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grovesnor

Some feedback after a trip to a major UK Gibson dealer

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I had to drop in to London today, which was a heck of a slog from Nottingham, but while I was there I dropped in at 'a major online etailer of Gibsons' and was lucky enough to be allowed a rifle through their stock.

 

There was an accident on the M25 so I was in no rush to leave ..

 

I shall mark them out of 5 *'s.

 

Armed with a Starbucks mocha-super-extra-nothing-but-air and a Tesco egg salad baguette I settled in to the 'eggbox room' with a Vox AC15 and one of those really comfy Fender guitar stools.

 

I started with the 2016 SG Standard. I did not like the look of it - orange peel and really rough finish to the rosewood around the 1-6th frets. It feels like a toy, I'd say it weighed no more than 5lbs. The finish was rough feeling on the neck and it didn't play well at all. I actually think I prefered the wider fretboard from 2015. Subjective though. Anyway it sounded poo. I really was very disappointed in this guitar. It looks cheap (average finish), it weighs nothing, it sounds cheap. **'s

 

Not a good start.

 

I then tried one of the 50's Tribute Faded T models. Again papier mache weight, very uninspiring, again the satin finish looks cheap and has a rough feel that just isn't very nice. The headstock looks 'fake' in that the silk screen/decals are done in a very dark Gold and just look cheap and 'mockney'. Like a copy of a Gibson, not a real one.

 

Again the guitar had awful tone and didn't resonate at all acoustically. When I plugged it in it sounded, well, bright and thin. Not at all Gibson like and not actually any better than the S.G. £749. **

 

I then tried a 2015 Studio (Desert Burst). This had a bit more heft and sounded darn good. Those 57 classics sound so nice driven or clean. Can't beat it. The wider neck was evident and appreciated. I just couldn't understand the colour matching though. Why did they put mustard colour plastics on a burst? It looks nasty. I then looked at the price tag. £560. ***'s

 

Moving on I grab the 2015 Trad. Looks lovely. Has a nice weight. Sounds superb. ***'s £990.

 

The standard.. very meh. I would say a worse instrument than the Trad and sounded tinny and thin compared to the former. **'s £1400 (!)

Cosmetically no better than the Trad. Not sure what all the extra money is for tbh. Seriously.

 

Ok so then I get to the 2015 Classic. Its a cherry burst same as the one I bought recently. It has a nicer top (no flaws in the flame) and I reckon weighs almost exactly the same with the trad weight relief (swiss cheese around 9lbs). The slim taper neck plays lovely. It rings like a bell acoustically and screams sweetly under duress. An absolutely great guitar and easily, and I say this not lighly, the best of all the ones I tried. £795. ****'s

 

So what did I learn? I learned that price has no bearing on what you get from Gibson. Especially discounted/blowout prices.

 

Play them. Go and play every single one. Don't buy blind. You will be surprised how bad some sound and there is always a standout and in my experience its rarely the most expensive one.

 

Oh and while I was there I couldn't help but notice that every single guitar on the racks made by Gibson both 2015 and 2016 had finish issues. Orange peel, almost every guitar (excepting the Standard) had orangepeel where the neck joins the body. All the 2016 models had what I would describe as B grade rosewood boards - large gaps in the grain and not finished to a fine grit but left rough. The Faded finish looks awful and feels worse, especially the necks. The grade of maple used on all but the most expensive models was cheap and nasty. Not a patch on the much cheaper PRS SE models next door. The Epiphones I tried (standard and SG) both played the same as the Gibsons. I have no doubt at all that the Gibson brand is now wholly reliant on its pups to make them sound 'on key'. Its not the woods. Not this year.

 

A lot of the Gibsons, barring the Trad and the Classic, felt so light they really just left me feeling sad for the brand. I get weight relief but when an SG weighs less than a 4 pack of beers its just lame. ](*,) I was actually genuinely surprised and disappointed by the SG. It looks so cheap and feels cheap. Sorry to SG lovers but they're not a patch on the 80's and 90's versions.

 

Sorry if this comes accross as a bashing post. I'm just being honest and please consider that it is subjective opinion.

 

Has anyone else spent some time in the store? What did you think? What were the good things and the bad things?

 

Barring the Trad and the Classic, I found nothing from 2015 or 2016 I would consider worthy of the brand name or my hard earned.

In some cases the prices were just insane for the obvious low quality mass produced nature of the instruments.

 

Sorry!

