Gibson’s “Silence of The Lam (2012)”
For those who are concerned about the minutia of guitar construction, the 2 piece laminated rosewood fingerboard that has invisibly crept into the 2012 Historic Les Pauls (and many other Gibson guitars as well) seems to be a problem. It is a damn shame that Gibson can’t use a thicker 1 piece board, but the scuttlebutt is that the raids from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife have left the company no choice, with stocks of permissible rosewood depleted .
I know I really may be “flogging a dead horse” here for those of you “in the know”, but this may be a shocker if you’re hearing this “2 piece fingerboard thing” for the first time. There’s lots of talk amongst the dedicated Les Paul junkies that it’s all being done wrong anyway – the thin top piece leaves 30-something individual pieces of rosewood once you cut the fret slots – the glue used to laminate the rosewood is yellow glue (and that’s just wrong!) – etc. I think the easiest way to know if you have a 2 piece laminated rosewood board (the “Lam ” fingerboard, as they call it) is to remove the nut and check the end grain. Some say that it’s done pretty well – under very high pressure. Well, whatever! Can you HEAR it? Does it really affect the tone? I think most who know good tone would argue that it does NOT!
I’ve had two 2012 Les Pauls in my possession and they are both superb sounding and playing instruments. To me, there are other factors that are WAY more likely to have an effect on the tone than the 2 piece rosewood board. So let me mention a few factors that I think are on the “A list” for killer tone… and perhaps amongst the reasons why Gibson 2012 Les Pauls seem to sound consistently great (or so I hear, anyway).
1. I always think about the neck angle to the body. The old ones almost always had a very shallow angle – and I think this is part of their tone-recipe! (and playability too, I might add). 2. In a Les Paul, where the bulk of the wood is mahogany, the quality of the wood in the mahogany back (and neck) seems to be a significant tone-factor. There’s actually a rumour that in the last year or so, Gibson sourced some AMAZING (and legal) mahogany from a country previously unknown for it’s instrument grade wood. 3. Let me keep going here…a third factor … the pickups. Those Burstbuckers just seem to be getting better all the time… more clarity and percussiveness in the neck pickup… an aggressive but less brittle and harsh bridge pickup. As a matter of fact, thanks to my pal PF, I now have a 2012 “Collector’s Choice #3” Les Paul – also referred to as “The Babe” (horrible name!) – and it is absolutely superb. One of the best sounding guitars I’ve had – 2 piece fingerboard and all! The pickups are referred to in the literature as “Custom Alnico 3 Buckers”. Whatever! They sound great!!! It has a Bigsby, but mercifully, it only weighs 8.85lbs. Hey! – I thought that Bigsbys were “tone-robbers”!? There are NO RULES on a feature-by-feature basis, IMHO – it’s just how everything adds up! Here’s a shot of “The Babe” relaxin’ Two piece board and all!!! Doesn’t seem to bother HER!!!…
Gibson Collector’s Choice #3 “The Babe” Les Paul…only 8.85lbs!