Since the 1950’s sales of the electric guitar, in popular music, have largely been dominated by two American Companies – Yet for one of the most famous guitars, the Les Paul, it was somewhat of a false start regarding sales and popularity – However it is fair to say that we can attribute the birth and voice, of a new style of blues, to August 1966, when Clapton plugged his Les Paul into a Marshall ‘Blues Breakers’ Combo – From that moment onwards, the singing, musical, overdriven tones of a Les Paul have been heard around the world on a regular basis – As such, for many guitar players, a wish list might start off with the following criteria :- Gibson – Les Paul – Then the choice might be a 57 Gold Top or a 58/59 burst – So how does this used Gibson Custom R9 Les Paul Standard, from 2012, with a VOS washed cherry burst finish, entice you into parting with some hard earned beer vouchers ? – No doubt its aesthetic qualities are part of the appeal – Yet the playability, along with a soulful tonal character will certainly ensure that this LP has a lot going for it
Let me update you on a few key details following my evaluation :-
- 2012 model with a 9 + 5 digit inked serial number
- Big broad flamed maple top with a very lightly aged VOS finish – washed cherry burst – So more or an old style fade, as against dings ‘n’ dints
- Condition wise – No fret wear – Nice hint of oxidization/tarnish to the nickel hardware – Light hint of additional surface compression marks to the nitro finish, which only adds to the VOS aged character – Always hard to tell on a used, lightly aged finish, what is new wear ‘n’ tear from use, as against factory ‘aged wear’
- Whole guitar weighs 8lbs and 14oz – So totally credible within an acceptable weight of a good LP – more important is the guitars natural vibrant acoustic character
- Dark rosewood fingerboard
- Medium/vintage size frets – Not as meaty as modern 6100 style jumbo frets – But more chunky than pure vintage
- Gibson BB1 neck + BB2 bridge Burst Bucker paf humbuckers – measure 7.45K neck and 8.01K bridge
- All vintage spec and aged hardware, including the ABR bridge, with no wire retainer and the lightweight aluminium tailpiece
- Neck measures .925″ around the top nut end and gently fattens out to 1.025″ around the 12th fret – So a meaty C profile with comfortable shoulders
- No finish overspill on the fingerboard or body vintage cream binding
- The usual bumble bee tone capacitors with vintage 50’s style wiring
- Square shouldered pick guard
- Includes the brown Lifton case – Certificate of authenticity in CD size wallet, along with the gold factory warranty/check list, plus a host of tags
Re-strung and set up with 10’s and a sensible action that allows you to dig in and bend, as well as handle a few cascading party licks and tricks – As always I can fine tune the set-up to suit individual taste – More of a meaty C profile with ‘comfortable shoulders’ – Yet with an easy playing action, that responds to a light touch – As such it is certainly not a handful to handle – Maybe this approach allows you to dig in and savour each and every note as there is no shortage of soul and sustain in this LP
Tonal character :- For many the first experience is to judge it unplugged – Played acoustically, you’ll wish to check out how it feels, performs and sounds and in doing so, you’ll find there is no negative experience at this stage – You can both feel and hear it ring out loud as you play a few chosen open chords and obviously a chunky neck assists with this vibrant character, assisted by a hand select one piece mahogany body – But I dare say you’ll be in a hurry to hook it up to your amp – Initially, you’ll maybe rush through a few chosen licks, as you switch from clean to overdriven amp settings and again no complaints so far – So now a more thorough sound check is required and I start off with a clean amp setting – It possesses enough natural character to ensure that it does not sound bland whatsoever – Rich, smooth and warm with almost a single coil clarity from both pick-ups, so no shortage of articulation – Overall the tone is lush and musical, with a nice useable contrast between both pick-ups – Chilled out blues chords and licks, or country twang and it possess plenty of character, with good depth, body and articulation – I’m sure many will play such a guitar in some form of rock/blues environment, with a decent level of gain on the amp, yet it is nice to know that you can still experience such a lush clean tone to fall back on as required – Check out your pentatonic licks, throughout the length of the fingerboard and pay attention to the tone and sustain of each particular note – You’ll instantly notice this is a guitar that can sing as required
To me, playing this R9, through an overdriven amp setting, is discovering how it will respond to subtle variations on the volume and indeed the tone pots – This is where you should find so much soul, emotion and expression and again this LP does not let you down – Many great R9’s sound like great R’9s, so it is often the finer nuances of tone that sets them apart – Lower gain amp settings with the LP turned up, or hi-gain amp levels with the volume pots rolled off, will produce distinctively different and useable voices, so instantly both options have a place, be it for chord work, riffs, shuffle patterns or lead licks – It is this expression that allows you to become fully infatuated with such a guitar – With everything on 10 you’ll experience a big tone, with clear lows, crisp highs and just enough fat mids to add girth, but not to the extent they overpower – Roll off the volume pots a touch, for subtle but effective variations and now you’ll experience a softer voice that is more sultry, but certainly not muddy, as the guitar retains its articulation and sparkling clarity – With the amp on moderate distortion levels, this approach allows you to morph from Pete Green style blues licks, with the volume pot around 6 or 7, through to Bonamassa rock blues licks with the volume pot now on 10 – On hi-gain amp settings, the same approach allows for subtle but effective levels of gain to be controlled by you and the volume pot – From full on ‘Still Got The Blues’ to a more tender approach as required – Hence so much emotion available to you – Try Less gain, along with a boost pedal and the guitar on 8 through to 10, or hi-gain and the guitar now around 6 and both produce different voices that are totally useable – As I said so much emotional control at your fingertips – Overall this LP always sounds more melodic and tender, so in control, as against pushed to its limits
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.