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This guitar seems very well built -- (Forget the electronics for a second)


PLexxiTronic

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I wanted to learn more (and compare) the Dark Fire against the other Les Paul Guitars that Gibson offers. I found, of course, that it is quite unique. I just wanted to know of what, exactly, the thing was made. I looked on the web, called Customer Service to fill in some missing blanks, and started to compile something for myself. You may already know for yourselves. But, I will list what I have so far FYI. Personally, I think it's cool stuff: It seems to be built up from various components of other Les Paul Guitars.

 

Looking it over, I get the feeling that some, future, "cost-reduced," version of the Dark Fire might more closely resemble a cross between a "Robot" and a "Standard Les Paul". What do you think? Did I mess up?

 

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DESCRIPTION OF DARK FIRE TO COMPARE AGAINST OTHER LES PAUL GUITARS

 

 

TRADITIONAL FLOWERPOT INLAY (From Dark Fire)

 

Gibson's traditional flowerpot inlay graces the peghead of the Dark Fire. This art nouveau inlay was first used in a similar form on the headstock of the 1911 F4 mandolin, and later on the L5's peghead veneer directly below the Gibson logo. This classic inlay also graces the headstock of several other Gibson models, including the Byrdland, the new Longhorn Double-Cutaway, and several other mandolins, banjos and acoustics.

 

POWERHEAD LOCKING TUNERS (From Robot; however, Robot II uses 2nd generation tuners)

 

Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Les Paul Studio Limited is unique in many ways, but the “robot-like” Powerhead Tuners that grace the headstock are extraordinary. Pull out the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited’s Multi-Control Knob (MCK) and watch the Powerhead Tuners spring into action. It takes only a few seconds for the Powerhead Tuners to tune the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited to the desired tuning. Each tuning peg is equipped with a tiny, but powerful, servo motor that kicks into action once the system is activated. The Powerhead Tuners rely on the strings themselves to send the signals, eliminating any potential for interference. Made of lightweight metal with a satin nickel finish, the Powerhead Tuners weigh only 46.5 grams each. A standard Gotoh tuner weighs in at 49 grams. That means a set of Powerhead Tuners weigh a full 15 grams less than a set of Gotoh tuners, which is another indicator of the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited’s true innovation.

 

ANGLED HEADSTOCK (From 2008 Standard)

 

The angled headstock is another example of Gibson’s industry-changing way of thinking. Every Gibson headstock is carved out of the same piece of mahogany as the neck then fitted with Gibson’s traditional wing blocks. It is not a “glued-on” headstock, and the process takes craftsmanship, time, and effort. But the rewards are worth the effort. The headstock is carefully angled at 17 degrees, which increases pressure on the strings and helps them stay in the nut slots. An increase in string pressure also means there is no loss of string vibration between nut and the tuners, which equals better sustain.

 

NUT, TRUSS ROD... (From Dark Fire)

 

Other exclusive design elements limited to the Dark Fire are a distinct nut made from a special Teflon-based material that allows for smoother and faster tuning action, a truss rod cover made from anodized aluminum...

 

BLOCK CARBON FIBER INLAYS (From HD.6X Pro Digital)

 

The classic block inlay is one of the most distinguishable features of many traditional Gibson models, including the ES-335s of the early 1960s and today’s Flying V Custom. On the HD.6X-Pro Digital Les Paul, Gibson uses block inlays made of carbon fiber – a material designed for the 21st century, with a traditional Gibson look. They are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers.

 

CLASSIC BLOCK INLAYS (From Dark Fire)

 

The classic block inlays found on the Dark Fire remain one of the most distinguishable features of many traditional Gibson models, including the ES-335s of the early 1960s and today's Flying V Custom. On the Dark Fire, the block inlays are made from acrylic and given a unique, carbon-fiber look for an ultra-modern appearance. They are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates all gaps and doesn't require the use of fillers. The result is a fingerboard that plays as fast and smooth as it looks.

 

NEW ASYMMETRICAL NECK PROFILE (From 2008 Standard)

 

The 2008 Les Paul Standard debuts Gibson’s newest neck profile – an asymmetrical design that makes it one of the most comfortable and playable necks ever offered on any guitar. The new ergonomically-correct profile is tapered, and designed to be thicker on the bass side, and thinner on the treble side, closely outlining the natural form of the hand as it grips the neck. The 2008 Standard necks are machined in Gibson’s rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. Once the rosewood fingerboard gets glued on, the rest – including the final sanding – is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.

