Following on the heels of the summer NAMM show, Gibson Guitar Corp. just announced the new “LPX.” For all practical purposes, it appears to be the electronic guts from 2010’s much ballyhooed Firebird X vivisected into a more conventional Les Paul-style profile. I say Les Paul-“style” because — despite taking a step in the right aesthetic direction — the LPX still borrows the clunky headstock, multicolored mismatched knobs, spartan trim, and excess chrome from the Firebird X. There’s a fair debate to be had regarding the necessity of self-tuning, built-in effects, wireless connectivity, and the myriad other features cluttering this instrument. But seriously Gibson — if you want folks to give these features a fair chance, incorporate them into one of the attractive, classically appointed guitars upon which your company’s 100+ year reputation has been built. A standard series Les Paul, for example, with its gorgeous (and proven) blend of old-world craftsmanship and modern functionality. Especially if the instrument is going to list for five freakin’ grand.
Musical instruments (particularly upscale examples) are as much works of art as they are functional tools of the trade, something that seems to be lost on Gibson’s design team. Despite the name of this blog, I think most guitarists (including myself) are open to innovation, particularly when it actually improves upon the existing connection we have with our gear. That includes the aesthetic.
Alex Skolnick’s Guitar Player blog commentary on the original Firebird X rollout aptly captures my feelings:
“By bringing the costs of their genuine Custom Shop items back down to Earth, presenting (and pricing) the mass-produced assembly line models for what they really are and focusing on remaining “timeless,” Gibson could help get more guitars in the hands of players at all levels, remain profitable and earn back something much more valuable than sales figures: it’s [sic] integrity.”
Enough ranting for today. There are still plenty of great guitars out there (including more than a few Gibsons) waiting to be picked.