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Collectible high-end Gibson electric guitars for 2014

I talk about cheap guitars a lot, but every now and then I talk about the expensive stuff. Why? Because there are a select few who do actually buy this stuff. Heck, you might be one of them.

This is obviously not all of the high-end Gibson stuff. Just a few of them. I picked the ones I personally thought were pretty cool.

With that said, here we go.

Gibson Collectors Choice 9 1959 Les Paul Believer Burst
Gibson Collectors Choice 9 1959 Les Paul Believer Burst

I think flame top guitars are ridiculously overrated. However, if you're going to get one, you might as well get the best damned burst money can buy. And you really can't do better than a "believer" burst. This is the flame top that makes all other flame tops look like toys in comparison.

The rest of the guitar is built to '59 specs, and that's all you need to know. If you know vintage Les Pauls, you already know this guitar.

Would I personally buy this Paul? No. But there are those that like that super-highly-figured top stuff. This particular '59 is as good as it gets.

Gibson Custom L5 CES Archtop
Gibson Custom L5 CES Archtop

I've never played an L5, but I'd like to. Almost nobody carries these because Gibson doesn't make too many of them, and all command a high price tag.

The modern L5 is built to late 1950's specs. When you want something classier than a Les Paul, you get an L5.

My favorite part of the guitar is the trapeze tailpiece. It just looks cool. Well, the whole guitar looks cool, but that tailpiece (which does wrap around the side) is just a very classy touch; it's definitely meant to stay polished and shiny.

Gibson Custom 20th Anniversary 1965 Firebird VII Reissue
Gibson Custom 20th Anniversary 1965 Firebird VII Reissue

The Firebird is in fact my favorite Gibson electric guitar, and the Firebird VII reissue is incredible.

Why do I like this particular Firebird? For the same reason I like Fender Jazzmasters and Gretsch guitars with Bigby systems on them. This one has a Maestro vibrato system on it. And since the strings go straight to the tuning post after the nut, the tuning stability will be good.

Using a Maestro vibrato is similar to a Jazzmaster vibrato in the respect you have to get used to it, meaning it's not just a pick-up-and-play type of thing. But once you do get used to it, some seriously sweet tones come out of this thing.

Gibson Memphis 50th Anniversary 1963 ES335
Gibson Memphis 50th Anniversary 1963 ES335

For some, this is the ES335 they've been looking for because it hits all the right marks. It's the red guitar that's been seen thousands of times in the movies and on television. People know what this guitar is just by looking at it because it has such an iconic look to it.

The biggest complaint with early-60's ES335 reissues is that the horns weren't right. This one does have the "slender horns" that made the original so great to begin with.

I'd personally get this one over a real-deal '63. Not just because it looks exactly like it's supposed to, but it has all the original-style electronics with two very important improvements: It's not buzzy, bongy, ringy mess of a guitar, and it won't fall apart.

Oh, there's a third reason as well. Compared to a real-deal '63, it's a bargain price.

Which would I personally buy if I had the money?

If I had the money and had to pick one, it would be either the Firebird VII or the ES335.

And to be honest, it would not be easy to choose which to go with.

The Firebird VII has the more trebly sound I like with the Maestro vibrato on it, and I would use that often.

The ES335, while having no vibrato, is an insanely good-looking guitar, and is one of those axes that defined the rock and roll music genre because of the sound it belts out. A lot of people think it was the Les Paul that made rock what it is. No, it was the ES335 that had more influence. Way more influence. It was and still is the better guitar compared to a Paul. Maybe the Paul saw more stage time, but the 335 is what saw more studio time, and that's the one you heard more often.

Like I said, tough choice. 🙂


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