As you know, I’m a Fender player and the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster is my main go-to guitar. But I do play some other guitars regularly onstage with my live band. I also believe that there are just some instances where a Gibson Les Paul is the best guitar to get a particular sound that the Fenders can’t do well. The Gibson Les Paul sound to me is buttery and creamy without a lot of the pop that you can get with a Fender.
About 10 years ago I added a Gibson Les Paul Custom to my collection of guitars. I love that guitar but because it’s price has continued to climb over the years, I just can’t risk taking it out onstage anymore. I could never afford to replace it at it’s current market value so it stays home, cased up most of the time. I think that’s a sad, sad commentary on these outrageous guitar prices from Gibson and now Fender. It’s just a bummer to have an instrument that’s so expensive that nobody will ever see it played live onstage except in an arena.
So I needed an affordable Les Paul that could nail the classic Les Paul tones and a Les Paul that I wouldn’t worry about hauling to gigs and jumping around with onstage. Enter the Gibon Les Paul BFG. What exactly is the Les Paul BFG? It’s an american made Gibson Les Paul that’s thrown together with a minimum of actual craftsmanship. In fact, upon close inspection it looks quite crappy in a lot of ways. But the Les Paul sound and playability is there. The price is definitely right on this guitar and it has some features that make it truly unique in the Les Paul lineup.
The unique features on the Gibson Les Paul BFG are many and here are a few of my favorites. One of the coolest features is the single-coil P-90 pickup in the neck position. This gives you some amazing, warm jazz and blues tones. I’ve never heard a Les Paul sound so darned righteous when it’s on the neck position! The downside to this pickup is the single-coil hum that you get which is true of all single-coil pickups. But it’s not as noisy as a standard Strat and like I said, the sound is truly fabulous.
It’s paired with a Burstbucker pickup in the bridge position which is a cheaper Les Paul humbucker. The construction of the Burstbucker is flimsy and there isn’t a pickup ring or cover installed on the guitar. If you’re not careful and you grab the guitar by the bridge pickup by accident while you’re getting crazy onstage, it’s possible to bend it’s mounting brackets. Since they’re so flimsy, it’s easy to bend back and keep on playing but I wouldn’t recommend bending the mounting brackets back and forth a lot. The Burstbucker sounds excellent with full-on distortion but it sounds shabby on a clean channel. When paired with the P-90 in the neck position you can get some great tones and this is one of the few Les Pauls that I like the sound of both pickups being run at the same time.
Another unique feature is the 3-knob configuration for the guitar controls. You have neck volume, bridge volume and a single tone control. The knobs are made out of wood and don’t have any number markings on them. They feel nice though and match the natural wood feel of the rest of the guitar.
The pickup selector is placed in the hole where the 2nd tone knob would normally go. In place of the traditional Les Paul pickup selector switch is a killswitch that switches off the pickups completely. The volume knobs are also wired like a traditional Les Paul and turning down one knob all the way will kill both pickups if the selector switch is set to run both pickups at the same time.
The weakness of the switching is in the killswitch. It’s noisy, it doesn’t kill very well because there are a lot of pops and hum whenever it’s engaged. It also makes some good popping sounds if you just wiggle it a bit. I think the killswitch is a major flaw on the Gibson BFG. The rest of the wiring works like a charm though. I’ve left my killswitch enabled but I never touch it. I’ve heard of a lot of guys disabling their killswitch by wiring right past it by soldering the wires directly together.
That brings me to the finish. The finish is crap. It looks good from a distance but when you look closely at it, you can see that it’s an unfinished, barely sanded Les Paul body that’s been hit with some spray paint. There’s no nitro-cellulose finish on this Les Paul. Now for the upside of the finish, you can feel the wood grain. You can get personal in every way with the actual wood that the guitar is made out of. I personally love the feel of the guitar finish because the natural wood just feels fabulous under your hands. So I’m not complaining about the finish.
The neck is another matter altogether. It’s a big fat neck that does feel sort of like holding onto a tree trunk. Again, it doesn’t bother me because I like the natural wood finish on the neck and I like to grab a big old fist full of neck and just let ‘er rip! What I don’t like about the neck is the lousy finishing on the fret ends. They stick out just enough to bump along your hands when you slide up and down the neck. The frets are well dressed on the top and I’ve had no problems at all with the playability of the fretwork in general. It’s just that the edges could have been rounded a little better to match the edge of the neck.
The hardware is basic black chrome or black painted nickle. The look of the hardware won’t win any awards but it works and does it’s job well. My Les Paul BFG intonated perfectly and the bridge hasn’t given me any of the problems with string breakage that the bridge on my Les Paul Custom did.
Overall the Gibson Les Paul BFG has been a really fun guitar to own and play. I beat it up pretty good when I play and it just keeps on going. It has been a tough and great sounding guitar and I get some good looks anda few compliments on the guitar every time I play it live onstage. If you can finda Gibson Les Paul BFG I would recommend picking it up. They’re probably going to be collectible someday and even if they never are, you can beat the hell out of it whithout guilt while still sounding great!
The only place to find a Gibson Les Paul BFG right now is on eBay. There’s usually quite a few on there. Just use the links below and start shopping for your Gibson Les Paul BFG today!
[phpbay]Les Paul BFG, 8[/phpbay]