 

I also spent most of my time with the guitars I *did* like doing mental calculations as to what it would cost to make them a) not look like British tourists on holiday and B) sound like I remember a Gibson sounding like (after market pups and probably hardware too *sigh).

 

To balance this somewhat I did try the Fenders too. And I have to say they were generally also cheap looking and feeling. Only the Baja Tele stood out to me.

 

I think its a sad time to buy classic American brands. They just seem to be made either no better than or shockingly, in some cases, worse than Asian equivalents in the price range. The PRS SE 24 for example, a guitar I had never seen before in the flesh, had an amazing flame maple top, great hardware, played nicely and sounded alright. It was £499!! [crying] I would totally buy one and not a Gibson. That makes me sad!

 

I'm actually going to build my own instrument. I'll post it up here when its done. It does make me so so sad that I feel I can source better materials and build a better Les Paul than Gibson can for the money. :huh: [cursing]

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I read your post with a lot of interest.

 

I'm not surprised really, the trend has been to do less work and ask for more $$$$

 

It does make the argument for looking for the imports at the least more compelling.

 

At least not your not getting skeev'd for loads of dough with sub par results.

 

I bought an Epi Sheraton Pro II a few weeks ago. It's a very nice guitar, for the money, not a lot to hate. When considering the USA made alternative that Gibson offers, I would be paying easily over 6 times the cost.

 

While the Sherry wasn't absolute perfection (I had to do some fret work to get it setup where it is now) I've had to do the same to even my most recent gibson purchase (2012 SG Standard. which is actually a pretty nice SG, considering what you're coming across)

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One thing I really hate about the Gibson is the fact that you can't buy a "pretty" guitar without spending a lot of dough. My Epiphone Standard LP Plus Top Pro looks absolutely stunning. Why the hell not have Gibson do the same for a lesser price? Hell, give me "fake" looking decorated Les Paul, I don't care as long as it's pleasant to the eye..instead, most I can afford is a "faded" version..which looks meh...yes, sound and playability ARE the most important thing but cmon..

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Very interesting but unfortunately not surprising.

 

Reiterate s yet again the importance of trying before buying. Shame to hear about the SG being so bad but there will be good ones out there its just a matter of finding them.

 

Qualify 2nd hand is the way to go in my book particularly between 1995 - 2010.

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I'm currently looking at a 2016 LP Trad in Desertburst here in the States. Looks great and sounds just how I want it to. But I'm buying a house now which means the bank would absolutely have a fit. Hopefully that will resolve itself in a couple weeks and that particular guitar will still be there. Played a few but that one stood out. You right, there's always one that stands out from the rest

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A little 'Devil's Advocacy' if I might be so bold... <_<

 

I have only ever had minor quality issues with Gibsons...always sorted satisfactorily by the vendor.... [thumbup]

 

I do not care one iota about 'orange peel'...two of my favourites...ES 137 and Firebird V have orange peel around the neck/body join...otherwise construction is 100%

 

For moi, tone and playability are everything

 

A gigged guitar will often be nicked and scratched after a while anyway.... [thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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I'm currently looking at a 2016 LP Trad in Desertburst here in the States. Looks great and sounds just how I want it to. But I'm buying a house now which means the bank would absolutely have a fit. Hopefully that will resolve itself in a couple weeks and that particular guitar will still be there. Played a few but that one stood out. You right, there's always one that stands out from the rest

 

I don't know how closely the banks are watching; but can you put some small amount down as a deposit, and ask them to hold it, using that deposit, until you've done the house thing? That way; the guitar purchase doesn't come up and they can't make a fuss, and you get that one that you want?

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That store should really check the guitars before trying to sell them to customers.

When I wan't to have a look at the newest Gibson models I have to go to the only authorized dealer here in Valencia.

Their prizes are nuts, I mean really.

Some examples: 15 LP Classic goes there still for 1682£. And that after almost every dealership in Europe drastically reduced the prizes for the 15's!

BUT.....

All of their Gibson's I've seen had no finish flaws, or at least I didn't see them.

I can't speak about 80's and 90's Gibson because I only have seen used ones. My experience is limited to 13, 14 and 15's.

And one thing I noticed right away with the 15 was that all the finishes looked awesome.

The 13 LPJ I own is awesome in looks and feel, no flaws not even sharp fretend's. But yeah the silkscreen logo isn't to anyones liking. Personally I don't care about that.

My 14 Trad (bought unseen) had some minor flaws, a tiny bit of orange peel at the neck heel and the pickguard was screwed on, well lets say uncarefully.

