Who doesn’t like the look of a Les Paul? Some of the most iconic imagery of rock-n-roll are associated with this guitar. Page, Walsh, Perry, Sykes, Slash, Frampton, Frehley, Wylde, Moore, Schon, Betts, Allman, and it just keeps going.
But you say that you’re a “super strat” guy and have to have a Floyd Rose? Well, so do I. I remember Gibson putting a Floyd Rose on a Les Paul in the 80s, as well as Floyd Rose making a system back then that mounted on a Les Paul without all the routing. Then a few years ago Gibson came out with the Les Paul Axcess, which I’ve played and found to be a nice guitar…but at a hefty price. Gibson released an Epiphone response to the Axcess. Undoubtedly a most cost effective approach, but some of the same features.
Mahogany body with maple veneer
Single ply body and neck binding
Set mahogany neck with slim taper ‘D’ profile
Floyd Rose Special with R4 locking nut
14:1 ratio Grover tuners
Amber bell knobs
Alnico Classic & Classic Plus humbuckers
They were released in Desertburst (shown in these photos), Vintage Sunburt, Honeyburst, and Heritage Cherry Sunburst.
Please bear with me on this one, as I do try to be as honest as possible on these matters. I found the guitar to need a lot of work. The first one I received had structural issues that kept it from being properly intonated and otherwise set up. I’ve laid hands on 2 others since then. One had the nut set too high, requiring the nut shelf to be lowered. Both had a bit of dodgy installation of the trem claw screws, prompting me to plug and re-drill both. Both also had attempts made at the factory to provide clearance for the trem springs, but the body is thick enough to have required more. Another side effect of the thicker body was that the trem springs took a sharp angle to get to the sustain block and they would still be prone to pop out of the longest sustain block I could fit in there….but that was addressed by sourcing some sustain blocks fitted with spring retainer bars.
With small issues like that resolved, things worked out fine. I upgraded the bridge to a German Floyd Rose (and yes, there is a difference in quality and stability and tone) and titanium trem inserts/posts made here in the USA by TiSonix. Why the insert/post upgrade? Well, the posts that were in there had more wiggle in the inserts than I was comfortable with. TiSonix machines their products with very tight tolerances, which greatly reduced any wiggle and further improved stability. I also upgraded to some nice tight tolerance CTS pots. It originally came with push/pull pots for series/split for each pickup, so the push/pull feature is still there although wired for series/parallel. The pickup and control cavities are all covered with shielding paint.
The pickups are serviceable and what you’d expect from an import. They will get the job done, but didn’t have a voice for my preference. That’s just me. Some of the pickups tried in this guitar have already been covered in other reviews and some will be in future review.
The guitar came out of the box with a very straight neck. The Grover tuners have a very nice smooth feel to them. The knobs for the push/pull pots have little ridges around the top that help make the push/pull function easy to navigate, which is a nice touch.
How does it play and sound? It’s a set-neck single cut! It has a big powerful vibe to it. The wood selection does make it a bit on the thicker side, but tweaking the amp or choosing the right pickups can address that if the vibe is not immediately what you expect. Being used to “super strats”, the neck heel and the slightly different string spacing at the nut took a second to adapt to, but it’s not long before it feels natural.
It was my understanding that Gibson has discontinued these. But…I am still seeing them pop up on Musician’s Friend. You may or may not experience the couple of quality issues that I encountered. If you are prepared for them, the won’t be an issue.