a non-biased review of the new 2012 Gibson LP std

lowmach

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Hey guys I would like to share a review of the new 2012 Gibson Standard Les Paul from a buddy of mine who is not a LP player but knows quality and tone including experience with tapped humbuckers. He is a great player and I respect his ear! I have been wanting to try one of the new LP’s out but haven’t had a chance and my buddy was heading to GC, so I asked him to take a look for me. He currently owns PRS guitars including a Signature Limited model and has owned Gibson Les Pauls and typical Fenders along the way. Please note PRS has been splitting humbuckers for sometime and they know how to do it IMO. I have owned a handful of different les pauls over the years and he has played them all including my current Gibson R8 tobacco burst and 08 model standard goldtop. Let me give a quick overview of the PRS models he used as comparison to the non-prs here. The DGT is a nitro double cut model with a trem that is David Grissom’s signature model with splittable DGT pickups designed after some original PAF’s David has in one of his old guitars(335 i think). The 245 is PRS’s shorter scale nitro single cut guitar with a stop tail with PRS vintage toned 57/08 pickups. Here is what he had to say:

“I'll try to remember everything relevant about the new Gibson Standards. Cosmetically, they looked great. I asked if a gold top was available, the guy wasn't sure. (Brian Lacher, FYI. good guy, no pressure, he knew I was doing research only, still got me a Fender amp into a quiet area and took the back off the controls for me) The guitars in stock had more flame than you usually like, but looked great I thought.

The one I picked (easiest to reach) was a little on the heavy side. I didn't try the others since I wasn't really shopping to purchase, he pointed out that it's weight-relieved but not chambered. The Swiss-cheese approach. Nobody else had plugged it in yet (sales guy recently returned from Gibson with information he hadn't verified yet so he was kind of excited that I was going to be testing it). Before I forget, two-piece back (looked nice) in stick, three-piece available but he said he doesn't want to try to sell it. One-piece doesn't happen until you get to Custom Shop.

Ok, it was out of tune, so I can comment on the tuners. They were very smooth in their movements, I didn't notice any catching or binding in the nut, tuning went pretty easily, although somebody had the E string way lower than I realized at first, took a bit to bring it all up to pitch.

The neck (back) was very comfortable. It wasn't terribly thin, but definitely not too large. I might compare it to my 245? I'm not sure since I didn't have it readily available for comparison... Wider than a DGT, I think, but not as wide as a classical. There's probably a standard width for the Gibson LP, there's probably no surprise for you there. I couldn't tell if the back had the asymmetrical carve or not, but I forgot to pay attention to that. I did look for the compound radius on the fretboard, I couldn't see it. I asked and he said it's very subtle. I thought it was very comfortable, the action was set up low, and bending was easy. I'm not sure what string gauge they used, but I bet it's not 11s like I use on the 245, that might explain part of it. I don't know if you'd want a little more push back from the strings or not. The fretboard was very light, though it varied on each guitar. I didn't ask if it's the laminated board, I would guess that it was. I didn't notice anything wrong with the board, the laminating thing might be purely in people's heads at this point. They know it's different, therefore it sounds different, therefore it sucks.

Sound-wise is where I started disliking the guitar. Acoustically, I thought it was pretty good, not too quiet, nothing jumped out at me. He picked a Fender amp (I didn't pay enough attention to remember which one, maybe a Super Sonic?) because I said I wanted light crunch, nothing more. It took me a bit to dial in the amp but I found a good place. The pickups are BurstBucker Pros with Alnico V magnets. They sound completely different from each other. The bridge sounds much more thin, ice-pick bright in comparison to the neck. I balanced them out somewhat with the tone knobs, but the R8 really set a high bar for LP's in my book. On the R8, the two pickups sound similar with a subtle change in tonality more than anything else. On the Standard I tried, they were very different. In my post-test review with Brian I pointed out that the pickups did not interact very well with the volume. Going from 10 to 9 or maybe 8.5 the pickups (both) lost all clarity immediately and became 'woofy'. In blending the two pickups, the first tiny change to one volume made a difference, after that, almost nothing.

