Les Paul LP-295 Goldtop
Gibson USA’s new LP-295 Goldtop combines the Les Paul’s legendary characteristics with avant-garde features that keep it one step ahead of everything else. This new Guitar of the Month for April 2008 sets the classic appointments of Gibson’s renowned ES-295 onto the body and neck of the celebrated Les Paul. The standard Les Paul cutaway gives way to the wider Florentine cutaway normally found on such legendary Gibson models as the Byrdland, the ES-175, and, of course, the ES-295. The cream-colored pickguard with screened gold flowers is also styled after the ES-295s, as are the split parallelogram inlays, and the chrome Bigsby tailpiece. Graphite nut and bridge saddles offer better string control when using the Bigsby. The mahogany body is chambered with a maple top and single-ply antique binding, smoothed with Gibson’s classic Goldtop finish. The headstock is also bound in single-ply cream binding, and sports Gibson’s traditional holly symbol. The neck is the standard Les Paul mahogany neck with a ’50s rounded profile and rosewood fingerboard. In the neck position, Gibson’s ’57 Classic pickup delivers warm, full tone with a balanced response, packing that classic Gibson PAF humbucker crunch. The ’57 Classic Plus is the perfect bridge-position companion to the ’57 Classic, inspired by the design of the original PAFs of the late 1950s and the early 1960s. The new LP-295, housed in a custom Guitar of the Month case from Gibson USA, is versatile enough for all styles of music and playing, and an admirable addition to Gibson’s current lineup of special edition guitars. Like all of Gibson USA’s Guitars of the Month, production is limited to just 1,000 guitars.
The Gibson Logo
The Gibson logo is the most recognizable in all of music—proudly displayed by many of the finest guitars of our time. The new LP-295 Goldtop from Gibson USA—Guitar of the Month for April 2008—joins the ever-growing list of legends. More than a century of innovation and excellence stands behind the classic, hand-cut mother of pearl logo. There is simply no equal.
Gibson’s angled headstock is a small, subtle engineering marvel. Angled at exactly 17 degrees, the Gibson headstock increases pressure on the strings to help them stay in the nut slots, which means there is no loss of string vibration between the nut and the tuners, equaling better sustain. In addition, each Gibson headstock is carved out of the same piece of wood as the neck, ensuring solid alignment and excellent tonal qualities.
Adjustable Truss Rod
Prior to the 1930s, a truss rod was used only to strengthen and stabilize the neck of a guitar. When Gibson introduced the adjustable truss rod in the early 1930s, all guitars suddenly became capable of being adjusted to suit any style of playing. This revolutionary idea—which allows the neck to be tilted forward and back—allows a guitar to be set up with any variety of set-up options, string gauges, and string heights. The possibilities are endless.
’50s Rounded Neck Profile
The ’50s rounded neck profile on the new LP-295 is one of Gibson’s more traditional and distinguishable features. The majority of the guitars produced by Gibson in the mid- to late-1950s had thick, round neck profiles. They have become some of the world’s most coveted instruments, played by many of the world’s greatest players. Every Gibson neck is machined in a rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts, but the rest of the process is done by hand. This ensures that no two necks are exactly alike. They’ll have the basic characteristics of its respective profile, but each neck is slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
22-Fret Rosewood Fingerboard
Rosewood is one of the world’s most resonant woods, making it the perfect choice for many of Gibson’s fingerboards. The resilience of this dense and durable wood makes these fingerboards extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses. And, like all of Gibson’s woods, the rosewood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories.
Nickel and Silver Alloy Fret Wire
The fret wire on all Gibson models is a special combination of nickel and silver alloy designed for long life and superior wear. Rarely does a Gibson guitar need new frets. They are first shaped by hand, then cut to an exact 12-inch radius. After hand pressing it into the fingerboard, a machine press finishes the job to eliminate the gap between the bottom of the fret wire and the fingerboard.
Many traditional Gibson models have featured parallelogram inlays. A figured, swirl acrylic gives these inlays that classic “pearl” look. They are then inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers.