 

22-FRET EBONY FINGERBOARD (From Robot)

 

Ebony has always graced the fingerboards of the world’s finest stringed instruments, including today’s Les Paul Custom, Les Paul Supreme, and the pioneering HD.6X-Pro Digital Les Paul. The fingerboard on Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Les Paul Studio Limited is constructed from the highest grade Ebony on the planet. The ebony is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories to be fitted onto the necks of the new Robot Les Paul Studio Limited guitars. The resilience of this dense and durable wood makes the fingerboard extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, which can occur on fingerboards with lesser radiuses. Resilient and less porous, ebony tends to absorb oils well, which allows it to preserve its rich, beautiful color.

 

FRET WIRE (From Robot)

 

The fret wire on the revolutionary Robot Les Paul Studio Limited is a combination nickel and silver alloy (approximately 80 percent nickel and 20 percent silver) specifically designed for long life and superior wear. Gibson's traditional "medium/jumbo" fret wire is first shaped by hand, then cut to an exact 12-inch radius. After hand pressing it into the fingerboard, a machine press finishes the job to eliminate the gap between the bottom of the fret wire and the fingerboard.

 

FRET WIRE (From Customer Service concerning Dark Fire when asked, "is it same as Robot's")

 

It does have the same fret wire. The fret wire is 0.090” wide and 0.055” tall nickel/silver alloy.

 

 

REVOLUTIONARY PLEK SET UP (From 2008 Standard)

 

The 2008 Les Paul Standard is one of the first models from Gibson USA to utilize the revolutionary Plek machine in setting up the guitar. The Plek is a German-made, computer controlled machine that carefully measures each fret, along with the fingerboard height under each string, and then automatically dresses each fret, virtually eliminating string buzz and greatly improving the overall playability of the guitar. This pioneering process does in minutes what it takes a luthier several hours – sometimes even days – to accomplish. Every fret is accurately aligned, and the guitar is properly intonated, leaving the instrument “Plek’d” and amazingly playable.

 

PERFECTSETUP BY PLEK (From Dark Fire)

 

Also part of the Dark Fire package is a superfast and comfortable asymmetrical neck design that is rendered to optimum playability with a PerfectSetup™ by the revolutionary, computer-controlled PLEK system, which has been acknowledged as the most precise guitar set-up technology in the world today.

 

SET-NECK CONSTRUCTION (From 2008 Standard)

 

Like all classic Gibson guitars, the necks on the Les Pauls are distinguished by one of the more traditional features that have always set them apart – a glued neck joint. Gluing the neck to the body of the guitar ensures a “wood-to-wood” contact, no air space in the neck cavity, and maximum contact between the neck and body, allowing the neck and body to function as a single unit. The result? Better tone, better sustain, and no loose or misaligned necks.

 

MAHOGANY BODY AND MAPLE TOP (From Robot)

 

There isn’t anything more fundamental to a Les Paul than a mahogany back with a maple top, as well as the regimen involved in selecting the right wood and the formula to dry it out. First, every piece of wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. Once inside the Gibson factories – where humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees – all woods are dried to a level of “equilibrium” by ensuring the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and helps control the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to helping reduce the weight. It also helps with improving the woods’ machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.

 

CHAMBERED MAHONGANY BODY (From 2008 Standard)

 

Every new 2008 Les Paul Standard will benefit from Gibson’s proven chambering technique, which leaves each guitar with perfect tone, balance, and weight. Prior to gluing the maple cap on top of the mahogany body, the expert craftsmen at Gibson USA carve out carefully mapped-out chambers in the body using a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) router. The positioning of the routes was established after careful examination of the resonant characteristics of the Les Paul. Gibson approached this process with the awareness that every change to the formula would have repercussions on the instrument’s sound. So, in addition to relieving the stress on a player’s back and shoulder, these lighter Gibson guitars also enhance the tone palette in a manner unique only to these guitars. The results are comfortable, lightweight guitars that are acoustically louder, with increased sustain and resonance.

