A Solid Intrument
Let me preface that I just got this guitar yesterday so my experience with it is limited. However, I played it for several hours so I feel I can form an opinion on it. I’m sure there is some “new guitar” bias, but I have gone through 3 or 4 new guitars in the last year so I have that to compare it to.
So, first impressions: this guitar is ALL THERE. I knew I wanted the Traditional because it has no weight relief. I have played heavy guitars in the past but this thing just feels like a solid instrument. I think the difference is that it is solid and balanced all of the way through. The heavier guitars I have played in the past were usually body heavy and head heavy and usually hardware was a big component to that. But the traditional gets all of its weight from the wood and it translates beautifully to the sound. It just resonates so well.
I think a significant factor in the sound and feel of this guitar is the neck. The thickness of it is huge and the neck itself weighs a lot. The result of this is that the guitar sounds fuller and more organic. My previous experience with Gibson was with an SG Standard and I was not crazy about the sound. The thin frame and heavy hardware made it sound clangy and harsh to my ears. The standard Gibson hardware and electronics setup really sounds best on the Traditional.
This is easily the thickest neck that I have played but it feels comfortable. I had no trouble playing faster pieces but I think that will come down to personal preference. I really liked the feel of a neck this size when it came to slides in particular. The weight of the guitar seems to allow the string to resonate in a more concentrated pattern that I found easier to pick.
My intention when I bought the guitar was to throw on heavier gauge strings and play exclusively in drop tunings, predominantly C standard. I have higher output pickups I will be installing as well. That said, the standard setup is fine as it is. The sound of the ’57 Classic pickups are covered well elsewhere but they are what you would expect. If I didn’t already have the other pickups, I would have no problem leaving the ‘57s in--they can push an amp respectably.
As for fit and finish, I have no complaints. The neck joint looks clean, the finish is smooth and there are no obvious blemishes. There is some bleeding on the neck binding but it isn’t bad. The maple top looks good. I picked this particular one because of the cross hatching in the maple that I thought looked interesting. Very few of the Traditionals I saw had close bookmatching but they each had their own character. The mahogany body of mine is two piece but it isn’t noticeable unless you are looking for it. The neck is one piece and I have read the fretboards are one piece as well.
Overall I am very pleased with the instrument and I would recommend it without hesitation. What some may find a turnoff, the weight, is what I feel makes this the guitar that it is.