There are two new Les Paul Custom models hitting the streets in 2012, and both are subtle departures from tradition.  The Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro Brown and the Les Paul Custom Maple are Gibson’s answer to their current ebony shortage.  Instead of the traditional ebony fingerboard, these new guitars will sport either rosewood or maple for your fretting pleasure, offering a unique experience on this classic guitar.  We’re no strangers to maple fingerboards on a Les Paul around The Music Zoo; we have done custom runs in the past that were basically exactly what this new Les Paul Custom Maple is, and we loved them for their snappy attack and cool looks.  Follow the jump for more info, including a video of Joe Bonamassa’s take on these new guitars.  The Maple is shipping now, and the Rosewood Maduro Brown will be available in March.  MAP price is $3,899.00 and $3,999.00, respectively.


Custom Les Paul from Ben Clemons on Vimeo.


Les Paul Custom Rosewood

As conceived by guitarist and inventor Les Paul and Gibson President Ted McCarty in 1954, the original Les Paul Custom was all about the black-tie looks and elegant appointments, a “black beauty” through and through with a gloss black body, a jet-black ebony fingerboard and top-shelf features. While staying true to the original ethos, the new Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro from Gibson Custom also represents a historic marker in time: it’s a true evolution of the iconic model to represent the needs both of players and of planetary resources at the dawn of the second decade of the new millennium, the culmination of a long path of alternative wood testing, and the result of extensive query among Gibson’s global player base. In so being, it’s also a killer-looking, sounding and playing Les Paul, and a new classic of the Custom line. To complement its rich chocolate-brown finish (inspired by the deep color of Maduro broadleaf, used in the making of fine cigars), the guitar carries a bi-layered Indian rosewood fingerboard rather than the traditional ebony fingerboard. This is one of the ways in which Gibson Custom is addressing the challenge presented by current limits in the global supply of ebony, while also keeping the Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro true to its designers’ stylistic intentions. It enables the use of this new luscious brown finish without the jarring look of a black fingerboard.
To suit the tastes of a wide range of players, the Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro will be produced in two versions: one in a gloss finish with gold hardware and high-performance 498T and 490R pickups, the other in a VOS finish with nickel hardware and more vintage-styled ’57 Classic pickups. Both feature traditional Custom inlays and binding, and represent sublime new looks to the Les Paul Custom range, with a nuanced twist on the tone which is nevertheless in keeping with tradition. Tradition is a powerful force at Gibson, and it is often hard to break. Sometimes the most obvious solutions evade us as we strive to evolve, adapt and persevere. The suggestion to feature rosewood fingerboards on a guitar that always has been built using ebony fingerboards came from the most important members of our R&D team: our customers. With a vote of confidence for a new way forward firmly established, this change in form also paved the way for a stunning new Maduro Brown finish that remains entirely in keeping with the Les Paul Custom ethos. The guitar’s two-piece carved maple top is joined to a one-piece mahogany body that is strategically weight-relieved to further enhance resonance. Together with the deep-set mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, the Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro produces a tone that remains intact when compared to a Les Paul Custom with ebony fingerboard, with a slightly warmer overtone added by rosewood’s softer characteristics.
Visually, the Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro is as gorgeous as ever. Its dark chocolate rosewood fingerboard beautifully complements the deep chocolate Maduro Brown finish, which looks equally stunning in high-gloss or VOS. All traditional Les Paul Custom binding and inlay elements remain, including the seven-ply black and white body top binding, five-ply black and white headstock binding and headstock binding, single-ply fingerboard binding, black speed knobs, pearl block fingerboard inlays, and iconic split-diamond headstock inlay. On the gloss version with gold hardware, a pair of Gibson’s most popular humbucking pickups, a 490R in the neck position and 498T in the bridge position, retain the classic full-throated tone that the Les Paul Custom model is known for. Both are made with genuine Alnico II magnets.
The neck pickup is wound to specs in keeping with the legendary PAF pickups, while the bridge pickup is given extra turns of wire for an “overwound PAF” sound for searing lead and crunchy rhythm tones. On the VOS version with nickel hardware, a pair of ’57 Classics yield a tone with more vintage-PAF leanings with a little more “bite” and clarity for those that prefer it to the “hotter” 498T/490R combination. A Tune-o-matic bridge, stopbar tailpiece, and Grover™ keystone tuners (all gold-plated on the gloss model, nickel on the VOS) further uphold the traditional Les Paul Custom look, while partnering with a PLEK-cut Corian nut for unparalleled resonance and sustain. Both a stunning extension of Gibson tradition, and a thoughtful nod to changing global resources, the Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro is a beautiful new addition to an acclaimed line of guitars, and an outstanding addition to any collection. 

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