Gibson 2017 Line-Up Revealed
Much like Christmas, Glastonbury and happy hour, the announcement of new Gibson guitars is always exciting for me, as I know it is for many other guitar players. Earlier on in the year, we made some predictions as to what the 2017 Gibson range might have in store for us and, though we’re not quite at Mystic Meg levels, we did pretty good.
The Gibson 2017 lineup has everything you would expect, and more. Regulars like the Les Paul and SG Standard are all there alongside some models we haven’t seen for a while. Gibson have also decided to continue with the notion of giving players a choice. For those that want a classic Gibson with a spec similar to older models (regular nut, tuners, neck width etc) you’ve got the Traditional (T) range, whereas those who want a super modern, high spec, self tuning guitar can choose from the High Performance (HP) models. Also new for 2017 is the inclusion of a strap with every guitar, as well as a Gibson multi-tool with those that come with hard cases. Lefties can also rejoice; models will be available soon!
Let’s take a look at the models in the new Gibson 2017 Traditional range.
This is the flagship model of the Gibson USA range, as it is every year, but what’s new about the 2017 Les Paul Standard? First off, they’ve come up with a new weight relief that they’re calling ultra-modern. This will make the guitar lighter and even give it ‘greater sonic depth’. A massive range of tones are delivered by a pair of upgraded Burstbucker Pro pickups – these will give you that hallowed, classic PAF era crunch, as well as being able to handle more contemporary rock and metal tones. Both pickups are coil tapped, enabling single coil style sounds. You’ve also got features that allow pure bypass from the bridge pickup straight to the jack output, and the Peter Green-esque phase reverse. The neck is a very comfortable asymmetrical slim taper profile with a compound fingerboard radius; this lends itself really nicely to lead players.
A Grade-AAA flame maple top sits atop a mahogany body and looks the absolute business as well as lending some snap and articulation to the sound. Gibson have introduced some new finishes for 2017 too; Blueberry Burst and Bourbon Burst are among my favourites, alongside the more traditional Heritage Cherry Sunburst and Honey Burst.
The model that harks back to the much sought after late 50s models. The Les Paul Traditional this year has no weight relief, so whilst it may be heavier than a Standard, in theory, you’ll get more sustain and a slightly different tone. The neck is also thicker, like they were in the late 50s. The 2017 Traditional has Burstbucker 1 & 2 pickups that are perfectly suited to classic rock and blues. Gibson have also given the Les Paul Traditional Orange Drop tone caps, which help boost the mid and high frequencies a touch, especially when rolling back the volume knob; great for cutting through the mix of a band.
The 2017 Les Paul Traditional has a Grade-AA maple top and is available in Antique Burst, Heritage Cherry Sunburst and Honey Burst – all classic finishes that pay great homage to the legendary early Burst era.
Gibson 2017 Les Paul Studio T
This years Studio is very modern, with a classic feel and sound. You’ve got Alnico 498T and 490R pickups – we’ve seen these in a number of classic Gibson guitars over the years and sound incredible. They’re also coil tappable for even more versatility. The body features the new ultra modern weight relief and the neck boasts a slim taper profile. The Les Paul Studio doesn’t have body binding and is intended to be a more stripped down version of a Standard – not as flashy, but still has what it needs to sound and play great. The 2017 Gibson Les Paul Studio is available in Ebony, Wine Red and a particularly nice new finish, Black Cherry Burst.
This guitar combines classic Gibson tones with modern playability. With its slim taper neck profile and 9 hole weight relief, it’s comfortable and light to play, for any style of player. The Les Paul Tribute has two Alnico 490R pickups – these are powerful enough to cater for the heavier style players but still have that classic, PAF-style bite to them. It’s got some great vintage styling that oozes that vintage Les Paul vibe and is also one of the more affordable models in the 2017 range. It comes shipped with a gigbag and is available in Satin Gold and Faded Honey Burst.
Inspired by the Les Pauls of the 60s and 70s, the 2017 Gibson Les Paul Classic is a bit like a combination of a Standard and a Traditional. It’s got the 9 hole weight relief to lighten the load and a modern slim taper neck profile. Pickup-wise, it’s got a pair of 57 Classics that deliver everything you have always associated with a Les Paul, along with Orange Drop tone capacitors. If you’re not sold on the 50s neck profile and weight of a Traditional, then the Classic could give you that classic sound, but with more modern playability and comfort. It’s got a Grade-A maple top and is available in the new Green Ocean Burst, Heritage Cherry Sunburst and Gold Top finishes.
Gibson 2017 Les Paul Faded T
This is towards the more affordable end of the Gibson 2017 lineup and comes shipped with a gigbag instead of a hardcase. It’s still very much a Gibson Les Paul though and comes equipped with the powerful yet versatile Alnico 490R & T pickups. It’s got the new ultra modern weight relief to make playing for hours on end that bit more comfortable and a slim taper neck to give your left hand a bit of a break too. An all American made Gibson Les Paul for a fantastic price. The Les Paul Faded is available in Worn Brown and Worn Cherry.
The twin-horned SG was once an alternative to the Les Paul until Gibson realised both were extremely popular. The new SG Standard has got a smaller ‘teardrop’ scratch plate, reminiscent of some of the older SGs and so looks a little different to how it has done for the last few years – a nice touch, I think. It’s got a 57 Classic in the neck position and a 57 Classic + in the bridge to deal out everything from vintage Gibson tones to modern metal masterpieces. From jazz, through blues, all the way the heaviest rock, the SG can handle it all. With its slim taper neck, it’ll feel like it’s playing itself too. The 2017 Gibson SG Standard is available in the famous Heritage Cherry finish as well as Ebony and a new Cherry Burst.
