Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric Guitars: A Comprehensive Review
The Gibson Les Paul Custom is one of the most iconic and revered electric guitars in history. Since its inception in 1954, the Les Paul Custom has been the go-to instrument for countless professional musicians and guitar enthusiasts alike. Known for its beautiful design, incredible playability, and exceptional tone, the Les Paul Custom has earned its place as a true classic in the world of electric guitars. In this article, we will delve into the rich history of the Gibson Les Paul Custom, explore its key features and specifications, discuss some famous players who have used it, and provide an overall assessment of its performance and value.
A Brief History of the Gibson Les Paul Custom
The Les Paul Custom was introduced in 1954 as a high-end alternative to the original Les Paul Model, which had been released two years earlier. The Custom was designed by none other than legendary guitarist and inventor Les Paul himself, who worked closely with Gibson President Ted McCarty to create a guitar that would offer players unparalleled quality and craftsmanship.
The original Les Paul Custom featured a solid mahogany body with a carved maple top, a gold-plated hardware, and an ebony fingerboard with pearl block inlays. This luxurious design earned the guitar its nickname “Black Beauty.” Over the years, the Les Paul Custom has undergone various changes and improvements, but its core design and timeless appeal have remained largely unchanged.
Key Features and Specifications
Body and Neck
The Gibson Les Paul Custom typically features a solid mahogany body with a carved maple top, providing a well-balanced combination of warmth, sustain, and clarity. The body is usually finished in a glossy nitrocellulose lacquer, which not only enhances the guitar’s appearance but also allows the wood to resonate more freely for improved tone.
The neck of the Les Paul Custom is also made from mahogany and is set into the body with a traditional mortise and tenon joint for maximum stability and sustain. The neck profile is typically a comfortable, rounded “C” shape, which fits nicely in the hand and allows for easy playability across the entire fretboard.
One of the distinguishing features of the Les Paul Custom is its ebony fingerboard, which offers a smooth, fast-playing surface with excellent articulation and note definition. The fingerboard is adorned with elegant pearl block inlays, adding a touch of class to the guitar’s already impressive appearance.
Pickups and Electronics
The Les Paul Custom comes equipped with a pair of Gibson’s famous humbucking pickups, which provide the guitar with its signature thick, powerful tone. These pickups are often the 490R and 498T models, but some variations may feature other Gibson humbuckers, such as the Burstbucker or ’57 Classic.
The electronics configuration of the Les Paul Custom includes two volume knobs, two tone knobs, and a three-way pickup selector switch, allowing players to easily dial in their desired sound. The pots and switches used in the Les Paul Custom are of high quality, ensuring consistent and reliable performance.
The hardware on the Gibson Les Paul Custom is typically gold-plated, providing a luxurious aesthetic that complements the guitar’s overall design. The bridge is a Tune-o-Matic-style unit with a stopbar tailpiece, offering excellent intonation and tuning stability. The tuners are usually Gibson Deluxe or Grover Rotomatic models, both of which provide smooth, precise tuning adjustments.
The Gibson Les Paul Custom has been the instrument of choice for countless legendary guitarists throughout history. Some notable players who have used the Les Paul Custom include:
- Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
- Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
- Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver)
- Alex Lifeson (Rush)
- Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society)
These artists and many others have chosen the Les Paul Custom for its incredible tone, playability, and undeniable stage presence.
Performance and Value
The Gibson Les Paul Custom is a true testament to the craftsmanship and attention to detail that has made Gibson one of the most respected names in the guitar industry. The Custom offers players an unparalleled playing experience, with a comfortable neck, excellent fretwork, and top-notch hardware.
Tonally, the Les Paul Custom is incredibly versatile, capable of producing everything from warm, mellow jazz tones to aggressive, high-gain rock sounds. The guitar’s humbucking pickups provide ample output and a rich harmonic complexity that is perfect for both studio recording and live performance.
While the Gibson Les Paul Custom is certainly not an inexpensive instrument, its quality and performance make it a worthwhile investment for serious players who demand the best. For those who are seeking a more affordable alternative, Gibson’s subsidiary brand Epiphone also offers a Les Paul Custom model that captures much of the original’s charm and character at a more accessible price point.
In conclusion, the Gibson Les Paul Custom is a legendary electric guitar that has earned its place in the annals of music history. Its beautiful design, exceptional playability, and iconic tone make it a highly sought-after instrument for players of all styles and skill levels. While its price may be prohibitive for some, the Les Paul Custom is undoubtedly a guitar that lives up to its reputation as one of the finest instruments ever crafted.