There are marks in the finish both under the single screw and under the bracket's nut.

But plays and sound's like a dream.

 

About less wheight, that could be something positive to most players especially for LP.

 

Well I wanted to check out the 16 models anyway, guess I have to go someday and see for myself.

 

I hope they are not all that bad.

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I think this is a PERFECT example of the value of going to a shop in person, trying and deciding for YOU which is the better guitar.

 

Many of the the descriptions you give for the guitars you don't like, for me would be the gems. And many others, I suspect.

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I don't know how closely the banks are watching; but can you put some small amount down as a deposit, and ask them to hold it, using that deposit, until you've done the house thing? That way; the guitar purchase doesn't come up and they can't make a fuss, and you get that one that you want?

 

Within maybe 12 hours they figured out that I had a fairly good sized chunk deposited from a stock sale. If that freaked them out I imagine a large withdrawal would really freak them out. And immediately after the home buy I need carpet that will set me back a little more than a new guitar so no immediate need for the guitar. If they sell it before I'm ready I'm pretty sure there's another one that will do just as well. I figure it'll be end of January, beginning of Febuary for NGD. They will only hold a few weeks

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A little 'Devil's Advocacy' if I might be so bold... <_<

 

I have only ever had minor quality issues with Gibsons...always sorted satisfactorily by the vendor.... [thumbup]

 

I do not care one iota about 'orange peel'...two of my favourites...ES 137 and Firebird V have orange peel around the neck/body join...otherwise construction is 100%

 

For moi, tone and playability are everything

 

A gigged guitar will often be nicked and scratched after a while anyway.... [thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

 

It’s a relief to read someone that feels as I do about appearance. When tempted by the falling 2015 prices, I went with the finish that was cheapest (Fireburst) rather than the one I liked best. As I said at the time, I would have even bought a pink one if they dropped the price a further £100.

 

But it’s a funny thing. Sometimes you get to appreciate things more once you’ve lived with them a while. I now prefer the Fireburst to the DesertBurst. This doesn’t always happen. Only if the item is good in all the important respects, do you start to appreciate the trimmings more.

If the LP turned out sounding poor, I probably would have heaped more negativity upon it.

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Threads like this don't do anything to increase my GAS.

I played when I was young and then started up again a year ago.

I play before I pay, but after I take the guitar home, it takes me a couple of weeks to really figure out what I like and don't like.

 

So far I have 3 guitars. A Martin acoustic and 2 Gibson electrics. To tell the truth, I would like to trade them all in at the dealer where I bought them in exchange for another of the same model to see if there is any improvement. The dealer has already done that once for me but the salesmen gave me a lot of BS saying, "All guitars are like that." until I made them plug it in and put on a tuner. Notes in the first couple of frets were sharp. Chords like C and E sounded terrible.

 

The problem with the acoustic is a little more subtle and could be due to my technique so I'm working on it. The E and A strings don't resonate and have the clear tone of the other strings. These strings are a longer reach for my fingers and things may improve as my fingers gain strength and I fret the notes better.

 

I've learned that it takes skill and experience to really try out a guitar properly. I'm beginning to hear what is the guitar, and what is me. That calms my GAS until I know better what I am listening to.

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got a really good junior a couple of months ago for $333 (no case)guess i was just lucky,it has no issues other than a couple of light marks in the finish,which i probably would have done to it by now if they werent already there.

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The PRS SE 24 for example, a guitar I had never seen before in the flesh, had an amazing flame maple top, great hardware, played nicely and sounded alright. It was £499!! [crying] I would totally buy one and not a Gibson. That makes me sad!

 

 

 

A friend and I spent a whole afternoon in an Exeter shop in February of this year. We played Fenders, Godins, Rics etc. One of the last guitars handed to me was one of these. It was head & shoulders better than anything else that day, in both tone and playability.

 

Yes I did buy it. I didnt need it, and it had features I didnt like, such as the trem bridge (now disabled), but felt compelled to take it home. Its not inferior to either of my Gibsons.

 

 

2015 has been the year Ive spent more time in music shops than I have for 20 years. Andertons, Nevada, Project-Music, Guitar Village and others. Of all of them, Guitar Village in Farnham was the best for service & product knowledge. All the guitars were set up and nothing was too much trouble.

 

I have played a lot of Gibsons this year. LP standards, LP Studios, LP DCs, LP Less+s, ES390, ES339s & ES-335s. It may well be just the luck of the draw, but I have been more impressed with the 2015 models than the 2014 ones.

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