Gibson ES Memphis Les Paul – An Honest & Extensive Review
This excellent video provides a very exhaustive and refreshingly honest review of the Gibson ES Memphis Les Paul. It’s a very nice guitar, but… Well, I’ll let you see for yourself. Seriously, this is a must watch video if you are considering this guitar.
2015 Gibson ES Les Paul Reviewed by a Pro
Hey everyone, Nick Palazzo, hopeless guitar enthusiast here again. Now, if you want a guy to do demos and reviews on last year’s model, not cutting edge, older gear, well I’ll tell you what, I’m your guy.
I have here with me a 2015 Gibson ES Les Paul made in Memphis, in historic light burst. Now, there’s dozens, if not hundreds, of videos blog posts reviews articles, forum threads, about this guitar, as with any Gibson model. So why do another video demo of this guitar? Well, I thought that it was a lot of regurgitated information, some of it incorrect, Gibson sales pitch and some of the features are just kind of blown over and I kind of wanted to, as always, get into the details, go under the hood, and show you some stuff that I think gets left out in a lot of other posts and reviews. Also, for the sounds, I play this guitar with both d’addario gauge 11 flatwounds and Ernie Ball Slinky 10 round wound. You get to hear both a mellow, warmer, jazzier tone and the more typical, brighter rock tone.
Memphis Les Paul Hardware and Specifications
Standard features found on any Gibson model; twenty-four and three-quarter inch scale length, Tune-O-Matic bridge, stop bar tail piece, two humbuckers, individual volume and tone, 3-way toggle. It’s got a one-piece, non-laminated, dark Indian rosewood fretboard with a one-piece mahogany back, one point seven inch bone nut, F hole and grade truss rod cover (who cares), Les Paul model on the center, Gibson logo in mother-of-pearl, Kluson vintage style tuners with a sort of translucent Keystone with white marble plastic and it kind of looks cool. Now the frets they advertised as a lower profile. But they don’t give you any specs. I measured them with my digital calipers. They are approximately, I think, forty-seven thousands is what they were going for on the height and about ninety-five thousands width. So a more medium, vintage style fret. I do want to note that in line with many of the Gibson models nowadays, is they’re not doing the binding edge. The fret work goes all the way over the binding. Guitar joint has a four-degree angle. Cream plastic on the whole guitar, including the neck and top and bottom of the body, and the rings, and, of course, it does come with a pick guard I took off to display the beautiful top. The Tune-O-Matic bridge is basically a vintage style with the smaller, thinner threaded rod going straight into the body, but they do add that modern feature of the allen heads on each post so you can lock down once you set your height, which is kind of cool. This guitar features the MHS Memphis Historic Spec humbuckers, which according to Gibson, is their most accurate PAF replica to date. Boy, I’ve heard that one before. Now, pretty much every humbucker nowadays is a PAF replica. I’ll let my playing display the tones of the guitar. It’s very subjective. According to Gibson’s website, they’re wound with 42 gauge enamel wire with Alnico 2 magnets in the bridge and alnico three in the neck. Now, most reviews have that flip-flop, but according to the site, it is alnico 2 and alnico 3.
A Les Paul with a Neck You Will Love
One feature, I think, that gets blown over and every single review is the neck profile, which I believe is one of the most important features of the guitar. I really love the profile on this guitar. It’s pretty unique to this model as far as I know. A lot of people are familiar with the slim taper profile. It’s been on the Les Paul Traditional and the Classics, the 61 SG reissue, for all those years that they made that guitar. This one’s definitely thicker. It’s not as big, as say, the RH, the 58 Custom Shop reissues which have like one inch deep and big shoulders. This one has 85 thousandths depth at the first fret, about ninety-five thousand at the twelfth. It’s a rounded C profile, but there’s definitely more meat in the taper so it fills your hand a lot more, plus the 1.7 inch with nut versus like a one point six five. It definitely feels a bit chunkier. Again, not huge, but definitely more than a slim taper. Also, a unique feature to this guitar is that they add a little bit beefier taper at the joint here. On a lot of the guitars, this is the weakest point of that neck. A lot of headstock snaps here where you have the truss rod cavity butting up against the back heel. So there’s a little bit wider taper at the end of that. The truss rod is what they call a historic construction where it’s a larger diameter rod, single-action, with the anchor here in the body, and standard acorn nut coated with Teflon, so it’s not encased in the tubing.