Ok, either pickup can be tapped, I was not really impressed by either one. The neck seemed to actually get darker when I tapped it, very strange. The neck was so-so, drop in volume, little more snap, but nothing special. I tried mixing them together in different combinations, nothing really stood out to me. We experimented with using the bypass switch as a kill-switch, interesting but I wouldn't have a lot of use for it. The bypass switch might be the saving grace, Volume and tone both completely bypassed, to use the switch as a kill, the pickup you're using has the volume to zero, push the switch in. It works for either pickup.

The out-of-phase switch was pretty cool, definitely gave a different sound. Unfortunately, something funky happens with the volume knobs when the phase switch is pulled up. Turning down the volume even a tiny bit makes a "wah" sound and the eq changes drastically, like a major mid bump or something. It did it on both pickups. I could wiggle the volume ever so slightly and it was like rocking a wah pedal, I didn't like that. It is cool as an effect, but it essentially takes out using the volume control AS a volume control.

We pulled the back off the guitar, everything is in a circuit board (they used a cover you can't see through again finally). I couldn't really trace the signal worth a shit. Everything had 5 wires, so I guess green is ground, but after that, I don't know exactly what they're doing to get the phase changes, the coil taps, full humbucker, etc. There's no soldering, everything snaps into the circuit, but... Changing pickups might be a problem unless they start selling pickups with the snap in wiring. You can remove everything and go more 'normal' on the wiring, but at that point you're losing some of the new features, so I'm not sure if you'd want to.

Bottom line... Cosmetically it was more impressive than sonically. It felt very nice, but there was nothing in the sounds that I ran through making me want one. The volume knobs killed too much high end immediately and they didn't play well with each other (to my ears) and did something really funky when out the phase switch was engaged. I was also not impressed by the tapped sounds.”

Thanks Derek for the well done review. I appreciate it and think others here will find it helpful as well while others may not and some may even feel the need to flame away.

-low
 

Ginger Beer

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I don't think you need to don a flame suit for an honest, comprehensive review but.... ^ ....I could be wrong.
 

shadow_214

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The pickups are 4 conductor according to Gibson so they could be swapped out if needed, i played one through a Marshall Class 5 and the one i had rocked and when i rolled back the volume the pickups cleaned up nicely. That being said i have never been a fan of Gibson pickups, not the modern ones anyways like the 57 classic or any of the burstbuckers. Different strokes for different folks i guess.
 

Malchik

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Myself, I rarely judge a guitar on it's pickups. I judge on build quality, aesthetics, and playability. I change my pickups regularly, so...
 

KenG

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I think the tone part is very subjective and fine that the reviewer didn't really like it. He's got a prefernce for PRS which sound absolutely nothing like Gibsons in the first place so I'm not surprised. Seemed liek the rest of the review was favourable. On a side note out of phase means literally two signals cancelling each other out. If their center frequencies are not identical the resulting output could easily shift which freqs are louder or more peaky which is what a wah does (variable notch filter).
As for the tone getting muddy quick that may be a combination of poor PU height or 300K VOl pots.
 

92Standard

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Nice review but at the end of the day, it's all just one individual's opinion. Although I certainly appreciate the lengthy review and the time and effort put forth, I'm not really sure if I have gained any knowledge from it.
 

texasdw

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Interesting. Well done review.

I went in a while back with my eyes on a "Custom Pro." That has much of the same electronics as the new Standard (and incidentally, is aesthetically very nice as well). I found EXACTLY the same thing with the volume pots. Very disconcerting. It was enough for me. I ended up buying a second Custom (see avatar) which I will eventually mod to include the coil tap/ phase thing.

Thanks for posting that.
 

KenG

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Interesting. Well done review.

