Hey! I’ve just popped a new song up on Bandcamp. It started life as a drum beat (you can hear a bit of it in the second half of the solo section) and I decided to chuck a couple of guitars on to see what it sounded like in context. Before I knew it a whole song had tumbled out, lyrics and all. But my singing sucks, so I decided to play the vocal melody on guitar instead. The lyrics are about learning, communicating, reinforcing your opinions with research and discussion, junk like that.
Check it out!
The gear is just a Gibson Les Paul Traditional (thanks, Sky Music!) with Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbuckers into a Marshall DSL50 mic’d with a Shure SM57. No pedals or anything except for a little wah in a pair of distantly-mixed background guitars.
The Les Paul has been through literally hundreds of iterations over the years. The current Les Paul Standard, for instance, is a very different instrument to the Standard of the 50s. It now features a chambered body and a compound radius fretboard. By contrast, the Gibson Les Paul Traditional is more akin to what we think of when we hear ‘Les Paul.’ It has a 12″ fretboard radius and a weight relieved (not chambered) body. It’s the Les Paul for those who want a more classic guitar, inspired by the iconic LPs of the 50s but also channeled through models like the 80s/90s Les Paul Classic. When I decided I needed a Les Paul, I tested out quite a few before settling on the one I ultimately called my own. This is a review of that guitar.
The Traditional model spec calls for a one or two piece Grade A mahogany body with a maple top (about 2cm thick, certainly more than thick enough to have an impact on the tone). Available colours are Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Desert Burst, Honey Burst, Iced Tea, Light Burst, Gold Top, Ebony, Chicago Blue and Wine Red. On this particular guitar the body is made of two pieces of mahogany, joined right down the middle. The Honey Burst top is flamed maple, and while there were many perfectly book matched and frankly breathtaking tops, this particular example has a bit more character. The bass half is heavily flamed and three-dimensional while the treble side is quite different. With the pick guard on you can barely discern any flame at all. Under certain lighting conditions it’s practically plain. Remove the pick guard and there’s a little more flame visible, balancing out the mismatched effect somewhat, but there’s still a big discrepancy between the two halves. This is something you’ll often see on original 1958-1960 Les Paul Standards, so I’m quite happy to see it on this guitar, although some might consider it an imperfection.
You may remember this post from last week, where I pondered the need for a Les Paul for work-related purposes. I’ve always felt a little bit uncomfortable with not having a Les Paul when writing reviews: the LP is a standard (pardon the pun) and it just didn’t feel right reviewing amps without being able to explore what they sounded like with a chunk of mahogany, a slab of maple and a pair of humbuckers. And it would certainly help in pickup reviews, lesson articles for Gibson.com and my column in Mixdown to have a nice LP on hand. So yesterday I visited Sky Music here in Melbourne and tried out a whole bunch of Les Pauls to find The One.