Gibson Les Paul 60s Tribute 2016 Satin Ebony Model Review

The Gibson Les Paul 1960s Tribute was one of the many models released under Gibson's 2016 range of guitars. The Tribute series aims to recreate the classic feel of a Gibson guitar in three stylish finished: Satin Ebony, Satin Honeyburst and Satin Vintage Sunburst. The 1960s Tribute comes in a choice of three classic colours (I went for the elusive Satin Black finish) with Alnico V P-90 pickups installed. With the intention of offering the undeniable quality of a Gibson guitar at an affordable price, many initially rolled suspicious eyes at the 2016 tribute range. Obviously this is a budget range when compared to Gibson's flagship ranges (RRP: $899), so many questioned whether it was worth producing considering Gibson's sister company, Epiphone, specialise in the more wallet friendly ranges.

Official Specification

  • Tuners: Traditional tuners
  • Neck width: Historic original 1 11/16" neck width
  • Nut: TekToid nut
  • Neck heel: Classic Les Paul neck heel
  • Carrying case: Padded gigbag
  • Modern weight relief: Maple and mahogany body with modern weight relief
  • Pickups: Two vintage-style P-90s
  • Fingerboard: Thicker one-piece rosewood fingerboard
  • Setup: Comprehensive hand-finished setup
  • Neck profile: Slim '60s-style neck profile

  • From the get-go this guitar amazed me. From the moment I unzipped the free high quality Gibson gig-bag included with every model, I was ablaze with sweet caramely tones that were excreted from the woodgrain. When I held my model in my hands for the first time I was in awe at how luscious this beast felt in my hands. This is how it must feel for mothers when they hold their fresh firstborn for the first time. I had previously tested this model in a nearby store, but the feeling of holding your own model was something to savour. Straight out of the box this guitar was perfectly playable. The action was finely tuned to be super low, the paint job looked utterly fantastic and the pickups screamed. Oh how did the pickups scream. If you have not played P-90 pickups before I would compare them to a rambunctious Telecaster. P-90s are single coil pickups with a hell of a lot of bite. Although they were first produced in 1946 by Gibson, P-90 pickups made a name for themselves in rock and roll due to their feisty characteristics and trebly, nasally tone that makes the high end notes really screech. Do not for a second think that the pickups can't do bassy tones well either, P-90s are perfectly capable of delivering a heavy, thumpy low end too. In fact, P-90s can be used in a variety of genres from rock, to blues, to folk, to indie rock and even metal. These are very unique pickups. Pair this guitar with a Marshall valve amp and dial the volume up loud for the full experience. The guitar is exceptionally light due to the modern weight relief even though it is a maplewood body and mahogany fretboard. Despite being a budget model, the tuners really impressed me. Not only do they keep the guitar in tune for long periods of time after semi aggressive playing, but the green tuning keys really catch the eye on stages. The Grover tuning machines really do offer maximum bang for your buck.

    For the price this model was a steal. I have bought Epiphones in this price range and although they were great, fantastic guitars, the feeling of owning a Gibson with that iconic headstock is like nothing else. The feel of the satin finish paint is quite wonderful too. After a good few years of gigging this guitar will age to give you the elusive 'worn' look as the paint wears thin in certain high friction areas. As the photos show, the matte black finish is really quite the respectable aesthetic.

     Overall, the guitar looks incredible and sounds incredible, however there are some issues that need to be addressed here.

    Robot Tuners
    2016 was an iconic year for Gibson as they began experimenting in robotics on most of their instruments. The Tribute series was not immune to this decision. The robotics have been widely hailed as an addition that was mostly pointless as they cut very little time from the tuning process and sometimes went catastrophically wrong which caused huge delay. In spite of this, the Tribute series comes in two models: the T series and the HP series. While the T series is kitted out with traditional specs and slightly cheaper (non-robotic tuners, fast heel neck), the HP models come with all of the glitz and glamour of the 2016 Gibson experimentation. While it must be said that the HP model robotic tuners were a gimmick, the fast heel neck was not. After my first play of the Traditional series in my nearby Dawson's shop I was amazed at how easy the fast heel neck made it to hit higher frets. When my guitar arrived, having ordered the T series, I was disappointed Gibson did not extend the fast heel neck to this product too. Not only is it more ergonomic for the player, but it is fast becoming the industry standard to round out the heel neck joint on guitars.

    This is not an issue for me as I admire this design, but many people claim to dislike non-minded guitars. The Tribute series does not have binding on any of the models. Although it lacks the binding, the rustic satin finish paint job finishes the guitar off and completes the look. If this guitar did not have a Nitrocellulose paint job it would not look as good without the binding, but you really have to see in real life how good this guitar looks. In fact, when I first saw it in the shop but jumped out at me so I gave it a play. A month later I took the plunge and bought it online. Best impulse buy ever?
    Most likely.

    Overall thoughts
    For what I paid (£500) this guitar was an absolute steal. A high quality Gibson guitar with pickups (the P-90s) that none of my other guitars have. The neck is nice and thin but wide, providing ample space to comfortably play chords but not too much where stretches are hard (I have tiny hands). The paint on the neck is comfortable and smooth, almost as if it moulds to your hands. The guitar looks utterly phenomenal in pictures and even better in person, nailing that classic tuxedo styling of guitar. Hanging this baby on a wall in your music space is bound to turn the heads of guests. What is an added bonus is the high quality gig bag. I've spent money on gig bags worse than this one (I assume the RRP is around £59.99 for the quality received). It makes transport easy and keeps my pride and joy safe from the elements. I will say that in terms of improvement Gibson could add a better truss cover ie: one that is not blank. Furthermore, they could make the rounded neck heel to all models instead of it being locked to the HP models. I understand this is a budget Gibson, but a Bigsby tailpiece would really finalise the model and add the sophisticated icing this model deserves. This however can be done on a DIY basis so it is definitely something I will consider in the future. If you are on the market for a new toy to play with that sounds different to your other guitars and looks a treat, this is your go-to model. Although the 2016 1950s Tribute has the same specs but with humbucker pickups, I opted for this model due to being P-90 equipped. If you pass by a shop with one of these bad boys on display, I implore you to try it out for yourself hooked up to an amp. This guitar absolutely offers the classic Gibson experience at a bargain price. What are you waiting for?

    For more information on this model please visit Gibson's official product listing.


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