The New Gibson Core Collection

Under the guidance of newly appointed CEO James Curleigh, Gibson have revamped their entire range. There are some curveballs and a number of new artist models, but for the most part, the new range represents a triumphant return to form for the iconic company!

Back To Basics

Since taking on the role of CEO, James Curleigh has promised big things for Gibson. It’s been a turbulent few years for the US company, but JC hit the ground running with an optimism and approach that spelled hope for the company’s future.

And at the 2019 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, Gibson delivered – in spectacular fashion. Now they’ve made details of their revamped range of guitars available to the public, and boy is it good news. With a return to the classic specs that put Gibson’s legendary guitars on the map, the new line-up looks set to be a real crowd-pleaser, designed to inspire a new generation of players while keeping traditionalists onside. Here are some of the key highlights of the collection:

  • Back to basics ‘Standard’ models – the Les Paul & SG Standards have been restored to their former glory. Classic, no-frills specs with heaps of old-school character – the definitive Gibson guitars.
  • ‘Modern’ variants – updated Les Pauls and SGs with modern specs combining the classic sound you’re after with cutting-edge playability & versatility.
  • SGs with vibrato – arguably one of the most striking elements of the new range, a couple of SG Standards have been armed with Vibrola trem bridges!
  • Expanded Junior & Doublecut guitars/basses – Les Paul & SG Juniors, two varieties of Les Paul Doublecut guitars and a selection of Les Paul Junior DC basses. Rock 'n' roll indeed!

Gibson Les Paul & SG Models

The Les Paul has had arguably the biggest overhaul. '50s and '60s models, the new Modern range, a new set of stunning Doublecuts and much more. But its little brother, the SG, has a few curve balls too. All in all, there's something that'll please both traditionalists and contemporaries alike!

The Les Paul Standard is the flagship model for Gibson. As the iconic design creeps closer to its 70th birthday, Gibson have rather fittingly taken it back to its roots. The ‘50s Les Paul Standard is the true essence of Lester Polfus’ definitive instrument, down to the finest detail. Key features include a '50s-style neck profile, Trapezoid inlays and PAF-style Alnico II Burstbucker pickups - and don't forget that P90 model!

The '60s Les Paul is among the most highly sought-after instruments of all time. Again, Gibson have taken the Les Paul Standard back to a golden era of the electric guitar for a truly spellbinding experience. Unbelievable Alnico V-powered sounds, head-turning looks thanks to AA Maple tops, Slim Taper neck profiles – an authentic Les Paul experience.

The Les Paul Modern is built on their High Performance formula that emerged in recent releases. It represents everything that makes a Les Paul what it is – but cranked to 11. By supercharging everything from the pickups to the ergonomics, Gibson have created an extremely powerful, versatile instrument aimed squarely at cutting-edge players.

If you’re looking for a pure rock 'n' roll machine, the Les Paul DC is a serious contender. You've got two varieties in the core range: the Special Tribute and the Junior Tribute. The former has dual P90s while the latter employs a single pickup config for a no-frills attitude.

The Tribute series is the most affordable and accessible Les Paul model that Gibson offer. It boasts legendary Les Paul sound in a raw, stripped back form. Key features include 490 PAF-inspired pickups and ultra-modern weight relief.

The Les Paul Studio has been a cornerstone of the Gibson catalogue since 1983. A more streamlined version of their flagship Standard model, the Gibson USA Les Paul Studio still provides that iconic LP sound but at a more affordable price-point.

With its timeless finish, classy cream binding and zebra Burstbucker pickups, the Les Paul Classic appeals to traditionalists and contemporary players alike. 61T/R pickups, 9-hole weight relief and a Slim Taper profile.

The Les Paul Junior has always been a popular model, and for the new core range Gibson have taken it back to the beginning. You can't argue with a single P90 pickup. The Les Paul Special is a true head-turner, with its TV Yellow finish and double-barrel P90 pickup config.
The definite SG; much like the Les Paul offerings, Gibson have gone back to basics and given the people what they want. Two timeless finishes, 490 pickups and a lightweight feel - the ultimate rock guitar.
Two eye-popping varieties of the classic ’61 SG design featuring vibrato. One has the Maestro Vibrola bridge, while the other has the Sideways Vibrola (with a side to side action).
A new model taking some elements of the Les Paul formula, most notably a Mahogany body with AA Maple Top. This is a turbo-charged SG for the 21st Century, based on the High Performance models seen in recent ranges.
Following in the footsteps of the Les Paul selection, these varieties offer a different take on the SG formula. The Junior is a particular standout, with a single P90 pickup, while the SG Special is undeniably easy on the eyes!

Gibson Designer Models

The term 'Designer' refers to Gibson's offset body shapes. This includes the Flying V, Explorer and Firebird models. Again, Gibson have stripped the range back to provide a focused, straight-to-the-point collection. There are some classics, a few curveballs - but it's mostly just straight-up rock 'n' roll!

When it was introduced in the 1960s, the Firebird shattered preconceptions of the electric guitar. Inspired by the iconic tailfins and alluring curves of American automobiles of the time, it's earned its place in Rock 'n' Roll history. Gibson have made a number of design tweaks since then, but this remains close to the timeless Firebird formula.
The Flying V was introduced in the 1950s, a time when Sci-Fi was the flavour of the moment. It's no surprise therefore that the V was met with mixed views - it continues to turn heads and divide opinion to this day. The new models retain all of the V's most definitive mojo. The Antique Natural version is designed as a direct tip of the hat, while the B-2 brings hotter pickups and stripped-back looks that ooze attitude.
The Gibson Explorer was released alongside the Flying V in the late 1950s, also to a mixed reaction. Fast forward to the 21st Century, and Gibson's new Explorer features a number of design tweaks that strike the balance between old-school and precision.

Gibson Semi-hollow/hollow Electric Guitars

Production of Gibson’s semi-hollow/hollow guitars is now shared between their Nashville Core and Custom Shop factories. It’ll now be referred to as the ES range. Let's take a closer look at the ES models from the new Core Collection:

The ES-335 is of Gibson's oldest models; the definitive semi-hollow guitar. The new Core Collection features a number of classic Dot models, stunning Satin finishes, and a handful of Figured Maple-topped models.
The ES-339 is the smaller-bodied semi-hollow. This new focused selection features a combination of gloss finishes and Figured tops, as with the ES-335s. Medium-output pickups make them surprisingly versatile, often seen in the hands of rockers and jazzers alike.
Gibson's semi-hollow singlecut is an alluring addition to the range, with a deceptively thin body and top-end brightness. Combined with a selection of striking finishes, Gibson have delivered a truly standout instrument.

Gibson SG, Firebird & DC Basses

Again, a few tweaks designed to take the range back to basics. There are a few interesting variations, but for the most part it’s straight to the point – and we’re not complaining! Let's take a look at what's what:

Gibson have remained faithful to the classic SG bass design; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Nashville-based guitar builders have served up the more top-quality specs on their Standard range. Key features include a manageable 30.5" scale length and the definite SG finishes.
Is there a cooler looking or more iconic bass than the Gibson Thunderbird? The Nashville-based guitar builders are delivering more of the goods by popular demand. This 34” scale length beast is sure to attract attention thanks to its awesome style and impeccable sound.
Mirroring the Les Paul Tribute Doublecut models, this selection is also a nod to the classic EB-0 made in the late ‘50s. The exception is that this instrument is kitted out with modern hardware, pristine build quality and a sleek new aesthetic.

Find Out More

Check out what happened when Lee and Pete caught up with Gibson at the 2019 Winter NAMM show:

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