 

CHAMBERED MAHOGANY BODY (From Dark Fire)

 

Next is the Dark Fire's chambered mahogany body, which helps deliver near-perfect tone, balance and weight. One of the ways the expert craftsmen at Gibson achieve this equilibrium is by carving carefully mapped-out chambers in the solid mahogany backs of the Dark Fire using a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) router before the maple top is glued on. The positioning of the routes were first established after careful examination of the resonant characteristics of the Les Paul. Gibson approached this process with the awareness that every change to the formula would have repercussions on the instrument's sound. The results are comfortable, lightweight guitars that are acoustically louder, with increased sustain and resonance.

 

NITROCELLULOSE FINISH (From Dark Fire)

 

Each of the Gibson Dark Fire Limited Edition First Run guitars features a dramatic Dark Fire nitrocellulose finish created especially for this exclusive run. It is one of the most striking finishes ever to leave a Gibson factory and is achieved by combining the time-tested techniques of applying a standard nitro finish with several new procedures that help bring out the natural beauty of the wood. The result is a stunning, deep gloss color that naturally highlights each piece of wood's distinctive grain patterns. The mahogany back and neck of the Dark Fire are given a satin finish, while the top and peghead face are sprayed with a gloss finish.

 

BODY BINDING (From 2008 Standard)

 

To see the process of putting the binding on a Les Paul Standard is to really appreciate the effort and attention that Gibson puts into each instrument. A lone craftsman carefully glues and fits two pieces of binding around the entire body of a Les Paul. He then winds a single, very long piece of narrow cloth around the entire body until the entire surface is nearly covered. The body is then hung to dry for a full 24 hours before it is unwrapped and moved into the next phase of production. It has been done the same way for over 100 years. Some question the value of adding binding, but Gibson believes it is a fundamental part of our rich guitar-making history. The binding adds elegance to the Les Paul Standard, and helps protect the edges of the body. The neck binding is installed over the fret ends, which eliminates sharp fret edges and provides for a smooth neck and easier playability.

 

DUAL BLACK BINDING (From Dark Fire)

 

The body is also bound with dual black binding, which accents the Dark Fire's exclusive finish perfectly and provides both the protection and beauty of traditional Gibson binding. The process of applying the body binding to the Dark Fire is the same process employed by Gibson craftsmen for over 100 years. And while some question the value of adding binding to a guitar, Gibson believes it to be an essential part of is rich guitar-making history, and a vital design element that adds elegance and helps protects the edges of the body.

 

GIBSON’S BURSTBUCKER 3 AND P-90 (From Gary Moore Signature)

 

The Gary Moore Signature Les Paul BFG demanded a pickup configuration as radical as the man himself, and the pairing of Gibson’s Burstbucker 3 with the classic P-90 is as intense as it gets. The Burstbucker 3 arrived on the scene in 1990, and – like the Burstbucker 1 and 2 – represents Gibson’s drive to capture and recreate the characteristics of the vintage “Patent Applied For” humbuckers of the late 1950s. On the shop floor of the original Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the earliest Gibson PAF humbuckers were wound using imprecise machines, resulting in pickups with varying degrees of output and tone. The Burstbucker 3 provides historically accurate PAF tone with two slightly overwound coils, creating a raw, airy tone packed with enough punch to cut through any mix. The legendary P-90 black soapbar, introduced in the early 1950s, Gibson’s truly legendary singlecoil pickup, and offers the soulful, classic tone that only a P-90 can. It delivers more warmth than a standard singlecoil pickup, for high output ans sweet treble response. Together, they are one of the most powerful pickup combinations on any Les Paul.

 

BURSTBUCKER 3 (From Dark Fire)

 

The Burstbucker 3 arrived on the scene in 1990, and — like the Burstbucker 1 and 2 — represents Gibson's drive to capture and recreate the characteristics of the vintage Patent Applied For humbuckers of the late 1950s. On the shop floor of the original Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., the earliest Gibson PAF humbuckers were wound using imprecise machines, resulting in pickups with varying degrees of output and tone. The Burstbucker line represents those variations, but with some modern appointments. The Burstbucker 3 provides historically accurate PAF tone with two slightly overwound coils, creating a raw, airy tone packed with enough punch to cut through any mix.

