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Gibson Introduces the 2008 Les Paul Standard

“There are only two guitars, as far as rock and roll goes,” says guitar legend Joe Walsh. “Of those two guitars, I always come back to the Gibson Les Paul. Everything else is great, but nobody has ever topped the Les Paul. In 50 years, no one has built a better guitar.”

Thousands of players and guitar collectors share Joe’s sentiments and consider the late ’50s Gibson Les Paul Standard the best electric guitar ever made. The list of guitar icons who have recorded timeless classics with this guitar is staggering – Duane Allman, Dickie Betts, Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Peter Green, Gary Moore, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Gary Rossington, to name just a few. From its perfectly proportioned curves and stunning materials to its incredible playability and exceptionally expressive humbucking pickups, the Gibson Les Paul Standard remains the standard by which all other electric guitars are judged.

Now, 50 years after releasing the sunburst Standard, Gibson is setting its sights on producing the greatest Les Paul ever made – the 2008 Les Paul Standard.

Many of the crucial elements that made the Les Paul Standard a classic, such as its mahogany body topped with a slab of maple, remain true to the original formula, but Gibson has made numerous improvements and enhancements to take the 2008 Les Paul Standard’s performance up quite a few notches above its already lofty heights of excellence.

One of the most notable enhancements is the use of an enlarged neck tenon, which is specifically designed to provide maximum wood-to-wood contact between the neck and body. This design results in outstanding, acoustic-like resonance that enables the guitar to deliver lively, responsive performance that only gets better when the guitar is plugged in. With the mahogany neck joined to the mahogany body as if they were one continuous piece of wood, the 2008 Les Paul Standard produces rich, warm harmonic overtones with deep, resonant bass, perfectly balanced out by the crisp, articulate attack, lively treble and near endless sustain generated by the carved maple top.

Gibson’s Tune-O-Matic bridge made its debut on the Les Paul Standard. The TonePros locking Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece featured on the 2008 Les Paul Standard look identical to the original units, but locking set screws keep the bridge and tailpiece fixed securely in place to provide optimum tonal transfer between the strings, bridge and body.

When designing the neck for the 2008 Les Paul Standard, Gibson set out to provide the perfect balance between the thick, beefy tone produced by fat mid-’50s-style necks and the speed and playing ease of a slim late-’50s/early ’60s neck. The result of their effort is an ergonomically designed asymmetrical neck profile that is thicker at the low strings and skinnier at the high strings, providing enough mass to ensure powerful bass and impressive sustain, but thin enough for guitarists to play lightning fast runs with as little resistance as possible. This neck profile fits perfectly into the palm of the player’s hand to provide a comfortable, natural feel.

To ensure that the 2008 Les Paul Standard’s playability is as perfect as possible when the guitar is shipped, Gibson uses the revolutionary new PLEK system to determine the optimum action for each guitar as it comes off the line. Each guitar is placed on a computer-controlled PLEK machine that measures the neck and each fret with incredible accuracy. After analyzing numerous factors, such as the height of each fret from the fingerboard, each fret’s radius, the fingerboard radius, neck pitch and relief, nut and bridge alignment and more, it files, dresses and finishes each fret with surgical precision. Finally, the machine cuts the nut for ideal string spacing and slot height. The result is a guitar that plays perfectly right out of the box with the fastest, most comfortable action imaginable and no buzzing or fretting-out.

“When a guitar comes out of the PLEK machine it’s extremely playable,” says Matthew Klein of the Gibson Custom Shop. “I’ve handed guitars right off the line to top players and session guitarists who were skeptical at first until they played the guitar themselves. They can’t believe how great the action feels!”

In addition to choosing the best quality wood they can find to build each guitar, Gibson has developed a special chambered body for the 2008 Les Paul Standard that keeps the guitar at a comfortable weight and enhances the model’s tonal character. Strategically placed tone chambers are carved out of the mahogany body to provide improved natural acoustic resonance while still maintaining the rich, punchy solidbody tones that the Les Paul is known for.

The original late ’50s Gibson Les Paul Standard is also known for its pair of PAF (patent applied for) humbuckers, considered by many players to be the Holy Grail of electric guitar pickups. The BurstBucker Pro pickups featured in the 2008 Les Paul Standard deliver the same tonal characteristics as an original PAF humbucker – sweet, singing highs, throaty, vocal-like mids and fat, beefy bass – with perfect balance and uncanny clarity. Alnico 5 magnets and unmatched bobbin windings provide that distinctive PAF bite, while wax potting eliminates feedback caused by coil windings vibrating against each other at high volume levels. These medium-output humbuckers produce shimmering, crystal-clear clean tones as well as articulate, well-defined overdrive.

The 2008 Les Paul Standard’s beauty isn’t just skin deep, as Gibson paid as much attention to its internal wiring and components as they did to the craftsmanship of its exquisite body and neck. Case in point is the custommade, gold-plated Bourns potentiometers mounted inside the control cavity. From the second you adjust a volume or tone knob, you’ll notice a smooth, slinky feel that compares to the controls on audiophile or pro studio equipment. These controls provide pinpoint accuracy and they’re built to deliver a lifetime of noise-free performance – say goodbye to scratchy static and unpredictable volume dropouts.

Even humble, often overlooked features like the tuners have received a major upgrade. Locking Grover Rotomatic tuners with internal cam locking string posts automatically lock the strings as you tune, to provide foolproof, set-it-andforget- it tuning in less than one revolution of the string post, which allows you to tune your guitar exceptionally quickly even when you change strings. The 18:1 gear ratio gives you incredible fine precision to ensure exceptionally accurate and true tuning.

To please everyone from vintage “purists” to modern-minded players, Gibson offers the 2008 with a choice of either a traditional flamed maple or plain maple top and seven finish options. The nitrocellulose lacquer finishes on all 2008 Les Paul Standard models provide a thin, protective coat that allows the wood to vibrate naturally, and produce pure, unadulterated tone. This is the same finish process that Gibson has used since the 1890s, which has given them plenty of time to refine the process and turn it into an art.

Even with all of these new innovations and enhancements, the 2008 Les Paul Standard remains true to the essence of what made the late ’50s Les Paul great in the first place. When it comes to tone, playability and even visual beauty, the Les Paul Standard is as appealing now as it was when guitarists first discovered it in the ’50s. With original classics selling at prices well into six figures, the 2008 Les Paul Standard offers players an incredible opportunity to own a modern classic that will surely be as revered 50 years from now as vintage Les Pauls are today.

“I’m really proud to be involved with the introduction of the new Les Paul Standard,” says Joe Walsh, who not only developed his own distinctive voice on the instrument, but also sold Jimmy Page the 1959 Les Paul that became Page’s #1 guitar. “Jimmy was having trouble finding a good Les Paul back then. I had two, so I sold him one of mine. He used that Les Paul on the bulk of his work with Led Zeppelin. Once you get used to a Les Paul it becomes your axe from then on. Les Pauls are like that. Once you find your personal Les Paul, that’s it.”

Fortunately, today’s players don’t need to search as hard as Jimmy Page did to find their own #1. Just visit Guitar Center for the biggest selection of 2008 Les Paul Standards available anywhere.

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