Famous range enhanced for 2015
As it continues apace with its plans to annually refresh its iconic range of guitars, Gibson has ushered in a few surprises with its 2015 collection.
Sure, the same old faces are still there, from Les Paul Junior through to Standard via the obligatory SGs, but with slight amendments made in an effort to continue innovating and exploring the outer limits of guitar engineering. Largely, the range features most of the same marques and finishes we’re used to, but look very closely and you’ll see things like zero fret nuts, and at the back of the majority of the new range is an upgraded and updated version of the now-commonplace (at least with modern Gibbos) Tronical tuning system. The auto-tune contraption is now known as G-Force, presumably because Min-Etune (its previous name) didn’t sound gee-whizz American enough.
The zero-fret nut is an interesting one, promising as it does to increase sustain and improve intonation. It does, at first glance, look a touch alien, but Gibson assures us it is one of those things you’ll soon get used to and wonder how you ever coped without. Fender’s roller-nut attired Strats had a similar effect, but the general consensus is that they work as they’re meant to and don’t ‘get in the way’ of your playing. Gibson will be hoping for the same acceptance from players.
As expected, there are a few variations on the Les Paul line-up. From the basic Les Paul Junior, with its single P90 pickup and heavy mahogany body, through to the double cutaway with its extra pickup, it’s all so far so similar apart from the new nut and upgraded auto-tuner gadget. When you start looking up the range, you start noticing the newer facets of this classic guitar.
As the only Gold Top of the line-up, the Les Paul Deluxe features two mini-humbuckers, and the lighter back seen on more vintage GTs. The model marks a clear variation on the gorgeous Signature Model T from 2013 with its dual uncovered humbuckers and meaty looking metal tuning machines. Not to say the older variation was better, but it’ll perhaps be better suited to a different player.
For those of you with broad shoulders, the Les Paul Traditional features zero weight relief, meaning you will enjoy magical sustain and warmth of tone but please, make sure you have a suitably well-endowed strap…
Sitting at the top of the pile is the rather gaudy looking Les Paul Supreme. It looks like an updated version of the famous old Les Paul Florentine, with its dual F-holes and fancy inlays, yet it pushes the theme forward by introducing floating mini-humbuckers which sit nicely atop a AAAA maple cap and a stunning sea foam green finish. There’s also a classic looking heritage cherry sunburst finish available which perhaps looks more Gibson, for the traditionalist. On its website, Gibson simply says this guitar is the best of everything. No pressure there then.
As far as SGs go, the SG Special returns at the lower end of the price scale, offering players looking to dip their toe into the Gibson water with an attractive instrument at a very tempting price. Again, this isn’t dissimilar to the entry-level models from the 2014 and even 2013 ranges, but it fits the bill nicely. The updated SG Standard is the same as it ever was, with the added benefits of the G-Force tuning system and zero-fret nut, as seen elsewhere in the line-up.
Rounding off the new models is updated versions of the Firebird and its accompanying bass, with the six-string variant benefitting from a new neck-thru design and the bass offering improved electronics and a full contact bridge.
So there you have it. Gibson is making these annual updates to its ranges with a view on small incremental additions which enhance the products, while demonstrating that it remains at the forefront of quality and innovation. However, if you ignore all the marketing spiel and hype, one thing remains true after all these years; they don’t half make damn sexy instruments. The Gibson 2015 range does nothing to make you doubt they’ll continue.