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Gibson Outplays PRS at its Own Game

GibsonGuitar Gear RetailGuitar TechnologyGuitarsLP-Style and Single-Cut GuitarsPaul Reed SmithPRS+-

When PRS started shipping guitars in 1985 it was as a challenger to the hegemony of the then rather old-fashioned Gibsons and Fenders. PRS always prided itself on quality and versatility, alongside modernity of design and stunning and colourful paint finishes.


I myself had fallen into the trap of perceiving Gibson as somewhat staid in its approach, and even though I am not a particular fan of gloss neck finishes, I have to say that Gibson has hit a major home-run with the 2017 Model Les Paul Standard in its HP or High Performance variation, and especially in its Blueberry Burst colourway.


This Standard HP has 4 push-pull knobs (2 x tone, 2 x volume) which allow you to coil-tap or coil-split each humbucker, you can also reverse phase, and select whether to split on the inner or outer coils. Moreover these settings can be further altered by a 5-Position DIP Switch in the electronics cavity - which allow you to additionally assign High Pass Filters and Transient Suppression. The range of tones that you can get from this one instrument are phenomenal.


I am a proud owner of a Roadie RD100 Automatic Guitar Tuner, and recognise what a boon it is to keeping my instruments easily in tune. Having a device permanently attached to all 6 tuning pegs (G-Force) allows you to tune-up that much quicker, and be quicker at changing to different tunings - in a totally hassle-free manner. Anyone who has used any form of automatic tuner will recognise what an amazing time-saver they are - they simplify and make guitar ownerships and maintenance easier and more enjoyable.


This is the first Gibson that I find drop-dead-gorgeous and would actually want to own. I may have admired some of the black ones played by various guitar legends in the past, but I always wanted a more modern style of instrument with more versatility than just the classic Gibson Tone - hence my more typical lean towards PRS.


As I say in the Title, I believe this is going to hit PRS where it hurts really. There is no doubt that this guitar is a PRS-killer - it has been modernised, upgraded and sharpened in every way, and would seem to totally outplay PRS at this price range. There are so many clever modern features here, including the smart weight-relief, amazing paint-job, beautiful chrome / titanium / steel hardware, and an equally directional aluminium hard-case. In fact, totally shattering all my previous blockers and preconceptions.


In comparison, PRS itself is in danger of looking rather staid and old-fashioned, and not quite up for the battle in the value-for-money stakes. PRS has been making a lot of noise of late about its McCarty and SC 245 models - both of which owe much of their being to the original Les Pauls. For what is on offer for the money though, the clever choice surely must be the new Les Paul Standard. Gibson has really turned the dial up to 11 of what a modern version of its classic instrument can be - applying smart technology and contemporary design throughout. There are already some Gibson fanatics saying that this guitar is too much like a PRS now, with it missing its signature pickguard and Rhythm/Treble poker-chip ring. For me though, it is now perfect in its modern streamlined edition - it finally looks wholly up-to-date, in fact - ahead of the curve in some areas.


Its only still evident weakness is the headstock shape and acute / oblique angle of strings through the nut grooves - I have seen a number of early reviews still citing tuning issues, and strings sticking in the nut. As ever, the only remedy is applying some form of nut lubricant - pencil lead / graphite / Big Bends Nut Sauce / Plamet Waves LubriKit.


PRS really needs to up its game here - and yes, I am a huge PRS fan and have two of their instruments. Yet PRS often seems miserly in what it gives you for your bucks, while the new Gibsons come in amazing cases, with multi-tools and other value-added essentials. The new Les Paul Standard at £2,700 is certainly not cheap, but when compared with other similar offerings around the same level (particularly for tones / level of finish and quality / overall feature-set), this has to be seen as one of the the best value options all-round - add to that Gibson’s incredible strength in holding its value long-term.


This guitar has just gone to the top of my want list, I will start saving now ... well actually, let’s get the Christmas shopping in first, and then start building up in the new year...



Full Specs

  • Price: £2,700
  • Back: Mahogany, with ultra-modern weight-relief
  • Top: AAAA flamed Maple top with Cream binding
  • Neck: Mahogany, with asymmetrical slim taper profile, 1,745" width, and fast-access heel, Cream binding, frets-over-binding
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood with compound fingerboard
  • Scale Length: 24.75"
  • Number of frets: 22 polished frets
  • Nut: Titanium zero-fret adjustable nut
  • Inlays: Mother of Pearl trapezoids
  • Bridge: Aluminium Tune-o-matic with Titanium saddles and Steel locking studs
  • Tailpiece: Aluminum Stop Bar with Steel locking studs
  • Knobs: Chrome knurled top hats
  • Tuners: G-Force auto-tuners with improved gears
  • Plating: Chrome
  • Neck Pickup: Burstbucker Rhythm Pro
  • Bridge Pickup: Burstbucker Lead Pro+
  • Controls: Neck and Bridge Pickup Tap or Split, Neck and Bridge Vol Treble Bleed control, and Transient Suppression) 2 volumes, 2 tones, 1 aviation grade toggle switch. 4 push-pull (individual tap/split, phase, and coil selection) and 5-position DIP switch (Neck and Bridge Pickup Tap or Split, Neck and Bridge Vol Treble Bleed control, and Transient Suppression)
  • Finish: available in 4 gloss finishes - Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Honey Burst, Bourbon Burst, Blueberry Burst (as above)
  • Case: HP Airstream-style aluminium case
  • Availability: Due in stock end November / beginning December - widely stocked
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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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