In the wake of significant leadership change, Gibson seems to be bringing somewhat unexpected, yet very welcome, additions to their arsenal. While there’s been a lot of attention directed towards their subsidiary brand Epiphone, Gibson started getting out of their comfort zone, even bringing back their old line of Falcon amplifiers with two old-school-oriented models done with the help of their new buddies over at Mesa Boogie.
Gibson has now announced a completely new line of Les Pauls, the Les Paul Modern Studio. We could assume this also came out of their brainstorming sessions for the Les Paul Modern Lite, as we could notice some similarities. But the point here is simple — combine the stripped-down Studio and the ergonomic and versatile Modern models.
Knowing how focused Gibson are on the aesthetic side of their brand, after calling it “a sleek evolution of the beloved Les Paul Studio,” the first thing they point out are the four finish options. We have Wine Red Satin, Smokehouse Satin, and Worn White, along with an “exclusive version” they call Manhattan Midnight Satin. This midnight Satin is only available on Gibson Garage Nashville and Gibson’s website.
Although not always direct about it, Gibson has changed things with their Les Pauls over the years. For example, they pretty much turned the Standard into what Traditional was. And the Les Paul Studio has been coming with Ultra-Modern weight relief mahogany body for some time now.
This is what we’ll also be seeing with the new Les Paul Modern Studio. The visual aspect is also improved with fretboard binding and acrylic trapezoid inlays.
Apart from that, we have the expected Gibson Les Paul configuration. The mahogany body comes with a maple top. The mahogany neck is accompanied by an ebony fretboard. There’s the usual 24.75-inch scale length and 22 frets.
Pretty much an everyday Les Paul in this regard. We could say the same thing about hardware, including the Graph Tech nut and Grover Rotomatic tuning machines with only a minor difference with keystone instead of kidney-style buttons. In other words, business as usual.
The Modern Features
However, most importantly, the otherwise stripped-down Les Paul Studio is now enhanced with great playability features. Apart from the visuals, Les Paul Studio Modern includes a compound fretboard radius. They haven’t shared the actual measurements here. But it’s safe to assume that it’s the usual 12 inches at lower frets and 16 inches at higher frets.
Speaking of higher frets, the guitar also comes with a specially designed heel where body meets the neck. Called Modern Contoured Heel, it’s what you see on Les Paul Modern guitars, allowing more comfortable access for your lead parts.
Other than that, the guitar comes with a SlimTaper neck profile. It’s the most common one these days and, in combination with the compound fretboard and the contoured heel, makes for a shred-friendlier guitar than your usual LP setup.
Although the pickups are once again business as usual, the guitar does come with more tone-shaping features. Firstly, we have Gibson stock pickups. However, the bridge position has the “hotter” 498T. It’s paired with the 490R in the neck. This is the usual combo for Les Paul Studio models these days.
Things get a little more interesting with coil tap options for each of the humbuckers using the push-pull volume knob action. Then there’s also the phase switch that’s accessible with push-pull action on the tone knobs. This makes the guitar slightly more versatile than the usual LP Studio which has the coil tap option but not the phase.
Is It Worth It?
The price for all four of the aforementioned finish options is officially $1,999. The only difference is that the Midnight Satin finish version won’t be available through the usual retailers but directly via Gibson.
Basically, we’re looking at Les Paul Studio, which has some pretty useful LP Modern traits. They’re more than welcome, and the instrument is about $1,000 cheaper than the Modern variant.
On the other hand, this new Les Paul Studio Modern is about $300 more than the usual Les Paul Modern. The price difference isn’t all that bad. And yes, we know what you’re thinking — why not get an Epiphone Les Paul Modern instead since it’s less than half the price? Well, the Epi doesn’t have the same functionality as these guitars, and there’s no compound fretboard radius.
Overall, considering the fact that this is Gibson and bearing in mind that inflation has changed the game, $2,000 for a Gibson with some much-needed modern features isn’t all that bad. The whole thing may not be super-exciting since we’re looking at mostly the same old stuff. But it’s still an interesting new addition to Gibson’s arsenal.