I went in a while back with my eyes on a "Custom Pro." That has much of the same electronics as the new Standard (and incidentally, is aesthetically very nice as well). I found EXACTLY the same thing with the volume pots. Very disconcerting. It was enough for me. I ended up buying a second Custom (see avatar) which I will eventually mod to include the coil tap/ phase thing.

Thanks for posting that.

Well the Avatar pic is small but those guitars look very questionable! I'm serious here!:slash:
 

JMB1984

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Um... what does "woofy" mean?

It sounds like he should have played more than one if he was planning to right a review about the model. It also sounds like he didn't use the best amp. You can't expect BB Pros to sounds like PAFS either.

I mean the PRS 245 doesnt have the typical poor pots and cap issue as the Gibson USA line has, but on the new Standards, the pickup controls and the BB Pros themselves don't suffer from lack of clarity and response below 8 on a quality tube amp. I have played at least 6 new standards by now without this experience.
 

lowmach

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I think the tone part is very subjective and fine that the reviewer didn't really like it. He's got a prefernce for PRS which sound absolutely nothing like Gibsons in the first place so I'm not surprised. Seemed liek the rest of the review was favourable. On a side note out of phase means literally two signals cancelling each other out. If their center frequencies are not identical the resulting output could easily shift which freqs are louder or more peaky which is what a wah does (variable notch filter).
As for the tone getting muddy quick that may be a combination of poor PU height or 300K VOl pots.

Yes so true on the tone is subjective.

Thank you for the out phase definition. Neither of us have any experience with this and I look forward to trying the mod.
 

lowmach

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Non-biased opinion ......... is there really such a thing ????

So true. I can only speak for myself, but I always seem to compare guitars and amps to the ones I like the most. Set the mark so to speak. I should have named the thread something else now that you mention it.
 

lowmach

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Um... what does "woofy" mean?

It sounds like he should have played more than one if he was planning to right a review about the model. It also sounds like he didn't use the best amp. You can't expect BB Pros to sounds like PAFS either.

I mean the PRS 245 doesnt have the typical poor pots and cap issue as the Gibson USA line has, but on the new Standards, the pickup controls and the BB Pros themselves don't suffer from lack of clarity and response below 8 on a quality tube amp. I have played at least 6 new standards by now without this experience.

Thanks for your input JMB. I will see him this evening and ask about the 'woofy' statement.

Yeah like others said not fair to judge a guitar on the pickups and electronics alone and he knows this as we have swapped pickups and electronics in so many of our instruments.

I thought it was a very favorable review besides the electronics comments. He is used to some pretty sick tops with the PRS guitars and he was impressed with the new tops on the 2012 models. He is always adjusting the volume and tone pots as well as using pickup combinations while playing, so I thought he would really dig the new 2012 features. I am sure I will hear more about this tonight.

Thanks for the feedback everyone!
 

JMB1984

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Thanks for your input JMB. I will see him this evening and ask about the 'woofy' statement.

Yeah like others said not fair to judge a guitar on the pickups and electronics alone and he knows this as we have swapped pickups and electronics in so many of our instruments.

I thought it was a very favorable review besides the electronics comments. He is used to some pretty sick tops with the PRS guitars and he was impressed with the new tops on the 2012 models. He is always adjusting the volume and tone pots as well as using pickup combinations while playing, so I thought he would really dig the new 2012 features. I am sure I will hear more about this tonight.

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

No problem. I don't mean any flack btw. It's just that PRS components are known for being superior to the stock USA Gibson so it's hard to tell if his comments are coming from what are actually PRS to Gibson differences. He may never be happy with Gibson coming from PRS. Just a thought as I very recently played a number of PRS SC 245 and SC 58 guitars, and felt like the PRS vol/tone response was just plain superior to all stock USA Gibsons that I have played (and I have played a lot of Gibson). The sustain was also unreal.
 

richedie

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Having owned a number if Gibsons and PRS guitars in my time....I always find Gibson superior in tone and feel, even my Fenders. I know only have one remaining PRS, all others have been sold.
 

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