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The Gibson Les Paul Futura MONSTER Electric Guitar Review!

The Gibson Les Paul Futura (Vintage Gloss) Electric Guitar Review
Gibson USA has been working on diversifying its offerings quite a bit here in 2014… It’s an “anniversary year” at Gibson (their 120th), and they’re introducing new guitars and wrinkles on previous guitars.

In particular, Gibson is offering the Min ETune automated (“Robot” from Tronical) tuning system. This new tuning system is encapsulated and doesn’t require wiring to go through the neck to the control cavity (as previous Robot versions did). The system is removable, user-replaceable, and parts can even be purchased to repair the system.
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One of Gibson USA’s 120th anniversary guitars is the vintage-gloss Les Paul Futura. The Futura (as of this writing) comes in a Les Paul and an SG. They both offer a new-ish finish, a hard case, Min ETune, an interesting pickup combination, and a 15db boost.

The Les Paul Futura is a player’s guitar through and through, with feel and sound that’s a real match for the real-world price of the guitar.

Quick Opinion:
In a quick pre-summary, the Futura Les Paul is a versatile, very playable, excellent-sounding guitar with a nice hard case that’s hard to beat when it comes to getting lots of sounds out of your recording or stage guitar.
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The tuning system is OK, the pickups and circuitry are excellent, the playability is better than par, and the new colors are a refreshing addition to the Gibson color array.
There are customer reviews and more specs for the Gibson Les Paul Futura (I like the Blue one!) available here at zZounds.

Features:
The Gibson Les Paul Futura’s feature list is one of its strongest suits. It’s very versatile and is a great performer that’s also not too hard to work on stage in or in studio. Many versatile guitars get overly “switchy” or have lots of extra stuff you have to do to get different sounds: the Les Paul Futura isn’t switchy at all; it’s easy to use.

The Les Paul Futura has an array of pickups, a boost, and more:
* A Les Paul Studio type of build
* A hum-free Sidewinder P90 pickup in the neck position
* A wonderful Alnico 2 BurstBucker #3
* A wonderful white-fur hard shell case – very nice at this price level these days!
* Modern weight-relieved body with mahogany back and maple top
* Maple neck with the 60s SlimTaper profile
* Rosewood fingerboard with the 120th anniversary badge on the 12th fret
* A fingerboard radius of 12″
* 22 frets (cryogenically treated)
* A new black TckToid nut (PLEKd)
* The Min-ETune tuning system with charger, battery, and a nice tuning chart
* The new Supreme Grip Speed Knobs
* The one I purchased had new Gibson ClearTone-coated strings
* That “uncluttered” look of a Les Paul without a pickguard
* Coil splitting – one each for the BurstBucker AND the Sidewinder – mine had Push/Push pots
* A COOL 15db battery-powered boost with a push-push pot to whack the amp when you need to lead!
* Lots of colors in the new “Vintage Gloss” finish
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Overall: This Les Paul is built to play and it plays like a monster! It’s a dynamite axe on stage or in the studio or just in your garage or bedroom. Wake the neighbors!
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Playability
In general, I found the Gibson Les Paul Futura to be a very playable and very comfortable Genuine Gibson Les Paul. The weight-relieved body is actually helpful for those who find the full-bodied Les Pauls to be a bit heavy on the strap. The neck is nice, and the pickup placement is great for those who pick right between the pickups.

In this review, I don’t want to really go down the road of opining about the Min-ETune system. I think it is a lot of fun, makes tuning to alternative tunings (something I do almost all the time) very easy, and is excellent for those who have a hard time tuning their guitar. I found my Min-ETune to be slow to tune and often not quite right, even after I lubricated the nut with BigBends Nut Sauce. I’ll save more opinions for another reivew and another day…

THe neck is the Gibson SlimTaper 60s neck, although really I found it to be on the thicker side of those SlimTaper 60s neck Gibsons I’ve played over the past years. It’s a good thing: it is an excellent balance between the little neck and the fat neck of many Gibsons: it feels comfortable and natural – in particular as you go up the neck. It’s almost as though the taper keeps you from noticing the neck’s feel at all (A Good Thing).