Set-neck construction—the process of gluing the neck into the body of the guitar—is one of the most traditional features of all Gibson guitars. This process ensures a “wood-to-wood” contact, no extra air space in the neck cavity, and maximum contact between the neck and body, which allows the neck and body to function as single, solid unit. The result is better tone, longer sustain, and no chance of having a loose or misaligned neck.
Mahogany Back and Maple Top
The body of a Les Paul—made of a solid mahogany back and maple top—is one of the more celebrated in all of music. The regimen involved in selecting the right wood and the formula to dry it out is just as legendary. For each piece of wood to achieve Gibson’s desired level of “equilibrium,” humidity must be maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees, inside the factories, ensuring the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and helps control the shrinking and warping of the woods, in addition to helping reduce the weight. It also improves the woods’ machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that the LP-295 will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
’57 Classic and ’57 Classic Plus Pickups
Among the qualities that make Gibson’s original “Patent Applied For” humbucking pickups so unique are the subtle variations between coil windings. For the first few years of their production—1955 to 1961—Gibson’s PAF humbuckers were wound using imprecise machines, resulting in pickups with slightly different output and tone, desirable to players who wanted to mix and match and explore a complete spectrum of tonal possibilities. The ’57 Classic and ’57 Classic Plus pickups are the result of Gibson’s drive to capture and recreate this renowned characteristic. Introduced in 1992, the ’57 Classic provides warm, full tone with a balanced response, packing that classic Gibson PAF humbucker crunch. The ’57 Classic Plus is the perfect bridge-position companion to the ’57 Classic, inspired by those original PAFs that received a few extra turns of wire. Both are made by Gibson to the exact same specs as the original PAFs, including Alnico II magnets, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers, and vintage-style, two-conductor braided wiring. Instead of enamel-coated wiring, Gibson added poly-coated wiring—which improves consistency by eliminating thin or thick spots on the wire—and wax potting, which removes all internal air space and any chance of microphonic feedback.
The Tune-o-matic bridge was the brainchild of legendary Gibson president Ted McCarty in 1954. At the time, it was a true revelation in intonation, and set a standard for simplicity and functionality that has never been bettered. This pioneering piece of hardware provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields a great union between the strings and body, which results in excellent tone and sustain. It is combined with a separate “stopbar” tailpiece, essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge. To this day, the Tune-o-matic remains the industry standard. It is the epitome of form and function in electric guitar bridge design, and is one of the most revered and copied pieces of guitar hardware ever developed.
Nitrocellulose Goldtop Finish
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson guitar—including the new LP-295—is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. A properly applied nitro finish requires extensive man hours, several evenly applied coats, and an exorbitant amount of drying time. But this fact has never swayed Gibson into changing this time-tested method, employed ever since the first Gibson guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish dries to a much thinner coat than a polyurethane finish, which means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. A nitro finish is also a softer finish, which makes it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous in nature, and actually gets thinner over time. It does not “seal” wood in an airtight shell—as a poly finish does—and allows the wood to breathe and age properly.
Chrome Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece
The Bigsby vibrato tailpiece has been a fixture on many legendary Gibson guitars, including the ES-295, from the which the new LP-295 is modeled after. It is named after its late inventor, Paul A. Bigsby, who sold his Bigsby Guitar company to legendary former Gibson President Ted McCarty in 1966. With the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, players are able to bend the pitch of notes or entire chords for vintage-style vibrato. It works in conjunction with Gibson’s Tune-o-matic bridge and a spring loaded arm, which is attached to a pivoting metal bar around which the strings are installed. A classic piece of guitar hardware.
Traditional Hand-painted, ES-295-style Pickguard
The distinctive and traditional ES-295 pickguard has been faithfully reproduced by Gibson USA for the new LP-295. The cream-colored pickguard features the classic floral and vine pattern of the original ES-295 pickguards, and is custom molded to fit precisely around each pickup.
The Florentine cutaway on the new LP-295 is wider and deeper than the cutaway on a Les Paul, with a slightly sharper edge, allowing easier access to the higher register of frets.