A Hollowbody Les Paul with Great Tone
Now, the thing that sets this guitar apart from any other Les Paul, of course, is the hollow construction. The top, back, and the sides all use a three-ply laminated maple, poplar, maple laminate and there’s a mahogany center strip. Mahogany is pretty sparse. They call it weight relief. It has a little strip here at the bottom and narrows down and then there’s a block for the tail piece and the stop bar and then it goes back up to another strip and then it widens out again for the neck. When I change the strings, I took the time to take the humbuckers out and look at the thickness of the three-ply laminated top. Now the F holes have the sides painted black, so you can’t tell the thicknesses, but you can when you take those pickups out. The overall thickness of that top, I measured there, is about thirteen sixty-fourths, so a little shy of seven thirty seconds. But if you notice, that top veneer, it is a veneer, is basically a sheet of triple a maple. I measured it to be about 3/64s of an inch, so it’s very, extremely thin. The middle ply of poplar is about three thirty-seconds thick and that bottom section of maple is about 1/16. Now, that might vary a bit throughout the guitar of course. I can’t measure the back and I can’t measure the sides too accurately. But you’ll notice some of the kind of machine routing, the splintering of the wood in there. It’s a mass-produced guitar. I mean that stuff happens.
Now, the story that I purchased this from displayed this guitar as a Historic Light Burst. There are many different versions. It’s essentially the same model, but there’s a lot of special runs that were made for certain stores, or limited editions, so I see a light burst in there with a VOS. This is a standard finish, it’s not aged in any way. They say it’s a Historic Light Burst. Maybe it’s just called a light burst. It’s kind of like a 59 Les Paul with the red faded a little bit. The back and sides, of course, have that plain maple, stained walnut brown, very beautiful. Kind of like an ES 330, sort of. The neck has got the same stain, but it’s kind of interesting. If you look at the filler, the filler almost has like this metallic look to it that pokes through. It’s not that it looks bad, it’s just kind of a unique look to it. It’s kind of unusual. But if there’s a contrast of the mahogany versus the maple that uses that same brown stain.
Fit and Finish a Bit Disappointing
As far as the finishing details of this guitar, there’s a lot of imperfections that I found. The person who scraped this had a bad scraping day. There’s almost like an inch long gouge into the walnut stain here on the side, and there are plenty on the back butt-end of the guitar where you just see the lines where they just didn’t have it in line with the binding and scraped right into that brown stain. At the neck joint, it looks like the brown is cracking. I don’t think it’s going through the clear coat, but it’s almost like it shipped up and bubbled at the joint and you look down at it, and there’s a lot of, it looks, it just looks like it’s cracking and bubbling. It’s kind of annoying and it’s not the only model, ES model that I saw this on. I saw it on an ES Les Paul Custom and I saw it on a few other burst tops. It looks like it’s safe. It’s clear coated over, but it is kind of nasty looking. Now I’ve never been to the Memphis factory, but I’ve had several friends that have been there and I guess there’s a part of the tour where they’ve got a whole row of guitars lined up that are just waiting to meet the bandsaw because there was an imperfection or some little defect. As far as I know, Gibson doesn’t do factory seconds anymore. They don’t do like a B stock thing. Granted, yeah for a new guitar, it’s kind of a drag to see these little imperfections, but overall, this was a pick of the litter. I played many ES Les Paul’s and this one was a standout. And so if overlooking these little imperfections in there kept it from being destroyed, I’m happy because overall, it’s an awesome guitar.
Now, let’s take a look at the case. In my opinion, I think that this is one of the more top-of-the-line hard shell cases that Gibson has. It features of brown Tolex covering, a nice beefy padded leather handle, black or dark gray plush interior. In the pocket, you have the Gibson Memphis warranty with a checklist and a certificate of authenticity. Now, if I had one complaint about the case, it’s just that it was actually almost too tight of a fit. I remember when I purchased the guitar I felt like I had to almost crunch the thing to get it to fit in the case. But now that it’s lived inside there a bit, I think it fits pretty well and I don’t have to crunch it anymore.
Now I’m fortunate to live in the Chicagoland area, so I can trip over music stores, especially Gibson dealers, and get my hands on pretty much any model that I want. I made this video because I know not everyone is that fortunate to be able to just go to the store and try out a Gibson. So I hope that this review went over a lot of the details that may have been omitted in previous demos and reviews, and if there’s something that I wasn’t too clear on or maybe missed, make a comment below so I can go over that and display some of the features that I might have missed out on.
In conclusion, I’m not going to say that it’s a great guitar. It’s a, you know, it’s a mass-produced assembly line guitar like all Gibson’s are, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Most guitars are. I like this particular one. This is, again, a pick of the litter. I went and played a lot of different ES’s and this one was a standout. That’s why I purchased it. But if this helps maybe distinguish some of the unique features of this guitar, that’s all I wanted to do. I’m not saying you should go out and buy it, or it’s the right value or the right one for you. I just wanted you to make an educated decision when you’re going and looking at Les Pauls.
Now, there’s many different ES Les Pauls in the line. Don’t let that confuse you with the special rods and limited editions. Every guitar nowadays is a limited edition. It’s basically the same guitar that I displayed here, maybe with a with a different finish and certain specs which should be highlighted. But overall, it’s the same guitar.
So thank you very, very much for watching. Please purchase this guitar for me so that I can afford to buy new gear and do some more reviews, and if there’s a certain product that you want me to review, please let me know. I’d love to hear some feedback and any excuse to go out and feed my addiction would be nice.
Okay, sorry about that. Went brain dead for a second.