The frets were fairly well dressed. The new cryogenically-treated frets don’t feel different to the fretting hand (or the tapping hand, for those who the “Big Hair, Two Hands” thing :-)). In general, my Les Paul Special Semi-hollow has superbly dressed frets: these are much more average than the Special’s. To be fair, the frets were cleanly clipped and nicely ended – very nice overall. I guess I get spoiled when I play Gibsons with the fret-end binding – no fault of this guitar at all!
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The balance between the maple neck and the weight-relieved body is above par for a full-size Les Paul (as opposed to a Baritone or a flat-body Junior or Special). I like the way it feels when playing sitting down. Since I mostly record music at a studio desk, this is a great thing for me. Standing up, the Les Paul Futura does a fine job. It feels good on the strap. Good job, Gibson.

One of the most wonderful feature Gibson is doing this year on some guitars (including the Futuras) is the PUSH/PUSH potentiometers for coil splitting and 15db boost! These things are like, “Why have these taken SO long to come to market on a mass-produced guitar?” They’re wonderful. You just push down and you get a jump-up knob for boost/split. Push down again for full/both coils or boost off. It’s intuitive and extremely easy on stage! No more grappling with the slippery witch-hat knobs to get them to pull up. And: the biggest thing is that a well-worn push/pull pot is VERY easy to accidentally whack back into humbucker/boost mode when you’re reaching for tone or volume adjustment.

I love these pots. They’re worth a great deal to me. I am actually looking for some of these setups to mod two of my existing split-able Les Pauls to make my life easier and more fun!
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”
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Sound
Here is one of the Gibson Les Paul Futura’s strongest things: the sound!

I absolutely love the pickup combination. I am a big BurstBucker fan and a huge P90 fan. I also like quiet pickups when I’m recording, so the two that are installed in the Futura are just up my alley.

The pickups, with splitting and boosting, have lots of different characters and sounds. You can go chugging through rhythm, sear through lead, soar through 15th-fret-and-up passages, whirl through arpeggios, and still get a nice moody clean sound when you don’t need to burn out their nose hairs. I love these two pickups, and even more so the two together.

If you are looking for versatility without frequent instrument changes, this Les Paul is for you!
If you purchase a new Gibson at zZounds, qualified buyers can even play as they play with the 12 month select brands (new guitars only) payment plan.

Fit and Finish
The quality of the Gibson Les Paul Futura I bought was at or slightly above average. I found touch-ups in the stain here and there – nothing dramatic, but they were there. I found the fit of the controls, neck, hardware, an do other parts to be very good to excellent. This Les Paul was put together by great craftspeople.

As far as the “Vintage Gloss” finish: It’s a 50/50 thing if you like them. They’re nicer than the faded Gibsons in many ways, and less grabby with sweaty paws than those with a hard gloss. I think they look great from a few feet away, and are more tolerant than the faded finishes, although they are more fragile than the hard gloss nitro finishes.
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To be honest, I am in the middle of the road on the finish. When I first unboxed my Les Paul Futura, it felt tacky to the touch, almost like the finish was not quite cured. However, after playing lots of these, this turns out to be just the way they feel. The finish is properly cured – it just feels different than the faded, poly (like the Gibson Elliot Easton Firebird), or gloss finishes. IN general it’s a comfortable finish. It’s just new to me and I have had to adjust to it.
The new Gibson 2014 models are now in stock at zZounds. Celebrate 120 years of excellence and Legendary Tone!

Wishes and Wants
In general, I think the Gibson Les Paul Futura is an excellent guitar. I would strongly recommend them to anyone who wants a versatile guitar that has LOTS of guts in its sound.

I do think I would like the regular gloss better – that’s just a personal thing. I do wish the guitar was also offered in a Min-ETune-less version with a hard case for something less retail. I like the system – I just think the option would be nice for those on a budget.
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I wonder what a Gibson Les Paul Standard or Traditional with these pickups and wiring system would be like? Hmmmmm… (Gibson, listening? ;-))
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the MIGHTY Gibson Les Paul Futura – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)

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