 

GIBSON’S NEW P-90H PICKUP (From Dark Fire)

 

The new P-90H black soapbar pickup is another example of Gibson's drive to stay one step ahead. This new pickup offers all of the soulful, classic tone of Gibson’s legendary P-90 singlecoil pickup, but with none of the 60-cycle hum that usually plagues traditional singlecoil pickups. Gibson’s pioneering engineers were then able to secure all of the P-90’s vintage sonic characteristics, and deliver the same high output and sweet treble response that still makes the P-90 one of the most desirable pickups in the world.

 

PIEZO BRIDGE PICKUP (From Dark Fire)

 

The Dark Fire also features a revolutionary Gibson-designed piezo bridge pickup that actually consists of six individual piezo pickups — one for each saddle/string. These piezo pickups go through a studio-quality active amplifier that allows for a stronger and more natural acoustic guitar sound. Combined, the two classic electromagnetic pickups and the piezo bridge pickup are wired in such a way to allow each individual coil to be used in a switching matrix, giving you over 20 separate combinations of tone and an incredible array of tonal possibilities.

 

CONTROLS (From Robot; however, Robot II uses 2nd generation MCK)

 

At the heart of Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Les Paul Studio Limited are its ground-breaking controls. At first glance, the four control knobs seem to be indistinguishable from those on any other Les Paul. But look again. While the four knobs do provide the standard tone and volume controls for each of the two pickups, the Multi-Control Knob (MCK) – the one with the illuminated top – serves as the master control for all aspects of the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited’s amazing, self-tuning system. The MCK is what is commonly referred to as a “push-pull” knob. When in the normal position (down), it behaves as a regular volume or tone pot. When the MCK is pulled out, the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited’s radically new self-tuning system is activated and ready for use. It immediately places the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited in standard tuning mode (A440). A quick turn of the MCK presents six factory presets, all of which can be customized. At any time, you can also restore the tunings to the factor presets and start all over again. The LED display on top of te MCK also lets you know when a string is out of tune, or when all strings are in tune, and even when the tuners are turning to get them in tune. It even guides the setting of accurate intonation. At the end of the tuning process, the blue lights on top of the MCK flash. Push the MCK back in and it’s ready to go. The only thing you have to do is play.

 

TONE KNOBS (From Dark Fire)

 

Other exclusive design elements limited to the Dark Fire are … black top hat volume and tone knobs with chrome inserts.

 

TUNE-CONTROL BRIDGE AND DATA TRANSMITTING TAILPIECE (From Robot)

 

The revolutionary Robot Les Paul Studio Limited sports a new and unique, highly specialized Tune Control Bridge which acts as one of the main components of the self-tuning robotic system. The new Tune-Control Bridge is a modified Tune-o-matic that measures the individual tuning of each string via special saddles. The signal from each string is then transmitted to the control CPU in the control panel, which then transfers the signal to the Neck CPU and the Powerhead Locking Tuners, which, in turn, tune the strings. At first glance, the tailpiece on Gibson’s ground-breaking Robot Les Paul Studio Limited looks like a normal tailpiece. But look a little closer and you’ll see that it’s far from ordinary. Gibson’s new Data Transmitting Tailpiece is a hub of activity. First, each string is separated by ceramic insulators that isolate each individual string signal and avoids confusion as to which string is being processed and tuned. There are also special isolating inserts that keep the ball ends commonly found on electric guitar strings from making contact and disrupting signal flow. Underneath the tailpiece is a tiny circuit board that processes each individual signal to the ribbon cable, which is then transmitted to the on-board CPUs. Both pieces work with each other to help balance all the information being transmitted between the various points, and makes sure every string is in tune.

 

DUNLOP STRAPLOK DUAL DESIGN (From 2008 Standard)

 

The 2008 Les Paul Standard is outfitted with the Straplok Dual Design strap lock system from Dunlop, featuring a 360-degree groove and ball design that allows the unit to rotate without catching. The strap button is also interchangeable so the same strap can be used with several guitars. It is also release tested to hold up to 800 lbs. of pull, providing a secure, worry-free link between the guitar and its user.

 

NEUTRIK JACK (From Robot)

 

Neutrik has been making superior electronic interconnection products since 1975, making them the logical choice to supply the performance safeguarding jack in Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Les Paul Studio Limited. Like many Neutrik products, the jack in the Robot Les Paul Studio Limited is manufactured from strong, high-grade thermoplastics and housed in a rugged diecast nickel shell. A retention spring inside the jack ensures optimum grip on any guitar cable, thus avoiding the chance of lost connection.