This SG has a great retro feel to it. From the vintage style tuners to the Satin Cherry and Satin Vintage finishes, it’s a guitar that looks and sounds classic, but has modern playability. The powerful Alnico 490R &T pickups give you classic Gibson tone, ideal for whatever genre you play. The slim taper neck and 24 frets make playing the 2017 SG Special an absolute joy. It comes shipped in a padded gigbag.
Much like the Les Paul Faded, the 2017 SG Faded is a relatively stripped back version to keep the price down whilst still giving you an amazing playing experience. The worn finish adds a great look and the guitar, fitted with Alnico 490R & T pickups sounds as big and beefy as you would expect. It’s got a slim taper neck, which, combined with the body shape of the SG makes playing extremely comfortable. The guitar comes with a padded gigbag and is available in Worn Cherry and Worn Brown.
Thanks to its popularity over the last few years, the Firebird makes its way into the Gibson 2017 range. With a pair of powerful mini humbuckers that are perfectly suited to blues (not forgetting rock and soul too), this is a guitar that sounds as unique as it looks. The walnut and mahogany neck and body design means that you get great resonance when playing this Firebird, both acoustically and when plugged in. It’s now a classic design so I’m glad Gibson have left it in their core range. It’s available in Vintage Sunburst and Pelham Blue.
The Firebird Studio has flown its way back to us. It’s perhaps not quite as flash as its older brother but it’s an absolute workhorse (or workbird??). It’s also different in that it has full sized humbuckers, not mini ones. This gives the 2017 Firebird Studio a slightly hotter and more aggressive output, perhaps better suited to rock players. The slim taper neck profile also means that it’s easy to play, especially if you’re dishing out fancy licks. A reliable guitar that looks and sounds unique. It’s available in Satin Vintage Sunburst and Pelham Blue.
An absolute rock icon. From The Edge to James Hatfield, players have taken to the Gibson Explorer for its eye-catching design and great sound. The 2017 Explorer has got two high output humbuckers that make it well suited to rock and heavy metal. Not that it’s a one-trick pony, it’ll take care of clean work nicely too. The Explorer slim taper neck profile makes it a joy to play, allowing tricky lead work to be flawlessly executed. It’s available in Heritage Cherry and Ebony.
Another rock icon, the Flying V has been played by a wide selection of players, hailing from all sorts of different genres. This years V has a slightly redesigned scratch plate that helps it stand out. It’s also got two of the most ferocious and powerful pickups that Gibson offer – the Dirty Fingers humbucker. These are high output beasts that flourish when stuck through a high gain rig; as such the 2017 Gibson Flying V is a great choice for heavy rock and metal players. Its design though, means that jazzers and blues guys will like it too. Simply dial back the gain on your amp, perhaps knock the volume knob on the guitar down a touch and you’d be surprised at the range of tones you can get out of it. It plays great thanks the to the slim taper neck profile and is available in Ebony and Alpine White.
This is a brand new bass guitar design from Gibson. Immediately, the EB-4 grabs your attention with its amazing look; the double cutaway gives you easy access to all 24 frets and makes for a comfortable shape when playing stood up or sat down. The EB-4 is fitted with EB Rhythm and Lead humbuckers – powerful pickups that deliver a really nice, rumbly low end whilst still remaining clear and defined. It reacts really well to dynamics so whether you play with a plectrum or your fingers, the bass will respond to how you play. I love this bass for rock and metal for its low end power, but it’s actually really versatile so will perform well whatever you’re playing.
Gibson have used a Babicz Full Contact bridge for the EB-4. This not only makes adjusting the action slightly easier if you need to, but actually increases resonance resulting in a better overall tone. The rest of the hardware is of a good quality and the EB-4 comes shipped with a padded gigbag. You’ve also got two great finishes to choose from – Natural Satin and Satin Vintage Sunburst. The bass comes in at £849 and represents really good value for money. It’s incredibly well put together (in America), it looks amazing and sounds monstrous (in a good way!).
This new Gibson bass is also available as a 5-string model – the aptly named Gibson EB-5. This is great for the metal players as well as the jazz guys as it gives a much wider range for you to play within. The Gibson EB humbuckers handle the low B well – they don’t muddy up like some other bass pickups and are evenly balanced across all frequencies.
All of the above models are available as either Traditional models, as detailed, or as High Performance models. The HP guitars have a number of aesthetic upgrades such as stunning AAAA-grade flame maple tops as well as performance enchancements, including a contoured neck heel to make access to higher frets easier. They’ve also got improved hardware and wiring, and a slightly wider ‘soloists neck width’ which is designed to make playing faster, more technical lead work easier. One of the best features on the 2017 Gibson High Performance guitars is the self-tuning device G-Force; they’ve been working on and improving this over a few years now and whilst I was dubious at first, I’m completely sold on it now – it really does work. Many of the HP guitars have upgraded, higher output pickups, and some (Les Paul Standard, Traditional, Studio, Classic) have a 5 position DIP switch that gives you a whole lot more tonal possibilities. Click the following link to read reviews on each of the Gibson 2017 HP models.
The 2017 Gibson HP guitars are truly impressive; they’re amazing to play, the finishes are insanely good and they sound superb. High Performance indeed!