, and the announcement of a wider neck, brass “zero-fret nut”, lower profile frets, and titanium saddles had us all wondering what exactly is going on at Gibson HQ. But what shocked us all was the huge price increase. The Les Paul Standard is now the price of a Fender Custom Shop model, as well as high-end makers of Gibson-influenced designs, such as PRS, Collings, Heritage, Knaggs, and countless other well-respected makers.

Many fans littered the forums with angry rants or promises to swear off Gibson forever. Dealers have also voiced their displeasure at the changes. The largest distributor of Gibson in the UK, Andertons, offered to install regular tuners free on the 2014 models with mini-tune systems. My local branch of that mega-guitar store chain said they were having a hard time selling the 2015 models, and planned only to order the special run models that do not have the new features.

In truth, I am a Gibson fan-boy from day one and did not want to discount all the new models just based on the general outcry. I thought the wide range of models at differing price points in 2014 was great; the models were creative, and the changes unique and interesting. Like many, I was put off by the 2015 radical changes, but still wanted to give them a fair shot.

I focused on innovations causing the biggest uproar: the wider neck, the robot tuners, and the zero-fret nut. I spent time with a 2015 Les Paul Junior, Classic, and Deluxe. For comparison I also played a 2013 Les Paul Custom, 2014 Custom Shop 1960 Les Paul Standard Reissue, and a 2014 Les Paul Melody Maker. From this I was able to get a real feel for the new line, and give some feedback based on my actual experience and not just the forum hype.

First, the neck. When I tried the wider “slim-taper” neck on the Junior, it certainly was a different feel. The wide, flat shape is surprisingly reminiscent of an Ibanez profile, but even wider. Though not my personal preference, it was a quick adjustment to the new shape once I started playing. The neck on the Classic is listed as the same as the Junior, though it felt more like the “asymmetrical” shape on the Deluxe. These necks felt much larger due to the increased width, but were still very playable. What I found most limiting about the wider neck was the width at the upper frets. The increased neck size at the body made it difficult to grasp comfortably which reaching for higher notes. The older models did not have this problem at all, and were much easier to play at high ranges.

Moving to the robot tuners, or as its now called, the "G Force". I actually love this in concept, but was underwhelmed in practice. I’ve noticed since its introduction, and on these new models, that the system is buggy. Each guitar I’ve played with the auto-tuners has had some performance or battery issue. I’m not sure if these are related, but many times I’ve seen the system essentially freak out when tuning up. It also seems like the unit does de-tune faster than I would have thought after a few minutes of playing. I found that the strings went flat faster than those on a well set up guitar with quality normal tuners.

The zero-fret-nut is an interesting beast. When seeing it, I was surprised that it had not been deployed more before, as the concept is intriguing. I liked the idea of being able to make slight adjustments to really dial-in the action. However, I found that all of the 2015 guitars seemed more shrill and bright in their attack. This may be the result of the nut, the titanium saddles, or the cryogenic treated frets, but all of the 2015 models displayed a very present treble bite. I did like the adjust-ability, and think it's a useful addition.

The one very surprising new feature that I found had the most impact was the lower fret wire. For my playing, the frets were too low, and I found my fingers dragging on the fretboard more than any other Gibson I played. I found this difficult to get used to, and it distracted from the playing experience. Ironically, it seems like a hearkening back to the “fretless wonder” Les Paul Custom.

What really struck me from this experience was playing the 1959 Custom Shop Standard Reissue. In this creation of the oldest school Les Paul, I just found myself thinking that nothing that needs improvement. And that, at core, is the the biggest source of controversy with the 2015. As much as I love the impulse towards innovation, sometimes an old recipe is truly already perfect.
Does anyone ever read these things.  I have some guitars, some amps and some effects but none of them play the guitar for me.... Yet.

DannyDV8

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Re: Reverb speaks out about Gibson 2015
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2015, 03:56:47 AM »
I'd rather have say a '77 Norlin Gibson Les Paul than any of the crap they're making right now.  Gibson almost bit the big one around '73 when they decided the Les Paul logo was plenty good enough to sell no matter how crappy they let the quality of the guitar become, and what did their shoddy craftsmanship come with?  A raise in price!  They were never closer to going under, that is, until now!  They've forgotten how to make a quality instrument, and they've said to Hell with the working musician who has to manage to pay for the tools of his trade while somehow having enough money left over to afford a hamburger on the way home from work.  The writting's on the wall, and for my money's worth has been since about 2007 when we all became "The little people" to them.
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