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My R8, 1 week later


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A few months ago, my GAS kicked in due to people on other forums ranting and raving about the Historic line of Gibson Les Pauls. So I went down to GC and checked out what they had, an R8 and a G0. I was not impressed with either guitar. They sounded bad, they felt bad and they looked bad. No way was I ever paying 3Gs for those things. My Standard Faded beat those two Custom Shop guitars by a mile.


Fast forward...


So one week ago today, I went into my local Sam Ash with a 15% off coupon. There in a glass case stood a washed cherry Gibson Les Paul 1958 Reissue VOS. This wasn't the first time I had played this guitar. In fact, I went in there with the sole intent of haggling because the guitar was not in mint condition, but was being priced as such. After playing her for some time, my wife suggested I try the one on the wall, which just so happened to be the same model guitar, but with the faded tobacco finish. To be honest, I didn't much care for the color. And while tone trumps looks, I have ALWAYS wanted a LP that looks like Jimmy Page's #1. I just never bought one because for me, a deal always trumps everything else. But anyhoo, I took her off the wall and plugged her into the amp...


Magic. I have heard of players having the guitar choose them, so-to-speak. What a load of bull, I thought. Now I am a believer. I played both R8s, alternating every so many minutes, for over an hour. The difference in tone was astounding. Compared to the tobacco, the cherry seemed thin and treble-ly. The tobacco's sound was round and fat, smooth and sweet. After some haggling, I took her home.


I am not joking. This guitar is amazing. In the past I rarely used the neck PU alone and I usually just played with the pots on 10. Not anymore. I LOVE the neck PU. The BB1 is so fat when I kick on my overdrive, I can't even describe it. And when I roll the tone pot down to about 4, I hear a smoothness I have never experienced.


Don't get me wrong, the bridge is excellent. There is plenty of PAF quack in that BB2 to go around. Roll off the pots just a bit and enter Black Dog. Turn 'em up and put on your Viking helmet when blasting the Immigrant Song (Can you tell I'm a Zep fanatic?). Or better yet, hammer the strings on the intro to Heart's Barracuda. My wife thought I was just playing the mp3 on Winamp with the computer speakers turned up.


This guitar does have a (possible) negative- the neck. It's massive. I have small hands and the 50s neck on my Standard is perfect. That's not to say that the guitar is uncomfortable to play; it is not. But for me, it makes the guitar very unforgiving. And while Les Pauls tend to be this way more than let's say Fenders, this particular Les Paul is worse than my other three.


To wrap up my long discourse on the virtues of the R8, I just want to tell you guys how awesome this guitar is. If you play metal, forget about it. But if you play any kind of rock or blues, wow is all I can tell you. But be patient. My experience has taught me that even the Custom Shop lets duds out; I played two...and they were awful. The price tag can be a bit daunting, but for what USA Standards cost these days I would just haggle a bit and shell out the extra cash for the R8. And if you know how to haggle, you can close that $500 price gap pretty quick.


The 1958 Les Paul Reissue is by far, the best Historic guitar that Gibson makes relative to the price. I would highly recommend that all of you Les Paul nuts go out and try one.

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The fat neck will probably become more comfortable over time and I think you'll find the opposite...that other necks will seem small.


I agree that R8s are the best bang for the buck in the RI line. I wanted one too...bad! I didn't want to pay for a flame top...but I got such a great deal on my R9 that I couldn't pass it up...it's killer! Sounds better than it looks. The neck's a little thinner than a R8.


Looks wise, I'd take a R8 over a lot of the R9s out there. Some of the flame tops out there are lame. I love plain tops. When I think vintage 50s LP, I think plain top.

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