Posts about Gibson

Thoughts on Namm 2024

This past week has been all about the 2024 NAMM Show for me. (With the exception that I’ve also been very into coverage of the 40th anniversary of the Mac.) I like NAMM a lot — it’s CES for guitar nerds. What’s not to love?

It’s no secret that guitar journalism is less relevant every year, but thankfully Guitar World still has actual writers covering this thing, so I’ve been able to keep up throughout the week. The show isn’t over until Sunday, but there have been some interesting announcements so far.

The Epiphone Dave Ghrohl DG-335

I’ve been waiting for this guitar for a while, and I’m excited the DG-335 was finally announced. Much like Epiphone’s takes on the Korina Explorer/​Flying V and Lazarus Les Paul models, this looks like a quality instrument: one-piece neck, Gibson Burstbucker pickups, Graphtech nut, and Grover Mini tuners. All the components in this thing look like good stuff.

It sounds like this model streets in March. I’m thinking about getting a semi-hollow, so I plan on looking for a copy to try as soon as they’re in stores.

A lot of signature guitars

A lot of artists get signature guitars, including a bunch of folks who probably have no business getting deals like that. There are always a few that are worth commenting on, though:

  • Alex Lifeson has partnered with Godin to create the LERXST Limelight signature guitar. I don’t know if I’m interested in the guitar, but I like that Canadian musician Alex Lifeson partnered with Canadian guitar company Godin for his latest signature. I don’t own any Godin guitars, but they make nice instruments, and as corny as this is, some small part of my heart is warmed by this partnership.
  • ESP has released Bill Kelliher’s (of Mastodon) signature guitar, and it looks awesome. It’s worth looking at the photos, but it’s sort of like a Les Paul Doublecut, but with a lot of attitude. The one downside? Apparently they can weigh up to 13 pounds! That’s part of the marketing for the thing, as though the weight will help make the guitar sound bigger (it won’t). This is one of those rare cool-looking guitars, though. I’m a big fan.
  • Gibson announced a new Slash colour — this one is called Jessica. Look, who cares? It’s just Honeyburst. But I wanted to mention it because I have one of the current Slash Les Pauls, and it is the best Les Paul I’ve ever played. If you’re on the hunt for a good Les Paul, consider this a reminder that you really ought to check out the Slash Les Paul. (And maybe Epiphone’s Lazarus 1959 Les Paul Standard, while you’re shopping.)

Some Gibson news

Gibson isn’t at NAMM this year, but they’ve announced a few interesting things I wanted to comment on.

First, there’s another new Kirk Hammett Les Paul. Kirk, if you’re reading this for some reason, I appreciate that you’re cashing your cheques. Good for you! But enough is enough. I love the Greeny model (I particularly like the standard), but nobody needs this 1989 Les Paul Custom — especially at the $9,000 USD price point.

I genuinely don’t get it. Is Gibson crazy? The aging on this new reissue looks pretty bad. The pickups aren’t accurate to what Hammett used in 1989, and instead use Gibson’s T‑Type pickups. I’m all for modern updates, but I don’t think the T‑Type pickups are good — especially at this price. Obviously, EMG active pickups have fallen out of fashion (they still sound great, by the way, but fashion is fleeting), but T‑Types are not the sort of thing I’d imagine your average Kirk Hammett fan (I am one!) is into.

In other Gibson news, they’re back into the amp game. It somehow never occurred to me that part of the reasoning behind Gibson’s acquisition of Mesa was bringing Gibson amps back, but it makes perfect sense in hindsight. Their first amps are the Falcon 20 and Falcon 5. These aren’t for me, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what Gibson does here.

