I had one of the Gibson Bill Kelliher explorers back when they came out, and because I had a few too many guitars a couple years later I let it go in a trade. I've always regretted that. I walked into a guitar store earlier this week and saw one of the Tommy Thayer Explorers on the wall. I didn't even know these existed. I don't have much opinion about Tommy Thayer one way or another, but it just really caught my eye. Explorers look great with binding. I played it a little and was into it right away. Next day I came back with some trade stuff, and took it home for $150. I was able to play it in band practice last night, and I just can't say enough how LARGE it sounds. This may have just as much to do with the Seymour Duncans in it (and if it does, I'll be putting those in some of my other guitars - they are killer pickups). Anyway, I used to be suuuuuch a Gibson snob, but have really opened up to other guitars the last couple of years, especially with the ongoing strange choices and QC issues that seem to plague Gibson of late. At this point I couldn't care less if my guitar is made in China or anywhere else. This thing has a perfect finish, stays in tune, has a neck that is straight as an arrow...and f'ing sounds amazing. Can't recommend it enough. Oh, and it came with a nice hardcase, which is actually white and looks like the backseat of a Chevy Belair from the 50s. It's simultaneously the funnies, tackiest, and coolest thing.