All I ever wanted - from the minute I started playing guitar - was to own a Les Paul.
Growing up, I idolised every guitar player who owned one ranging from Jimmy Page to Robben Ford, but It wasn’t until I discovered ‘Appetite For Destruction’ that I really knew that I needed to own one of the marvels of luthiery.
Slash just made a Les Paul look even cooler than I already thought they were, he made me believe that if you didn’t have humbuckers then you weren’t worth listening to, that if you didn’t plug it into a Marshall Stack you may as well go home. The flamed tops on his guitars coupled with the stain of nicotine and buckle rash kept me awake at night.
I bought my first Les Paul in New York city from the original Rudy’s store on 48th Street( Music Alley). At the time, it felt like I had been saving my whole life for this day, and in reality I did it with the same money that my mother had been putting away in my Dollarmites account since I was born. This with some additional padding from my weekly Wednesday night McDonalds shift totalled up to almost two thousand dollars - well short of the required funds for a Les Paul Standard.
As I sat towards the back of the store, downstairs at Rudy’s, the salesmen put a Les Paul Junior or a Special or a Studio ( I don’t really remember which) in my hands and it just wasn’t what I had imagined my whole life, it didn’t look like Slashes and it didn’t feel like I thought it would.
Finally, the salesman said “I have one more to show you but it’s a little bit more” (much to the ire of my father who had accompanied me on my pilgrimage). He appeared moments later, carrying the most perfect thing I have ever seen, a sparkling flame top Les Paul Standard in Honeyburst finish. It had a fat 50’s style neck, (before they split the standards and traditionals ) PAF copy pickups and she was perfect. Her name was to be Lita.
Now looking back on this experience I cannot help but to smile whenever I think about anyone who walks into my store - Macron Music and can only hope that they are having the same experience. Interestingly the guitar ended up costing me around $3500 Australian dollars with some help from my wonderfully supportive parents which is around what you would pay for a Les Paul Tradtional today.
Now say what you like about Gibson, and they have made some interesting business decisions over the years, they have always been the kings of the double humbucker railway sleeper rock machine.
You can spend your life trying to find something that feels like a Gibson but until the day you own one you just won’t find it. Now my fetish for Les Pauls isn’t an abnormal tale, I have had many conversations over the years with people about their love for SG’s, 335’s Explorers, V’s and Firebirds, each with the same passion and enthusiasm that I had for my Les Paul. My uncle owns a beautiful ES-135 that he will never part with no matter how hard I try.
The 2018 range of Gibson Guitars both surprised and excited me. Gibson are finally making the guitars that made them famous and doing it at a price that is both reasonable and solid grounding.
Owning a business in this industry can often jade or corrupt your sense of what is well and right when it comes to the decisions some of these companies make. I understand the need and desire to expand, to spread the companies wings to try and infiltrate new markets and Gibson are not the only global guitar manufacturer who have done so.
The 2018 range gave guitar players faith again that Gibson can make the classic guitars people have come to know and love as well as expanding and experimenting with other models like the HP series and the entry level series they released last year. The colours available on the Les Paul Classic models were heritage and different to past years. The options on the Traditional and Standard models were minimised to make it more simple and they brought back the Firebird because everyone needs a Firebird.
Looking toward the 2019 guitars that Gibson have just announced fills me with even more joy and confidence. We are really excited to have solidified a great relationship with the new Australian Distributor of Gibson (Australis) and are already placing our orders for the 2019 range.
The ES-335 series has been expanded with a studio model and thin-line model to keep up with the growing popularity of semi-hollow guitars and the much heralded Flying V is back in production in the Antique Natural Finish so you can finally satiate that Korina V thirst you have had for 30 years. It seem to really be true… Gibson is back!!!
So, there are many questions people ask when looking for a quality new guitar. Will it sound like a Strat? Is Gibson a brand worth buying over other brands? How heavy is the new range?... All important questions that my staff can help you work through, but all these questions miss one vital and important consideration. Will buying a Gibson make me cool? The answer is most definitely yes . It will make you cool, it will get you the girls and boys that your guitar-shaped-heart desires and it will definitely take your guitar playing to a place that you haven’t been before. Let’s not forget that Gibson Guitars have successfully covered all genre’s of music. All you need to do is look at some of the guitar hero’s that have used different Gibsons to great effect.
- Larry Carlton on his 335 - (See Steely Dan’s back catalogue or any of his solo albums)
- Angus Young on his SG - (Everyone knows ACDC)
- John Mayer on his L-5 - (See Where the Light is DVD Concert)
- Billy Gibbons on his Les Paul – (He owns an amazingly rare 59’ Les Paul which he only uses on recordings)
- Joe Bonammassa on his Flying V – (Amazingly underrated blues guitarist in Australia. He is huge in the US)
- The Edge on his Explorer – (Everyone knows and likes a bit of U2, even if they say they don’t)
The list could go on forever but the point is that there isn’t a right or wrong guitar for a genre, it simply comes down to how you use it.
If you go back to the top of this story, I spoke about my fondness for the sound of my Les Paul through a Marshall Stack (mine is a JCM800) but there are endless combinations of amplifiers and pedals to choose from that will allow you to achieve a different sound out of your Gibson (or future Gibson).
Just like the Stratocaster and Telecaster these guitars can be used for anything and if thought about the right way will diversify the way your guitar playing evolves. Always remember one thing, he who dies with the most guitars wins.
There isn’t always one for everyone there can be many. Think of it as guitar polygamy without the weirdness.
If you ever want to come and speak to me about my passion for Gibson or just to bounce some ideas off me please come down and ask for me or email me, I would be more than happy to spend the time imparting whatever wisdom I might have if it helps you choose the right guitar.