Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gibson #1 - 'Les Paul BFG' gold

This is my first USA made guitar so I'm curious how it stacks up against my various Korean/Japanese/Chinese ones given the great upswelling of brand loyalty there seems to be for Gibson, especially amongst Americans.

I've fancied a BFG ever since I became aware of their existence. The unfinished look and neck P90 really do it for me. The other affectations (clear wiring covers, wooden knobs, lack of truss rod cover and switch toggle) are kind of stupid but easily undone. In fact this one already came with more sensible bell knobs, a truss rod cover and switch toggle.

Whenever I get a new guitar I restring it, wiping it over with a damp microfibre cloth to remove dirt and if necessary oiling the fretboard. In doing all this I get a good look at the build quality. This time I did things like have the pickups out so I got a really good look.

I can sort of see where the money went into manufacture here, every line and edge is sharp and well defined, the hardware is excellent and little things like the direct pickup mounts being proper metal threaded affairs rather than screws straight into the wood show. However this is only really visible if you start dismantling the guitar like I did.

It's astonishingly light, hanging it on my luggage scales shows it to be just of 7lbs (guitars seem to be weighed in lbs). This will be the chambered body, making it far lighter than my Korean copies. The Indie Custom shop L-shape is over 11lbs.

I've played it a little now and it is nice, but I'm not sure that made in USA price tag shines through. Going back to back with the WI66ProE that's immediately to hand it's obviously different, with a fatter neck and medium frets but better to play? Not really.

The bridge Burstbucker 3 is a decent medium-hot humbucker, the neck P90 is sweet and overall it has quite a bright tone for something with the silhouette of a Les Paul, but a tone that I couldn't get from Japan or Korea if they made such a thing? Not really.

There's a reason all the big manufacturers have 'lesser' ranges made somewhere East of here. At the low end obviously there are very inferior guitars around, I know I've bought some, but once you get to midrange ones the 'heritage' brands, especially Gibson, need to worry IMO. You do get very tidy manufacture and quality hardware, but you pay for it. This entire  paragraph is brought to you from the 'old news' dept.

So I can't rule out getting another 'heritage' brand guitar, I've been looking at SGs for ages, but I'm not going to pay through the nose for one. Or I might just buy a Gordon Smith.

At some point I'll do a back to back with the BFI, which is my modded Indie take on the 'Les Paul with neck p90' idea to see if my opinion changes.

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