I have told myself for as far back as I can remember that when I could afford it I would get a genuine Gibson Les Paul. I think the first guitar I bought out of my own money was a Westfield Les Paul copy. It was similar in style to a Les Paul custom, with black paint and gold hardware. It wasn’t awful but at the same time it was not great.
About a year after I had purchased the Westfield (and had sold it on) I walked into the local music shop in order to enquire about the Epiphone explorer I had been drooling over for a few weeks. It had sold! and to one of my fathers friends. But whilst there amongst the disappointment I noticed a beautiful Epiphone Les Paul goldtop for around £200/$250. It was beautiful, I had to have it. I put down a deposit there and then and took the guitar home.
I was mesmerised for a while. But the more I played, the less I enjoyed playing the goldtop. I grew up, moved out, got a job and started earning money. And decided that I
wanted needed a Gibson. I had to have one. I had told myself many years before that when I found myself in this very situation that a Gibson Les Paul would be mine!
And it was. I searched for a while and settled on a 50s tribute. There were a few things I wanted in a guitar. First and foremost was P90’s. I wanted a guitar with that smooth silky tone, that sounds warm when clean but can handle some dirt. I liked the tuning pegs on my goldtop, they were gold klusons with green knobs. I didn’t want a guitar that screamed with an outlandish colour or had over the top adornments. And I wanted a well put together instrument. My epiphone was sloppily made, and this was in part why I fell out of love with the goldtop. I wanted the real deal and not the substitution I had been kidding myself with.
I happened across the guitar in question on eBay, a chap selling it locally wanted a reasonable £450 and was open to trades. I had decided I didn’t want to keep the goldtop, as I knew I wouldn’t play it if I had a new shinier toy.
I decided on the 50’s tribute for the following reasons:
- Budget – Although I now had a regular income, I couldn’t afford really more than £800, and would have to save for a couple of months for this. The 50’s tributes were going for around £500 second hand. (New ones were £900)
- It had P90s! Gibson changed this on the newer models, the 60’s tribute in more recent models has the P90s (which is slightly odd)
- It wasn’t over the top, there was no binding, or gaudy adornments.
- Matte finish. I love the matte finish.
- Made in the USA, good quality craftsmanship
- And an added bonus for this particular guitar is the robotic tuning.
I messaged the eBay seller, he was interested in trades, and as a matter of fact was after a goldtop! It was a perfect situation for the both of us. A deal was made, I drove to the middle of nowhere to trade the guitars (and hand over some cash) and I was now the proud owner of a Gibson Les Paul.
The robotic tuners are fantastic! I’ve played a lot more in alternative tunings just because it is so accessible. The guitar is set up perfectly and sounds amazing. It looks fantastic and is easy to play. It may not be the flashest guitar out there, it certainly isn’t the most expensive. But it most importantly does everything I want it to and more. Since buying it I have played more and have improved greatly (at least to my ears).
I may still be in the honeymoon period, as I’ve only had it for 6 months or so, but I do hope this never wears off. If I could give one piece of advice to other GAS sufferers it is this:
Go and get it. That guitar that you’ve been lusting after. The amp that has been goading you from the shop window, or the pedal put so high on that pedestal. Go and get it, try it out! life is too short to wonder what if, what if I don’t like it? Now is a fantastic time to have GAS, the second hand gear community is fantastic and if you look hard enough or are patient enough there are some absolute bargains out there.
Think about it this way, the worst case scenario is that you fall out of love with your gear after a couple of months and have to sell it at a slight loss, you have effectively just leased a piece of gear and paid for the time you used it.
Above are photographs of my guitar. Note the wooden switch cavity cover I made for it. I felt the need to individualise the guitar slightly, put my stamp on it.
I have also sanded the neck and back slightly, which has made for a much nicer playing feel. The only bad part about the fit and finish of this guitar was that the finish on the back had bubbled slightly. Some extremely fine sandpaper and a bit of elbow grease soon sorted it out, and it looks better than when it left the factory. When I first got the guitar I wanted to change the knobs, but they have grown on me, and I now like them.
If I was to upgrade this guitar in any way, I would possibly swap the pickups for some with slightly more output. Although I can achieve extra output through the use of effects pedals. This is such a minor gripe that I am just picking fault to make this seem fairer.
Overall I am extremely happy with this guitar, in fact I am smitten. This is the main instrument I will use when reviewing any gear and is an important member of the family so I felt like it needed an introduction.
Thanks for reading.