Pedal news

I think guitar pedals are a dime a dozen, but the industry is fun to watch. Like the candy industry, there’s a new flavour every week:

  • Andy Timmons, who has golden ears, announced a new overdrive pedal with Keeley called the Muse Driver. I think it sounds good. Anything Timmons releases is worth your time. The man has taste.
  • In the category of ​“holy ***” news, Jackson is bringing back Fulltone. On top of that, they’re rereleasing the OCD overdrive pedal, and plan on bringing back other pedals from the archive, as well as working on new designs. There’s a very cool documentary-style Youtube video announcing the partnership. Mike Fuller is publicly an awful person. I respect him as a maker, because I feel a kindred spirit with anybody who makes* things, but it’s too bad that Jackson Audio chose to bring him back too. (In the words of one subreddit, ​“bigotry and racism are back.” Yikes.) I like how Fulltone pedals sound, and I’m excited that folks can get some of these great pedals again, but it’s too bad the man who designed them was so empowered to air his hateful poopy opinions in public forums. (In other words, it’s great that folks can buy used Fulltone pedals.)
  • EHX sold a reissue of the Big Muff Pi, and it sold out in barely over an hour. It was a limited run. I don’t love that. But it is interesting!
  • Jack White has announced an inexpensive 3‑in‑1 multi-effects pedal in collaboration with Donner. Neat!

Amp news

Two interesting things in the ​“amp news” category this year, outside of the aforementioned Gibson Falcon series:

  1. Laney released a new tube amp, but also released a matching plugin at launch. Nobody has ever done this before. Power move, Laney.
  2. Vox announced a new hand-wired series of AC amps. They say this will be ​“the ultimate recreation” of AC amps. It’s neat that this is an option, but the way I see it, hand-wiring things just introduces a lot of margin for error, which means odds are good that your hand-wired Vox AC-30 is only like the originals in the sense that they’re very inconsistent from one to the other. Still interesting, though!

The show isn’t over yet, so I’m looking forward to potentially hearing about more gear. Honestly, though, the Epiphone DG-335 was the headlining news for me. Hard to imagine what will top it.

The New Les Paul Supremes

I somehow missed this week that Gibson announced the return of the Les Paul Supreme. Gibson didn’t put out a press release for this or anything (and they frankly have the worst website of any guitar company), but they did release this Youtube video.

Here are the key specs:

  • AAA figured maple top
  • One model with two pickups (Burstbucker Pros), and another with three pickups (all Burstbucker Pros). The model with three pickups is exclusively available on Gibson’s website, which seems like a terrible idea, given my aforementioned note about their website.
  • Ultra-modern weight relief
  • SlimTaper neck with a compound radius
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Push/​pull controls for coil tap, phase, and pure bypass modes
  • Starting at USD $3,999 (or $5,199 in Canada)

These are undeniably handsome instruments, but that is also an undeniably bananas price for a Les Paul. It’s also odd to me that they would make the most attractive model — the 3‑pickup variant — available exclusively through the Gibson website. I wonder how the dealers feel about this.

In regards to the push/​pull pots: these should be push/​push buttons. The black top hat control knobs on this thing have an indent on them already. If those indents were buttons, the controls would be substantially easier to use. Push/​pull pots are fiddly on stage. For $4,000 USD, these are the details I’d expect Gibson to sweat.

I also can’t figure out what differentiates the newly-announced Les Paul Supreme from the Les Paul Modern. Here are the key specs on that, and tell me if this looks familiar:

  • Maple top (not AAA, but solid paint in some classic colours, like Faded Pelham Blue, which is the best blue ever painted on a guitar)
  • Two Burstbucker Pro pickups
  • Ultra-modern weight relief
  • SlimTaper neck with a compound radius
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Push/​pull controls for coil tap, phase, and pure bypass moes
  • Starting at USD $2,999 (or $3,999 in Canada)

For about $1,000 less, you get the exact same guitar, minus the AAA maple top. It’s the same pickups, same push/​pull options, same weight relief, same neck, etc. The only difference is the visual aesthetics on that maple top.

I have no problem paying more for a nice finish. I own a Slash Les Paul because I preferred the AAA maple top to the normal Les Paul Standard’s. But the price difference there was just a couple hundred dollars. This is the first time in my memory that a AAA top from Gibson has ever been priced at $1,000.