By Stephen Pate – Gibson Les Paul's are notoriously expensive to buy so I was intrigued by a line of genuine made-in-America Gibson's below $600, the Gibson USA Les Paul Melody Maker.
By cutting a few corners on trim, Gibson is able to manufacture quality instruments with all the growl and punch of a Les Paul at this price point.
Joan Jet of "I Love Rock and Roll" 1980′s fame made her best hits on a Melody Maker if you think it's not possible to rock out on a guitar that cost 25% of a Les Paul Standard.
"I got my Melody Maker in 1977," said Joan Jett. "It was light and it sounded great. It was the guitar I had in the Runaways and then played on all my hits, like 'I Love Rock N' Roll' and 'Bad Reputation' and 'Do You Wanna Touch Me.' It's my baby." Gibson made a Joan Jet signature Melody Maker with one hot pickup until about 2008. You can find the road-worn Joan Jet guitars on eBay.com for around $1,000.
So what do you get with the 2014 Gibson Les Paul Melody Maker?
The body is a thin profile, the same as LP Custom Light Maple, with maple top and mahogany back. The neck is a 50s rounded profile maple with rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and 120th Anniversary logo.
The pickups are P90SR and P90ST, with a chrome wraparound bridge and 4 buttons for tone and volume. The pickups are extra wired and as you can tell from the video hot.
In comparison the Joan Jet model was a stripped down one pup / two knob job. Tuners are retro white button. There is even a padded gig bag.
The Gibson USA Les Paul Melody Maker comes in satin color finishes – yellow, midnight, wine and ebony. There may be old stock around in last year's blue and white colors with only one pickup.
Check out this review from MusicRadar.com and Anderton's UK video.
If you want to skip the chatter, they start playing the Melody Maker after 5:20 in the video.
The Musicians Friend review gets right to the point. You can definitely hear the Gibson Les Paul Melody Maker as a rock guitar.
Happy guitar hunting.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network