Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guitar Next Door: 2006 Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul VOS

Exercise caution when striking up a conversation with someone at Guitar Center who turns out to manage the Gibson Custom shop. You may end up with a reissue 1958 Les Paul VOS, today’s Guitar Next Door.

Gibson claims the VOS or “Vintage Original Spec” is their most accurate reproductions of the classic late ‘50s models yet. They accurately recreate all of the original instruments' features and characteristics. This example is in the original Cherry Sunburst of the 1958 model year and includes Gibson’s hand-carved plain maple top and solid mahogany body. Some of the period accurate recreations are the vintage style tulip tuners mounted in a straight line, long neck tenon, Burstbucker pickups, and what Gibson calls an accurate rounded ’50s neck profile (shaped like a baseball bat). Does all this attention to historical accuracy do anything for tone and playability? You bet it does.

This guitar even sounds great unplugged. Plug it in though (a Marshall DSL 401 in this case) and the fun begins. I hear the Eric Clapton / Jimmy Page tone burned into my brain from listening to Cream and Led Zeppelin LPs over and over and over again in high school. The tone is courtesy of the lower output vintage pickups coupled with bumble bee capacitors. Yes, they are lower output but can deliver a big over driven rock tone while retaining the ability to produce more nuance of tone than you can get with hotter pickups. This guitar can deliver tone from "Elegant Gypsy" to "Blizzard of Oz" and everything in between.

The custom shop hand selects mahogany and maple wood stocks for the VOS series. Strict weight limits in wood selection aside, this is still a heavy guitar. Expectation is the 50s profile rounded neck would make it play heavy as well. A couple minutes with the guitar though and it is a natural fit. It plays much easier than the Les Paul Special I have with the slimmer 60s style neck. This guitar feels good to play and it makes you want to play more. All of the research into late 50s Les Pauls including x-rays to get trussrod placement right has paid off.

This all begs the question though; if the guitar sounds and plays as nicely as it does because the reproduction is so accurate, maybe this is less of a tribute to the Custom Shop and more of a tribute to the job Ted McCarty and the team did during Gibson’s electric guitar “Golden Age.”


Steve said...

Great detail in this review. I would love to own a Les Paul myself.
I guess the neck was fatter as they didn't play as fast in the fifties. No need for a fast guitar (slimmer neck).

Mullens said...

Very nice review of a beautiful guitar!

Eduardo said...

I love the tone that Joe Bonamassa gets out of his Les Paul...FAT! Check out the video of him jamming with Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall

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