It’s now almost three years since the great Les Paul passed away, but he’s still managing to get his autograph onto an awful lot of guitars. The range of models named in Mr P’s honour shows no sign of dwindling, and most of them stick fairly close to the formula first set down in Gibson’s 1950s golden age: mahogany body with maple cap, glued-in mahogany neck, tune-o-matic bridge with stop tailpiece and a pair of humbuckers.
The Gibson Les Paul Classic Plus has all of those features, and our review guitar boasts a fine ‘vintage sunburst’ finish; the main reason it’s one of the more affordable Lesters on the market is its pickups: they’re ceramic, rather than the alnico types found on the Standard and Traditional versions.
We’re still dealing with a swanky-looking guitar, though. The medium-thin ’60s neck is bound and the pale mahogany finish makes this look and feel like an expensive piece of furniture. But it certainly doesn’t sound like a coffee table. Those ceramic pups are powerful beasts – especially the 500T in the bridge position – and you may find they drive your amp into overdrive at lower levels than you’re used to. The Classic Plus can still do vintage Les Paul sweetness, and there’s no lack of depth to the tone, but things can get a bit hot and bloomy for clean chords and delicate picking.
Distorted sounds in the neck position are fine, but once you try the bridge pickup with a heap of overdrive you won’t want to switch back – this is classic rock tone in a basket. It’s fat and beefy, but with a beautifully crisp attack from the maple top. Slash impersonators, step this way.
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier, closed-back 2x12 cab with Celestion Vintage 30s
£1,599 UK, €1,742 Europe, $2,999 US
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