If you’re struggling to navigate your way through the ever-expanding range of Gibson Les Paul models, prepare to fall over backwards with confusion: this guitar, the Classic Custom, has the fancy finishing and alnico-magnet 57 Classic pickups found on some of Gibson’s very finest instruments… yet in Europe at least, it’s actually cheaper than the ceramic-powered Classic Plus.
Like the Plus, this model has an eco-friendly ‘baked maple’ fretboard instead of the traditional rosewood – not surprising given Gibson’s ongoing battle with the US Justice Department over allegedly illegal imports. Don’t worry – it looks, feels and sounds just like the real thing. Otherwise this sparkling gold-top is vintage Lester all the way: it has the usual mahogany/maple build, with a beautiful finish and fancy touches like pinstripe body-binding, outsize fret-markers and the old ‘split diamond’ graphic on the headstock.
It sounds expensive too. The Classic Custom has a tighter and more controlled tone than the Classic Plus, with plenty of brightness at clean and crunchy settings. Turn up the gain and it feels a little smoother and less eager to let rip… metal players may find that this is not the most entertaining Les Paul in the world to play, but tasteful rock and blues fans will surely love the refinement of its super-sweet voice – thanks in no small part to those covered alnico pups. Basically, it’s a grown-up guitar.
The neck binding is nicely done and it’s an easy player, although the Grover tuners on our review instrument were rather stiff. If you’re looking for vintage Les Paul tone at a (relatively) low price, and don’t mind the high-contrast styling, this one could be a winner.
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier, closed-back 2x12 cab with Celestion Vintage 30s
£1,399 UK, €1,600 Europe, $2,999 US
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