I have had interest and been in the market for a true jazz guitar to accurately play the styles of Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. Although my other guitars (Gibson 359, LP, Strat, Tele) do have a jazzy vibe, I wanted that sound that a only a hollow body arch top can produce. I had shopped around and read hundreds of reviews and it seemed that the Gibson ES175 was the most logical choice. The only problem with that was that I was a little hesitant on springing that much cash for a guitar that would be solely dedicated to one music genre. There was an immediate attraction that I had to the LGB30. It was not a bank buster, looks like a 175 and had very good reviews as did all of the guitars in the Ibanez line that bare Mr. Benson's name. I took a chance and ordered one with the expectation that there would probably be a letdown and compromise in the purchase.
As usual The good folks at Sweetwater did an awesome job of taking care of my transaction and making sure that everything was secure and smooth all the way through the shipping process. When the instrument arrived I unboxed it and was immediately stunned how beautiful this guitar was. The fit, finish and appointments were all first class. This was my first guitar of this type and I did not really know what to expect. When I brought the instrument to pitch I realized that this was a very special guitar. The action was low and the flat wound strings were smooth, soft and fast. I plugged into my 100 watt Fuchs TDS and hit the Jazz switch on channel 1 and this amazing tone just oozed out of this guitar. The intonation and setup needed some refinement but I was sold on keeping this LGB30 for my guitar arsenal. After playing the guitar for several hours I realized that I needed to take it to my luthier for a professional setup. Some of the frets around the 12th fret were dragging and buzzing a bit particularly the D and G string. As I understand this is quite common for archtops.
Once I got the guitar back from my luthier is when the real magic began. The buzzing issue was resolved and the intonation was dead on. This guitar was now ready to be tested. My love affair with jazz guitar and the LGB30 had begun!
In the traditional realms of jazz this instrument really puts out some very beautiful tone. I was able to dial in a very nice Kenny Burrell tone against the "Chitlins Con Carne" and "Midnight Blue" backtracks. The neck pickup is very sweet and responsive and the tone control is easy to dial in a variety of sounds. Just for grins I kicked in the bridge pup and switched over to my overdrive channel. Once again I was totally amazed at what these Super 58's could produce! This thing spit out some very raunchy goodness that was borderline sacrilegious...lol
Bottom line is that LGB30 is a very fine guitar and is a very respectable Jazzbox for an incredible value. There is nothing in the price range that compares to it. This guitar is so easy and effortless to play. The tone is addictive and magic. This guitar quickly has become my hands down favorite and got me hooked on the archtops bandwagon. The one thing that really got to me was how versatile this instrument is. The acoustic tone is there and playing through a solid state or really clean tube channel can produce some fingerpicking heaven. I can play Phil Keaggy's "The Wind and the Wheat" on this guitar with ease and grace. It is the first guitar that I have owned that requires no mods or changing anything outside of a professional setup.
All that said, I give this guitar a five star rating. I am a very meticulous player when it comes to my instruments and I cannot recommend this one enough to anyone who is in the market for a serious jazz instrument and a little bit more.