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The beautiful patterns of highly figured “flame” maple tops became the hallmark of the Gibson Les Pauls of the late ’50s. Today’s Les Paul Supreme takes it to an even deeper dimension. It starts with a stunning AAAA carved maple top and back, both mounted on a chambered mahogany body and adorned in seven-ply binding on top and three-ply binding on the back. The magnificent headstock features custom five-ply binding, an ornate earth inlay made from abalone and brass, with a pearloid “Supreme” banner draped across the front, and brass truss rod cover.
The 24 ¾-inch scale length neck is made from solid mahogany then topped by a 22-fret Richlite fingerboard. Richlite is an environmentally sustainable dense material made from renewable wood resources. Hard enough that it is used as a commercial kitchen counter-top, it makes an environmentally responsible alternative to Rosewood and Ebony. The fingerboard is adorned with figured pearl split-block inlays and given Gibson’s traditional rounded profile.
The Gibson Logo
The most innovative and revolutionary stringed instruments of all time have carried the name Gibson—the Les Paul, the ES-335, the Explorer, the Flying V, the SG. The list goes on and on. There is no mistaking the classic, hand-crafted mother of pearl logo, inlayed into a pressed fiber-head veneer that is then glued to the face of the mahogany headstock. A thin coat of lacquer finishes the process. It is the most recognizable logo in all of music, representing more than a century of originality and excellence. There is simply no equal.
To see the process of putting the binding on a Les Paul Standard is to really appreciate the effort and attention that Gibson puts into each instrument. A lone craftsman will carefully glue and fit two pieces of binding around the entire body of a Les Paul. He then winds a single, very long piece of narrow cloth around the entire body until the entire surface is nearly covered. The body is then hung to dry for a full 24 hours before it is unwrapped and moved into the next phase of production. It has been done the same way for over 100 years. Some question the value of adding binding, but Gibson believes it is a fundamental part of our rich guitar-making history. The binding around the Les Paul Supreme’s headstock adds a certain element of style and grace, while the binding on the top and back of the body augments the guitar’s elegant character, and helps protect the edges of the body. The neck binding is installed over the fret ends, which eliminates sharp fret edges and provides for a smooth neck and easier playability.
GIBSON’S 490R AND 498T PICKUPS
The mid to late 1960s saw the emergence of a very different type of music coming from the clubs of England. It was an interpretation of the blues that hadn’t been heard before, and it was much harder, more rocking, and definitely louder than anything else before it. As such, this new genre’s players were demanding more powerful amplifiers with increased volume outputs to satisfy their sonic explorations. This led to a call for a more versatile pickup to split coils through a push/pull knob, and prevent the microphonic feedback that occurs when the volume is turned up to maximum levels. Gibson answered this call with the introduction of the revolutionary 490T and 490R pickups (“T” for treble, and “R” for rhythm), which has the traditional characteristics of the original “Patent Applied For” pickups, but with two key modifications. First, a four-conductor wiring scheme allows the 490s to be connected to any push/pull knob, which lets players split the coils and increase versatility.
Gibson also introduced wax potting, which does away with any air space inside the pickup—thus lessening the chances of microphonic feedback. The result is a humbucker with the tonal characteristics of an original PAF, with a slight increase in upper mid-range response. The Gibson 498T bridge pickup is the 490’s ideal complement. Taking the 490 one step further, the 498 swaps the Alnico II magnet to an Alnico V, thus making it slightly hotter with emphasis on mid-ranges and highs. The pole pieces on the 498T are also aligned a little further apart to accommodate the spacing of the strings at the bridge, which is different than the spacing of the strings at the neck.
Mahogany Back and Maple Top
There isn’t anything more critical than the marriage of a Gibson Les Paul mahogany back with a maple cap, as well as the regimen involved in selecting the right wood and the formula to dry it out. First, the wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. These onsite inspectors also ensure that the plain maple comes from corporations adhering to the forest-saving standards of the Rainforest Alliance, of which Gibson is a proud member and sponsor. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees.
This ensures all woods are dried to a level of “equilibrium,” where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and helps control the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to helping reduce the weight. It also helps with improving the woods’ machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
|Other Features||Richlite Fingerboard|
|Model||Les Paul Supreme|
|Number Of Frets||22|
|Body Style||Single Cutaway|
|Neck Type||Set In|
|Tuning Machines||Sealed Gears|
|Case Type||Hardshell Case|
Les Paul Supreme Electric Guitar (Assorted Colors)
The manufacturer's warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. The warranty excludes damage from misuse, abuse, and contains other exclusions.