 

 

(from Robot and Customer Service Information)

 

BODY

 

Body Species: Chambered mahogany body (no specific grade, such as AA, AAA, or AAAA).

Body Style: Chambered mahogany body, Les Paul

Top Species: Carved maple top (no specific grade, such as AA, AAA, or AAAA).

Back Species: Mahogany

Center Block: ??

Binding: None

 

FINGERBOARD

 

Fingerboard Species: Ebony

Scale Length: 24-3/4”

Number of Frets: 22

Inlays: Carbon Fiber Block

Fingerboard Binding: none

 

ELECTRONICS

 

Neck Pickup: Gibson P-90H with Carbon Fiber-like Cover

Bridge Pickup: Gibson Burstbucker 3 with Carbon Fiber-like Cover

Bridge Pickup: Gibson Piezo

Controls: Two Volume, one Tone, one three-way selector switch; Master Control Knob (serves as 2nd Tone)

Control Pocket Cover: Smoky Transparent Acrylic

Other Electronics: Charger and Power Plug, Battery Pack

 

NECK

 

Species: Mahogany (no specific grade)

Profile: Asymmetrical

Peghead Pitch: 17 degrees

Nut: ?? Teflon, ?? Pre-radiused

Nut Width: 1.695"

Head Inlay: Dark Fire Finish – Gibson, Traditional Flower Pot

Head Binding: ??

Truss Rod: Nickel plated truss rod nut

Truss Rod Cover: Red Bell, anodize aluminum, labeled “Dark Fire”

 

HARDWARE

 

Plating Finish: ??

Color: ??

Tailpiece: Powertune

Bridge: Powertune

Knobs: ?? Top Hat Knobs ??

Tuners: Powertune

Strap Buttons: Dunlop Straplocks

Jack: Neutrik locking

 

CASE

 

Interior: Grey Plush

Case Exterior: White Reptile Pattern (Snakeskin) Hardshell

Silkscreen: Red ‘Dark Fire Limited Edition First Run’ Logo

 

OTHER

 

Strings: ? (Brite Wires .010-.046)

Collateral: ? (NOTE: This instrument comes with a complete Plek setup)

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Hey! Do what you want... It's fine with me. I got the text from Gibson's web pages, mostly from the "FEATURES" sections of the various guitars. I also checked with Customer Service on various parts where I lacked information. And, I believe that this info is accurate for my situation! I compile it for myself, but, I share it with anyone. It is still incomplete.

 

You can probably see where I have 'duplicate' information. It probably needs to be merged....

 

Maybe it's just me, but I like to know when and how my guitar was made. It's called "chain-of-custody". So, I try to find out. I ask questions. BTW, I learned that these guitars were not officially sequenced based upon the "DF" serial numbers. You cannot translate these "DF" serial numbers like you would a regular Gibson Serial Number. For my particular guitar, all I can know is that it was shipped out of Gibson USA on Dec 16 FEDEX. I suppose that there are some other people who had their guitars shipped from Hamburg, to Nashville, to their dealer.... These guitars were probably "prototypes" in the strictest sense because they were in Hamburg (most likely being tested -- heck, I bet they were the ones photographed by the developers on their blogs).

 

As for the fingerboard, I was misinformed earlier... It should have an ebony fingerboard.

 

Right now, I am re-verifying if the Fret Wire is the same at the Robot's with Customer Service. I suppose I will hear back tomorrow.

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Well, it's all about the Serial Number.... Gibson would know.

 

As for my guitar <and all Dark Fires>, a "prototype" (unusual situation), Gibson (Customer Service) says that, "the guitars are not offically sequenced" but that my, particular, guitar was shipped out on 16 Dec. This is true because I have the box! It shows that the guitar was shipped out from Nashville, TN on 16 Dec FEDEX Overnight to my local (Tukwila, WA) dealer. It arrived on 17 Dec at 10:00 AM. They called me shortly after it arrived. I picked up the guitar at 02:00PM on the 17th. The dealer simply opened the box to insure that everything was shipped properly...

 

The box also shows the MRSP as $4299 and a case as listed MRSP $200.

 

Now, for my other Gibson guitar, which has a "normal" Serial Number, well, you and I can go here:

 

http://www.goinstrument.com/Guitar/Electric/Gibson.aspx

 

Then you will be able to find out when your guitar was created!

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